Vermont governor, running for reelection, won't campaign or raise money

Vermont governor, running for reelection, won't campaign or raise money
© Getty Images

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) on Thursday said that he would run for a third term in office — but that he would not mount a traditional campaign or raise money in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email to supporters, Scott said the spreading virus demands his attention more than the campaign trail. 

"As our state and nation continue to navigate a once-in-a-century challenge, Vermonters need and deserve a full-time governor who is focused on leading Vermont through the public health and economic crisis COVID-19 has created," Scott wrote. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I will not be campaigning in the traditional way while we are in the midst of our response to this pandemic. Facing, fighting and defeating this virus — and rebuilding a stronger, more resilient economy — are my top priorities," he said. "This means, until the state of emergency is over, I won’t have a campaign staff or office, be raising money, or participating in normal campaign events."

Scott is a rare Republican elected in one of the bluest states in America. He won election by an 8-point margin in 2016, and he won reelection by 15 points two years later.

But Vermont has a long history of electing Republican governors; the state has never elected two successive Democratic governors. 

Still, Scott is likely to face a serious challenge from Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, the first member of the Progressive Party to win statewide office in Vermont — though he also won the Democratic primary in 2018.

Scott said he understood the risks his unorthodox strategy could pose, both in a Republican primary and in the general election. He has publicly split with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE; in February, he became one of the only elected Republicans to endorse Trump's challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldVermont governor, running for reelection, won't campaign or raise money The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid Libertarians view Amash as potential 2020 game changer for party MORE (R).

ADVERTISEMENT

"I will be facing at least one other candidate in the August primary, and there are well organized candidates from other parties who have been asking for money and campaigning throughout this crisis. I’m sure the political consultants would tell me my decision not to campaign at this time is a mistake," Scott wrote.

"But, I simply cannot bring myself to campaign during the state of emergency, even if it puts me at a political disadvantage in August and November," he added.

Vermont has had relative success in containing the coronavirus, even as neighboring Massachusetts and New York suffer from the outbreak.

The state has recorded 971 confirmed cases, 849 of whom have recovered, according to state data. Twenty-one people remain hospitalized with the virus; no one in Vermont has died of the virus in the past 11 days.