Lisman joins the race for Vermont governor

VERMONT — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman points to his private sector experience on Wall Street as qualification for running a competent government free of political spectacle.
“The normal process is politicians doing usual things that get the usual results,” the former international financier told VTDigger on Tuesday. “I don’t see things as everyone else does.”
Lisman formally declared his candidacy in a news release Tuesday morning. He listed three major goals for his campaign that he said emerged from talks with Vermonters over the past months: improving government competency, crafting a predictable and fair budget, and lowering the cost of living.
Lisman’s campaign will also focus on economic security, job growth, quality education, affordable health care, government accountability and ethics, according to his email announcement.
Lisman didn’t offer any specific political proposals Tuesday, but said concrete plans would emerge following a formal launch event next month.
Lisman said politics can “get in the way of doing things,” and he characterized himself as a political outsider. But while he has never held political office, Lisman’s policy group Campaign for Vermont has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on political topics over the past few years.
Like Donald Trump, Lisman has enough money to mount a political campaign. He said he had not set a budget for his campaign or determined where the money would come from, but said he would likely solicit donations from the public. He said that money can carry influence, but that his agenda comes straight from everyday Vermonters.
“Money does influence people, but I’m hoping my views are so straightforward and supported by reason that those who support me will see my reasoning,” Lisman said.
Lisman’s entry into the race sets up a potential GOP primary with incumbent Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, who is also considering a run for the open seat left by the retirement of Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Republicans have applauded Lisman’s entrance into the race, saying a primary contest will be good for the party. Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, noted that last year at this time his party was “climbing up the walls” looking for a candidate.
“To me that shows the party has turned a corner as far as viability goes,” Benning said. Benning said he’s still hoping Scott will enter the race.
Scott said Monday night that Lisman told him of his intention to run in a meeting Monday morning. On Tuesday, Scott spoke respectfully about Lisman’s career, and commended his ideas regarding economic growth.
“I think we need varied backgrounds to make our economy work in Vermont,” Scott said. “His work has been important, as has mine.”
Lisman, 68, was born in Burlington’s North End, and he attended H.O. Wheeler School, Champlain Elementary and Burlington High School, according to a biography provided by the campaign.
He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1969 before moving to New York City, where he went on to serve as co-head of Global Equities at Bear Stearns Companies for 20 years.
He lives in Shelburne, and has served as a board member for a number of Vermont institutions, including the Shelburne Museum, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and the University of Vermont.

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