Dubie enters race for governor
By DANIEL BARLOW Vermont Press Bureau | October 02,2009
The Associated Press
Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie speaks at a news conference in Montpelier last year.
MONTPELIER – Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie on Thursday announced he'd made up his mind: He will run for governor in 2010.
The 50-year-old Essex Republican has served seven years as Vermont's lieutenant governor after being elected to the statewide office in 2002 alongside Gov. James Douglas, who is retiring next year. He has been mulling whether to run to replace Douglas for more than a month now.
During an interview in the Senate chambers at the Vermont Statehouse on Thursday, Dubie said running for governor was not an easy decision to make.
"I've had long talks with my family about this," he said. "I've spoken with Vermonters across the state about what they are looking for in their next governor. And those experiences led me to make this decision."
Dubie's announcement Thursday came via a low-key press release to the state's media after weeks of speculation. He said a more formal announcement at a campaign kickoff would occur later.
He said he will spend the next few months raising money, building a campaign staff and talking to Vermonters about their vision for the future of the state.
"The campaign begins now," he said.
Since Douglas made the surprise announcement late this summer that he would not run for a fifth term, all eyes turned to Dubie as his heir apparent. A native Vermonter, graduate of the University of Vermont and a part-time airline pilot, he was well-positioned to become the de facto Republican Party candidate to replace Douglas.
"There were a lot of people waiting to see what Brian would do," said Rob Roper, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, adding that it is highly unlikely Dubie will have a primary challenger for the nomination next year. "We are thrilled to have him in this race."
Roper said Dubie brings a strong resume and compelling personal story to the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
"He's a real person," Roper said. "He's a pilot, he's a father, and he's a husband. And Vermonters have continually re-elected him as lieutenant governor."
Sen. Phil Scott, R-Washington, praised Dubie as a gubernatorial candidate, saying that his family's support was key in the decision. He said Dubie is a "good person and has an incredible amount of integrity."
"I am encouraged by what he can bring to the table," Scott said.
Eric Davis, a retired Middlebury College political professor, said it is a "big jump from lieutenant governor to governor" and Dubie needs to reintroduce himself to Vermonters on the campaign trail.
Davis speculated that by not having top Republican Party officials by his side for Thursday's announcement was a signal to voters that his administration would not be "years nine and ten of the Douglas administration."
"The key to this race for Dubie will be getting the people who will vote for [U.S. Sen. Patrick] Leahy and [U.S. Rep. Peter] Welch to switch parties and vote for him," Davis said, referring to the top two ticket races at the polls next year. "He will need anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of those voters to also support him."
The biggest issue facing Vermont's next governor will be the fiscal health of state government. When asked if he envisions further cuts to state government under his administration, Dubie said "absolutely."
"We do not have enough revenue to continue on this path," he said. "There may be some safety net programs that we will need to strengthen, but there may be some that we will need to cut all together. These will be hard choices to make, but we will need to make them."
On energy issues, Dubie supports relicensing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, but he also has a reputation for strongly supporting the development of renewable energy, especially harvesting the state's wind resources.
"I follow Sen. Jim Jeffords' belief that the best forest is a working forest," Dubie said, explaining that he sees opportunities to build renewable projects, especially wind farms, across the state, including on municipal lands.
Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, has worked alongside Dubie in the Senate for several years and considers him a friend. He could also soon consider him an opponent as Shumlin said he is considering a run for governor as well.
"I wish Brian Dubie luck in the campaign," Shumlin said.
Sen. Doug Racine, D-Chittenden, who beat Dubie in the lieutenant governor race in 1998, is also a candidate for Vermont governor in 2010 and serves in the Senate with Dubie and Shumlin. He welcomed Dubie to the race Thursday, but said that voters may find the Republican too conservative for their liking.
Dubie is pro-life and once testified before the Legislature against civil unions.
"I think once Vermonters get to know him better, they will find that he is very conservative and perhaps outside of the mainstream," Racine said.