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Say it isn't so: Ugly politics in Vermont?

When historians peel back the pages on Vermont's 2010 political season, they'll see a muddy, tattered snapshot.

The dour economy, education, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and health-care reform top the list of difficult issues, but 2010 may be remembered for another reason - as the year politics got ugly in Vermont.

The race for governor has been a messy affair, a slugfest between Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, a Republican, and state Sen. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat.

The campaign has been rugged at least since May, when Shumlin, running in the Democratic primary, showed up late at a Waterbury forum hosted by the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger and lambasted Dubie for sending a campaign aide to videotape the event instead of attending himself.

At times, the war of words has obscured the real issues in the campaign.

Shumlin and other Democrats blame Dubie and his out-of-state consultants for bringing negativity into the race, while Dubie and other Republicans say they're only telling the truth.

At a forum Oct. 3, hosted by the Vermont Press Association at St. Michael's College in Colchester, four lesser-known candidates joined the gubernatorial debate, but their presence did little to quell the animosity between the two major-party nominees.

Just seconds into his opening statement, Dubie said that Sen. Doug Racine, who finished second to Shumlin in the Democratic primary, had called Shumlin's plans unrealistic.

Shumlin frantically scribbled his rebuttal on a notepad.

"I'm concerned about tone of this campaign," Shumlin fired back in his opening statement. "... It has never been like this before, and let's hope in Vermont it never will be again. I don't want to be governor so badly I'll discredit the integrity of my opponent, to tell untruths to be in a position to get there."

Dubie, too, scribbled on a notepad.

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