by Mike Smith One thing we learned from the results of the Vermont primary last Tuesday is that being likable is worth a whole lot more than $2 million. Just ask former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman, who poured perhaps that much into his failed attempt to defeat Phil Scott, the current Republican lieutenant governor.Scott is very well known and liked in Vermont. Even Lisman acknowledged this in an early ad by saying, “Phil Scott may be a nice guy …” but then the remainder of his ad turned negative when he tried to link Scott to outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. What Lisman never seemed to appreciate — and he learned a valuable lesson the hard and expensive way — is that unless you build up your own likability, which he never did, it’s difficult to tear down someone else’s. In the end, Scott crushed Lisman in the Republican primary for governor.Sue Minter is also likable. Matt Dunne, who entered the governor’s race as the favorite to win the Democratic primary, discovered that he couldn’t overtake Minter’s likability. Unfortunately for Dunne, he came across as someone too polished for his own good and seemingly insincere about where he stood on issues. Insincerity always drives down likability. In contrast, Sue Minter took on issues she said were important to her and stuck by them. Whether these issues will have the same advantage in a general election is yet to be determined, but it’s likely her team has already polled the general election impact of her stances.Vermonters want to feel good about who they are voting for. They want to like, trust and have confidence in their governor, even if they don’t agree on every issue. The likability factor goes a long way toward helping a politician win an election. Both Minter and Scott had clear advantages in this area over their primary opponents.But in a general election there are other important factors that must be considered.First, Minter and Scott must clearly articulate their proposals on the economy and jobs, health care, and energy development, just to name a few. Second, each has to navigate a presidential election that could influence the gubernatorial election. This is particularly important for Scott, as Hillary Clinton is expected to have a landslide victory in Vermont, even though hardcore Bernie Sanders supporters may refuse to vote for her. Scott has to appeal to Vermont’s tradition of ticket splitting. His refusal to endorse or vote for Trump, and his record as a moderate, pro-choice Republican who voted for marriage equality may help him in this regard. Last, Peter Shumlin’s name will not appear on the ballot, but he will be a factor in this year’s election. Shumlin is unpopular, and Minter was a senior member of his team. This could hurt the Democratic nominee if voters feel that her administration will be a continuation of Shumlin’s.And then there are the pesky issues that the candidates must clean up in their personal stories. Minter, for example, must be much more cautious about how she describes her role in the critical events of Tropical Storm Irene, Waterbury’s revitalization and her eight months as Vermont’s transportation secretary. Few know, for instance, that Minter was not the recovery officer during the initial, critical phases of the Irene recovery effort. Neale Lunderville, former senior administration official for Gov. Jim Douglas, did that work. It is also likely that Scott will be able to match her event for event with his own involvement in the recovery effort. For Scott, his challenge is to make sure he constructs a believable firewall so there are no conflicts between the construction business he co-owns and as his duties as governor.Vermonters will get the chance to vote this November between two capable, well-liked candidates for governor with very distinct visions for the fiscal future of Vermont. What more could Vermonters ask for in an upcoming election?Mike Smith was the secretary of administration and secretary of human services under former Gov. Jim Douglas. He is the host of the radio program, “Open Mike with Mike Smith,” on WDEV 550 AM and 96.1, 96.5 and 101.9 FM. He is also a political analyst for WCAX-TV and WVMT radio and a regular contributor to The Times Argus, Rutland Herald and Vermont Business Magazine.