In email announcement sent out Tuesday morning, Bruce Lisman said he's running for governor, as a Republican, "to lead the state in a new, better direction."
The announcement comes a day after Lisman, a former Wall Street executive who now lives in Shelburne, made calls to GOP officeholders across the state to inform them of his plans.
“Vermont and its people are incredibly important to me, and more than ever before, I believe the state is at a true crossroads, a critical point in time where there are real, significant challenges facing us, but at the same time great opportunities to shape the future for generations of Vermonters,” Lisman wrote in the release.
A prominent member of the Republican Party broke Lisman's new Monday when he told reporters that the GOP was about to get a major political announcement.
Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning said he got a call from Lisman Monday in which the former Wall Street executive said he’d be entering the race for governor as a Republican.
Lisman didn’t immediately return calls for comment, but had said in recent weeks that he was strongly leaning toward running.
Lisman is the founder of the advocacy group Campaign for Vermont and has styled himself as a non-partisan centrist. It had been unclear whether the Vermont native would run as an independent or a Republican, and Benning says he’s glad Lisman has chosen the latter.
“It is always wiser to have the debate in the primary level rather than having a general election where you have a division between people who think along the same lines,” Benning said.
Lisman said in the release that he'll have formal launch event in October.
Benning said he continues to hope that Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott will run for governor. Scott says he’s strongly considering a run but is in no hurry to make a decision one way or the other.
Three-term Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is not running for reelection.
Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith announced his candidacy for governor earlier this month.
House Minority Leader Don Turner said he spoke with Lisman by phone Monday evening, and that “Bruce said he definitely is running as a Republican in the gubernatorial race for 2016.”
Turner said he’s glad to see such early interest in the seat from a GOP hopeful, especially coming off a cycle in which the party didn’t have a candidate until the June filing deadline.
“I think it’s good news for Vermont, I think it’s good news for the Republican party in that we will have two quality candidates,” Turner said.
With Lisman’s looming announcement, the party still technically has only one candidate. But Turner said he’s convinced it’s only a matter of time before Scott makes it official.
“I believe Phil Scott is going to run, and when I say we have two good candidates, I include Phil Scott and Bruce Lisman in that,” Turner says.
Unlike Benning, Turner said his vote is still up for grabs.
“They come from different places and I think they will offer voters a choice, and I think it will help to reenergize the Republican Party and voters as we move into the next election cycle,” Turner said.
Update 6:03 p.m. 8/31/15 This post has been updated to include comments from House Minority Leader Don Turner.
Update 9:18 a.m. 9/1/15 This post has been updated to include Bruce Lisman's news release.