NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- Attorney General William Sorrell is planning to visit all 14 Vermont counties this week to promote his re-election bid and remind voters that early voting began this week.
Sorrell is engaged in a primary battle with Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan. On Monday, Donovan posted an impressive fundraising haul, announcing that his campaign had raised about $130,000. Sorrell, meanwhile, reported raising about $92,000, with $56,000 cash on hand.
Sorrell, a 15-year incumbent, said in an interview Monday during a stop in Bennington that he remains unconcerned that Donovan was able to raise more money.
"I know that we’ve raised over $90,000," he said. "I’ve run seven times statewide and I’ve never raised a total of $90,000."
Sorrell said his campaign has planned several fundraisers in the coming weeks and will begin to close the gap. Sorrell has never faced a primary or serious Republican challengers. As a result, the primary race against Donovan is shaping up to be quite costly, he said.
"I’ve got four or five fundraisers in the next two weeks. I’ll be over $100,000 by the end of next week. This is going to be, by far, the most expensive attorney general race in Vermont history. It’s an unfortunate fact. I hate raising money, but you’ve got to get your message out, and I think one of the benefits of this primary is that so many Vermonters are finding out, maybe for the first time, what the attorney general does," he said.
The two Democrats will spend about the same by the end of the primary. Sorrell said he is considering television and radio advertising, something he has never had to spring for in the past.
"The bottom line is, at the end of the day we’re going to have comparable amounts of money to spend. We’re well on track to what, at the beginning of the campaign, we set our benchmarks to be and we’re certainly going to be able to get our message out," he said. "If I do get overspent by a little bit, that’s fine with me. That’s just fine."
The campaign has featured a number of high-profile endorsements. Donovan has netted union endorsements that have resulted in campaign contributions. He has also gained the backing of former Gov. Phil Hoff.
Sorrell, meanwhile, will hold an event with former Gov. Howard Dean on Thursday.
"I’m very, very happy to have former Gov. Howard Dean’s endorsement, as I’m very happy former Gov. Madeleine Kunin endorsed me and introduced me at my kick-off event when I declared my candidacy Š back at the end of May. These are respected Vermont leaders, and the fact that they think I should remain in office, I’m very happy to have their endorsement," Sorrell said. "On the other hand, the endorsement that really matters is the voters on Aug. 28. The reality is, every single Vermonter has a vote that counts as much as Howard Dean’s vote or Madeleine Kunin’s vote or Bill Sorrell’s vote."
Sorrell’s visit to Bennington County on Monday included stops at Emeritus at Fillmore Pond, an assisted-living facility, and WBTN 1370 AM. Monday was the first of a five-day tour of the state to remind voters who can already vote in the Aug. 28 primary. Ballots can be requested from town clerks.
Sorrell said he is making an effort to identify supporters and have them vote early because voters are not usually thinking about elections in the summer.
"I think it’s very important because people aren’t thinking in late August about an election, and Aug. 28, people are thinking about getting their kids back to school or getting a few more days by the lake before the Labor Day holiday," he said. "They’re not really thinking about elections."