Lieutenant governor candidates have differing visions for Vermont

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 5:05 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 4:54 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - We now know the two chief rivals for Vermont's number two political job. Democrat Molly Gray and Republican Scott Milne both emerged from Tuesday's primary with double-digit victories. Now, they turn their sights on each other. Our Adam Sullivan talked to both candidates.

Both Gray and Milne are ready to move on to the general election and they bring starkly different visions for what the lieutenant governor should do for Vermont.

"It's really exciting and we are really really pumped about what's to come," said Molly Gray, Democrat for Vermont lieutenant governor.

"Yeah, good day. Feeling good about the campaign," said Scott Milne, Republican for Vermont lieutenant governor.

Milne and Gray are both feeling good on the heels of their primary night victories. But they both have different takes on the role of lieutenant governor.

Gray says it's about fighting for the issues Vermonters care about.

"Issues of child care, paid family and medical leave, equal access to the internet, workforce development," she said.

Milne says it's about helping to get the region's economy back on track.

"Chief marketing officer, chief brand officer, small business ombudsman: some version of a job like that," he said.

Milne likely has more name recognition having run for statewide office in the past. But he's also attempting to link his campaign with Gov. Phil Scott, a popular Republican running for reelection in a blue state.

"Being a partner versus an adversary in the lieutenant governor's office for Governor Phil Scott. I think people believe Vermont needs to go forward and that is going to be a part of our getting there," Milne said.

"I look forward to being an incredibly strong partner for the Legislature, for the governor-- whoever that may be-- but most importantly, elevating the voices of our communities," Gray said.

Gray got key support from Democratic leaders during the primary, including former Govs. Madeline Kunin and Peter Shumlin. But Milne calls that a liability, giving a taste of what’s to come during the upcoming general election campaign.

"Peter Shumlin was an arrogant reckless governor. Nice guy, I have a lot of respect for him personally, horrible governor. He's a mentor of Molly Gray," Milne said.

Gray counters by saying ultimately, her campaign is about talking to the people.

"Vermonters vote for the person," she said. "We vote for people who get things done."

How well Gray is able to weather criticism, according to the experts, will be crucial to her success.

"It's one thing to win among your base," political analyst Matt Dickinson said. "It's another thing to have to deal with someone across the political aisle who is taking shots at you."

A difference in campaigning strategy as well, with the 30-something Gray saying she’ll target voters through social media. Milne, who has used TV advertising to promote his travel business, says he’ll raise enough money to run traditional campaign ads on TV.

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