MONTPELIER — Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott became the fourth candidate to jump into the gubernatorial race Tuesday, telling supporters in an email that he will focus on boosting the state’s economy
“After much reflection, many conversations and much encouragement, I will be a candidate for Governor in 2016,” Scott wrote. “Let me be very clear, I’ve made this decision because I believe too many families and employers are on the economic edge. For them to thrive and our state to prosper we must revitalize the fundamentals of a strong, healthy economy that expands the middle class, lifts wages, and attracts working families, entrepreneurs and new jobs.”
The 57-year-old Scott, a Berlin resident in his third term as lieutenant governor, has been publicly weighing a run for the top job after Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin announced in June that he would not seek a fourth, two-year term. His deliberate approach to determining whether he would run for governor had some questioning his desire.
In an interview Tuesday morning, Scott said there is no question about his commitment to running or his desire to serve as governor.
“For those that say, ‘I’m not sure he has the fire in the belly,’ they don’t know me very well,” he said.
“I’m competitive. You can’t be in business for 30 years without being competitive. You can’t race as long as I have … for 30 or 35 years and be successful without being competitive,” the stock car racer added.
Scott’s entry into the race will create a Republican primary. Former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman announced his candidacy via email last week. The 2014 GOP nominee for governor Scott Milne is also thinking of running again, as is 2012 nominee Randy Brock.
Scott had previously said he was likely to run but needed to find a way to separate himself from his construction firm, DuBois Construction, which has received state contracts. On Tuesday, Scott said he is still finalizing a plan to do that.
“It’s been something that I’ve been working on with many attorneys and others to try and find the best path forward to make sure that the business is on a firm foundation so that my employees will feel secure, and to be honest, to have something that I can come back to,” he said. “That’s everything to me. I don’t have stocks and bonds and other things for my later retirement. My retirement is in the business that I co-own.”
Scott said he has still not “put all the pieces of the puzzle together” concerning his business but feels “good enough now to move forward” with a campaign.
Scott’s campaign will be focused on the state’s economy. Scott has used the platform of the lieutenant governor’s office to call for making Vermont a more affordable place to live. But policies and ideas on how to accomplish that have been lacking. Voters are likely to demand more specifics from Scott and other candidates looking to succeed Shumlin.
Scott said he will be presenting his own ideas and policies for voters as the campaign progresses.
“I’m determined to do what’s right for Vermont. I think we have an affordability crisis on our hands. I think we have to come to that reality, that we can’t spend more than we’re taking in. It’s going to take some fiscal responsibility,” he said. “We haven’t paid enough attention to the economy. We haven’t been competing the way we should in order to survive. So, I feel comfortable in going out to compete and creating that excitement.”
Scott said he plans to assemble a campaign team in the coming weeks and months and hold a formal campaign kick-off event later in the fall.
Read Scott’s announcement letter below: