Milne’s GOP team takes shape
MONTPELIER — Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne has hired a campaign manager, plans to launch his website in the next few days, and will announce a formal campaign kickoff event next week.
Milne, a businessman from Pomfret, has run a very low-key campaign since it was announced June 12 — the last day to file as a candidate — that he was challenging two-term Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.
But his fledgling campaign is now beginning to take shape.
Milne announced the hiring of Brent Burns as campaign manager. Burns, 31, an Army veteran and Texas native, has stepped down from his position as political director of the Vermont Republican Party to spearhead the campaign.
“I’ve gotten to know him a little these last few months. I talked to three people, one of whom was not really available,” Milne said. “I like Brent. He knows Vermont.”
Milne anticipates no changes to his strategy with Burns on board.
“Nothing changes. It’s just one of the pieces we need to put in place to really get some momentum going,” he said. “We’ve got a couple other staff announcement that will be coming out over the next several days.”
For now, he and Burns are doing their best to ensure that decisions are being made that both are comfortable with, according to Milne.
“Right now, I think Brent and I are erring on the side of over-communicating and coordinating so we’re comfortable with what my thoughts are on issues and strategies,” he said.
Milne said his website “is all ready to go.” He plans to launch the site by Monday, and will announce a formal campaign kickoff event next week. “I think we’re going to take until Monday and cross our fingers about what the long range [weather] forecast looks like,” he said.
The campaign will also open a campaign headquarters in Chittenden County in the near future, according to Milne.
Burns said he was happy when Milne asked him to come on board and believes Shumlin, who has more than $1 million in his campaign coffers, can be beaten.
“I think we have a really interesting opportunity this year to run a competitive race against Governor Shumlin,” he said. “I think Scott Milne is the right guy at the right time to carry that message.”
Burns has launched a consulting company, Pure Campaigns. So far it lists one client — Milne. The company will have additional “contractors,” according to Burns, who will be helping the Milne effort.
Most of Burns’ political experience took place in his native Texas, where he has done everything “from licking stamps to making phone calls … to leading a congressional campaign in Texas.” Burns said he has also worked for “a number of statewide elected officials” in Texas.
Politics in Texas is more rough-and-tumble, Burns said. He prefers Vermont and plans to run “a positive campaign on the issues.”
“That’s part of the reason that I stopped working in Texas; the style of politics in Texas. I think up here we have a lot more civil discourse,” Burns said. “It’s partisan, but at the end of the day we’re all Vermonters. We respect each other and the next day you want to be able to work together. There is less vitriol.”
On tap first for Burns is making sure the website launches and finalizing plans for the kickoff event.
Milne faces two other Republicans in a primary — Emily Peyton and Steve Berry. Burns said the campaign will first focus its effort on getting past the primary before directly challenging Shumlin. Milne will not shift his message, however, according to Burns.
“We have to look at it as two election. But Scott is going to be as authentic as he is. He’s not going to just throw red meat at the base if that is not him. He is a pretty even guy; a level-headed, moderate guy. I think even in our Republican party, a lot of people are looking for that. He’s not going to be such a hand grenade-thrower,” Burns said.
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