Vermont Primary Results Show Strong Showings For Write-In Candidates
Vermont’s primary results show a low turnout with a number of voters turning to write-in candidates. But in the highest-profile race, the stage is set for November’s general election for governor.
As of Wednesday morning, 87.27 percent of precincts, or 240 of 275, had reportedresults of primaries in the state’s four major parties: Republican, Democratic, Liberty Union and Progressive. The Vermont Secretary of State was not available for an interview early Wednesday, but his office explained that this year was the first that town clerks were mandated to report results before midnight on primary night. However, 35 precincts have not reported.
Governor Peter Shumlin was leading his Democratic primary opponent H. Brooke Paige with 77 percent of the vote. In the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, write-in candidate Dean Corren faced no opposition. There are currently 5,100 write-in votes tallied.
In the Republican primary for governor, party-backed Scott Milne had 72 percent of the vote. Republican contenders Steve Berry and Emily Peyton came in third and fourth, respectively, trailing the write-in total of 14 percent. It’s expected the majority of the write-ins will be for Libertarian Dan Feliciano. “I still believe I’m the only candidate that can go toe-to-toe with Governor Shumlin and none of the other candidates are offering up solutions. They’re still thinking about what those potential solutions might look like or what the key issues are. I think people realize that and will still continue to support me going forward.”
Vermont Digger political columnist Jon Margolis’ headline called primary night “predictably anti-climactic.” There were few competitive races, and Margolis says the field lacks charismatic candidates — and he expects that to continue into the fall election. “The most competitive primary seems to be for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House to run against Congressman Peter Welch. But Congressman Welch is going to get re-elected in a landslide, as always.”
Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis notes that turnout appears to approach an all-time low of less than 40,000 voters. He was impressed with the Democratic lieutenant governor’s race. “More than a quarter of the voters who went to the polls in the Democratic primary appear to have written in Dean Corren’s name. And that’s a better performance than I would have expected. Clearly the Democratic base is motivated to support Dean Corren. This also portends in my mind a competitive race for lieutenant governor between Corren and Republican incumbent Phil Scott.”
Davis finds that while Scott Milne won the Republican gubernatorial primary, the results should concern the frontrunner. “Libertarian Dan Feliciano, who’s running a write-in campaign, appears to have gotten about 14 percent of the vote. And then two candidates who basically didn’t campaign at all, Steve Berry and Emily Peyton, the latter of whom is not even a Republican, they both got between six and seven percent of the vote. So I do find it interesting that close to 30 percent of Republican primary voters voted for someone other than Scott Milne. I think that’s something that should concern the Milne campaign. The more ideological Republicans clearly have not warmed to Milne.”
Vermont Digger’s Margolis notes that write-in results reflect the Vermont Republican Party’s weakness and instability. “Clearly we have a division. The vice-chairman of the party endorsed Feliciano’s write-in effort. And now you have a situation where Phil Scott, the incumbent lieutenant governor, is probably going to face an opponent who has both the Democratic Party and the Progressive Party line. Again, we only know that ‘write-in’ got several thousand votes. There is no democratic candidate who filed to run for the seat. Everybody assumes that almost all of those votes are for Dean Corren, who is also the Progressive candidate. The governor has endorsed him. The democratic party chairman has endorsed him. He could be, I’m not predicting he will, but he’s certainly a real challenger to the only Republican statewide office holder that we have.”
Calls to Scott Milne and Dean Corren were not returned in time for broadcast.
The official results will be determined September 2nd.