- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Lieutenant Gov. Phil Scott’s decision to run for governor has sparked interest from numerous potential candidates in a seat that some see as a stepping stone to an eventual run for the top office.

The only two who have formally stepped into the race are former state auditor and senator Randy Brock, a Republican from Swanton, and small business entrepreneur Brandon Riker of Marlboro, a Democrat.

Among the other Democrats considering a run are Sens. Phillip Baruth of Chittenden County, Christopher Bray of Addison County, Dick McCormack of Windsor County, Rep. Kesha Ram of Burlington and Sen. David Zuckerman, a Progressive/Democrat from Chittenden County. Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, D-Windsor, had been considering a run but said Friday that that’s off the table for now.

Progressive Dean Corren, a former lawmaker who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2014, is also considering another run.

Republicans include Shelburne businessman Mark Snelling, Sens. Joe Benning of Caledonia County and Kevin Mullin of Rutland County, and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne.

A lot of voters have misconceptions about the office, and see it as comparable to the vice president of the United States, where the lieutenant governor is a member of the administration and part of the governor’s team. But that’s not the case in Vermont, said Eric Davis, a retired Middlebury College political science professor.

The Vermont lieutenant governor is a part-time job with two formal responsibilities - to preside over the Senate and serve as governor if anything should happen as governor.

“You do have candidates who go out there talking about all these policies that they would do as lieutenant governor, well that’s really not going to happen. In some ways it’s more of a legislative position than an administrative position,” he said.

Brock, 72, said he would use the office to bring people, businesses and government together to discuss how to make Vermont strong economically, affordable, with a growing population and world-class education.

He said his service as auditor from 2005 to 2007 and his two terms in the state Senate make the position “the right fit” for his skills. Before serving in state government, he was executive vice president of risk oversight for Fidelity Investments.

Snelling said Friday that he had asked Brock on Wednesday to hold off from announcing his run until after the state Republican Party could meet with the potential candidates but he said Brock refused. Brock said he had held off several times at Snelling’s request but decided to go forward when no meeting had been scheduled.

Riker, 28, a political newcomer who worked on political campaigns including that of President Barack Obama in 2008, has similar concerns as Brock.

He said he would use the office to build coalitions to address issues such as broadband connectivity and education.

“The status quo of Vermont is unsustainable,” he said.

He also has money to back up his campaign. A campaign finance report from July showed $103,000 mostly from himself and family.

Zuckerman, Baruth and Corren are considering or would seek public financing if they decide to run. Qualifying for public financing means they would not be allowed to announce their intentions before Feb. 15, 2016.

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