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Phil Scott to seek 4th term as Vermont governor

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 7:15 AM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 1:31 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Incumbent Vermont Governor Phil Scott says he will seek another term.

The Republican made the announcement in a campaign email Tuesday morning. Scott says he’s worked to bring people together in a divided country and says he’s proven that he can put politics aside.

At his weekly media briefing Tuesday, he said his team worked with lawmakers to pass historic investments in housing, infrastructure, clean water, and climate change policies and that his administration is best suited to deliver on those promises. “It isn’t just me. There are many of the commissioners and secretaries that are part of the team that will carry the load,” Scott said.

The governor also says he’s worried about inflation and a potential recession and wants to lead the state through the headwinds, focusing on his administration’s three pillars -- growing the economy, making the state more affordable, and protecting the most vulnerable. “What you see is what you get. Some of the same concerns I had five or six years ago are still here today,” Scott said.

Polling continues to show the centrist Republican is popular. He is frequently at odds with right-wing elements in his own party and his approval ratings are the highest among Democrats and Independents.

Experts say a lot of his enduring appeal can be been chalked up to his handling of the pandemic and fiscal issues. “His affordability agenda, as he calls it, has definitely resonated with Vermonters, and now more so than ever with inflation and economic issues at the forefront of voters’ minds,” said Middlebury political science professor Bert Johnson.

Scott says most campaigning and fundraising can wait until after Labor Day. Candidates in a competitive governor’s race normally raise around a million dollars. Johnson says Scott might not need to raise a lot. “if it’s not very competitive -- number one -- he wouldn’t have as much luck as raising than candidates in competitive races nor would he need it,” Johnson said.

The governor’s intention to seek a fourth term comes as an unusually large number of House and Senate lawmakers are stepping back. Over a third of the Senate is leaving and nine committee chairs in the House are stepping down or seeking higher office. Scott calls the transition bittersweet. “This could be somewhat of a sea change, in many respects, in terms of institutional knowledge and some of the expertise they bring with them,” he said.

He says if re-elected, he will try to find common ground with whoever’s in the Legislature.

So far, Democrats have been reluctant to field challengers. Newfane activist Brenda Siegel is the only candidate who has entered the race. She launched her campaign several weeks ago, focusing on housing, the opioid crisis, and climate change. She was the first candidate to file to be on the August primary Tuesday.

“I expect that it will be a tough fight but a fight worth having. And I expect that we’re going to try to talk about issues and keep the voters hearing what they want, bringing them into the fold so their voices can rise to the surface,” Siegel said.

Siegel has gone head-to-head with the governor before. Last fall she scored a victory by helping push the administration to extend emergency hotel rooms to all homeless Vermonters after personally camping out nearly a month on the Statehouse steps.

The deadline for major party candidates to file to be in the August primary is next Thursday.

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