Contributors eager to fund Milne
By Neal P. Goswami
VERMONT PRESS BUREAU | June 24,2014
MONTPELIER — Two weeks after filing to run for governor as a Republican, Scott Milne has yet to roll out a website or build a campaign staff, leaving supporters with little way to connect or donate money.
Milne, the president of his family’s company, Milne Travel, filed as a candidate on June 12, the deadline to submit a petition for the November election. Since then, Milne has appeared on various news programs and in articles, but still has no social media presence.
Milne said he plans to launch his campaign website next week. He used an inquiry about the lack of an online presence to launch a thinly veiled dig at Gov. Peter Shumlin and the still not fully functioning Vermont Health Connect insurance exchange.
“Unlike my opponent, I want to make sure my website works before I roll one out,” Milne said. “We’ve got a couple of little things to get ironed out … but my guess is it will probably be toward the end of next week.”
Milne said he doesn’t plan to hold a campaign launch event until the Fourth of July weekend, but also doesn’t see the delay as harmful to his campaign, or his campaign’s coffers. He said his effort will be low-budget compared to Shumlin’s cash, which has crested at $1 million.
“We’ll be delighted if we raise a lot of money, but we’re planning to run a good campaign without a lot of money,” he said.
Despite the slow rollout, Milne said people are already finding ways to contribute. Some have mailed checks directly to the Republican Party, Milne said, and others have called him to pledge money.
“I’ve got a few thousand dollars,” he said. “I have a pretty high level of confidence that there will be a fair amount of money coming in over the next few weeks.”
Without a campaign staff, strategy is mostly being handled by Milne and his family, including his mother Marion Milne, a former state representative, and his father, Don Milne, the clerk of the Vermont House. There are “some other pretty smart people involved,” he said.
Meanwhile, a location and exact date for a campaign launch are currently being discussed.
While Shumlin, the chairman of the Democratic Governor’s Association, is flush with cash and has the backing of a well-oiled Democratic Party machine, Milne will see little assistance from the Republican Party. The state GOP only has about $34,000 in cash on hand, and party chairman David Sunderland is pushing a strategy that focuses on snagging a handful of legislative seats from Democrats.
And any basic assistance the state GOP might offer will have to wait until after the August primary, according to Milne, where he faces perennial candidate but first-time Republican Emily Peyton, and Steve Berry. Milne said he does expect some support from the GOP after August.
“There’s a primary and there are people there that I like and ask for advice, but there’s a primary and there are three candidates in the primary. Once I’m through the primary I’ll have that resource,” he said.
Milne said he will engage with and debate his primary opponents at media-sponsored events. “I welcome diverse ideas and opinions from my opponents the same as I do as Vermonters,” he said.
Milne said he’s happy with his campaign plan and effort so far.
“I think we know what we’re doing and we know what our plan is and that’s the plan we came up with,” he said.