Saying he is "determined to restore fiscal responsibility" and will resist any legislation that would increase the cost of living, Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday he's running for governor.
Scott, in an email announcement, said he will be forming a team and raising money in the coming months for the 2016 campaign, with an official campaign kickoff sometime in the fall. He has about $100,000 left over from last year's lieutenant governor race and this summer sent out fundraising appeals as he was making his decision.
Scott will be in a primary race with at least one other Republican candidate, retired Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman.
Two Democrats — House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morristown) and former state Sen. Matt Dunne — have also announced their candidacies. Democratic incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin is not seeking reelection after three terms.
Scott focused most of his announcement on economics. "I will be a steady hand at the helm, provide balanced leadership that values listening, stand up for working families and confront our crisis of affordability in meaningful ways," he said. "Practical leadership that delivers — instead of over-promising — will rebuild faith and trust in government and move Vermont forward in very positive ways."
Scott, 57, of Berlin, grew up in Barre, and graduated from Spaulding High School and the University of Vermont. He has been lieutenant governor since 2011. He represented Washington County in the state Senate for 10 years before that. He co-owns DuBois Construction — a Middlesex excavating company — and has raced cars at Thunder Road International Speedbowl since 1992, a hobby he likely would have to give up if elected governor.
A popular moderate, Scott has been accused of often avoiding hard stances on issues such as health care and government spending, and of being unwilling to stand up as an opposition leader to the Democratic majority in Montpelier. In his announcement, Scott emphasized "commonsense cooperation," but called for a new direction.
"Unfortunately, commonsense cooperation among a minority of public servants hasn’t been enough to steady and steer Vermont toward greater affordability," he said. "Too many have eagerly wagered our future on outdated or unproven policies, and continued to 'double down' with your money when those bets haven’t paid off. The bottom line is this: It is time for Vermont to move in a different direction, beginning with a change in the governor’s office."