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Campaigns For Governor Enter The Homestretch

With Election Day around the corner, candidates for political office are spending their final days on the campaign trail stumping for votes. And the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor are doing everything they can to rally their base.

Publicly casting a secret ballot has become an obligatory ritual for all candidates for higher office. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin performed his civic duty at the East Montpelier Town Clerk’s office five days before Election Day. It’s something he’s hoping other Vermont voters will do as well – especially the ones that are inclined to support him.

“So, the exciting thing is any Vermonter can walk into their town clerk’s office right now and vote. And you can vote right through until Election Day,” Shumlin said Thursday. “Everybody can just stop by and vote no questions asked. So we’re urging Vermonters to get out and vote.”

Voters will need all the encouragement they can get. With no presidential race and neither of Vermont’s U.S. senators on the ballot, political scientists are predicting turnout of perhaps less than 50 percent of registered voters.

Voters will need all the encouragement they can get. With no presidential race and neither of Vermont's U.S. senators on the ballot, political scientists are predicting turnout of perhaps less than 50 percent of registered voters.

Shumlin gives the electorate more credit.

“A lot of the pundits are saying it’s going to be a low turnout. But Vermonters care about their democracy,” he says. “They care about this state’s future. And I’m urging them to get out and vote.”

Both Shumlin and his Republican challenger, Scott Milne, suffer from something of an enthusiasm gap. Shumlin’s favorability ratings are stuck around 45 percent, according to the most recent public poll.

And while he continues to try to fire up his base with a promise to deliver single-payer health care system, voters seem less enamored of the rising property taxes and wage stagnation that have persisted under his watch.

Milne spent a few minutes at the City Market in Barre Thursday, talking to customers as they stepped up to the checkout line of a store owned by his friend. If voter turnout is low on Tuesday, Milne says he thinks its Shumlin’s voters, not his, that will sit this one out. 

“You know, maybe there’s an order of magnitude of lack of enthusiasm, particularly on the Democratic side this year, that might be good for my chances. So, we’ll see,” Milne says.

But Milne’s refusal to take a more forceful position on the issue of health care reform, or to adopt a more articulate and comprehensive plan to improve the economy, have cost him what would have been key Republican allies.

Milne trailed Shumlin by 12 points in a poll conducted in late September.

Libertarian candidate for Governor Dan Feliciano is looking to turn the contest into a three-way race. Though he was polling at only 6 percent, according to the most recent public survey, Feliciano hit the television airwaves with his first ad of the campaign season this week.

Feliciano has vowed to cut government spending, and stop the quest for single-payer health care and open up the state’s health insurance market to more private sector competition.

Voters head to the polls 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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