Republican Randy Brock to run for governor in 2012
By PETER HIRSCHFELD
Vermont Press Bureau | December 07,2011
MONTPELIER – Vermont Republicans finally have their man.
State Sen. Randy Brock on Wednesday announced his candidacy for governor, putting an end to long-running speculation about who would lead the GOP challenge of Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2012.
Flanked by a number of Republican luminaries, including former Gov. James Douglas, Brock, a two-term senator from Franklin County, said he’s launched the campaign “because I believe we need to adopt a pro-growth agenda and create a vibrant and creative economy that serves all Vermonters.”
“I am running for governor because I believe that this little state – filled with thousands of hard-working, independent, strong-willed people – can become an economic dynamo for New England, and become the next great place to be,” he said during an early afternoon press conference in the Cedar Creek Room of the Statehouse.
Brock said his campaign wouldn’t begin in earnest until May, when the 2012 legislative session ends. But he wasted no time Wednesday lobbing political grenades at his incumbent rival.
“I believe that Peter Shumlin is a good man, but I believe he is blindly steering Vermont’s ship of state toward the shoals,” Brock said.
Specifically, Brock targeted health care reform legislation enacted earlier this year that sets the state on a path toward a single-payer system by 2017.
The issue was a political winner for Shumlin last year, when thousands of single-payer proponents helped deliver the Democrat a victory over Republican Brian Dubie.
Brock however plans to transform Shumlin’s single-payer promise into his political Achilles Heel.
“What the Shumlin Administration has given us is the prospect of a utopian single-payer system, and they won’t tell us how much it will cost, how we will pay for it, what will be covered and how it will impact our hospitals and doctors,” he said. “Think about the illogic: how on earth can we say it will save money when we don’t know what it will cost?”
Shumlin’s ideas on health care, coupled with his push toward increased reliance on renewable energy, betray an agenda “built on rosy assumptions and wishful thinking constructed over a foundation of quicksand,” Brock said.
The Shumlin campaign declined to fire back Wednesday. Shumlin’s former campaign manager, Alex MacLean, is out of the country, according to a message on her cellphone (she now serves as Shumlin’s secretary of civil and military affairs). Kate O’Connor, treasurer for Shumlin for Governor, deflected press inquiries to a statement released by administration spokeswoman Sue Allen.
“Only 11 months into his first term, Gov. Shumlin is focused on the job Vermonters elected him to do: create jobs, revitalize Vermont’s economy, and get tough things done,” Allen said in a written statement. “That will be the Governor’s focus in the months ahead as Vermont continues to create a bright jobs future.”
Shumlin has said, only half-jokingly, that his reelection campaign won’t begin until after Labor Day next year. It’s a claim seemingly at odds with the fundraising operation under way at Shumlin for Governor – as of July, he had amassed a nearly $200,000 war chest.
While the campaign stayed tight-lipped, Vermont Democratic Party Chairman Jake Perkinson was ready to engage the new political enemy.
“Sen. Brock’s latest job search has been a months-long political calculation about what’s best for Randy Brock, not what’s best for Vermont,” Perkinson said in a written statement. “Randy Brock was a failure as Auditor, has failed to distinguish himself as a State Senator, and will fail in his bid for governor.”
The bitter early tone comes after a 2010 race widely viewed as one of the most negative in Vermont’s history.
Brock has held statewide office before, winning a single term as auditor in 2004 before narrowly losing his reelection bid in 2006 to then-Democrat Tom Salmon.
Brock enters the 2012 race for governor as the heavy underdog. Shumlin wields not only the power of incumbency – an advantage buoyed by his widely acclaimed handling of Tropical Storm Irene – but also his head start on fund-raising.
While conceding his underdog status, Brock seemed largely unfazed by the headwinds.
“I feel fully confident that when Vermonters go to the polls next November, when they think about who deserves to be the next governor, their thought will be, ‘we can do better,’” Brock said.
The longtime Swanton resident holds one of two senate seats from the Franklin County district, where he was the highest vote-getter last year with slightly more than 9,000 votes.
Though he’s been involved in electoral politics for nearly a decade, not very many Vermonters are familiar with him, according to the results of a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling earlier this year.
Only 32 percent of Vermonters surveyed knew Brock who Brock was. Of those, half said they held an “unfavorable” opinion of the man, according to the poll results.
In a series of hypothetical Republican match-ups against Shumlin, Brock fared worse than all but one contender – Barre City Mayor Tom Lauzon. According to the poll, Brock would lose a contest against Shumlin by a margin of 52 percent to 29 percent.