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Republican Lieutenant Governor Primary Race 2020: Scott Milne

Scott Milne is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.
Scott Milne Campaign, courtesy
Scott Milne is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

Scott Milne is president of Milne Travel. He was the Republican nominee for the U.S. senate in 2016 and the Republican nominee for governor in 2014. He is among five candidates seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb spoke with Scott Milne, and their interview below has been condensed and edited for clarity. VPR is interviewing all of the candidates for lieutenant governor.

Find VPR's Vermont Primary 2020 coverage, including a full debate schedule, here.

Scott Milne: Hopefully everybody can figure out how to do the job as lieutenant governor. And just about everybody that's done it, [as to the] parliamentarian part, has done a good job. I don't see that as being a differentiator between myself and my opponents. But the big picture question is: what are we going to do outside of that? And that's a real differentiator in this election. With Scott Milne, Vermonters are going to get an experienced small business person who gets the devastation coming our way from the post coronavirus economic disaster that awaits us. I've lived in that world. I see firsthand every day what it's doing to my business. I understand what's coming.

You know, frankly, with my progressive Democratic opponents, no matter which one wins the primary, Vermont's going to get a partisan whose primary goal is going to be payback to the special interests and lobbyists who funded their campaign. That's not what Vermonters want. Now, I'm going to be an advocate for small businesses across Vermont to help get a Vermont economy back on track and to help strengthen the Vermont brand as a great place to live and a great place to do business.

Mitch Wertlieb: If a Democrat did win the governor's race, would you be able to work effectively with that governor?

Presumably, if a Democrat is elected and they want a partner in the lieutenant governor's office to help get Vermonters and Vermont businesses back to a path towards optimism about the future, I will be happy to work with them. If they want a partisan who's going to be trying to promote this agenda that let us down the wrong path for the last couple of decades, I'm not going to be their person.

Scott, I want to get into some of the things you mentioned about what it sounds like you're saying is going to be a very difficult economic time for Vermont post COVID-19. How can we rebuild and recover while keeping Vermonters safe right now?

It's a great question and there's obviously a lot of unknowns. You know, I applaud our governor for prioritizing health and safety. I think we need to follow the data and science and not have some sort of a dogmatic agenda of how this is going to work out. But as we emerge from the health crisis, our economy is going to be in tatters, Mitch. Nobody in the Democrat progressive side of this race has ever built a business or created jobs. I come from that world. I understand that world. I can have conversations with people as a lieutenant governor, I believe, and particularly on why Vermont's a good place to bring your business. Why Vermont's a good place to stay. As we know, the world is globalizing. More and more decisions about jobs in Vermont are not made in Vermont. It's one of the reasons why our economy is in trouble. It's one of the things I'll be totally focused on, no matter who is governor.

There is another big problem right now in this country, Scott. Of course, this has to do with racism and police brutality. And you've seen protests nationally around the country, people speaking out about this. How would you effect change in our state when it comes to possible changes in law enforcement? And would you push for any?

First of all, Mitch, every American needs to be treated with dignity. I believe very, very strongly presumption of innocence is an important expectation that all Americans need from courts, from prosecutors, and especially from police. However, we also need to realize that the vast majority of police officers fulfill their duty with great distinction. It's clear from recent events that we must closely examine policies and procedures as they relate to police conduct and the use of deadly force. I do support, I believe, the recent legislation putting body cameras on every officer, [also] prohibition of chokeholds except in self- defense. I guess what I would propose or support is that we establish a commission which will include civil rights leaders, representatives of minority and other disadvantaged communities and law enforcement that will work together and come up with detailed recommendations for further reforms.

More from VPR: Police Reform Bills In Montpelier Get Pushback From Both Cops And Their Critics

You stood out among the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor in our debate in saying that you could not support President Donald Trump. And I'm wondering if you are on the same page as Vermont Republicans, generally speaking, in being in opposition to President Trump.

We've got a big tent as Vermont Republicans. And I think that debate pointed it out. I believe we've gone too far to the left in Vermont over the last couple of decades. Vermonters realize if you look at our pension problem, you look at our $300 million deficit we're going to have here, all these underlying problems that we had financially before, we have this COVID crisis on top of it. Clearly, there's a divide in the Republican Party about our president. Frankly, I wish President Trump had followed through with his campaign promise to be more presidential. So I'm voting for former Governor Jim Douglas. And I want to say with a smile and sincerity, if it does work out, we will have one great first lady!

More from VPR: 2020 Primary Debates: Republican Candidates For Lieutenant Governor

I'm wondering what you've learned from your previous campaigns for U.S. senate and for governor that you may be taking to this race for lieutenant governor?

I've learned that, you know, obviously in 2014, we ran a campaign where we were outspent by a couple of million dollars and we came within a little over a point of the biggest upset in Vermont history. That was the closest governor's race in 200 years in Vermont. What I learned is that telling people the truth, having people that, you know, support you locally in communities is extraordinarily powerful. Those people are out supporting me again this year. In 2016, we were outspent by $5 million. I think we got a higher percentage of the vote against a very popular incumbent than anybody running against him since the early 1990s. I'm proud of both campaigns. I told the truth in both campaigns. Go back and look at anything I said in those campaigns. It's the same thing I'll be saying in this campaign.

Find VPR's Vermont Primary 2020 coverage, including a full debate schedule, here.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet host Mitch Wertlieb @mwertlieb

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Vermont’s primary election is on Aug. 11, so VPR is reaching out to candidates in contested races for governor, lieutenant governor and the U.S. House to find out why they're seeking to serve, and where they stand on the issues of the day. Find our full coverage here.

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