- Associated Press - Saturday, September 10, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Republican Scott Milne says he’s not ready to identify specific issues on which he disagrees with Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Milne, a travel industry executive and political newcomer two years ago when he nearly upset incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, is setting his sights on an even bigger challenge this year: Leahy, with 42-years under his belt, is the longest-serving U.S. senator and holds multiple senior committee positions.

With less than two months to go until election day, Milne on Saturday held his official campaign kickoff in the Vermont town of Washington, where he grew up.

“My campaign is offering Vermonters a chance to say we’re fed up with career politicians and special interest politics,” the 57-year-old Milne said in an interview after Saturday’s campaign event.

Milne declined to list any specific issues on which he disagrees with Leahy.

“The issues are the trees - we can talk about those later,” he said. “The forest is the growing partisanship in Washington,” adding that Leahy, a liberal Democrat, is a prime exemplar of that.

Leahy campaign spokesman Jay Tilton took issue with Milne’s remarks.

“Mr. Milne’s announcement highlights a fundamental difference between the candidates,” Tilton said in a statement. “While Mr. Milne believes this race is about Senator Leahy, Senator Leahy believes this race is about the issues facing Vermonters.”

Milne was widely expected to be an also-ran against Shumlin in 2014, but the incumbent barely eked out a plurality, taking 46.5 percent to 45.2 percent for Milne in a seven-candidate field.

Milne said he’s not daunted by the odds this time, or the gap in fundraising. As of July 20, Milne said he had raised $83, while Leahy had raised nearly $4 million in the current election cycle.

On issue on which Milne was willing to speak was his non-support for his party’s presidential nominee. Milne said “Not yet, I’m not there,” when asked if he is supporting Donald Trump.

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