BARRE -- Republican Scott Milne formally launched his campaign for Vermont governor Wednesday, accusing incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin of an "ultra-progressive" style of governing and promising a more moderate approach.
Milne addressed a crowd of about 80 of the Republican party faithful, including former Gov. Jim Douglas, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and others at the Aldrich Public Library in Barre.
Milne, 55, a travel agency executive from Pomfret, accused Shumlin of "steering the ship of state into uncharted waters," and said that if elected, he would "end this era of unbridled experimentation with government."
Milne is considered the favorite in this year's Republican primary against two other candidates who do not have the party establishment's backing. Shumlin also faces a little-known primary challenger.
If money matters, Milne faces tall odds. Campaign finance reports filed last week showed him with less than $20,000 in his campaign coffers, versus more than $1 million for Shumlin. But Douglas, who stepped down as Shumlin took office in 2011, said the defeat of the U.S. House majority leader in a primary last month by an upstart candidate backed by the tea party provides an example of overcoming those odds.
"The size of the war chest doesn't necessarily mean the outcome of the race. I have two words: Eric Cantor," Douglas said in remarks introducing Milne, referring to the House majority leader who lost his seat to a challenger backed by the tea party.
Milne has not run previously for statewide office, but comes from a political family. Both his father and mother served in the Vermont House; his father is still the clerk of that body.
Milne said his late entrance into the campaign is an advantage, because it will allow him to keep up momentum and get by with a much smaller supply of campaign cash than Shumlin has.
Milne did not delve into specific policies in his remarks, telling reporters afterward that he would develop policy proposals by September. He said he wanted to run a "campaign of ideas," adding that he "will not be vilifying the governor. ... We will not stoop to attacks on his character."
In his later remarks to reporters, Milne was more pointed in his criticism of Shumlin.
He said Vermont has a reputation as "not a good place to do business. That's gotten a lot worse under the Shumlin administration's governing style than it's been in the last 25 years in Vermont. That's going to change, and I think just having a Republican moderate governor (in) office is going to do wonders for changing that."
Erika Wolffing, Shumlin's campaign finance director, responded to Milne's comments in an email.
"Governor Shumlin looks forward to engaging in a campaign after Labor Day that focuses on continuing to grow jobs and economic opportunities for Vermonters," she wrote, citing the state's low unemployment rate, solar energy jobs and bond rating.