Anthony Pollina officially kicks off gubernatorial campaign

03/14/08 7:34AM By Ross Sneyd
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(Host) Vermont's 2008 race for governor got under way Thursday when Progressive Anthony Pollina officially launched his campaign.

VPR's Ross Sneyd was there.

(Sounds of band)

(Sneyd) With a three-piece band, balloons and campaign signs, the Essex technical high school was transformed into a set made for TV.

Pollina staged his kickoff rally before the television cameras just in time to go live on the evening news.

His theme was simple.

(Pollina) "The whole darn country is talking about change. And we are going to get it. And we deserve it. ... Imagine how we're going to feel when real change comes to America. When real change settles in in Washington, D.C. Imagine how we're going to feel if we get stuck with our same old current governor for two more years.''

(Sneyd) That was the message of the evening and the crowd of several hundred cheered Pollina on at every applause line.

He hit on the array of issues that are sure to be at the top of the debate this fall. Pollina believes balancing the state budget will be difficult, and he says it must be done - but with compassion, cooperation and creativity.

He called for a broader reform of the health care system, an agricultural policy that emphasizes buying local for state cafeterias and for family dinner tables.

On most issues, he offered generalities. But he did call for at least one new, specific policy.

(Pollina) "We're going to establish a Vermont equity fund - what we call 2 percent for Vermont.''

(Sneyd) Pollina would ask Fletcher Allen hospital, the University of Vermont and other institutions to put two percent of their investment portfolios in the fund.

Then, Vermont companies and entrepreneurs who might not otherwise have access to capital, would be able to tap that fund to build their businesses.

Pollina acknowledged that he faces a challenge in defeating a popular, three-term incumbent governor. He didn't mention it, but he's also trying to persuade Democrats to get behind him as a unity candidate of the Vermont left.

(Pollina) "None of this, quite frankly, is going to be easy. It's going to take a lot of work from a lot of people. Some will say that it simply cannot happen. We can't succeed. They are wrong.''

(Sneyd) Pollina knows his best hope for success is an alliance with Democrats. Former Ambassador Peter Galbraith says he's still thinking about getting into the race to represent the Democrats.

But the party's top leadership is also considering a request from Pollina that he make his case for unity directly to them.

For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.


AP Photo/Toby Talbot


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