Gov. Phil Scott, the only Republican in the top echelons of Vermont state government, won his second two-year term on Tuesday.
Scott, a Republican from Berlin, won comfortably over Democrat Christine Hallquist of Hyde Park, whose candidacy was historic because she’s the first transgender nominee for governor in a major party.
Late Tuesday night, Scott praised the way Vermont conducts its political campaigns.
“While across the nation, other races in other states turned negative and uncivil, in Vermont we rose above it,” Scott said.
Hallquist, the former CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative, made her top priorities battling the opioid crisis, connecting every home and business in Vermont to a fiber-optic internet, and rebuilding Vermont’s economy.
Scott continued to campaign on the promises that got him elected in 2016 — hold the line on new state taxes and fees and stress affordability.
He also made headlines by changing his mind on gun control, spurred by a foiled school shooting in Fair Haven. Over the protests of gun-rights groups, he signed bills limiting magazine clips to 10 rounds, raising the legal age to buy long guns to 21 and banning bump stocks.
Voters decided Scott had done well enough in his first two years to earn two more.
Hyde Park buzz
At the Hyde Park polls, state and national press crews were waiting in the parking lot, anticipating Hallquist’s arrival.
When Hallquist went into the building, the crowd followed, and Town Clerk Kim Moulton said it was like a swarm of hornets, cameras going clickety-click. She had to shoo them away as they tried to document Hallquist’s vote.
“There were other voters in here trying to fill out their ballots,” Moulton said.”
Jane Blake, mother-in-law of the new Lamoille County state’s attorney, Todd Shove, said the parking lot was filled with photographers waiting for Hallquist, talking with other local candidates and voters, and then they peeled off and followed Hallquist.
“It was nuts,” she said, laughing.
The nice guy
Scott’s likability is one of his key assets, and voters confirmed that again and again on Tuesday.
In Waterbury, Debbie and Mike Bard said they both like Scott.
“I think he cares about the common man,” said Debbie, whose most important issues are taxes, housing and health care.
“I’m a true independent, and Phil is someone who doesn’t care about party. He’s always willing to extend the olive branch to the other side of the aisle,” Mike said.
“I like him. I think he’s doing a good job,” said Barbara Allaire of Stowe.
Nancy Collins of Stowe believes Vermont’s governor should be elected to four-year terms, not two.
“Nobody can get anything done in two years,” Collins said. “They can get started.”