Spar for Senate

As November nears, the heat is on in Vermont for the United States Senate race. Republican candidate Richard Tarrant and Independent Bernie Sanders are in a fiery battle to win the position currently held by Jim Jeffords, who will be retiring at the end of this term. Tarrant is channeling a lot of campaign money into advertisements. As of Sept. 27, his website had 24 ads posted. Tarrant has spent more money than any other candidate seeking office in Vermont, and he has more television advertisements than any other actively campaigning U.S. Senate candidate this year, according to the Rutland Herald. Vermont’s WCAX-TV News quoted Tarrant as saying, “Mr. Sanders had been in office for 16 years…and so he has a tremendous advantage in terms of advertising that he doesn’t have to pay for. “As a newcomer we had to get the message out,” Tarrant said, in response to criticism of his advertising efforts. Many of his most recent ads urge Vermonters to visit the website “bernisrecord.com,” on which Tarrant exposes Sanders’ record in Congress. However, the legitimacy of this website and the advertisements has been challenged. “For months my opponent Rich Tarrant has been spending millions telling us about himself. Well, it’s his money and he can spend it if he wants to. But, he has no right to distort my record or what I stand for,” Sanders said in one of his own television advertisements.Sanders has also responded to Tarrant’s ads with an addition to his main campaign website called “The Truth.” On it, Sanders addresses issues brought-up in Tarrant’s ads and aspects of his congressional record that coincide with them. He also “hits back” with a sub-section entitled “Tarrant’s Negative Campaign,” which features recent articles from Vermont newspapers concerning Tarrant’s advertising strategies. Sanders has a total of 11 advertisements running. On Sept. 25, National Public Radio aired a piece called “Heated Vermont Senate Race Blankets Airwaves,” by Peter Overby, which described the results of the race’s tension as “media saturation in a state so small that 200,000 votes would be a landslide win.” Sanders’ website features the results of a poll released by Ramussen Reports on Sept. 27, of Vermonters likely to vote in the Senate election. The poll indicates that out of 500 people, 64 percent would vote for Sanders and 32 percent for Tarrant. Another poll, conducted by the American Research Group on Sept. 14, said 55 percent of likely voters would support Sanders and 40 percent would support Tarrant, out of 600 interviewed. Although both of these polls indicate a Sanders lead, with the first of the Senate debates approaching, the polls are not fully indicative of the rising competition in the race for the open U.S. Senate seat.