Politics 2010: Challenger faces uphill battle against Leahy

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International  |  Aug. 22, 2010 at 6:00 AM
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Daniel Freilich, facing an uphill battle to unseat U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy in Vermont's Democratic primary Tuesday, borrowed from a popular YouTube ad to get his message out.

In the spirit of the "Old Spice" ad that took the net by storm before hitting television, Freilich slurps maple syrup and rides a faux cow to reach the Internet audience -- to the tune of more than 20,000 views.

Freilich, a 47-year-old U.S. Naval Reserve physician, has called Leahy out of touch, questioned his impartiality and claimed he is too entrenched in the machinations of Washington to be effective any more.

One problem, though: Leahy is the Senate's second-longest-serving member, has the advantages of name recognition and incumbency, and a $3.2 million war chest.

Len Britton is running unopposed on the Republican ticket, and five people are running as third-party candidates.

In Vermont's at-large Congressional District, three Republicans are vying to unseat Peter Welch to become the state's next congressman.

While the three candidates are from different parts of the state, they all have a fairly similar message, WCAX-TV, the CBS-affiliated station in Burlington.

"Any Republican primary, you're going to have a lot of similarities because we tend to think alike," said Paul Beaudry of Swanton, a former radio talk show host.

Businessmen John Mitchell of Rutland and Keith Stern of Springfield also are on the GOP ticket.

The three candidates oppose the healthcare law but have different opinions about addressing the country's energy needs and revising the tax code, WCAX said. But the GOP candidates said they each recognizes the three face a common challenge -- Peter Welch come November.

"I won't deny that at all, especially an incumbent who has a million dollars," Beaudry said.

In the state's Democratic gubernatorial race, hopefuls Peter Shumlin and Deb Markowitz each outpaced Republican Brian Dubie in raising money recently, but Dubie has the advantage in cash on hand, The Burlington Free Press reported.

Shumlin has raised $97,885 and Markowitz has raised $97,880 since mid-July. Shumlin contributed $75,000 more of his own money for the reporting period.

Dubie, the current lieutenant governor, raised $92,715 in the 30-day period.

Given Dubie's cash, political analyst Eric Davis said the Democratic winner would have to raise funds quickly to compete.

Whoever gets the Democratic nod "is going to have to raise money four times as fast after Aug. 25," Davis said.

Besides Shumlin and Markowitz, Matt Dunne, Susan Bartlett and Doug Racine are on the Democratic ballot.

James H. Douglas, a Republican, said he would not seek a fifth two-year term in 2010.

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