MONTPELIER -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock on Thursday criticized incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin for what the challenger said has been too much time away from the office.
A Shumlin aide confirmed Brock’s assertion that Shumlin was out of state and turned the reins of government over to Lt. Gov. Phil Scott for 119 days during his first 21 months in office.
The lieutenant governor is notified and becomes acting head of the state any time the governor is outside Vermont’s borders.
"Vermonters have an expectation that their governor will work hard and perform to the highest standards possible," Brock said at a news conference. "Over the course of the last 21 months, Governor Shumlin has been absent from Vermont for at least 119 days. That’s 17 weeks, just shy of four months."
Brock tied the new criticisms to his recent complaints that Shumlin has not been participating in enough debates, and to reports last month that he had traveled to California for a campaign fundraiser.
"The ship of state demands a captain at the wheel at all times and Peter Shumlin has not been at the wheel," Brock said. "He doesn’t have three hours to drive to Bennington for a debate, but he has three days to go to California to raise money."
Brock acknowledged that his count included weekends and holidays, which together have numbered slightly more than 200 days since Shumlin took office.
Some of Shumlin’s trips out of state were for partial days. For example, he was out of state from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on May 1, 2011, to attend a Red Sox game on "Vermont Day" at Boston’s Fenway Park.
Brock said he took the total hours Scott was asked to serve as acting governor, 2,858, and divided by 24, producing the 119 day figure.
Shumlin campaign manager Alexandra MacLean said on 44 of those 119 days, Shumlin was on official state business, mainly meeting with corporate officials in a bid to get them to bring more jobs to Vermont. The other 75 days were devoted to campaign activities, those involving the Democratic Governors Association, and personal time off.
"The governor travels both in and out of Vermont to create jobs and economic opportunity," MacLean said. "The idea that the governor wouldn’t travel in order to bring jobs to Vermont is absurd."