Incumbent Philip Baruth is not raising or spending money on his re-election campaign for State Senate

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Photo courtesy of Philip Baruth

Chittenden County State Senator Philip Baruth is doing something in this election that he believes has never been done – not raising or spending any money for his campaign. 

Baruth, who is running as the incumbent, announced the decision in a July 9 Facebook post stating that he didn’t feel like his supporters should be asked to spend money during a pandemic. 

“Even though it makes my chances a little worse for being reelected, I just believe it’s not the time to be out raising money,” he said. 

Facing a field of 14 other candidates, Baruth said that while newcomers want to change the conversation, incumbents like him bring experience and knowledge. 

“Incumbents bring the ability to know exactly what levers to pull and the positioning of some of those levers in your hand,” he said. 

Of the 14 candidates, four of them are incumbents. These four candidates are facing different challenges than the newcomers because the senate was let out later than it usually is due to COVID-19. 

One issue that Baruth supports is a tax and regulation for a statewide cannabis program that Baruth believes would help to support the Vermont State College System.

Baruth said that this system has been underfunded systematically going back 25 years.  

However, Baruth said there is a bill in conference in the House and the Senate that he hopes will help to support the system. 

“If [the bill] were passed, and we dedicate two-thirds of it to higher education, I think the need is for shoring up the State College system that would allow for…economic development,” he said. 

Shoring is the act of supporting something, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, therefore this bill would financially aid the Vermont State College System.

Baruth said that this is a win-win in terms of saving some of Vermont’s higher ed institutions and trying to pass the bill. 

“It’s something I think we’ve come to a place in America that we feel we can use responsibly as we do alcohol,” he said. 

Baruth has also worked to pass bills on gun safety, though when he first started in the Senate, he was told that it was political suicide to try to change gun laws for the better.

“I passed universal background checks,” he said. “That’s the bill I’m most proud of.” 

However, Baruth said that the work isn’t even halfway done and there is a lot more he wants to do since Vermont is still an open carry state.

Before Baruth’s official start with Senate, his public service started on the Burlington Board of School Commissioners while working at UVM as an English professor. 

Along with those other positions, Baruth was a journalist, publishing the political blog “The Vermont Daily Briefing.” 

He said that when he was writing to his legislatures about how to vote on a particular issue, it seemed crazy to him that he wasn’t in politics. 

“I thought, why don’t I just run for Senate and be one of those people who votes,” he said. “So I ran a very long campaign and barely squeaked by in 2010.” 

Baruth said he ran a year and a half long campaign, and he ended up beating incumbent Andy Montroll by 1,715 votes, according to Ballotpedia.  

For students who want to make a change, Baruth said that he encourages anyone to approach him on campus to discuss any idea since he is on campus all the time. 

Baruth’s office is 305 Old Mill, but he will be on sabbatical during the Fall 2020 semester. 

“You can knock on my door, you can pitch a bill to me, I’ll put it in,” he said. “And I have a pretty good track record getting these things through. See me if you’ve got a problem because we literally can do something about it.”