Spaulding, Flanagan spar in Democratic treasurer’s race

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(Host) Democratic treasurer candidate Jeb Spaulding is accusing his opponent, Ed Flanagan, of using deceptive and negative campaign tactics in their race. Spaulding is calling on Flanagan to put an end to these tactics. Flanagan denied the charges and said Spaulding is wrong in his claims.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) For much of the summer, the two candidates have differed mostly on the scope of the office: Spaulding has focused on a more traditional approach while Flanagan says he wants the office to get involved in wider number of issues like education and health care.

On Friday, the dynamics of the race changed when Spaulding called on Flanagan to stop using deceptive campaign practices such as push polling to distort Spaulding’s record. Spaulding says Flanagan has also run radio ads and a telephone campaign stating that Spaulding supports school vouchers. Spaulding says it’s not true and that these kinds of educational issues are not pertinent to the Treasurer’s race. Spaulding says Flanagan used similar tactics in his unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign two years ago:

(Spaulding) “Well, here we go again. Mr. Flanagan is using the kind of deceptive campaigning that breeds public cynicism and degrades the political process. That’s not the Vermont way. It didn’t work against Senator Jeffords and it won’t work now. Vermonters deserve better. The press has asked repeatedly what is the difference between Spaulding and Flanagan. Well here is one big difference. I will not run a below the radar screen, inaccurate, deceptive, negative campaign against a campaign opponent.”

(Kinzel) Flanagan denied that he used push polls two years ago or is using them this year. Flanagan also disputed Spaulding’s claim that the former state senator never supported vouchers for private schools.

Using a vote survey compiled by the Vermont NEA – the state’s largest teachers union – Flanagan said Spaulding voted for a proposal that the NEA described as a “radical” voucher plan for public and private schools. Flanagan says Spaulding’s vote “would threaten jobs and the state’s already fragile economy”:

(Flanagan) “It’s bad policy. I’m strongly against it, the teachers of Vermont are strongly against it, and his buck shot approach to all his other unvalidated accusations is merely an attempt to deflect information from quality schools and the creation of new jobs.”

(Kinzel) Flanagan says new jobs are threatened because vouchers will lead to higher property taxes and this will cause potential employers to look elsewhere to locate their businesses.

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

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