In a shocker, Scott Milne nearly upset Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin in Tuesday’s election, and because neither of them got 50 percent of the vote, the Legislature must pick the next governor.
Election handicappers figured Shumlin had an easy road to his third two-year term, as Milne, the Republican nominee, was very late in entering the campaign, had little money, didn’t get much help from the GOP, and, as a first-time campaigner, made some missteps.
However, Milne’s criticism of Shumlin got surprising traction, as he blasted the Democratic governor’s “experiment” on single-payer health care that has run into major problems.
The vote was so close that both candidates went to bed Tuesday night not knowing who had won. Results continued to trickle in from towns that hand-count ballots, rather than use counting machines, and with all but two precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Shumlin led by fewer than 2,500 votes, but Milne said he thought the governor would get more votes in the remaining precincts than he would.
Libertarian candidate Dan Feliciano got more than 8,000 votes in the election; had those votes gone to Milne, he would be governor-elect today.
Locally, Milne won in Duxbury, Stowe and Morristown, while the governor carried Waterbury.
By law, if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in a general election, the Legislature chooses the winner. Shumlin is certain to get the nod, as Democrats hold a huge majority in both the House and Senate, and since 1853 the Legislature has always chosen the candidate who received a plurality.
State Senate, House
• State senator, Lamoille County: Richard A. Westman of Cambridge, who won both the Republican and Democratic nominations in the August primary election, was unopposed Tuesday.
• State House, Lamoille District 2, two seats representing Belvidere, Hyde Park, Johnson and Wolcott: Incumbent Democrats Linda J. Martin of Wolcott and Mark E. Woodward of Johnson defeated Republicans Shane Bouthillette of Johnson and Lucien Gravel of Wolcott.
• State House, Lamoille-Washington district, two seats representing Elmore, Morristown, Woodbury and Worcester: House Speaker Shap Smith of Morristown and Democrat Avram Patt of Worcester beat Republicans Mickey Smith and Emily Lapan, both of Morristown. See related story.
• House incumbents elected with opposition: Heidi Scheuermann, a Republican from Stowe, and Bernard Juskiewicz of Cambridge, who won both the Republican and Democratic primaries in August.
• U.S. House of Representatives, one seat: Incumbent Democrat Peter Welch of Norwich cruised past Republican Mark Donka by more than a 2:1 ratio.
• Lieutenant governor: Republican incumbent Phil Scott of Berlin trounced Progressive/Democratic nominee Dean Corren of Burlington by about 50,000 votes.
• Treasurer: Incumbent Democrat Beth Pearce of Barre City easily beat Progressive Don Schramm of Burlington and Liberty Union candidate Murray Ngoima of Pomfret.
• Secretary of state: Incumbent Democrat Jim Condos of Montpelier far outdistanced Progressive Ben Eastwood of Montpelier and Liberty Union candidate Mary Alice Herbert of Putney.
• Auditor of accounts: The incumbent, Democratic/Progressive nominee Doug Hoffer of Burlington, was unopposed.
• Attorney general: Democratic incumbent William H. Sorrell of Burlington beat Republican Shane McCormack of Underhill by 39,000 votes. A Liberty Union candidate, Rosemarie Jackowski of Bennington, was also on the ballot.
Unopposed for Lamoille County offices:
• State’s attorney, Paul Finnerty of Huntington, nominated by both the Democratic and Republican parties; he beat Democrat Christopher Moll in the primary. Finnerty will succeed Joel Page, a Democrat who has been the Lamoille County state’s attorney for 32 years. Page was elected Tuesday to be one of the county’s two assistant judges.
• Sheriff, Republican incumbent Roger Marcoux of Morristown.
• Assistant judge, incumbent Democrat Karen Bradley of Morristown and Joel Page, a Democrat from Cambridge.
• Probate judge, James R. Dean Mahoney of Hyde Park, a Republican.
• High bailiff, Eben E. Merrill of Hyde Park, a Republican.
Typical of a mid-term presidential election year, voter turnout was lower than in a presidential year, unless there was something juicy on the ballot.
In Hyde Park, 62 percent of the 2,027 registered voters came out, drawn by a controversial $18.3 million bond proposal to build a new school. Town Clerk Kim Moulton said it absolutely accounted for the turnout: 1,256 people casting ballots.
“It drags them out,” she said. “Typically we run around 400 to 600 people.”
In Morristown, with four people running for two House seats, voter turnout was 57 percent, based on a voter checklist of 3,403.
And in Stowe, where the local House and Senate candidates were unopposed, voter turnout was about 38 percent.
Justices of the peace
On the flip side of the Stowe ballot, 17 civic-minded Stoweites were vying for a dozen justice of the peace positions, that venerable catch-all of Vermont elected offices.
Justices of the peace do everything from count ballots and determine tax appeals to administer oaths and make marriages official.
Those 12 officials, for the next two years, in order of the number of votes received: Leighton Detora, Richard C. Marron, Pall Spera, Norman Williams III, Charles T. Lusk, Elizabeth Kellogg Lackey, Kermit Spaulding, Lyndall P. Heyer, Marshall Faye, Mitzi McInnis, Mary Black and Susie Connerty.
Finishing out of the running were Kaisa Spaulding Lewia, Marina Meerburg, Jacqueline M. Shiner, Helene Martin and Edward P. Frey.