Republicans Want To Avoid 2012 Primary

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(Host) The political line up for Campaign 2012 should become clearer in the next month.  That’s because a group of prominent Republicans, who are considering a run for statewide office, will be meeting in early June to discuss their options.

And, as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the group’s goal is to avoid a tough GOP primary for the state’s top political offices.

(Kinzel) Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis views Auditor Tom Salmon as the key player in the GOP lineup for the 2012 elections.

Several months ago, Salmon said he was seriously looking at challenging incumbent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders next year.   

Davis says Salmon may now realize how difficult that race would be because of Sanders’ strong name recognition and fund raising abilities:

(Davis) "Salmon needs to decide is he going to through with the Senate race or is he going to run for something else perhaps run for governor. Once Salmon makes up his mind then other Republicans who have statewide ambitions they can decide if they’re going to run for any statewide offices themselves."

(Kinzel) Salmon was elected in 2006 and 2008 as a Democrat and then switched parties and became a Republican in the fall of 2009.  He was re-elected as part of the GOP ticket in 2010.  He sounds like a candidate – the question is will he enter the Senate race or run for governor ?:

(Salmon) "It’s a very very important election 2012 I wanted to make people to start thinking and thinking early so that the Republicans who are reasonable, reliable and respectful can do well at the polls in 2012."

(Kinzel) Salmon says it’s critical for Vermont leaders to focus on long term strategies to improve the state economy, and if he runs for governor, he’s got a tax plan:

(Salmon) "States like Tennessee that just added another 15,000 jobs with another auto plant because they’re a no income tax, personal income tax, if Vermont had the courage to say look we only raise 500 million through our personal income tax how could we strategically get to a place in 10 years to be a no income tax state ?"

(Kinzel) Salmon says state government has grown too big over the past decade and he’s concerned that government makes promises to its citizens without expecting anything in return:

(Salmon) "Not that government needs to be the football coach but government needs to outline some expectations of its citizens. We’ve seen in Vermont we’re shutting down a power plant but yet we want to plug or car into our house someday and we’re going to give health care at a silver and gold level to everyone in Vermont but we’re not quite sure how we’re going to pay for it. That’s not how I operate."

(Kinzel) Salmon says he expects to make a decision about his own political future by the middle of the summer.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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