State News

Dunne declares run for governor

By Anne Galloway/VTDigger

Matt Dunne, former state senator.

By Anne Galloway,

A Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2016 is now official.

Matt Dunne, a Google executive, announces his bid for governor via email Wednesday morning.

Dunne’s candidacy sets up a Democratic primary contest with at least one other candidate, House Speaker Shap Smith, who announced his bid for governor last month. A third potential contender, Sue Minter, the secretary of the Agency of Transportation, is mulling a race as well.

Dunne, who has made two unsuccessful bids for statewide office, has begun this time with a respectable jumpstart.

The former state senator says he learned the hard way that an early start and a big piggy bank is the key to success. The 45-year-old resident of Hartland chalks up his fourth-place finish in the five-way Democratic primary in 2010 to a lack of organization and money. Peter Shumlin, who was elected governor that year, outspent Dunne three to one.

This time, Dunne isn’t leaving anything to chance. He has raised $200,000 for his campaign in just two months, and this week hired three full-time staffers: Nick Charyk, a lobbyist and former campaign manager for Democratic House candidates, is campaign manager; Fauna Hurley is his finance director and Ben Eisenberg will be in charge of “finance mobilization.” Mike Lane, former COO of, is partnering with Propeller Media Works to help Dunne with digital strategy.

“If we learned anything from last time, it was that you need to get started early, and you need to make sure that you are going to be in a position to communicate with Vermonters across the state,” Dunne said.

Dunne has been making noises about a run since June and has engaged in a self-promotion campaign via email. He registered as a candidate for governor in July. Several times a week, he blasts recipients with a testimonial from an individual supporter.

But Dunne said he wasn’t prepared to make his candidacy public, until he found “the right team,” and raised enough money to get started.

To gauge the interest of voters, the campaign is holding 19 community organizing events in all 14 counties.

Dunne says he wants to “really listen to people’s concerns and where they see opportunities.”

He will make a formal announcement at the end of September.

Dunne, 45, served four terms in the House and two in the Senate. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor in 2006.

Dunne is the head of Google’s Community Affairs, which is responsible for relationships with the communities in which the company has major offices and data centers.

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