Analyst: In Lt. Gov. Race, Focus Is On Personality More Than Issues

10/09/10 9:35AM By Bob Kinzel
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(Host) The race for Lt. Governor hasn't received a lot of attention in recent weeks, because of the intensity of the contest for governor.

As VPR's Bob Kinzel reports, some political analysts think the Lt. Governor's race will be decided more on the personalities of the candidates than their stand on specific issues.

(Kinzel) There's no question that Democrat Steve Howard and Republican Phil Scott disagree on a number of key issues.

Howard wants the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant to close down when its license expires in 2012 - Scott was one of the few senators to support the plant last winter.

Scott supports a parental notification law for minors seeking to have an abortion, Howard does not and while Scott is calling for restraint in the growth of the state budget, Howard says it's critical to maintain essential services for Vermonters in need during these difficult economic times.

Will these issue differences play a key role in the outcome of this race?  Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis doesn't think so.  Davis believes the personalities of the candidates will play a larger role.

(Davis) "While they both talk about standing up for the middle class, Steve Howard is much more...aggressively liberal in his policy positions. His style is also much more sort of ‘out there' and in your face. And Phil Scott is portraying himself as someone who in a year in which there will be a lot of turnover in the Senate - because so many senators either ran for some other office or aren't coming back - that he can provide some continuity in the Senate."

(Kinzel) Dick Mazza is a Democratic state senator from Grand Isle County who is backing Republican Scott.  Davis says this endorsement will help.

(Davis) "Dick Mazza comes from Colchester, he's well known in the northwestern corner of the state. Neither of these two candidates for Lt. Governor comes from Chittenden, and that's where the most votes will be cast so the Chittenden county vote is up for grabs. And Dick Mazza's endorsement may enable Phil Scott to do a little better than republicans generally would do in Chittenden."

(Kinzel) Davis also thinks that endorsements by Vermont's newspapers will play a key role in the Lt. Governor's race.

(Davis) "I don't believe that newspaper endorsements count all that much in the governor's race. There's so much information out there, voters will form their own opinions But for the down ticket races - that's where newspaper endorsements either from the dailies or the weeklies can make a difference."

(Kinzel) Marjorie Power is the Progressive party candidate in this race. Davis says it's hard to determine just how her candidacy will affect the outcome of the election.

For VPR News, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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