Republicans will have a party-approved candidate for governor after all.
Scott Milne, president of Milne Travel American Express, said Thursday he is entering the race against two-term Democratic incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin. Milne will appear on the GOP primary ballot with Emily Peyton, who does not have the support of the party apparatus, and Steve Berry of Wolcott.
Admitting that his chances of beating Shumlin are a “long-shot,” Milne said he looks forward to bringing attention to the “failures of leadership” in the Shumlin administration.
“My goal is to win,” Milne said. “I at least plan to get some tangible issues on the plate that Shumlin will need to respond to. If I thought he was doing an adequate job, I wouldn’t be running.”
Milne said he would run a “counterinsurgency, low budget campaign,” and would work to raise “some money to be competitive.”
Milne waited until the last day candidates could submit petitions to the Secretary of State’s Office to appear on the primary and general elections ballots. He made his announcement on WDEV’s The Mark Johnson Show.
Eric Davis, professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College, told VTDigger it is going to be a difficult race for Republicans this year.
Milne has not showed any evidence of building a strong campaign organization, Davis said.
Milne had said earlier that he preferred a primary contest with former state auditor Randy Brock, who lost the 2012 gubernatorial race to Shumlin. Brock announced Sunday that he would not seek the post.
“Milne, on paper, is much weaker (than Brock) because of name recognition and money,” Davis said. “I think Milne would be doing very well to get 40 percent.”
Nonetheless, Davis said Shumlin has weaknesses that make him vulnerable to challenges from the political right — the rocky rollout of online health insurance marketplace, Vermont Health Connect; his failure to provide lawmakers with a financing plan for his hallmark single payer health care system overhaul; and stagnate growth on the middle class jobs, despite declining unemployment.
“Those are things for which I think a candidate could certainly hold him accountable,” Davis said.
Milne, 55, of Pomfret, said Shumlin was not adequately serving Vermonters.
“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 said this week.Shumlin was asked about Milne’s challenge at a news conference Thursday in Colchester to sign a bill banning the use of hand-held cellphones while driving. He repeated his intention to launch his formal campaign after Labor Day.
“Listen, as you know I am one if the few governors in recent memory who actually believes in a two year term. I’d like the opportunity to go out to voters and ask them the question ‘are we doing a good job?’ ‘Are we getting the job done?’ If they don’t think we’re doing a good job, I’d love to be the first to know,” he said. “And doing that every two years has been my fuel and energy to keep trying to make the right changes for Vermont and to grow jobs.
“I’m delighted that Mr. Milne has entered the race, it’s good for democracy. So, come Labor Day, we can talk about it, and until then I’m going to work 24/7 to do the job Vermonters hired me to do.”
Milne has Vermont political connections. He grew up in Washington, Vt., and was a schoolmate of Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s at Spaulding High School in Barre. His mother, Marion, is a former state representative, and his father, Donald, is clerk of the Vermont House.
Also running for governor as of 4 p.m. Thursday are independents Cris Ericson and Bernard Peters and Libertarian Dan Feliciano. Liberty Union candidate Peter Diamondstone also filed a petition, which had not been verified the secretary of state as of 5 p.m. Thursday
This article was updated at 3:59 p.m. Thursday. VTDigger’s John Herrick contributed to this report.