Symington considering a gubernatorial bid

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(Host) There have been some key developments in Vermont’s emerging gubernatorial race.

Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington says she’s seriously thinking about running for governor, even though Progressive Anthony Pollina is already in the contest.

Pollina says he’s staying in the race and is going make health care a major issue in his campaign.

VPRs Bob Kinzel has the story:

(Kinzel) After months of searching for a gubernatorial candidate, Vermont Democrats may have found one – House Speaker Gaye Symington.

Symington says she’s thinking about running because she feels incumbent Republican Governor Jim Douglas has failed to address the state’s most pressing problems:

(Symington) "We should be building a future based on those strengths and the opportunities that come our way if we really deal in a realistic way with our challenges. I think Vermonters are hungry for that kind of conversation and they’re not hearing it in a real way from the current leadership."

Symington says she’s well aware that Progressive Anthony Pollina is also running:

(Symington) "As I make those kinds of assessments I will do that in the context of a 3 way race and I would only run if I was convinced there was a path to winning."

Douglas says he has blocked some of the Democrats’ priorities over the past two years but he says there’s a good reason why:

(Douglas) "When the Legislature tries to raise taxes on people in the state who are already the most heavily taxed in America I do stand in the way and I’ll continue to."

Some Democrats are hoping that they can persuade Pollina to run for Lt. Governor to avoid a 3 way gubernatorial race but he says the time for that option is long gone:

(Pollina) "I do not intend to change the course of what I’m doing which is running to defeat Jim Douglas."

Pollina held a Statehouse press conference to criticize Douglas for failing to support major changes to the state’s health care system.

Pollina says he supports a reform plan that provides coverage to all Vermonters, isn’t tied to a person’s place of employment, and has individuals paying for coverage based on their income:

(Pollina) "And why is it under Mr. Affordability agenda that we’re living under, people are not only paying more for health care we’re paying a lot more for health care."

Douglas says he’s working to make health care more affordable and he doubts that many Vermonters will support Pollina’s approach:

(Douglas) "Well I suppose if I were challenging an incumbent I’d talk about change – Vermonters do want change – and I’m leading the effort to secure it for them."

House Speaker Symington says she’ll wait until after the session is over to make a final decision about her political future because she wants to focus on her legislative priorities in the coming weeks.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

AP Photo/Toby Talbot

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