Wilson Ring / AP Photo
Gov. Peter Shumlin thanks seven of Vermont's eight mayors for supporting his re-election bid in Montpelier on Monday.
MONTPELIER — Election Day was still more than a year away. But for Rutland City Mayor Christopher Louras, the decision of who to vote for this November was cemented in the days following Topical Storm Irene.
“To say the chips were down would have been somewhat of an understatement for the City of Rutland,” Louras said Monday morning. “It doesn’t matter who the Vermonters are, it doesn’t matter what the political persuasion, what histories they have. When the chips are down, this guy was here not just for Rutland but for the entire state.”
Louras joined his mayoral counterparts from across the state Monday to endorse the re-election campaign of Gov. Peter Shumlin. Standing on the granite steps of the Statehouse, seven of the state’s eight sitting governors cast their enthusiastic support behind an incumbent Democrat they say has used the power of state government to brighten the prospects of their cities.
“It wasn’t just his response during Irene, but during the greatest challenges we’ve had in last year with respect to public safety, drug-enforcement issues,” Louras said. “The governor and his staff have been there at every phone call, whenever we needed their help.”
Republican challenger Randy Brock on Monday said the electoral inclinations of the mayors don’t necessarily reflect the mood of their constituencies.
“Many citizens in those towns have indicated their support for me,” Brock said. “And I hope that will be reflected in the election.”
Asked if he wanted to note any endorsements that had been made on behalf of his candidacy, Brock said “my focus has not been on celebrities.
“My focus is on individual Vermonters,” Brock said. “And that’s where I’m spending my time.”
Endorsements for Shumlin arrived not only from the Democratic mayors of Burlington, Montpelier, St. Albans and Winooski, but also from elected officials wholly unaffiliated with his party.
Louras said Monday he belongs to no party now, but he formerly served as a Republican in the Vermont House. Barre City Mayor Tom Lauzon is an active member of the Republican party who supported Brian Dubie in 2010, and Paul Monette, the Independent mayor of Newport City, said a year ago he never would have guessed he’d be involved in Shumlin’s re-election campaign.
“We all know where I’m from in Vermont is one of the most conservative areas of the state,” Monette said.
Monette said he may not disagree with Shumlin on things like ridgeline wind development, for instance.
“But on the economic development side ... I really feel he truly supported all areas of the state,” Monette said. “Too long in our area people felt the state focused on larger communities ... I really feel now they’re really and truly focused on our area.”
Lauzon has come perhaps the further since 2010. On the eve of the last election, Lauzon’s voice warned thousands of Vermonters against a vote for the candidate that he said would release violent criminals into the streets of local communities. Two years later, Lauzon said Monday, Shumlin has proven his worth not only in the arena of public safety, but in other areas as well.
Despite his role in the robo-calls of 2010, Lauzon said he was “struck at how anxious the governor was and how sincere he was to work with me. He said, ‘look, campaigns aside, difference aside, I want to make things better.’”
Lauzon went so far as to voice his disappointment in the fact that Republicans are even running a candidate against first-term Democrat.
“I think Randy is absolutely a fine man,” Lauzon said. “But I think quite frankly this was an ill-advised campaign and people are going to spend a lot of money to try to replace a leader who doesn’t need to be replaced.”
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