Mount Mansfield didn’t crumble, the law of gravity was not repealed, and there were no upsets in the race for Vermont’s major offices on Tuesday. Every incumbent won.
Gov. Phil Scott was the lone Republican re-elected at the top of the ticket, easily outdistancing Democrat Christine Hallquist, who would have been the first openly transgender candidate elected governor in the U.S.
Scott pledged to continue his efforts to make Vermont more affordable. However, he could run into problems because Democrats won a veto-proof majority in the Legislature on Tuesday.
In the last legislative session, Scott vetoed 11 bills, including two budget proposals. With only 83 members — and two-thirds of the 150-member House needed to override a veto — Democrats struggled to even come close to challenging the governor’s veto pen.
Vermonters elected 10 additional Democratic representatives, raising the total number of blue seats in the House to 93. Assuming the seven Progressive House members voted alongside them, the Democrats would have the numbers to negate Scott’s vetoes.
Scott complimented Hallquist for running a civil, issue-oriented and historic campaign.
While party officials talked about the difficulty of being a Republican in blue-state Vermont, where President Donald Trump was trounced in 2016, Scott said he’d been able to go against that tide.
“I think Vermonters know me. I’ve been around for a while” in car racing and politics, he said. “We tend to support those we trust.”
Hallquist got about 41 percent of the vote, Scott 55 percent.
“I’m very proud of the campaign that we have run,” Hallquist said. “Phil is going to be very committed to the future of Vermont.”
“We show the rest of the country what good democracy looks like,” she said.
• Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman easily beat Republican Don Turner for lieutenant governor, and none of the other major candidates — for U.S. Senate, Congress, and a string of state-level offices — had meaningful opposition.
• U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent who came close to being the Democratic presidential nominee two years ago, easily beat Republican Lawrence Zupan and a handful of minor candidates.
“We have a president of the United States who is a pathological liar and is doing something no president in my lifetime has done,” Sanders told a cheering Democratic gathering in Burlington Tuesday night. “Instead of bringing the American people together, he is trying to divide us up based on the color of our skin and based on where we come from. …
“Our job is to tell our president we will not tolerate policies that are racist, sexist and homophobic,” he said. “The people, led by state of Vermont, are going to stand up and fight back.”
• Democrat Peter Welch, Vermont’s only congressman since 2007, won another two-year term Tuesday. He had even less competition than Sanders, facing Republican Anya Tynio, Laura Potters of the Liberty Union Party, and perennial candidate Cris Ericson, an independent.
Welch called for people to unite across the country.
“We are in it together and this is what this election is about,” Welch said. He’s optimistic that, since Democrats won control of the U.S. House on Tuesday, there will be far more balance in U.S. policies.
In other state-level offices, the incumbents, all Democrats, all won easily.
• Attorney General T.J. Donovan beat Janssen Willhoit, a Republican, and Rosemarie Jackowski of the Liberty Union Party.
• Secretary of State Jim Condos beat Mary Alice Hebert of the Liberty Union Party and H. Brooke Paige, a perennial Republican candidate who filed for half a dozen offices in the primary election, but had to choose only one in the general election.
• Treasurer Beth Pearce beat Republican Rick Morton.
• Auditor Doug Hoffer beat Republican Rick Kenyon and Marina Brown of the Liberty Union Party.
Of all those who contested the incumbents, only Paige actually campaigned, and then only minimally, said Ellen Andersen, an associate professor of political science at the University of Vermont. She noted that Morton, Willhoit and Kenyon — chosen by the Republican State Committee in August to go up against the Democratic incumbents — didn’t seem to be trying hard enough to reach voters.
Waterbury’s polls were at Thatcher Brook Primary School, where a number of office-seekers smiled at voters and asked for their support.
Among them were state Reps. Tom Stevens and Theresa Wood, both Democrats from Waterbury and both unopposed for re-election. Also on hand was Andrew Perchlik of Montpelier, a Democrat/Progressive competing with six other candidates for Washington County’s three seats in the state Senate.
Also outside the polls was Mike Rama of Downstreet Housing and Community Development, seeking signatures on a petition allowing his organization to ask for $1,500 from Waterbury on Town Meeting Day in March.
“We believe everyone deserves housing that is safe and affordable,” said Rama, who would head for Barre after he got enough signatures in Waterbury.
On their way out of the polls, Waterbury voters formed an impromptu Phil Scott fan club. Waterbury gave an edge to Scott two years ago against hometown Democrat Sue Minter, and this year Scott sought his second two-year term against Democratic nominee Christine Hallquist of Hyde Park.
“The most important issue for me is voting for Phil Scott,” said Zachary Brown. “I grew up with him. I watched him race Thunder Road,” the stock-car track in Barre.
Morgan LaPointe also supported Scott’s re-election: “I think two years isn’t a very long time, and it hasn’t been long enough.”
Debbie and Mike Bard 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.
Over in Duxbury
The activity outside Crossett Brook Middle School — the polling place for Duxbury residents — was far more subdued than Waterbury, lacking either politicians or petitioners.
Here, too, voters said Phil Scott a primary the reason they came to the polls.
“I wanted to make sure Phil Scott made it,” said Richard Aylward. “I know Phil. I like Phil. I want to keep him in there. I think he’s doing a good job.”
VTDigger contributed to this report.