Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie's announcement that he will run for governor ended more than a month of speculation, and for sure there are plenty of Republicans breathing a sigh of relief today.
Of elected Republicans, Dubie is perhaps the best known statewide and is seen as their best hope of retaining the governor's seat in a state that increasingly elects Democrats to the legislature and statewide offices.
Dubie knows he has his work cut out for him, to both serve out his current term and run for higher office.
"I know that I have more than a year to go to serve in the office I was just sworn into this January, but at the same time I need to run a serious campaign that will be four and five times bigger than any campaign I've run before in terms of the money I need to raise," said Dubie.
Dubie decided to jump into the run for governor after taking stock of the relationships he's developed in his seven years as the state's putative second-in-command, and believes those relationships will serve him well in dealing with the challenges facing Vermont.
Though announcing today, Dubie said he will not make a formal announcement — complete with a detailed legislative platform — until the end of the next legislative session.
"There is an expectation that we all focus on the job we've been elected to do," said Dubie. "Some time toward the end of the legislative session I'll make a more traditional announcement and share my vision about how build an agenda in which Vermont is required to address these challenges."
Though unorthodox, Dubie said his announcement by email was done to give the media a chance to interview him one-on-one throughout the day and not confine interviews to a single press conference. He also said he was not trying to play up the announcement more than it needed to be.
"It's not a thumping of the chest," said Dubie. "It's saying I've made this decision."
As lieutenant governor, Dubie said he's built relationships with lawmakers, state commissioners, as well as business leaders and nonprofit directors. "Taking in all those relationships and the knowledge I've gained along the way, and with a gut check of what we're going to be facing moving forward — because they are significant challenges we face — led me to conclude, along with my wife and children after some really pointed discussions, that the right thing do was to step up and contribute," Dubie said.
Dubie said he will continue focusing on his job as lieutenant governor, and at some point will take a leave of absence from American Airlines to campaign full-time for governor. He said hopes to keep the tone of the debate civil and constructive, though he admits it will be spirited.
"This is not like the campaigns I've run before — there will be a different dynamic," said Dubie. "This is a race for governor and the stake are high. But, I'm in this to win."
"I'm asking Vermonters for their suggestions and ideas on how to improve Vermont — that's going to be the energy of the campaign to capture those ideas," Dubie said. "Democracy is not spectator sport."
Dubie said he believes he can position himself as a candidate who is not simply coming out of the shadows of a popular governor who easily won three reelection bids.
"The best way to position myself is to share with voters who I am, and out of respect to them, they'll decide. I respect the wisdom of the voters," said Dubie. "I hope they'll look at my collaborative efforts to try to assist small businesses and dairy farmers and companies like Northern Power, and I'll bring to the campaign the temperament I have which is focused on performance and not headlines or being addicted to the cameras."
Dubie has led trade missions to Quebec, Asia and Cuba — as well as a recent foray into that foreign land known as Alaska.
Though Dubie offered few specifics on what policies he would — or wouldn't — embrace, Dubie did say on one issue he would follow the leadership of Gov. Douglas and the Democratically-controlled legislature: Health care reform.
"Vermont's efforts are seen as a national model, and I would want to continue that work," said Dubie.
Dubie and Douglas agreed on most issues, though on wind power Dubie has been a much bigger booster than Douglas. Dubie would continue to support the expansion of wind power in Vermont as an energy source, as well as other renewables.
Though socially conservative — he opposes abortion and opposed both civil unions and same-sex marriage at the time they were introduced — Dubie said those issues will not be the centerpiece of his campaign.
"You never know what gets traction. I expect it will be smart and sprited campaign, but I've got pro-lifers, pro-choicers and this is an issue that comes up in every campaign," said Dubie. "My spirit has been to find common ground and identify common areas of agreement and work from the middle and some of those issues — abortion and marriage — are behind us and my focus is on going forward."
In the end, Dubie said, he wants to "run campaigns I could be proud of in front of my kids. It's not just about winning, it's about settng the tone."
If he were to win, Dubie could still be called up to serve in the Air Force Reserves, though he would take a leave of absence as an American Airlines pilot.
In the USAF Reserve Dubie is Emergency Preparedness Officer in the National Security Emergency Preparedness Agency, and the nature of the job is emergency preparedness and response. If called up, the deployment would likely be for domestic emergency preparedness or disaster response, such as when Dubie served at ground zero in the wake of September 11, or Salt Lake City at the Olympics, or Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or Hurricane Ike in 2008. It's not likely he would serve in a combat role.