- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - House Speaker Shap Smith will announce next week that he’s seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, two high-ranking Vermont Democrats said Thursday.

The Democrats confirmed Smith’s plans after he said on radio station WDEV that he would make an announcement next Wednesday in his hometown of Morrisville. The two spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they did not want to be pre-empt Smith’s announcement.

“I do plan to make an announcement next Wednesday in Morrisville about what my future plans are,” Smith said on “The Mark Johnson Show.” He did not immediately return a phone call from the AP seeking additional comment.

Smith registered Tuesday as a candidate on the secretary of state’s online campaign finance reporting site, filling in the “office sought” box with “governor” and answering the question “Running in this election?” with a “yes.”

Former lawmaker and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne of Hartland is expected to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the fall. Dunne checked “yes” on a candidate registration form last month.

Vermont Transportation Secretary and former lawmaker Sue Minter also is said to be mulling a run for governor, and Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott has said he seriously is considering entering the 2016 race. He has registered as a candidate in 2016 but for his current position.

The governor’s office will be open for the first time in six years, following Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin’s announcement in June that he will not seek a fourth two-year term.

Smith, who has been saying since Shumlin’s announcement that he is considering a run, said on the radio program Thursday that he “wanted to talk to Vermonters, and I also wanted to spend some time talking with my family about what the future holds. And I wanted to think deeply about what Vermonters are looking for in their next governor and whether I would have the skill set to do that.”

Dunne, a 45-year-old Google public affairs executive, has been similarly reticent about saying whether he’s running, though he registered as a candidate last month with the secretary of state’s office and reported in a campaign finance disclosure on July 15 that he had raised more than $100,000 toward a possible 2016 candidacy.

Smith, a 49-year-old father of two, is a lawyer with degrees from the University of Vermont and what was then the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington. He is in his seventh two-year term in Vermont’s part-time Legislature and has served as speaker since 2009.

Minter, 54, has degrees from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Waterbury resident is a married mother of two. She had not registered as a candidate as of Thursday.

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