Was a day at the races a bad bet for the governor?
Montpelier, Vermont - May 25, 2011
Luck was on the governor's side Saturday. He placed a bet on a long shot horse at the Preakness and won big.
Gov. Peter Shumlin: I've never been to horse races in my life so it was a lot of fun.
Reporter Jennifer Reading: Saying how much you won?
Shumlin: It just came in so quickly I didn't count it.
Someone snapped a photo of Governor Shumlin holding the winning ticket, celebrating alongside top aide Alex MacLean and Liz Smith of the Democratic Governors Association. That photo was posted on Facebook and caught the attention of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom. The organization opposes single-payer health care and used the image in its campaign against the governor.
"I have no objection to him placing the bet and supporting the Maryland economy whatsoever, what I have objection to is turning Vermont's health care system and insurance system upside down," said Darcie Johnston of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom.
Johnston says her organization used the photo for its shock value. The poster reads "clearly the governor loves to have a good time and play the ponies, but he is gambling with every Vermonter's future when he rolls the dice on Green Mountain Care."
"It's a cheap shot and it's not the way we do politics or policy in Vermont," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
"I don't think it was a cheap shot," Johnston said. "You know Vermonters are about to experience the largest tax increase in history. It's an expensive gamble."
Green Mountain Care will be signed into law Thursday. Johnston says not enough Vermonters are paying attention to the major health care changes and she upped the ante.
"We took the image as an opportunity to be able to say in a very simple way to Vermonters there's something happening here this week," Johnston said.
"All I can say is I'm disappointed," Shumlin said. "I think we should debate the issues, particularly important issues like health care for all Vermonters, on the merits and not play out-of-state politics."
The health care bill will be signed into law Thursday. It sets the state on a path toward a single-payer system by 2017. Many details still need to be worked out, like how the program will work and who's going to pay for it.
Opponents say they're going to continue the fight to derail Green Mountain Care, but supporters say it's a historic step for Vermont.
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