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Variety spices lieutenant governor's race  

Their campaign styles couldn’t be more different, and in many ways, their campaigns define the four candidates for lieutenant governor.

Republican Brian Dubie crisscrosses the state making nonpublicized visits to businesses and farmers – reaching out to the network of Vermonters he’s met during his two terms as lieutenant governor.

Democrat Matt Dunne mixes traditional campaigning with community work projects – which he calls service politics. He and campaign volunteers don work clothes to paint, pick up, hammer and harvest their way around the state.

Progressive Marvin Malek rearranges his patient schedule and takes vacation time to participate in debates and media interviews, and attend any gathering of voters that party members set up for him.

Liberty Union candidate Mary Alice Herbert takes part in candidate forums – but hasn’t received a lot of invitations.

This is a race to pick the person Vermonters would be comfortable having step into the governor’s job in the unlikely event the holder of the state’s top position dies or becomes incapacitated.

More likely, voters are just picking the person who will preside over the Senate while the Legislature is in session – which is usually less than half a year.

The rest of the year, lieutenant governors have historically done whatever they wanted to earn their annual salary – now $61,000.

Dubie’s attendance during the session and his work when lawmakers are finished have become the most contentious issue of the race.

Dunne accuses Dubie of failing to give taxpayers their money’s worth on the job. Dunne says he would work full time with a public schedule.

Dubie counters he is a full-time lieutenant governor who travels in and outside the state and works the phones on behalf of Vermonters, rather than sit behind a desk in Montpelier. Dubie has a second job, piloting passenger planes, but says he schedules his flights on weekends.

All the candidates say voters will find clear differences in the experience and priorities they bring to this race for the least defined of Vermont’s statewide offices. Dubie on the road

Dubie, 47, of Essex Junction, began campaigning on a recent morning at the shared back shop of three tiny North Ferrisburgh businesses selling green technology.

The Republican candidate had visited Bowles Corp. and Clean Earth Technology before and let himself in the back door. He came to check in with his business friends and introduce Republican Randy Brock, who is running for re-election as auditor.

He met Sheila Kerr, sales manager for the newest addition to the business group – Windstream Power. This company sells backyard wind turbines and human-powered generators that can be pedaled from a chair or attached to a bicycle.

“How are you selling these?” asked Dubie as he studied the pedal setup.

The Internet, Kerr said. “We are selling all over the world,” she added. “Our latest? The Russian government for Siberian forestry camps.”

Before leaving, Dubie asked about problems. Kerr noted that there was no sales tax on wind products, but human-powered generators are taxed. Could that be changed? she asked.

“Tax Commissioner Tom Pelham and I talk weekly on issues like this,” Dubie said, making a note. “And legislative leaders, I know they would be very interested.”

Dubie left no campaign literature, just his lieutenant governor business cards.

At Bourdeau Bros. in Middlebury, Dubie asked for an update on the feed and farm fertilizer company’s border-crossing issues. Jacob Bourdeau recounted how federal border officials canceled all the permits allowing the company to truck products through unstaffed crossings from Canada earlier this year.

The company contacted Dubie, Bourdeau said. “Brian facilitated a meeting” which helped company officials figure out how to resubmit their applications. Now many of its trucks can again use unstaffed crossings.

Still, trucks using the Highgate crossing often wait for hours, Bourdeau told the lieutenant governor.

“We have a relationship with the regional director in Boston,” Dubie said. “Why don’t we build some documentation of the delays?”

Dubie’s campaign strategy is to do his job, he said. “I have chosen to build relationships, not headlines.”

Those relationships include befriending officials at Hydro-Quebec, a giant energy company owned by the provincial government that supplies one-third of the state’s electric power. The state’s utilities will need to negotiate new contracts for this power beginning in 2012.

“I’ve never worked harder at anything in my life than being lieutenant governor,” Dubie said. “It’s a job that never ends.” Dunne dons Carhartts

Dunne, 37, of Hartland, stood atop a bench on a recent afternoon and reached to the ceiling of a baseball dugout to stain the cross beams green.

The baseball diamond in Williston’s Rossignol Park, where the Democratic challenger and his crew of campaign volunteers worked, couldn’t be seen from the road, but that’s not important. “The point is to get the work done,” he said. “And it turns out people take notice.”

Dunne didn’t come up with the idea for service politics – his campaign staff did.

“A lot of us on the campaign aren’t traditional campaign-type people,” said Mike Foot, who also stood on the bench staining cross beams. “We were looking for more meaningful work.”

He and other staff lined up dozens of projects, from pulling invasive plants in the Winooski River near the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington to hosting an ice cream social for residents of a Rutland nursing home.

“What if this became the norm – that voters gauged campaigns based on the investment and work they gave back to the community?” Foot asked.

Dunne has made the work outings an integral part of his campaign strategy. It shows what kind of a lieutenant governor he would be, he said. “I intend to continue this kind of outreach, continue taking on service projects and continue to build bridges between our extraordinary nonprofits and state government.”

That’s not all he plans, he said. He proposes to bring together experts to write a plan for how utilities could replace electricity produced by Vermont Yankee or fossil fuels with power from renewable sources or increased efficiency.

He would create another task force to develop strategies to reduce poverty by 50 percent in 10 years.

Dunne criticizes Dubie for failing to maintain a public schedule as lieutenant governor to show taxpayers what he does to earn $61,000 a year. When the Legislature isn’t in town, Dunne said, anyone visiting the Statehouse where the lieutenant governor’s office is located “will see a velvet rope across the door and any documents under glass. It’s beautiful, like a museum.”

Dunne promises his only job would be lieutenant governor.

“When I’m lieutenant governor, it will be an office of action,” Dunne said. “The Carhartts will be in the corner.” Malek sells experience

Malek, 53, a Montpelier physician, clutches a stack of papers a half-inch thick, with dozens of entries per page – all reasons insurance companies have used to deny coverage to his patients. The Progressive candidate takes the stack to every campaign appearance as a reminder of why he is running for lieutenant governor.

While Democratic lawmakers and the Republican Douglas administration claim progress in solving the state’s health care crisis, Malek says the new law “does nothing for most of the population. To characterize that legislation as landmark reform is just so wrong.

“I jumped in because of my total disappointment with health care,” Malek said, “but I’m really learning there is a lot to do on a lot of other issues.” In many debates, Malek mentions the inadequacy of energy policy coming out of the Douglas administration.

Still, his passion is health care. If elected, Malek proposes to “come up with a systematic analysis of what it really takes to have a universal health care system that is affordable.” He argues Vermont should have a plan ready for 2009, when he expects a change in the presidency will mean a change in federal health care policies and more freedom for states.

He asks voters to think about which problem is most likely to touch their lives and who is best qualified to solve it. He says no one can be assured of health care coverage in five years.

Malek would cut back his hours, but continue to practice medicine if elected – he notes he’s used to 80-hour weeks.

“I will work tirelessly,” he pledges. Herbert spreads the word

Herbert, 71, of Putney, hasn’t spent much money on her campaign for the No. 2 job in state government. Her campaigning consists of attending candidate forums.

“A good friend sent me $70 and I use it for gas money,” the Liberty Union candidate said.

“I don’t expect to get a large share of the vote,” she admits. “We are trying to get ideas out there, alternative ideas.” Her message is about the benefits of socialism.

She advocates a single health coverage program for everyone. “Health care should be universal and not tied to employment.”

She decided to run for lieutenant governor to draw attention to energy issues and the need to close Vermont Yankee when its license expires in 2012.

“If I were elected governor, I would advocate with all my heart and soul for renewable energy and for wind energy,” she said. “Wind turbines are beautiful.”

Herbert regrets that the dominance of two political parties in the United States stifles political debate, she said.

“I don’t see myself as a spoiler,” she said. “What I’m doing is expanding the choices.”

Contact Nancy Remsen at 651-4888 or nremsen@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com

Lt. Governor candidates BRIAN DUBIE AGE: 47
RESIDES: Essex Junction
PARTY: Republican
POLITICAL OFFICES: Lieutenant governor since 2002.
JOB: Pilot, American Airlines; Air Force Reserve, where he is a colonel and emergency preparedness liaison officer.
FAMILY: Wife, Penny, and four children.
WEB SITE: www.brian
dubie.com MATT DUNNE AGE: 37
RESIDES: Hartland
PARTY: Democrat
POLITICAL OFFICES: State Senate, two terms; Vermont House of Representatives, four terms starting in 1992.
JOB: Formerly associate director of Nelson Rockefeller Center for Social Sciences at Dartmouth College.
FAMILY: Wife, Sarah, and one son.
WEB SITE: www.matt
POLITICAL OFFICES: 2004 Socialist Party vice presidential candidate; 1996 Liberty Union candidate for governor.
JOB: Retired kindergarten and elementary school teacher; former board member of Southern Vermonters for a Fair Economy and Environmental Protection.
FAMILY: Widowed, four children, one grandchild MARVIN MALEK AGE: 53
RESIDES: Montpelier
PARTY: Progressive
JOB: Medical director of Barre Internal Medicine; producer and host for Public Health radio, a monthly radio show.
FAMILY: Single

By Nancy Remsen
Free Press Staff Writer


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