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In Campaign Kickoff, Shumlin Vows To Finish Job On Single-Payer

Taylor Dobbs
At his campaign kickoff, Gov. Peter Shumlin said he is determined to continue down the path to single-payer and took a few shots at opponents.

Peter Shumlin has kicked off his bid for a third term in the governor’s office. And the Democrat says he won’t rest until he’s put a single-payer health care system in place.

Vermont is one of only two states where governors serve two-year terms. And the brevity of the span between elections means sitting governors are pretty much always on the stump.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is no exception. And he’s spent much of the past summer using his official appearance schedule to tout his performance in office.

But on Tuesday, inside a reception hall on Burlington’s waterfront, the reelection campaign finally became official. Former Democratic Gov. Madeleine Kunin introduced Shumlin to a crowd made up mostly of politicians, lobbyists, Democratic Party officials and members of the Shumlin administration.

“And these past four years cry for us to say, ‘two more years, two more years, two more years,’” Kunin said.

Shumlin hit on familiar themes of jobs, the economy and health care in his 15-minute speech. And he said one sector in particular is key to the state’s economic future.

“It means investing in renewable energy as if our way of life and our economy depends upon it, because indeed they do,” Shumlin said.

Shumlin first vowed to deliver a single-payer health care system back in 2010. Four years later, he has yet to tell voters what taxes he’ll use to fund the program.

"I was elected to get tough thing done, and this may well be the toughest. But I will not rest until it is done." - Gov. Peter Shumlin

But he says answers to public financing questions are coming in January.

“We are moving forward on the nation’s first single-payer health care system that contains costs, takes the burden off of employer and simplifies the system for all Vermonters,” he said. “I was elected to get tough thing done, and this may well be the toughest. But I will not rest until it is done.”

In addition to enjoying all the advantages of incumbency, Shumlin has some other political factors swaying in his favor, namely the emergence of third-party candidate Dan Feliciano.

Feliciano will appear on the ballot as a Libertarian, but he won more than 2,000 write-in votes in the Republican primary, and could split the conservative vote in November.

Shumlin took swipes at both Feliciano and Republican nominee Scott Milne. Both men have accused Shumlin of using Vermont as a laboratory for ill-advised policy schemes, such as single-payer.

“My Republican and Libertarian opponents’ positions can be summed up like this: They’re against pretty much everything you and I are for. That’s the brutal truth,” Shumlin said. “They live in a world of ‘no.’”

David Sunderland, chairman of the Vermont GOP, says the state’s shrinking workforce, stagnant wage growth and rising tax burdens are the result of poor leadership in the governor’s office. And he said voters are beginning to catch on.

“He’s overseen an economy that is stagnant. The cost of living in Vermont is worse, not better. Our state budgets have consistently gone up by two times or more what most Vermonters’ paychecks have been seeing. We’ve seen uncontrolled increases in property taxes,” Sunderland said.

Shumlin has more than $1 million in his campaign account; neither of his opponents has more than $20,000.

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