Democrats gathered in Burlington to watch state and national results on election night hoping Vermont might flip its gubernatorial leadership from red to blue. But Democrat Christine Hallquist failed to stop Republican Phil Scott’s re-election.
Democrats began gathering at the Hilton in downtown Burlington shortly after Vermont’s polls closed at 7 p.m. Gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist joined them at about 7:30, working the crowd and expressing confidence that her first-time effort to seek office would be successful.
Hallquist, who had campaigned on issues such as universal health care and getting high-speed internet to all areas of the state, fell short of her goal and at about 10 p.m. told the crowd she had called Governor Phil Scott to concede. “Phil is going to be very committed to the future of Vermont. I’m proud of how we worked with each other. We sparred well and I think Vermont is a beacon of hope. We showed the rest of the country what good democracy looks like. You know I’m standing on the shoulders of thousands of Vermonters before me who fought for what is right and what is just and we will continue to fight for what is right and what is just.”
In his victory speech, Scott told Republican supporters he looks forward to continuing the work on the issues affecting the people and communities of Vermont. “In electing a governor of one party and a legislature by another the message Vermonters have sent to us tonight is clear: work together. They are saying we need to listen to one another and prove to the rest of the nation that in Vermont we can and will rise above partisan politics. We must come together for the future of our state in order to strengthen our economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable.”
Scott praised Hallquist and everyone who ran for elective office in the state for being role models of civility. “While we may not have agreed on many issues the campaign was marked by the type of civility Vermonters, and Americans for that matter, deserve in the public process. There was probably no better example of this than Zac Mayo and Lucy Rogers of Cambridge ending a debate last month by sitting together to perform a musical duet. For this and for stepping up I’d like to thank all the candidates tonight, win or lose.”
Hallquist, who was the first transgender person ever nominated for governor by a major political party, said one of her best campaign memories illustrates the state’s leadership in diversity and civil rights. “You know on primary night I was up in Island Pond and this big burly man came running across the parking lot and I thought uh-oh I’m in trouble. But he ran up and he says, ‘Oh my God, I thought I thought you were going to leave without me saying hello.’ And he says I am so proud of you and I’m so happy with the work you’re doing I just wanted to shake your hand. We are a welcoming and inclusive state and I love Vermont. And let’s make sure we continue this in front of the headwinds that we’re facing today. Let’s continue to show the rest of America what good democracy looks like. Thank you so much.”
Hallquist said she is proud of her campaign and Vermonters’ passion even as she acknowledged gaining the governor’s seat was an uphill climb. But she doesn’t yet feel she was a groundbreaking candidate. “Because it really depends what goes on in the rest of this country. I am still very afraid for our future. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the rest of the country but Donald Trump has gone after my community and I don’t think we’re going to be safe. So you know I’m doing what I can but I still fear for the future of America.”
Audio of Governor Scott’s speech is courtesy of Vermont Public Radio. Unofficial results from the Vermont Secretary of State’s office show Scott with 54.46 percent and Hallquist with 39.78 percent of the vote. The five independent and minor party candidates received 1 percent or less.