- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Pomfret businessman who almost beat the incumbent Vermont governor two years ago is heading into an even bigger race this season, hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy without raising millions of dollars to spend on a traditional campaign.

Republican Scott Milne said Wednesday he’s spent just over $5,000 so far this year on his campaign, most of which was an in-kind contribution he made to his campaign, and he has $83 in the bank. He says he’ll take donations, but he’s not launching a fundraising campaign. He wants to appeal to people who are “weary of career politicians.”

“There’s this old adage that money is the mother’s milk of politics,” Milne said. “I would argue that it’s anything but and that over the last 50 years or so money has turned into a heroin-like substance to which successful career politicians have become addicted.”

Leahy, who is facing a primary election next month against Cris Ericson who is also running for governor, is seeking his eighth term. He has more than $3.1 million in the bank.

Leahy campaign spokesman Jay Tilton said Wednesday the senator has worked hard to turn back what’s known as the 2010 Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision that critics say cleared the way for unlimited spending on political campaigns.

“In a post Citizens United world, Senator Leahy needs to be prepared for challenges not only in Vermont but from big money interests across the country,” said Tilton.

Two years ago, Milne came within a few thousand votes of beating incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. Milne said he gave voice to people who were unhappy and he thinks he could do the same thing this time.

“Whether it works out or it doesn’t, what I believe is in spite of all the really good and accurate things you can say about Senator Leahy, I don’t think he’s the best choice for Vermont,” Milne said. “I think I’m a better choice and I’m offering Vermonters who feel that way somebody to vote for.”

Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis said Shumlin was unpopular two years ago and a stronger Republican candidate might have beaten him.

“This time (Milne is) running against a long-term Senate incumbent who is quite popular,” Davis said.

Milne says he is planning a formal campaign kickoff within the next few weeks.

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