Shumlin denounces opponents’ personal ambition’

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(Host) Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Peter Shumlin charged on Friday that his two major opponents are more interested in political ambition that the principles of democracy. Shumlin says he’s astonished that Progressive Anthony Pollina and Republican Brian Dubie would allow the Legislature to elect them as lieutenant governor even if they don’t get the most votes.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Shumlin told reporters at a Montpelier press conference that he’s very disappointed that both Pollina and Dubie have changed their minds about this issue in the past three months. Shumlin says he’s now the only candidate in the race who has pledged not to serve if he doesn’t receive the most votes.

It’s widely believed that the race for lieutenant governor will be decided by the Legislature because three strong candidates are running. The Vermont Constitution calls for the General Assembly to elect the lieutenant governor if no candidate receives 50% of the vote.

Shumlin says voters learn a lot about the character of candidates during a campaign and he says this issue has revealed a hypocritical side of Pollina and Dubie:

(Shumlin) “I think what this is saying about their character is that ambition is more important to them than democracy. Personal ambition is more important than honoring Vermonters’ votes.”

(Kinzel) Dubie says Shumlin is raising this issue as a smokescreen to divert attention away from the real issues of the campaign, namely job creation and economic development:

(Dubie) “Talk about the issues [that] Vermonters want to talk about. Don’t try to bring a candidate like Anthony Pollina’s character into question. You better be very careful when you make a charge about character, Mr. Shumlin. You’ve got to be very careful and you better be responsible.”

(Kinzel) Pollina described Shumlin’s actions as “politics at its worst” and he said it was wrong for Shumlin to bring up the character issue:

(Pollina) “I think it’s frankly wrong when a candidate calls a press conference not to attack the high cost of health care or attack property taxes, but to attack opponents. I think it’s politics as usual. I actually in some ways think it’s politics at its worst and it’s what turns people off to elections.”

(Kinzel) Pollina says he hopes that all the candidates in the race will spend the rest of the campaign focusing on the real issues facing Vermonters.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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