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Vermont primary voters choose Democrats Welch and Balint and Republicans Malloy and Madden for Congressional races

Peter Welch celebrates U.S. Senate Democratic primary victory with his wife Margaret
Pat Bradley
Peter Welch celebrates U.S. Senate Democratic primary victory with his wife Margaret

Vermont voters have chosen their party nominees for the November general election. Among the contested races were ones for the state’s at-large U.S. House seat and one U.S. Senate seat.

U.S. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy is retiring at the end of his eighth term setting up a rare opportunity for an open Senate post. U.S. Congressman Peter Welch is leaving his House seat to run for the Senate. In the Democratic primary, unofficial results show a decisive win for Welch with 84 percent of the vote compared to Isaac Evans-Frantz’s 7 percent and Niki Thran’s 5 percent.

Welch was in downtown Burlington with his supporters Tuesday evening.

“Alright, I think they called the race!”

Welch thanked voters and told supporters the result helps preserve democracy and honor the legacy of Senator Leahy.

“This is a turning point in this country and the turning point is about whether we are going to find it within ourselves, all of us Vermonters, to do every single thing we can to preserve our democracy. We have an obligation to the legacy of Patrick Leahy and to the future of Vermonters to make certain that we do not turn the gavel over to Mitch McConnell. So thank you very much as we take this first step.”

In the Republican primary for Senate, the unofficial results show Gerald Malloy edging former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan by 39.9 percent to 35.5 percent. Malloy is an Army veteran and business consultant. Progressive Martha Abbott is also running for Senate.

Welch’s campaign for Senate opened his House seat and the Democratic primary featured two women as the front-runners. Becca Ballint, the Vermont Senate Pro Tem, received 59.6 percent compared to her closest challenger Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray with 36.4 percent. Gray conceded the race Tuesday night.

“This evening I called Senator Becca Ballint and congratulated her and her team on this evening’s victory. I couldn’t be more proud of the race that we ran. We left it all on the line giving Vermonters our very, very best in giving them a choice in this election. I thank Vermonters for showing up, for participating in our democracy. And my message this evening was really to the next generation reminding them that there’s so many paths to office.”

Reached Wednesday morning, Balint said she and her team were surprised by the margin of victory.

“We did not think the night would be called so early. I attribute it to there are issues that a lot of Vermonters care about right now, especially primary voters. They care about reproductive rights. They care about sensible gun laws. They care about having an economy that is working for people who are at the bottom and in the middle. And so the issues that were really important to Vermonters I could point to actual legislation that I passed. And I think the people who came out to support me were not just exclusively progressive-democrats. And I think it was because the message of looking out for regular people really, really resonated with so many voters.”

Balint will face Liam Madden in the general election for the House seat. He won 35 percent of the vote in the Republican primary over Ericka Bundy Redic’s 27 percent and Anya Tynio’s 22 percent.

“I’m really excited and I feel like it’s such an honor and there’s a sacred responsibility handed to me and I want to take that really seriously and I’m just orienting to do that.”

Madden ran in the GOP primary despite being a critic of the two-party system.

“I think that there’s just a deep hunger in the people of Vermont, whether that’s left or right, for some deep reform to the two-party system. Because left and right both realize that it’s corrupt, it’s dysfunctional, its warlike and it’s not representing us well. And so if someone can speak honestly and substantively to this issue and have a path forward to have a government that actually works and solves problems then I think the Vermont audience, Republicans and Democrats alike, are open-minded down-to-earth people and if you can connect on that level then you’re going to do well.”

Progressive Barbara Nolfi is also running for the House seat in November.

In Vermont’s gubernatorial primaries, Democrat Brenda Siegel was unopposed. Republican incumbent Phil Scott received 66.5 percent of the vote with challenger Stephen Bellows getting 17.8 percent and Peter Duval trailing with 11.9 percent.

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