Saturday November 3, 2012

MONTPELIER (AP) -- A longtime state senator and a longtime self-employed policy analyst are vying for the job of state auditor, the only statewide political race in Tuesday’s election that will fill an open seat.

The race pits Republican Sen. Vincent Illuzzi, of Derby, who has spent 32 years in the Legislature, many of those working in the chamber’s money committees, against Democrat Doug Hoffer, of Burlington, a self-described "numbers guy" who worked for the auditor’s office on contract for five years.

Vermont’s down-ticket races this campaign season are generating more excitement than the races for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House, all of which are expected to return the incumbents to office.

Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis said he felt Illuzzi had the edge in the auditor race because he has waged a more energetic campaign and has amassed, through his work in the Legislature, contacts across the state with Democrats and Republicans.

In the other statewide races, incumbent Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, is being challenged by Cassandra Gekas, running as a Democrat and a Progressive. Incumbent Democratic Attorney General William Sorrell is being challenged by Republican Jack McMullen and Progressive Ed Stanak. Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos has no major-party challenger.

The bitter race for state treasurer pits incumbent Democrat Beth Pearce, who was appointed to the post by Democratic Gov.


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Peter Shumlin, against Republican Wendy Wilton.

The auditor’s job is to review the state’s annual financial statements, which are prepared by an outside accounting firm, and conduct a wide range of financial and operational reviews of state and municipal agencies.

Illuzzi and Hoffer are vying to replace Tom Salmon, who was elected as a Democrat in 2006 but later changed his party affiliation to Republican. Salmon is stepping down to seek better-paying work.

Illuzzi was first elected to the state Senate in 1980, representing Essex and Orleans counties, two of Vermont’s least populous. He says he’s qualified to fill the office because of his knowledge of state government. One area he says he’d look for savings is in the way the state manages its computer systems.

Hoffer came to Vermont in 1988 to work for Burlington. He worked under contract for the state auditor for five years. He’s been a policy analyst for 19 years. He’s promising to offer greater transparency and to track the results of his office’s auditors to ensure government makes the changes needed to improve the way it functions.