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Dueling campaign stops contrast candidates’ positions

BRATTLEBORO—Who says politicians work bankers hours?

Both the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor swept into town last week as part of what could be described as dueling campaign appearances around the state.

Not long after Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie announced what he called his “26.2 Hour Campaign Marathon,” his opponent, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, scheduled a series of joint appearances with the party’s four other candidates.

The Democrats campaigned together amid a recount that later secured Shumlin’s place as the winner of the Democratic primary.

This meant some interesting timing for campaign events in Brattleboro.

Dubie, who was doing a loop around the state over the course of 26.2 hours, stopped at the Brattleboro Fire Station around 10 p.m. last Tuesday for an ice cream social, followed by a meet-and-greet with the third shift at G.S. Precision in the Exit 1 Industrial Park at 11 p.m.

It was no coincidence that Dubie made stops at the Brattleboro, Springfield and Hartford fire departments as part of his tour. Dubie received the unanimous endorsement of the Professional Firefighters of Vermont, a 325-member union that says it has a perfect record in endorsing winning candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and Congress since 2002.

When asked why he was campaigning at an hour when most Vermonters are getting ready for bed, he said, “Vermonters work hard for their money, and they want a governor that works just as hard.”

About 75 people showed up at the station to enjoy vanilla ice cream with chocolate and strawberry syrup, and to meet Dubie.

Dubie touted his new economic plan called “Pure Vermont.” It calls for tax cuts, limiting the growth of state government to 2 percent per year and a streamlined permitting and regulation process for businesses.

“[My plan] offers a sustainable trajectory for state spending,” said Dubie. “The Democrats’ plans are just more programs, more spending and more taxes. They offer wish lists with no way to pay for anything.”

The Democrats didn’t burn the midnight oil like Dubie, but their RV rolled into Brattleboro last Wednesday for a 8:30 a.m. appearance at Pliny Park to launch what was billed as a “United Vision for Vermont.”

Shumlin was joined in Brattleboro by Matt Dunne and Susan Bartlett, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, respectively, in the primary. Doug Racine and Deb Markowitz, the second- and third-place finishers, appeared with Shumlin during other campaign stops in northern Vermont.

Both Dunne and Bartlett praised Shumlin and stressed the unity that the party has shown after a close primary result and a statewide recount that eventually upheld Shumlin’s 197-vote win over Racine.

Bartlett touted Shumlin’s experience with budgets and finance. “Peter not only understands the math, he understands how to balance all the priorities,” she said. “He is going to be a really great governor.”

Dunne singled out Dubie’s social conservatism on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

“He makes Jim Douglas look like Bernie Sanders,” said Dunne. “If you look at his views on social issues, the kinds of areas where we have led as a state — and frankly, that [Shumlin] has led the charge for in the country — [Dubie] is on the wrong side of Vermont’s values. When it comes to November, those social issues will be a concern.”

Shumlin stressed what he called a positive vision for Vermont, which includes establishing a single-payer health care system for Vermonters, universal broadband Internet access, increased support for early education and positioning the state to take advantage of future technological and green-energy opportunities.

“We cannot nibble around the edges anymore. We have to make significant structural change,” he said.

Shumlin also warned that the Republicans are willing to wage a “negative, Washington-style, Washington-consultant campaign,” and contrasted that with the positive campaigns that he and his four rivals waged during the primary season.

About 30 people attended the Democratic rally at Pliny Park. The candidates also made stops last Tuesday and Wednesday in St. Albans, Shelburne, Rutland, Bennington and White River Junction before wrapping up their two-day swing at the Statehouse in Montpelier.

Dubie wrapped up his campign tour in Barre last Wednesday morning.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #67 (Wednesday, September 15, 2010).

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