Haley wins Vermont GOP presidential primary

On Town Meeting Day, people turn out strong in meetings and at the polls

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley won her first state in the Republican presidential primary on Tuesday - and it happened in Vermont.

Haley defeated former President Donald Trump by the slimmest of margins in the state, according to the Associated Press, which called the race for her at 10:37 p.m. With 224 of 247 precincts reporting late Tuesday night, she was leading Trump 49.3% to 45.3%, according to the Vermont Secretary of State's Office.

Though she prevailed in the Green Mountains on Super Tuesday - when Vermont and 14 other states held primary elections - she was trounced elsewhere, including the nearby New England states of Massachusetts and Maine. Trump continued to rack up delegates to the Republican National Convention and seemed ever closer to clinching his party's nomination.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, cruised to victory in Vermont's Democratic primary. The Associated Press called the race for the incumbent president at 7:20 p.m., soon after the polls closed.

Biden faced minimal competition in Vermont's primary, with five relatively unknown candidates sharing the ballot with him - among them U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and self-help author Marianne Williamson.

The president appeared on track to win a wide majority of Democratic votes Tuesday. As of 10:15 p.m., he had captured 83% of the vote, with write-ins in second place at 6% and Williamson in third with 4%.

Town Meeting doings

While the presidential primary attracted much of the attention on Town Meeting day, the lingering costs of last year's storms have seeped onto meeting warrants from Groton in the Northeast Kingdom - where damage totaled a manageable $9,586 - to Grafton in southern Vermont - whose number is nearly 100 times more, at close to $1 million.

At least 60 of Vermont's 247 cities and towns are facing short-term deficits because flood cleanup bills they paid last year have yet to be reimbursed by the federal and state government.

But in one town, the matter for debate was not about water, but whether to stay a "dry" town. Athens was one of 20 communities in the state to prohibit the sale of alcohol, but it is no longer.

More than 80 residents gathered on March 4 to finally permit the sale of "malt" and "vinous beverages," spirits and "fortified wines." Some questioned the need, as the town doesn't have a store or restaurant. But others noted the longtime law banned not just over-the-counter purchases, but also caterers and wine clubs from delivering alcohol to local homes.

"Is there a potential concern of this leading to a liquor store?" one man asked.

Replied Selectboard member Krista Gay: "We don't even have a gas station."

Contributing to this report were Kevin O'Connor, Emma Cotton, and Paul Heintz, all from VtDigger, and Randolph T. Holhut and Jeff Potter, of The Commons.

This News item was submitted to The Commons.

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