ESSEX — What had been accepted for months was confirmed in June when the Vermont Secretary of State’s deadline for candidates to file petitions for public office passed: Brian Dubie is the lone Republican running for governor of Vermont.
Dubie was clear about his priorities when The Essex Reporter recently interviewed the Essex native and former school board chairman at his campaign headquarters — a stucco building on Route 2 near the South Burlington/Williston line, non-descript except for the campaign signs plastering the entranceway.
Asked to identify a theme for his campaign other than the spurring of economic growth and creating jobs, which Dubie has been focused on intently since launching the campaign in the spring, the lieutenant governor leaned forward in his chair and assumed a determined gaze.
“That is what my campaign is about,” he said. “It’s about growing jobs. That’s why I’m running for office.”
He continued: “You need an educated workforce, which means you create an outstanding pre-K through higher ed educational system, you need people that have access to adequate, affordable health care — so that’s a spoke of the wheel. You need a place that has a quality of life with recreational opportunities … You need transportation solutions, you need public transportation that makes sense (and) broadband and wireless to the last mile in our state.
“So it’s all about jobs, but supporting that is education, health care, broadband and wireless solutions, and transportation solutions and making sure we have a pristine environment.”
Dubie has also given a lot of thought to the state’s energy picture, withholding judgment on the fate of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and touting the 26-year agreement the state of Vermont reached recently with Hydro-Quebec.
He spoke out against the Vermont Senate’s vote earlier this year to keep the Vermont Public Service Board from considering relicensing Vermont Yankee beyond its the current license, which expires in 2012. And he said at the time that he was awaiting the results of investigations into leaks of radioactive tritium and mis-statements representatives of the plant’s ownership group gave to legislators last year.
Dubie doesn’t rule out the possibility of Vermont Yankee obtaining a new license to operate past 2012, provided it “can answer some very important questions and re-establish their trust, and demonstrate that the possibility of a tritium leak has been eliminated,” he said. “The (burden) of evidence is on Vermont Yankee to re-establish trust and answer the safety question.”
Dubie said he’s been preparing for life after Vermont Yankee since being elected lieutenant governor in 2002. The Vernon nuclear power plant produces roughly one-third of the state’s energy. Vermont’s primary means of preparation has been investing in a “high voltage infrastructure” that can transmit energy produced from a variety of sources.
“There is an abundance of natural gas generation in southern New England, there are hydro assets in Quebec, there are 600 megawatts of underutilized wind in upstate New York and there’s biomass potential in New Hampshire — then there is in-state generation,” Dubie said. “By having this transmission infrastructure, you can provide Vermont consumers with choices and competition.”
Dubie maintains a close relationship with brass at IBM’s Essex Junction facility and says affordable energy is the most critical piece of keeping the company — the state’s biggest employer — viable in Vermont.
“We have to work with IBM not just to survive, but to grow,” he said.
If Dubie wins election in November, he and his younger brother, Vermont National Guard Adjutant Gen. Michael Dubie, would be in the unique position of having leadership of the state Guard in one family. As lieutenant governor, Brian Dubie has learned to keep his personal relationship with his brother and his professional tie to the adjutant general separate. For state business, Brian Dubie has dealt with a deputy member of the Guard rather than take issues directly to his brother.
“We try to keep our relationship with some protocols,” Brian Dubie said. “Early on we had a Thanksgiving meal and the adjutant general told the lieutenant governor that he was upset about some of the constituent services stuff I was sending him. I said, ‘People come up to me and my job is to help them solve problems.’ From that day forward I said I would never again talk to the adjutant general about anything official unless I absolutely had to. I think that’s the most respectful way to do it. We’re very cautious about trying to keep some distance between us.”
Michael Dubie’s term as adjutant general is up in February, and Brian Dubie said he is unsure whether his brother will continue to serve as the head of the Vermont National Guard.
“He hasn’t made an announcement about what his plans are, and I haven’t asked him,” Brian Dubie said. “One thing I can tell you, he is committed to getting our soldiers home. Beyond that … I don’t want to lay on the adjutant general a pre-supposition of what he is going to do.”
Dubie, a commercial airline pilot and Essex Junction resident, began his campaign in an office on Susie Wilson Road in Essex. In May, after a launch party at the Champlain Valley Exposition, the campaign moved its offices to its current Route 2 location.
The campaign has raised funds from approximately 4,000 donors since October, according to campaign Spokeswoman Kate Duffy. According to campaign finance reports filed July 15, Dubie is way ahead of any of the Democrats vying to face him in the fall campaign for governor, with nearly $944,000 raised and nearly $476,000 in the bank. The five Democrats have raised a total of nearly $1.5 million, with Secretary of State Deb Markowitz having raised the most — nearly $524,000, according to campaign finance reports.