(Host) With less than three weeks to go before Election Day, Vermont Democrats have turned up the heat. The Democrats Thursday began airing advertisements that accuse Republicans of wanting to “steal” the election for governor and lieutenant governor. Republicans want the ad to be pulled.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) The state constitution requires lawmakers to decide if the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor get less than 50% of the vote. With tight contests in those races, the election may go to the Legislature. And Republicans will likely have a majority of the 180 members.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas and lieutenant governor candidate Brian Dubie say they would accept election by the Legislature in January, even if they don’t receive the most votes in November.
The Democrats say it’s wrong for the GOP to choose a candidate who loses the popular vote. And the Democrats’ new radio ads make that point with this fictitious newscast:
(Sound from state Democratic Party advertisement)
(Fictitious newscaster) “This is the Vermont Broadcast Network with this breaking news: Republicans in Montpelier installed Jim Douglas as governor despite his second place finish in the November election. A secret vote ended months of backroom deals and public protest.”
(Advertisement narrator) “This kind of stuff only happens in Florida, right? Wrong. Jim Douglas, Brian Dubie and the Republican Party are talking openly about stealing your vote.”
(Dillon) Mark Michaud is executive director of the state Democratic Party. He says Vermonters want their vote to count in November:
(Michaud) “The Republicans and Jim Douglas and Brian Dubie would have us believe this is some kind of casual political game. This isn’t a game. This is about the core principals of our democracy. This is about one person, one vote and the direct election of our leaders.”
(Dillon) Michaud says the ads will run statewide from now until Election Day. Republicans say the ad should be pulled immediately. Joe Acinapura, the Party’s chairman, says Democrats are waging a negative campaign:
(Acinapura) “Why are they afraid to talk to the important issues that are out there? Like jobs, the economy, fiscal responsibility. I just don’t understand that. Jim Douglas has put out his vision, his plan for prosperity. And they bring up this hypothetical situation that Jim’s going to come in second and he’s going to get elected anyway. If that’s what happens, in accordance with the constitution, fine. But I think Jim Douglas is going to get 51% of the vote, or 50% plus one [vote], and he’s going to get elected.”
(Dillon) Acinapura says Republican legislative candidates are not under orders to vote for Douglas in January.
(Acinapura) “I can state unequivocally that not me as the chair, nor the executive director, nor the executive committee has asked any member of the General Assembly, or any candidate, to cast a ballot for any specific candidate.”
(Dillon) The Democrats say they won’t pull their ad. They say voters should ask legislative candidates if they’ll follow the popular vote, or chose the candidate of their party.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.