BRATTLEBORO—There might not have been many contested races on the ballot, but Windham County voters still turned out in droves to vote on Tuesday.
They helped give Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin and Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott a second term in their respective offices.
With about 90 percent of the vote reported at press time, Shumlin defeated Republican challenger Randy Brock by a 58-percent-to-38-percent margin.
Emily Peyton, an independent candidate for governor, received 2 percent, as did Marijuana Party candidate Cris Ericson. Liberty Union’s Dave Eagle didn’t crack 1 percent.
Scott defeated Democrat Cassandra Gekas by a 57-to-41 margin, with Liberty Union’s Ben Mitchell getting 3 percent.
In other statewide races, incumbent Democrats also won easily, as Secretary of State Jim Condos and Attorney General William Sorrell were returned to office.
Condos defeated Liberty Union candidate Mal Herbert of Putney 87 percent to 17 percent.
Although Herbert lost that race, the candidate’s greater-than-5-percent-of-the-vote showing against Condos now returns Liberty Union back to major-party status.
Sorrell defeated Republican challenger Jack McMullen by a 58-to-34-percent margin. Progressive Ed Stanak got 6 percent and Liberty Union’s Rose Jackowski received 3 percent.
Incumbent Democrat Beth Pierce turned back Republican challenger Wendy Wilton for treasurer by a 52-to-41-percent margin. Progressive Don Schramm got 5 percent and Liberty Union’s Jessy Diamondstone picked up 3 percent of the vote.
In the closest statewide race, Democrat Doug Hoffer edged Republican state Sen. Vince Illuzzi by a 51-to-45-percent margin for the auditor position, with just about 12,000 votes separating the two. Liberty Union’s Jerry Levy had 4 percent.
In the federal races, incumbents U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch easily turned back challenges from the Republican and third-party candidates, as both received more than 70 percent of the vote in their respective contests.
Sanders bested Republican challenger John MacGovern by a 71-to-25-percent margin.
Marijuana Party candidate Cris Ericson (who also ran for governor) got 2 percent of the vote, while Liberty Union’s Peter Diamondstone and independent Peter Moss each had 1 percent. Independent Laurel LaFramboise couldn’t crack the 1-percent barrier.
Welch turned aside Republican candidate Mark Donka, 72-to-23 percent.
Independent Sam Derochers got 3 percent of the vote, while Liberty Union’s Jan Newton got 1 percent and Andre LaFramboise picked less than 1 percent of the vote.
The most hotly contested House race in Windham County took place in the Windham-Bennington-Windsor district, which pitted one independent candidate against another.
Tim Goodwin defeated Emmett Dunbar, 1,298 to 1,013. Goodwin won four of the five district towns, losing only Jamaica.
Goodwin offered “a very sincere thank you” to voters. Calls to Dunbar were not returned by press time.
Republican incumbent Oliver Olsen, who did not run for re-election, said on Election Day that he was “looking forward to retirement.”
In Brattleboro District 3, Democrat Tristan Toleno defeated Liberty Union’s Ian Diamondstone, 1,390-171.
In Windham 4, incumbents David Deen and Mike Mrowicki turned back a challenge from Liberty Union’s Owen Diamondstone-Kohout.
In the State Senate race, incumbent Democrats Jeanette White and Peter Galbraith won handily over Liberty Union challenger Aaron Diamondstone.
Incumbent Windham County House members Mike Hebert, Valerie Stuart, Mollie Burke, Carolyn Partridge, Richard Marek, Ann Marwaring, and John Moran were all unopposed.
Nice weather, big turnout
Under brilliant blue skies, area town clerks reported that turnout was steady throughout the day, even though many towns had high numbers of absentee ballots.
Brattleboro Town Clerk Annette Cappy said about 2,300 early ballots were cast and that her staff had been kept busy in the days leading up to Election Day with early voters. More than 65 percent of the town’s registered voters turned out.
In Dummerston, Town Clerk Pam McFadden said nearly 400 of the town’s 1,663 registered voters — close to 1 in 4 — had already voted through early balloting.
Guilford Town Clerk Penny Marine reported a similarly heavy early turnout — 316 early ballots out off 1,669 registered voters.
“And we had lots of new voter registrations in the past couple of months,” she said.
Vernon was one of the first towns in the county to open its polling places, but even with a 7 a.m. starting time, voters stood in a long line waiting to cast ballots, according to Town Clerk Sandy Harris.
Guilford was crowded in the first hour of voting, enough so that Marine was moving about the Broad Brook Grange directing people to voting booths when they became available.
Goals for the next session
While waiting for Cappy to announce Brattleboro’s unofficial results, presumptive winners Toleno and State Senators White and Galbraith spoke about goals for the upcoming legislative session.
Toleno said he hoped to focus on economic development when he arrives in Montpelier. Windham County’s economy has not grown in step with its neighbors, said Toleno, who wants to shift that trend. Energy and health care also top Toleno’s list.
Health-care reform is also on White’s mind. She added that if she stays on the Committee for Government Operations, the committee will compare all the state’s election laws and consider reforms.
White said she also hopes to finish work on the open meetings bill and legislating addressing student free speech.
Galbraith said he believes that the state should not postpone designing a finance structure for its new health care system until 2015.
Galbraith added that he would continue to support small-scale renewable-energy projects and stressed his opposition to commercial/industrial wind farms.
On other issues, he highlighted finding “meaningful” campaign-finance reform. He repeated his stance that Vermont should ban corporate contributions, as federal law has done since 1907.
Obama wins easily
President Barack Obama was the choice of Vermont voters by a wide margin, so wide that NBC News and CNN projected Obama as the winner almost as soon as the polls in the Green Mountain State closed.
In Brattleboro, Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney by a 4,621–915 margin. In Westminster, it was Obama 1,213, Romney 388. In Putney, Obama won by a nearly 10:1 margin, 1,064–188.
It was only a little closer in the Deerfield Valley towns.
Wilmington went for Obama over Romney, 692–327, while in Dover, Obama won by a 428–296 margin.
Halifax favored the president, 260–136, but Obama only narrowly won Stratton, 73–70. In Whitingham, the president won 376–226.
In the West River Valley, Obama prevailed in Grafton, 235–113. Newfane preferred Obama by a 732–200 margin. In Townshend, the margin was 449–191, while Windham (146–70), Wardsboro (246–130), and Londonderry (552–334) also ended up in the Obama column.
Elsewhere, Obama defeated Romney in Marlboro, 481–73, while it was 853–261 in Guilford, and Dummerston went for Obama by a 897–234 margin.
Vernon voters selected Obama by a 562–495 margin; Brookline, 179–76.
Rockingham’s results were unavailable at press time.