Incumbent Bill Sorrell formally launched his re-election campaign Wednesday in front of roughly 100 supporters at the Statehouse. Sorrell told the group that he’s fought for stronger environmental laws, he’s battled the national tobacco companies and he’s worked to implement critical consumer protection laws.
If he’s re-elected, he says his top priority will be to educate Vermonters about the dangers that exist on the Internet and other forms of social media. "There’s a down side to this and thieves, scam artists, those cyber stalkers, those who prey on people young and old, are taking advantage of the web of the Internet to go about their business," Sorrell said.
Donovan is finishing his second term as Chittenden County State’s Attorney and he’s making the growth of prescription drug abuse his top issue. He says his goal is not necessarily to throw more people in jail but to develop a strategy that combines enforcement, treatment and community services for people who are willing to confront their abuse.
"We’ve done it at the county level we should do it at the state level. It enhances public safety, it saves taxpayer money," said Donovan. "There’s one person in the state who could do it that’s the Attorney General. It’s not being soft on crime or being tough on crime it’s about being smart on crime."
UVM political science professor Garrison Nelson notes that both Sorrell and Donovan come from established political families in Chittenden County and Nelson thinks the two candidates actually agree on most issues.
"It’s going to be a style over substance conflict, I think that’s really the issue and I think – particularly where both are from the same part of the state – they are not all that dissimilar," said Nelson. "And so consequently style is going to be the operative dimension dividing the two."
Nelson thinks the candidate who campaigns the hardest stands a good chance of winning and he says Sorrell hasn’t faced a strong re-election challenge for some time. "You’ve got basically county fairs and there’s going to be a lot of retail campaigning in order to win this race for either gentlemen," said Nelson. "And that’s always the issue if you’re in office for a long time sometimes your campaign organization is atrophied and you find that you have to scramble."
Both candidates are working hard to receive the endorsements of lawmakers, local officials and former governors to bolster their campaigns.