A new poll shows Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott with a commanding lead over his main challenger. But the Progressive/Democratic fusion candidate Dean Corren thinks that Scott’s views on abortion will cost him some of that support.
In an otherwise ho-hum election season, political pundits had pegged the race for lieutenant governor as the contest to watch. But according to a new poll from Castleton Polling Institute, Scott, the incumbent, isn’t exactly fighting for his political life.
The poll of likely voters, commissioned by WCAX, showed Scott getting 58 percent of the vote. The survey showed Dean Corren getting 24 percent of the vote, and 15 percent were undecided.
Corren says he’s not surprised, or disheartened, by the results.
“It was done… before our ads started to kick in. And we’re going to be doing a lot more ads,” Corren says. So I think it’s mostly a name recognition thing.”
With four weeks until Election Day, Corren says there’s time enough to close the gap. Corren says Phil Scott is long on likeability and short on ideas. And he says voters are looking for more substance from the lieutenant governor’s office.
“You have an incumbent who has spent four years doing things that make everybody in the state feel like he’s a nice guy and not hold him to account on any particular issues, and really know where he stands on issues, because he’s done a really good job of ducking that,” Corren says.
Phil Scott dismisses criticism from Corren as the last gasps of a sinking candidacy.
“Well at this time in campaigns … people get desperate,” Scott says. “And I think it does have a habit of bringing out the worst in people, and they want to win at all costs, and so I’m not surprised.”
Corren says he’ll look to spotlight aspects of Scott’s platform he thinks are out of touch with Vermont voters, namely on the abortion issue. Scott supports the idea of requiring minors to notify their parents before they can receive an abortion.
“I think a lot of Vermonters assume that any statewide officeholder in Vermont would be strongly pro-choice … and I think a lot of people are surprised … when they find out he’s endorsed by the Right to Life Committee,” Corren says.
Scott says he’s always been pro-choice, and supports a woman’s right to get an abortion. He says his opinion on parental notification is based on experiences as a father to two teenage girls.
“If one of them had to make a monumental decision such as that, then I’d want to be there for them,” Scott says. “And I think that’s what part of parenting is about, part of what being a father is.”
Opponents of parental notification laws say they can compel young women into unsafe or illegal abortions, and don’t take into account instances in which the person seeking an abortion has been the victim of rape by a family member.
Corren says he hasn’t decided yet whether to raise the abortion issue in television ads.