BENNINGTON -- Travel agency owner Scott Milne is running for the Republican nomination for governor. His main concern and criticism is not directed at the Democratically-controlled legislature as it is toward incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin.
Milne admittedly is coming into the race somewhat late. "We got a late start, I'm not known state-wide, so we're trying to get out," he during a visit to the Banner office on Tuesday.
He's running a campaign with a $200,000 budget. "I think we've got a chance," Milne said. "We have a primary but we're feeling pretty good."
A past supporter of both Democrat Howard Dean and Republican Jim Douglas as governor, Milne supported Republican Brian Dubie for governor in his 2010 race against Shumlin.
Milne said he is running an accurate, fact-based campaign -- one very critical of the Shumlin administration. "I think he should be called into question for some of the decisions he's made," he said. "I think a lot of people are starting to feel like this whole thing of ‘do we really need to be the most liberal state in the country every day' is going too far.
Milne said one of his principles would be to govern based on practical thought processes versus political ones. For instance, Shumlin campaigned on closing Vermont Yankee and the manner in which it was done was politically motivated, he said.
"He followed through on it, but he followed through on it in a way that was not collaborative and not business-friendly," Milne said.
As a result, Entergy is closing the plant with a 65-year decommissioning "because nobody from Vermont tried to work with them," he said. "I think we could have extended their license, had them pony up the cash for the rapid decommissioning" in 35 years.
"The GMO labeling bill is another example of good legislation but it's passed in a way where we're going to get sued. (Shumlin's) standing in front of a sign the next week with the Ben & Jerry's guys saying ‘we're starting a food fight.'" The governor got an hour-long spot nationwide on National Public Radio to talk about the law. "Connecticut and Maine have very similar bills. Their governors didn't get national press," Milne said. "They're not going to get sued, they just used a more business-friendly collaborative trigger mechanism to kick off."
Milne also found fault with the way the administration runs regional planning commissions. Killington is trying to expand its ski operation "and you've got the agency of commerce-driven regional planning commissions that are forcing them to study intersections 100 miles up and down Route 100," Milne said.
"Those are all things that I think are political, not practical," he said.
The second principle of his governing plan is to let decisions be made locally as much as possible. "We sort of got this top-down department of education that's going to figure out how to fix it and tell you what to do. And I don't think that makes sense."
His third principle is an efficient, streamlined state government. "Vermonters do not celebrate that we have one of the highest tax rates among the states. We pay our taxes because it is our duty, but there is a growing sense that we are committing ourselves to programs we cannot afford and taking unnecessary risks," Milne writes on his campaign website. "We should be more cautious. We don't need as much government as we can have. We would be better off with a little more freedom, a little less regulation, and a leader who treats taxpayers' money with the same respect as his own."
Milne did not absolutely condemn the attempt to implement single-payer health care in Vermont but again does have criticism with how the Shumlin administration is going about it.
"The administration missed its Jan. 1, 2013 deadline to reveal the financial plan for our state's health care system, and 19 months later we are no closer to knowing how or whether it will work," he writes on his website. "The state is hiring more consultants to fix the problem, and there is no end in sight. Promises of cost savings are likely a pipe dream. Vermonters deserve better than to be used as guinea pigs for an experiment that is likely beyond our means."
Milne, of North Pomfret, runs Milne Travel American Express, a travel agency originally started in 1975 in Barre, by his mother, Marion. According to its website, the company has nearly 100 employees working in 10 states and 2 countries. Milne has not held elective office but did in 2006 make an unsuccessful run for a House seat in Windsor County, a race he lost by 100 votes.
He does come from a political family, however. His mother, Marion, represented parts of Orange County in the Vermont House of Representatives in the 1990s and early 2000s. His father, Don, is the clerk of the Vermont House of Representatives (the lower chamber's parliamentarian and keeper-of-order). Don Milne also serves on the select board in the town of Washington.
As for getting things done as a Republican governor with a Democratically-controlled legislature, Milne noted his positive political connections and those of his parents. He said he's friends with John Campbell, D-Windsor, president of the senate (though he noted Campbell might now deny it). He also knows Speaker of the House Shap Smith pretty well. He pointed out that his mother, a GOP member from a conservative district, voted for civil unions in 2000. She lost in a primary in the next election.
Milne also pointed to his father's experience as clerk of the House of Representatives since 1993. Taking all his time in different capacities into account, Don Milne has been involved in the House on and off since 1961.
"Although I'm an outsider, I come in I think at least with the benefit of the doubt that I'm going to be honest and transparent and credible," he said. "I've been very deliberate in the campaign as I'm criticizing Governor Shumlin to be very clear that I'm not criticizing the legislature. I think it's all Shumlin's fault."
Milne will be facing in the Republican primary Republican Steve Berry and Emily Peyton, who is also running as an independent. Republican activist Darcie Johnson, a strong opponent of the single-payer health plan, has advocated writing in Libertarian candidate for governor Dan Feliciano on the Republican primary ballot.
Mark Rondeau is the Banner's county news editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Banner_Religion.