- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy kicked off his eighth election campaign Monday by beginning a tour of Vermont’s 14 counties that will end next Tuesday, primary election day in the state.

Leahy, a Democrat, started Monday in Brattleboro. He then visited Dot’s Restaurant in Wilmington before visiting Bennington and Manchester.

Leahy is promising to run an issue-oriented campaign based on what he hears from Vermonters.

“I want to continue fighting for businesses that create jobs in Vermont, addressing climate change, tackling the epidemic of opiate abuse, ensuring that every child can afford a college education and continuing to fight for Vermonters in the United State Senate,” he said in a statement.

In next week’s primary, Leahy is facing Cris Ericson, who regularly runs for office and who is also seeking the gubernatorial nomination. Leahy has more than $3.1 million in the bank.

Leahy was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974. He is now the longest-serving member in the Senate and Vermont’s most senior elected official.

Leahy’s likely Republican challenger in November is Pomfret businessman Scott Milne, who in 2014 came within a few thousand votes of beating incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Last month, Milne reported he had $83 in the bank. He said he wants to appeal to people who are tired of career politicians. On Monday, Milne said he would begin his campaign in earnest after Labor Day.

“I applaud my opponent, he’s got a seven-week vacation so he can spend eight days to hit 14 counties, that seems sort of like taking Washington efficiency, you know, and applying it to Vermont,” Milne said Monday.

Milne said that one of the goals of his campaign will be to “point out the corrosive effect of special interest money and career politicians.” He says that if people want to get money out of politics they should consider voting for him.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of people that are going to see a lot of sense in it,” Milne said.

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