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GOP challenger to take on Gov. Peter Shumlin - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

GOP challenger to take on Gov. Peter Shumlin

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WATERBURY, Vt. -

In a radio interview with WDEV Thursday morning, Vermont Businessman Scott Milne told Mark Johnson he will enter the race for governor. He says Governor Peter Shumlin has shown a lack of leadership by focusing too much on social issues rather than the economy.

"There's nothing done about tax reform, there's nothing done about what we're going to do to fix our education system and we've got a disaster pending with Vermont Health Connect," Milne said.

Milne will run as a Republican and face fringe candidate Emily Peyton in a primary.

The president of Milne Travel concedes his candidacy is a long shot. Asked if he can win as a Republican in Vermont, Milne said, "I think you can win as a Vermonter who is able to put the time in and create a movement."

"I'll bet you a cup of coffee there are five people that are longer shots than me that are going to win," Milne said.

Milne says Governor Shumlin has been too focused on national rather than state politics and sees a political opening similar to the one that led to the upset defeat of U.S. House Majority leader Eric Cantor earlier this week in Virginia.

"I'm delighted that Mr. Milne has entered the race because I think it's good for democracy," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

The governor says he's ready to run a vigorous campaign, but reiterated that it won't begin until after Labor Day.

"Until then I'm going to work 24/7 to do the job that Vermonters hired me to do," Shumlin said.

Political analysts say having Scott Milne toss his hat in the ring will give the governor's race some meat, making it "a real race."

Republican analyst Mike Smith and Democratic analyst Steve Terry weighed in Thursday afternoon.

"Scott Milne is articulate. He's a moderate Republican. He's a successful businessman. He's likable and that's a big factor. He has an uphill climb here to defeat an incumbent governor," Smith said.

"This will be a race that will focus on the issues more... Scott Milne has no record... He's going to have to give Vermonters some inkling as to where he stands... And I think it will result in a much better dialogue this election season," Terry said.

You can watch the extended interview with Mike Smith and Steve Terry in the video box at the top of the page.

Milne did file his paperwork just before the deadline Thursday evening.

Relatively unknown candidate Steve Berry also filed to run as a Republican Thursday.

And Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith announced he will seek re-election Thursday.

"I'm ready to go with really tough issues that we face next year," said Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker.

The speaker said he loves the job and wants to implement health and tax reform, but wanted to make sure doing so didn't interfere with work or family.

John Bauer, a Democrat who had announced a run for lieutenant governor, dropped out Thursday when he failed to raise enough money to qualify for a taxpayer financed campaign.

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