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Vermont governor’s race heating up as it heads into October

September 30, 2018

FILE - This combination of 2018 file photos show Vermont Democratic gubernatorial challenger Christine Hallquist, left, and Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who will face off in the November general election. (AP Photo, File)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Heading into October, the Vermont governor’s race, which pits a former utility executive making her first bid for elected office against a popular Republican incumbent in a liberal state, is starting to heat up as both sides begin airing ads and holding debates and other events.

The race between Democrat Christine Hallquist and Republican Gov. Phil Scott has been largely quiet since the August primary; the two candidates have so far only met once.

But outside groups, over which the candidates have no control, are expected to begin airing ads on behalf of or in opposition to both candidates, their spokespeople say.

The Hallquist campaign has been making telephone calls to potential supporters and arranging the final weeks of the bid, which culminates in the Nov. 6 voting, said spokesman David Glidden.

“We’re invested in the ground game, even if it’s not as flashy as some things,” Glidden said.

Scott, who is seeking his second two-year term, is expected to continue is push to ensure what he calls his affordability agenda, looking to make sure Vermont remains affordable for the people who live here while protecting the state’s most vulnerable. In his first two years in office, he says, he has shown leadership, even when it has been controversial.

Despite angering some in his Republican base, Scott says he doesn’t regret his call for Vermont to enact gun control measures after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and what police are calling a near-miss school shooting in Fair Haven the next day.

In April, Scott signed the gun legislation on the Statehouse steps in Montpelier as he was booed by opponents and cheered by gun-control supporters. During the speech he gave prior to signing the bill, Scott called for civility in politics, a call he is expected to continue during the fall campaign.

Hallquist, who resigned her position as head of the Vermont Electric Cooperative to run for governor, says she wants to ensure economic prosperity reaches everyone in Vermont, including those she calls the state’s most vulnerable.

While Hallquist says she wants Vermonters to vote for her because of her policies and her vision for the state, she’s not shying away from her position as the first major-party transgender gubernatorial candidate. During her first debate with Scott this month at the Tunbridge Worlds’ Fair, she brought the issue up more than once.

She said she decided to run for governor in January after hearing Muslim Girls Making Change, a slam poetry group from the Burlington area in which the young women use poetry to spread their message about being Muslim in America.

“I made the decision to run because I could certainly understand and relate to that, because I was different when I was growing up,” she said.

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