Markowitz announces re-election campaign for Secretary of State

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(Host) Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says it’s critical for lawmakers to consider new campaign finance reform legislation in January. Key provisions of Vermont’s previous law were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this summer. Markowitz made the comments as she announced her candidacy on Tuesday for a fifth term in office.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Markowitz formally announced her re-election plans at a gathering of family and friends on a small lawn just outside of her office in Montpelier. Markowitz, who was first elected in 1998, says she’s proud of her efforts to implement national voting reform provisions in Vermont. She says an administrative back log of regulatory cases has been substantially reduced over the past few years.

The four-term incumbent Democrat thinks one of the most important challenges of the next two years will be the Legislature’s debate over a new campaign finance reform law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Vermont’s contribution limits for statewide candidates were too low. For instance, the cap in the gubernatorial race was $400. For this election, the state’s previous limit of $2,000 for individuals and $6,000 for political action committees will be in place.

Markowitz thinks it’s an issue that the Legislature needs to revisit in 2007:

(Markowitz) “It’s incumbent on us in leadership positions to find ways that we can control the effect of money on politics. What we’ve seen across the nation and certainly with our federal races is, I think there’s a community consensus that we don’t want that here in Vermont. And I think the Legislature can take some steps to prevent that from coming here.”

(Kinzel) Markowitz says she also supports efforts to ensure that candidates receive a majority of votes cast to win an election. Currently under the Vermont Constitution, the Legislature decides statewide races when no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote. Markowitz says there are a number of ways to change the current system:

(Markowitz) “Instant runoff voting is one way of getting there. It’s not necessarily the only way though, and one of the things we’re going to be doing after this election is doing a study. We were asked by the Legislative leaders to do this, where we’re going to take a look at costs and benefits and some of the administrative challenges or opportunities that would come with an instant runoff voting system.”

(Kinzel) Markowitz is being challenged by Essex Town Clerk Cheryl Moomey who’s running as a Republican, and Liberty Union candidate Boots Wardinski.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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