Democrat Molly Gray defeated Republican Scott Milne in the lieutenant governor’s race Tuesday, becoming the fourth woman in Vermont history to hold the second highest office in state government.
Gray, a 36-year-old who serves as an assistant attorney general, was successful in her first bid for elected office in defeating Milne, a businessman who found himself on the losing side of a statewide race for the third time in eight years.
Just before 11 p.m., Gray claimed victory although The Associated Press had not officially called the race. She had 52 percent of the vote to Milne’s 43 percent with 80 percent of precincts reporting results.
“Tonight we made history,” Gray said Tuesday at the Great Northern restaurant in Burlington.
“For the fourth time in Vermont’s history we’re sending a woman to the lieutenant governor’s office,” she told supporters. “I’m humbled and honored to stand before you this evening.”
Previous female lieutenant governors include Consuelo Bailey, former Gov. Madeleine Kunin and Barbara Snelling.
Milne called Gray shortly after she announced she had won to concede the race, according to the Gray campaign.
He congratulated Gray in a statement sent to media shortly after 11:30 p.m.
“I am honored by the tens of thousands of Vermonters who supported my candidacy,” said Milne in the statement. “I send my sincere congratulations to Molly Gray on her victory this evening. I wish her success moving forward.”
Ten months ago, Gray entered the race for lieutenant governor as an unknown. But she quickly built up a strong fundraising apparatus — bringing in $427,000 throughout the election cycle — and a campaign ground game across the state, buoyed by support from a number of high-profile Vermont Democrats.
Gray faced tough competition in the Democratic primary, squaring off against Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, former gubernatorial candidate and activist Brenda Siegel and Sen. Debbie Ingram, D-Chittenden.
Gray received early endorsements from Kunin and former Gov. Peter Shumlin, former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine, and Matt Dunne who ran for governor in 2016 — and many others.
Ahead of Tuesday’s election, Milne said Gray’s Democratic Party affiliations as well as early endorsements from members of Vermont’s Democratic establishment gave her a strong advantage in the race.
“St. Patrick and the pairs of Peters and Queen Madeleine and everybody else came out and anointed her over everybody else in the party in the spring,” Milne recently told VTDigger, referring to Leahy, Shumlin, Welch and Kunin.
Throughout 2020, Gray has been dogged by reports that she failed to vote in four election cycles between 2008 and 2018, which drew criticism from Vermonters across the political spectrum, as well as questions about her residency status during the last four years.
During the primary and again in the general election campaigns, Gray was forced to respond to inquiries about where she had recently lived and the constitutional requirement that candidates for governor and lieutenant governor “reside” in Vermont for four years before holding the office.