Brock, Snelling plan meeting to discuss plans for lieutenant governor

This story was updated at 5:30 p.m.

MONTPELIER — Republicans Randy Brock and Mark Snelling met Wednesday to discuss their mutual interest in running for lieutenant governor, but a decision on who will ultimately seek the office is not expected to be made for some time.

Randy Brock

Randy Brock

Brock, a former state senator and auditor and the GOP’s 2012 nominee for governor, is interested in the post. Mark Snelling, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2010 but lost in a primary to Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, also has a desire to run.

Snelling, the son of former Republican Gov. Richard Snelling and former Republican Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling, said Wednesday’s meeting with Brock was held to discuss what is best for each of them, as well as the Vermont Republican Party.

“We updated ourselves on where each of us are at and we said in the beginning that we weren’t going to come to any conclusions today and that we’re going to keep talking and that our expectation is that we’re going to hear more from people in the coming days who have an interest in the Republic nominations as well as people who have interest in the Democratic or Progressive nominations,” Snelling said following the afternoon summit. “That ought to help inform our decisions as we go forward.”

Before Wednesday’s meeting, Snelling said Wednesday’s meeting is expected to be the first of several as candidates consider campaigns.

“I’ve known Randy for a long time and we’ve worked together on a number of issues, most notably his 2012 campaign where I was his campaign treasurer. So, it’s not all that unusual for us to meet,” he said. “My expectation is that we would meet some more. I don’t view meeting with Randy today as some sort of definitive summit.”

Brock, according to Snelling, had been considering a run for a Senate seat representing Franklin County as late as last week.

“He told me was looking at a number of different things and If I had to characterize it I would have said that he sounded like he was leaning towards running for the Senate,” Snelling said.

Mark Snelling

Mark Snelling

Brock did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

The angling within the GOP is the result of Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin’s announcement in June that he would not seek a fourth, two-year term. As a result, Scott has announced his campaign to succeed Shumlin, opening the lieutenant governor’s seat for the first time since 2010.

Darcie Johnston, a Brock ally and his 2012 campaign manager, said she is hoping Brock will ultimately decide to run for the Senate.

“I’m pushing Randy to reconsider how his talents could best be utilized,” she said.

Republicans face the prospect of losing a Franklin County Senate seat as Sen. Norm McAllister faces criminal sex charges. He has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and prohibited acts.

McAllister was arrested outside the State House on May 7 after allegations surfaced that he demanded sex in exchange for rent and assaulted several women who worked on his farm. One alleged victim worked for McAllister at the State House as an intern. Senate leaders have said they will look to expel McAllister from the body if he does not resign before the second half of the legislative biennium begins in January.

Snelling initially said on Wednesday morning that he would not consider other political offices before amending his answer.

“I shouldn’t say no that definitively. I guess I might consider running for the Senate or the House, but probably not the House. I’m really not spending any time thinking about the Senate but I shouldn’t rule it out,” he said. “My real focus is on lieutenant governor.”

Snelling said he expects it will take both men more time to determine their political futures.

“I’m fairly fresh on the examination at this point. To some extent, that’s what’s turned up with Randy. As I started poking around I called him and that’s why we are meeting,” Snelling said.

A host of others Republicans are also said to be considering a run. Rep. Heidi Scheuermann of Stowe has said she will not run, but Caledonia County Sen. Joe Benning, who may run himself, is hoping the GOP will field another female candidate.

“I have not ruled anything out. My preference, frankly, would be that the Republican Party advance a female candidate. I am not at liberty to disclose who that candidate might be,” he said.

The party’s 2014 nominee for governor, Scott Milne, has indicated an interest, as has Rutland County Sen. Kevin Mullin.

Kevin Mullin

Kevin Mullin

“I’m definitely going through the process now of deciding whether or not to run for lieutenant governor but I am in no hurry to make a decision. My time timetable is to make a decision by Town Meeting week of next year,” Mullin said. “I respect both Mark and Randy, but at this point, I believe that I have a lot to offer for Vermonters who should be entitled to make a choice. If it’s a three-way race it’s a three-way race. I look forward to it,” he said.

Milne did not return a message seeking comment.

Democrat Brandon Riker, a Windham County resident and political newcomer, has announced his candidacy. A number of other Democrats are also said to be interested in running. Progressive Chittenden County Sen. David Zuckerman has said he is considering it, but it’s unclear whether he would run as a Progressive or jump into a Democratic primary.

neal.goswami@timesargus.com

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