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Campaign Dollars Continue To Flow Toward Shumlin

Angela Evancie
Gov. Peter Shumlin, shown here at a press conference in August, maintains a million-dollar advantage over Republican challenger Scott Milne.

Republican candidate for governor Scott Milne has posted his most impressive monthly fundraising performance of the 2014 campaign. But he was still outdone by Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who maintains a million-dollar advantage, even after spending more than $200,000 on television ads.

Milne raised about $80,000 last month, money that includes a $9,500 gift from his son. It’s considerably more than the Republican candidate raised in the first two and a half months of his candidacy combined.

“We’ve had a lot of people mostly, I would guess, as a result of the primary, taking a close look at what our message is and jumping on board with it,” Milne says.

But the long shot GOP challenger continues to lag well behind the Democratic incumbent, who took in more than $100,000 in September, and sits on a $1 million war chest. Shumlin’s healthy cash on hand totals come despite a television ad blitz that cost the governor’s campaign more than $200,000.

"We've had a lot of people mostly, I would guess, as a result of the primary, taking a close look at what our message is and jumping on board with it." - GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne

The bulk of Shumlin’s money continues to arrive in large donations, much of it from businesses, or the men and women who run them. Shumlin campaign manager Scott Coriell says communicating with voters costs money.

“Our campaign is raising the resources we need to communicate with Vermonters about the clear choice they face in this election,” Coriell says. “And that choice is between continuing our progress and creating economic opportunity or taking Vermont backwards.”

Eric Davis, a retired political science professor at Middlebury College, says that despite the recent gain, Milne still isn’t taking in nearly enough money to pay for the advertising, staff hours and other expenses associated with a serious campaign. And Davis says Milne isn’t generating the headlines that might otherwise help offset his fundraising deficit.

“A competitive gubernatorial candidate at this stage of the campaign should probably be looking at spending somewhere in the range of $50,000 to $70,000 a week. And if Milne can only raise a third of that, that means he’s heavily dependent on free media. But in my view he hasn’t been exploiting free media at all,” Davis says.

Libertarian candidate for governor Dan Feliciano, who is attempting to appeal to conservative Vermonters that might otherwise vote for  Milne, raised less than $4,000 over the past month.

Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott raised $40,000 over the past month, bringing his total for the campaign to $200,000. That puts him even with his Progressive Democratic Challenger Dean Corren, who, thanks to qualifying for public financing, has had a $200,000 budget for his campaign.

Scott, who has outspent his rival thus far, has about $95,000 on hand. Corren meanwhile still has about $150,000 left to spend, money he says will go largely to mass media expenditures.

The Vermont Democratic Party this week sent glossy color mailings to reliably Democratic voters, urging them to vote for its slate of statewide candidates. But Corren, who won the Democratic nomination, wasn’t mentioned at all.

Corren says he’s prevailing upon Democratic officials to include him on the next round of mailings.

“The conversations go on,” Corren says. “We’re in the midst of conversations. So it’s not like it’s a one-shot deal.”

Absentee ballot voting has already begun, and the election will be held in on Nov. 4.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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