With Sue Minter as the Democratic Party nominee to face off against Republican Phil Scott in the Vermont governor’s race, some lawmakers and voters outside the GOP ranks say they are leaning toward the Republican ticket.
“The establishment Democrats have been bought and paid for by the renewable energy developers, and I don’t want anything to do with their dirty money,” state Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans, told Vermont Watchdog. “I think that’s what Sue Minter represents, taking money from all of them.”
Rodgers supported Democrat Peter Galbraith during the primaries, largely because of the former U.S. diplomat’s stance against new industrial wind energy development. But with Galbraith out of the picture, Scott is the only choice for voters opposed to putting more wind turbines on top of Vermont’s mountain ridge lines.
“I’ve got a ton of Democrat constituents who won’t vote for Sue Minter based on her positions on wind,” Rodgers said. “There’s a huge number of Democrats up here who feel this is a serious and important issue.”
He added that Democrat lawmakers from Orleans and Caledonia counties passed a resolution asking the state Democratic Party to put an end to big wind, but the party refused.
Rodgers, who represents Northeast Kingdom towns affected by existing and proposed wind turbines, is not the only Democrat lawmaker openly opposing Minter. State Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle, signed a letter of support for Scott back in March.
The voters’ voices
Lawmakers aren’t the only ones willing to cross party lines and vote for the Republican candidate for governor this year. Some voters say they like Scott because he has experience running a successful construction business.
“I’m definitely for Phil Scott,” said Dan Cunningham, a Democrat from Burlington. “He’s been through having to meet payroll every two weeks.”
Cunningham expressed frustration with unwelcoming mandates and costs on small and medium-size Vermont businesses. He added that Gov. Peter Shumlin’s failed and costly attempt for a single-payer health care system left a bad taste with Democrats he knew.
Chris Morin, an independent from Barre City, said he plans to vote for Scott because of his background as a business owner. He added that he thinks Scott is “more out in the community” than Minter.
Greg Hooker, an independent from Marshfield, is undecided but likes Scott because he “knows how to run a (business) balance sheet” and has pledged to shrink state budget spending from around 5 percent down to the rate of economic growth – about 2 percent. However, he praised Minter for her handling of Vermont’s recovery effort following the catastrophic flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.
According to Rodgers, Democrats are more likely to turn against Minter if they live in areas where industrial wind power plants exist or are being proposed. He said voters in more urban areas, such as Burlington and Montpelier, don’t worry about turbine noise or seeing their property values plummet due to the unsightly 500-foot towers.
Edward Day, a Democrat from East Montpelier, said he is for more gun control and more wind power, and plans to vote for Minter.
But Jeremiah Breer, an accountant and independent from Cabot, said he needs to hear how Scott will limit spending to the rate of economic growth before he can make a decision. He said education costs and healthcare for the state’s aging population are two big expenditures that will be difficult to control.
Rodgers said wind isn’t the only issue that could persuade Democrats to vote for a Republican governor: Minter’s pledge to ban multi-shot firearms and impose criminal background checks may be too extreme even for Vermont Democrats.
“Scott was raised here and seems to be more in touch with the average Vermonter by far,” Rodgers said. “Sue, I don’t know where she was raised, but I know she had a pretty privileged life and went to Harvard, and I don’t think she understands the average Vermonter.”
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