NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- Local Democrats have opened a Main Street headquarters ahead of next month's election to help get voters to the polls on behalf of their candidates.
Republicans, meanwhile, say they are unlikely to open a local office and will instead rely on supporters in other counties to help organize locally.
"At this point in time, the answer is no. But, that may change, too," said state Republican Party Chairman Jack Lindley. "There's events that are coming up and if the funding is available we may very well do that."
Local Democrats are using their office, located near Bennington's Four Corners, as a space to distribute informational material, register people to vote and place phone calls to help identify supporters.
"They're doing a lot of online and phone-banking stuff," said Amelia Silver, chairwoman of the Bennington County Democratic Party.
The office, run by the state party, is also housing a staff member from President Barack Obama's campaign, according to Silver. The county party is using mostly volunteers, with state party staff members dropping in several times a week, she said.
"Right now we have a regional organizer who is charge of the whole western corridor of the state," Silver said.
Both Democrats and Republicans agree that Bennington County is not a hotbed for local races. Bennington's two House districts are contested, but few other incumbents have been challenged in the area. As a result, Silver said much of the work being done at the Democratic headquarters is focused on statewide races, and provided volunteers for Obama's effort in New Hampshire.
"Our local Democratic races are not highly charged, I don't think," Silver said. "We don't have a lot of hot elections down here right now, which is kind of nice, so people can focus on the statewide elections."
For the state Republican Party, it means resources can be directed elsewhere, Lindley said. With Vermont a solidly blue state, Republican money has paled in comparison to the Democrats. Lindley said the party is using its funds to focus on specific areas and races. There are offices in Springfield and Rutland that are helping to get out the vote in Bennington County, he said.
"We're very targeted this year. We're using a rifle, we're not using a shotgun," he said.
Lindley said there is "quite a little bit of interest" in Republican candidates in Bennington County. But, the party can reach the entire state from the five offices around the state.
Lindley said the Republican Party would have to determine soon if an office would open locally. "There's probably a cutoff time by the 15th or 16th of October. We'd have to be making a decision in that time frame," he said.
Silver said two statewide candidates, Democratic Treasurer Beth Pearce, and Cassandra Gekas, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, will attend an event on Oct. 12 at the local office.