- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Political veteran Matt Dunne, a likely Democratic candidate for governor, said Wednesday he has raised about $135,000 from campaign contributors in less than three weeks.

Dunne reported to the secretary of state’s office that he had raised a bit more than $115,000 through Monday. He said in an interview Wednesday that he had raised nearly $20,000 since then.

“The response has been very positive, and I think it shows people are ready for new ideas and new leadership,” Dunne said.

Nine candidates for statewide office filed campaign finance disclosure reports by 5 p.m. Wednesday, in advance of the midnight deadline.

Dunne has not formally announced his candidacy, but made clear in an interview that he is likely to run.

“We’ve made it very clear we’re very serious about a potential race for governor,” he said.

Other possible contenders for governor on the Democratic side include House Speaker Shap Smith, former state representative and current Transportation Secretary Sue Minter, and former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine. On the Republican side, the possible candidates are Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Randy Brock, a former state senator and auditor of accounts.

Smith filed a campaign finance report for a potential bid for another term in the House, but not for governor.

“I still have some money left” from prior campaigns, Smith said. “I had to file.”

He said he has not made a decision yet whether to run for governor.

The office will be open in 2016 for the first time since 2010. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin announced last month he would not seek a fourth two-year term.

Dunne, a 45-year-old Google executive from Hartland, former state House and Senate member and unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2006 and governor in 2010, got his first contribution of the current cycle June 26, the day U.S. Rep. Peter Welch announced he would seek re-election to Congress rather than run for governor.

Dunne has been busy since then, raising more than $115,000 for a campaign he has not formally declared. Among his biggest backers were Jay and Caroline Canning of Shelburne, who each contributed the maximum of $4,000. Their business, Westport Hospitality, which owns the Hotel Vermont in Burlington, contributed another $4,000.

Meanwhile, 28-year-old Brandon Riker of Brattleboro, a political newcomer, made a loud entrance into the race for lieutenant governor with a campaign finance report showing contributions of nearly $103,000, mostly from himself and his family.

Riker said he has never run for public office but has worked on political campaigns, including that of President Barack Obama in 2008. He said he wants to focus on economic growth, particularly on expanding access to high-speed Internet service.

Sixteen months before an election normally would be early in the two-year political cycle to see campaign activity in Vermont. But Shumlin upset the apple cart with his June 8 announcement that he would not seek re-election.

Several statewide officeholders, among them Scott, Treasurer Beth Pearce, Auditor Doug Hoffer and Attorney General Bill Sorrell, showed no recent fundraising activity.

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