• Scott not likely to run against Shumlin
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     | April 22,2013
     

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE--The Vermont Statehouse is seen through the cover of a maple tree in Montpelier, Vt., Oct. 26, 1999. Built of white granite from nearby hills and topped with a gold-leaf dome, the Statehouse has been called by the National Register of Historic Places "one of the most picturesque statehouses in the country." Built in 1857 it contains many furnishings dating from the mid-19th century, including the original 30 black walnut desks in the Senate. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

    Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s lead role in an effort to re-brand the Vermont GOP has fueled new speculation about the scope of his political ambition.

    But while Scott isn’t counting out a future bid for governor, he said his effort to reform the Vermont Republican Party is wholly unconnected to any campaigns for office. And if he does decide to pull the trigger on a run for the state’s top elected post, he said last Monday, it almost certainly won’t be until after Democratic incumbent Peter Shumlin calls it quits.

    “Right now I’m not thinking about running (for governor) in 2014, or 16, or 18. I’m just happy being lieutenant governor at this point, and as long as I continue to have a positive effect I’ll continue to be in this position,” Scott said.

    Scott said he isn’t closing the door on a run.

    “You never know,” he said. “If something were to come about, if all of a sudden Peter Shumlin decided to run for president or something, I don’t know.”

    Does that mean Scott, widely viewed as the most politically viable GOP gubernatorial hopeful, wouldn’t consider going up against the Democrat?

    “I think running against an incumbent is terribly difficult, in any position,” Scott said. “And I think that would be a tough proposition.”

    So who will represent the GOP at the top of the ticket in 2014? Randy Brock wasn’t deterred by Shumlin’s incumbency, and is reportedly very seriously considering a second shot at the man to whom he lost last year by 20 points.

    The conservative super PAC “Vermonters First” is venturing back into legislative politics, this time with a statewide mailing that hammers Democratic lawmakers for proposed increases on a slew of taxes.

    Earlier this year, Vermonters First, which spent about $1 million on behalf of Republican candidates during the last election cycle, aired a series of 15-second television ads calling Dems on the carpet for a proposed increase in the gas tax.

    The group, funded almost exclusively (as of the latest campaign-finance disclosure deadlines) by Burlington heiress Lenore Broughton, is out now with glossy tri-folds, which began arriving last Tuesday in the mailboxes of voters in districts with Democrats in the House.

    “(Your representative here) just voted to go on a massive taxing spree!” the mailing says.

    A photograph of a shopping cart filled with a pair of jeans, gas can, miniature house, cup of soda and a burger symbolizes the suite of provisions in three bills passed by the Vermont House so far this year.

    The House’s $23 million revenue package would eliminate the sales tax exemption on soft drinks, candy, bottled water and items of clothing that cost more than $110. The legislation also raises the meals tax for a year, and would raise income taxes on rich people. An education-funding bill passed in February, meanwhile, would send property tax rates up by 5 cents.

    “The high cost of living in Vermont is going to get worse if Democrat (your rep’s name here) gets her way,” the mailer says.

    The coup de grace: a perforated tear-off, onto which Vermonters First has already printed the home address of the Democratic rep, that encourages voters to “write your own personal message” to the officeholder.

    Broughton cried foul last year when a group of single-payer advocates picketed outside her Burlington home in protest of her media blitzes.

    Vermonters First’s lone staff, Tayt Brooks, didn’t respond to requests for comment, as usual. But the mailings indicate that Broughton is as committed as ever to ending one-party rule, and is willing to spend a lot of money to get it done.

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