State Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) announced today he plans to run for governor next fall against first-term Democrat Peter Shumlin.
In his announcement, Brock sharply criticized the Shumlin administration — specifically on education funding and health care reform, as well as on its approach to energy policy.
"I believe that Peter Shumlin is a good man, but I believe he is blindly steering Vermont’s ship of state toward the shoals," said Brock. "Peter Shumlin’s policies — especially in the areas of health care and energy — are built on rosy assumptions and wishful thinking constructed over a foundation of quicksand. If my travels around this state have taught me anything, it is this: Vermonters don’t want to live in a laboratory for change. They don’t want to be the guinea pigs or lab rats in a grand social experiment. Vermonters simply want to have a fair shake, an honest shot at the opportunities that lie before them, and the ability to lead their lives the way they want to lead them."
Welcome to the 2012 gubernatorial race.
Gov. Shumlin's last opponent, former Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, was personable and articulate in private conversation, but lacked rhetorical flair and often stumbled through public speeches. Brock, on the other hand, has an ability to be both eloquent and blunt — even sharp-tongued — from the stump.
In other words, Brock isn't the typical throwaway candidate who so often appears in statewide races, nominated by political parties that know all too well that Vermonters rarely toss out an incumbent.
Brock, a former executive with Fidelity Investments, could easily bankroll his own campaign, but won't. He said he wants to appeal to a broad swath of Vermonters and will not use his personal wealth to run a campaign. During the 2010 primary and general election campaigns, Shumlin loaned his campaigns more than $250,000.
Brock said he would officially launch his gubernatorial bid after the legislative session.
"There is a time and place for confetti and balloons that you would expect at a kickoff, but this is not that time and this is not that place," said Brock. "There is a difficult legislative session ahead of us."
Paying for the cleanup of Tropcial Storm Irene is one challenge, but, Brock noted, "Irene is not our only challenge, Irene is not our only storm."
So, why announce now?
For starters, Brock's announcement may clear up the logjam at the top of ticket and allow other GOP candidates to step forward to run for other statewide offices, as well as House and Senate seats, said Pat McDonald, the Vermont GOP chairwoman.
"This is a starting point," McDonald told Fair Game. "He is an excellent candidate, and an excellent name to have at the top of the ticket. I believe this will allow us to fill out those other statewide slots."
Both Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and former Lt. Gov. Dubie issued statements endorsing Brock's candidacy for governor. Dubie had been mulling a run for governor, setting up a rematch of the 2010 race, but said he was prepared to help Brock's campaign and "make our beloved state of Vermont an even better place to live, work and raise a family."
Susan Allen, the governor's official spokeswoman, issued this statement in response to Brock's announcement: "Only 11 months into his first term, Governor Shumlin is focused on the job Vermonters elected him to do: create jobs, revitalize Vermont's economy, and get tough things done. That will be the Governor's focus in the months ahead as Vermont continues to create a bright jobs future."
Vermonters haven't picked a challenger over a first-term governor since 1962. That year, Republican Ray Keyser was ousted by Democrat Phil Hoff in a gubernatorial race that marked the birth of the modern Democratic Party in Vermont. Hoff was the first Democrat to be elected governor since 1855.
Can Brock beat Shumlin?
In a Public Policy Poll released earlier this year, Brock trailed Shumlin by a 51-29 margin.
You can download an MS Word version of Brock's speech here: Randy Brock Speech - 12.7
Below is a recorded video of Brock's announcement:
Below are the introductory remarks made by former Gov. Jim Douglas, State Auditor Tom Salmon and others:
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