Republican Randy Brock will not seek a rematch with Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Brock, a former state auditor and state senator from Franklin County, was runner-up to Shumlin in the 2012 general election. Brock issued a statement Sunday afternoon saying he believed it was in the best interest of his family to remain out of the race.
“This will be the first time in over ten years that my name will not be on the ballot,” Brock said in a statement. “I will miss the excitement of the campaign trail, the joy of meeting hundreds of new friends every year, the challenge of formulating public policy and the satisfaction of having played a small part in improving the lives and livelihoods of thousands of our citizens. But I believe that this is the right decision for me and my family.”
Brock’s decision could have an immediate impact on the potential candidacy of travel agency owner Scott Milne, who has said his bid was largely contingent on a Republican primary with Brock. If Milne decides not to run it could leave Emily Peyton as the only name on the GOP ballot for governor. The party has not supported her candidacy.
Vermont Republican Party chairman David Sunderland said Sunday that in addition to Milne, there were others in the GOP who were waiting for Brock’s decision and could decide to run.
“I am confident we will have a gubernatorial candidate,” Sunderland said, though he declined to say who has expressed interest.
Sunderland said he had encouraged Brock and Milne to run and said he was disappointed by Brock’s choice.
“He would have been an excellent standard-bearer for the message of the Republican party,” Sunderland said.
Milne said Sunday he, too, was “disappointed” by Brock’s decision but hasn’t ruled out a run.
“I believe that the best chance for a win — for Mr. Brock or Scott Milne — in November against Mr. Shumlin is more likely with an issue orientated primary contest between the two of us over the summer,” Milne said in an email.
In a followup interview, Milne said he would consider a primary run against Peyton alone, though Brock’s decision made it less likely.
“Short of winning, my intent was to have an effect on the discussion,” Milne said, saying a primary with Brock would have focused on bringing leadership to the governor’s office.
Milne, who grew up in the Barre area, now lives in North Pomfret and is president of Milne Travel American Express, said he would be away on business through Wednesday night.
He said he has enough signatures to submit a petition to be placed on the GOP ballot but said he wouldn’t wait until the last minute to file. The deadline for candidates to submit petitions to the Secretary of State’s Office is 5 p.m. Thursday.
“I remain steadfast that Vermont is lacking leadership from the Governor’s office, and that working Vermont families, poor Vermonters, and Vermont’s children will be best served with a new Governor,” Milne wrote in his email.
Milne told VTDigger editor Anne Galloway on Saturday that he was “still on the fence.”
“If Randy’s not going to run, I’ve got to rethink what the path is to victory, which is greatly reduced without a Republican primary,” Milne said Saturday. “It’s a tough row to hoe to beat Shumlin anyway. He’s publicly said he’s not going to talk until after September. I can’t talk to myself all summer.”
If no party-approved candidate emerges for governor, the GOP roster for statewide office could be limited to Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Peyton. No Republicans have declared for the offices of secretary of state, treasurer or auditor.
“We are focused like a laser on legislative races,” Sunderland said. “That’s how we can return the GOP to a place of influence.”
Brock served as state auditor from 2005-2007, narrowly losing a re-election bid in 2006 to then-Democrat Tom Salmon. Brock then served two terms as a state senator from Franklin County before challenging Shumlin in 2012.
“I will not be a candidate for Governor of Vermont in 2014.
“This decision has not been easy to reach. I have arrived at it over several months after careful thought, much input and serious deliberation.
“This will be the first time in over ten years that my name will not be on the ballot. I will miss the excitement of the campaign trail, the joy of meeting hundreds of new friends every year, the challenge of formulating public policy and the satisfaction of having played a small part in improving the lives and livelihoods of thousands of our citizens. But I believe that this is the right decision for me and my family.
“I am thankful to the many Vermonters who have called upon me to run. I have heard from people from all over our state offering words of encouragement. This outpouring of support from so many has been extremely heartening and I will always be grateful for their unwavering loyalty.
“Just as I have in the past, I will continue to remain actively involved in helping to shape public policy. I plan to continue to contribute to the debate through critical analysis and commentary. We all have a great deal to do to help improve our state and to better the lives of every Vermonter. My commitment to those ends remains unchanged.”
This article was updated at 5 p.m. and 7:43 p.m. Sunday.