MONTPELIER – Vermont Republicans finally have their man.
State Sen. Randy Brock this afternoon announced his candidacy for governor. Flanked by a number of GOP luminaries, including former Gov. James Douglas, Brock, a two-term senator from Franklin County, said “there would be no greater honor than to work on behalf of all Vermonters as your governor.”
Brock said his campaign would begin in earnest in May, at the end of the 2012 legislative session. But he wasted no time Wednesday lobbing political grenades as his incumbent rival, Gov. Peter Shumlin.
“I believe that Peter Shumlin is a good man, but I believe he is blindly steering Vermont’s ship of state toward the shoals,” Brock said during at a 1 p.m. press conference in the Cedar Creek Room.
Brock has taken particular exception to Shumlin’s single-payer health care initiative, a reform proposal he said is “built on rosy assumptions and wishful thinking constructed on a foundation of quicksand.”
Brock has held statewide office before, winning a single term as auditor in 2004 before narrowly losing his reelection bid in 2006 to then-Democrat Tom Salmon.
Brock enters the 2012 race for governor as the heavy underdog. Gov. Peter Shumlin wields not only the power of incumbency – an advantage buoyed by his widely acclaimed handling of Tropical Storm Irene – but also has had a head start on fund-raising. As of mid-July, the last reporting disclosure deadline, Shumlin had amassed a nearly $200,000 war chest.
“I feel fully confident that when Vermonters go to the polls next November, when they think about who deserves to be the next governor, their thought will be, ‘we can do better,’” Brock said.
Brock, a longtime Swanton resident, holds one of two senate seats from the Franklin County district, where he was the highest vote-getter last year with slightly more than 9,000 votes.
The retired Fidelity Investments executive has been among the chief opponents to Shumlin’s single-payer health care initiative and said Wednesday the issue would be among the centerpieces of his campaign.
“Vermonters don’t want to live in a laboratory for change. They don’t want to be guinea pigs or lab rats in a grand social experiment,” he said. “Vermonters simply want to have a fair shake, an honest shot at the opportunities that lie before them and an ability to lead their lives as they want to lead them.”
Brock’s entry into public service was preceded by a long private-sector career. He is a certified fraud examiner who served as general auditor at Fidelity before retiring in 2003 as the investment giant's executive vice president of risk oversight (he commuted by plane between Swanton and Boston for a decade).
Though he’s been involved in electoral politics for nearly a decade, not very many Vermonters are familiar with him, according to the results of a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling earlier this year.
Only 32 percent of Vermonters surveyed knew Brock who Brock was. Of those, half said they held an “unfavorable” opinion of the man, according to the poll results.
In a series of hypothetical match-ups with Shumlin, Brock fared worse than all but one Republican – Barre City Mayor Tom Lauzon. According to the poll, Brock would lose a contest against Shumlin by a margin of 52 percent to 29 percent.
- PETE HIRSCHFELD