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Election 2018

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Walters: Scott Appears to Snub Addison Republican Senate Candidate

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 5:36 PM

  • File: Oliver Parini; Courtesy of Marie Audet
  • Paul Ralston and Marie Audet
Republican Gov. Phil Scott will attend an October 2 fundraiser for two state Senate candidates from Addison County.

Two independent candidates, Marie Audet and Paul Ralston.

Conspicuous by his absence from the invitation: Peter Briggs, a 28-year-old selectboard member from Addison and the Republican candidate in the Senate race.

Audet and Ralston's joint campaign committee organized the event. The independents announced their candidacies together in late July.

Ralston, a former Democratic state representative, has said that he supports Scott. He explained in July that he and Audet teamed up because they would be "running against a party establishment and that party has a lot of resources."

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

'Jim Douglas for Governor' Account Still Doling Out Campaign Cash

Posted By on Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 7:45 PM

Former governor Jim Douglas and his official portrait, painted by Kate Gridley - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Former governor Jim Douglas and his official portrait, painted by Kate Gridley
Jim Douglas hasn’t been on a statewide ballot since 2008 but “Jim Douglas for Governor” is still appearing on campaign finance filings with the Vermont Secretary of State.

According to those filings, the account bestowed $500 upon House Minority Leader Don Turner Jr. (R-Milton) in his run for lieutenant governor. It also doled out $500 to Gov. Phil Scott, while Chittenden County Republican Alex Farrell’s campaign for state Senate got $250. Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe) received $100.

But the four-term Republican governor says he isn’t seeking a political comeback.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Burlington Town Hall Featuring Bernie Sanders Draws New American Crowd

Posted By on Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 8:13 PM

From left: Omar Bulle, Stefan Boley, Aden Haji, Mohamed Jafar, Ahmed Noor - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • From left: Omar Bulle, Stefan Boley, Aden Haji, Mohamed Jafar, Ahmed Noor
I am a change maker. That was what Aden Haji, 23, hoped each attendee would feel about themselves after attending a town hall event Sunday in Burlington that featured Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as the headliner.

Haji, a University of Vermont senior, was one of the speakers at the event and called for greater civic engagement from members of New American communities.

The gathering at the Old North End Community Center specifically targeted New Americans and was intended to teach them the nuts and bolts of voting, to inspire them to become politically engaged, and to give them an opportunity to make their concerns known to Sanders. It attracted a crowd of about 150 people, most of whom were members of the Burmese, Bhutanese, Iraqi, Somali and Sudanese communities.

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Walters: Scott and Hallquist Face Off in First Debate

Posted By on Sat, Sep 15, 2018 at 3:20 PM

Christine Hallquist making a point while Gov. Phil Scott listens during their debate at the Tunbridge World's Fair - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Christine Hallquist making a point while Gov. Phil Scott listens during their debate at the Tunbridge World's Fair
The two major-party candidates for Vermont governor debated the issues Friday morning for the first time in the general election campaign. Republican Gov. Phil Scott and Democratic challenger Christine Hallquist held a civil, issues-based discussion that occasionally produced some sharp words — but only over policy disagreements. Personal attacks were notably absent.

The two came off as knowledgeable and articulate, and offered clear policy agendas for Vermont. Hallquist, the first openly transgender person to win a major party's nomination for governor, referred to her gender identity only once or twice; Scott never mentioned it at all.

The debate was broadcast live on WDEV Radio's Dave Gram Show, and is available via podcast. It took place in an open-air gazebo at the Tunbridge World's Fair, with occasional sounds from animals and equipment in the background. Vendors touting a cornucopia of deep-fried delights filled the surrounding area. Gram and VTDigger.org founder and editor Anne Galloway served as moderators.

The two candidates often agreed — at least in terms of policy goals. Both advocated for increased job opportunities and boosting the state's population, especially among younger people and families with children. Both endorsed Vermont's goal of 90 percent renewable energy by the year 2050. Both emphasized the importance of improving water quality in Vermont's lakes and waterways. They both oppose the idea of a carbon tax, although Scott's opposition is absolute and Hallquist says she opposes it "for now."

Where they differed was on how to achieve their goals. Scott continued to repeat his handful of core talking points: affordability, no new taxes or fees, growing the economy and reining in the cost of public education. He did not specifically promise to oppose any additional taxes or fees in his second term (should he be elected), but he made clear his general opposition to raising new revenue.

Hallquist advocated for public investment as a way to make progress, and left herself open to tax hikes when necessary. "I'm not afraid to raise taxes for a good purpose," she said. "I will find a responsible way to pay for it, but we need paid family leave."

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Farrell Suspends Campaign Manager Over Ingram DUI Video

Posted By on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 at 11:50 AM

Alex Farrell in South Burlington - TAYLOR DOBBS
  • Taylor Dobbs
  • Alex Farrell in South Burlington
Vermont Senate candidate Alex Farrell, a Chittenden County Republican, suspended campaign manager Jeffrey Bartley on Thursday for condoning a video attacking a political rival.

The move came a day after Seven Days reported on Burlington Republican Party chair Paco DeFrancis' online criticism of Sen. Debbie Ingram's (D-Chittenden) 2017 drunk driving arrest. Farrell condemned the attack on Wednesday and said his campaign had had nothing to do with a video DeFrancis posted featuring footage of Ingram's arrest.

But later Wednesday, DeFrancis sent Seven Days screenshots of a text-message exchange he'd had with Bartley in July suggesting that the campaign manager had approved the video. (DeFrancis posted the screenshots to Twitter on Thursday morning but quickly deleted them.)

DeFrancis said in an interview Thursday that he'd understood Bartley's texts as a "go-ahead" to circulate the video. "I would've never posted it if I hadn't talked to him," DeFrancis said.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

GOP Officials Attack Sen. Ingram Over Drunk Driving Arrest

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 2:37 PM

  • Sen. Debbie Ingram
Updated at 4:57 p.m.

The chair of the Burlington Republican Party bashed Sen. Debbie Ingram (D-Chittenden) on Twitter this week over a drunk driving arrest. The attack drew swift rebukes from other top GOP officials, including Gov. Phil Scott, who called it “unacceptable.”

Ingram crashed her car into a ditch in Williston less than a mile from her home in October 2017. The Burlington Free Press reported that Ingram’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was 0.186 percent, more than double the 0.08 percent legal limit for driving.

Ingram released a statement shortly after her arrest in which she accepted responsibility for driving drunk.

“I am grateful that no one was injured as a result of my irresponsible behavior,” she wrote. “I suffer from a disease for which I have been getting treatment through a 12-step program.”

That, apparently, was not good enough for Burlington Republican Party chair Paco DeFrancis.

“If [Ingram] cared about her ‘disease’ and cared about others who may be using that public infrastructure then she should recognize that she is NOT capable of driving and should give up her car and license,” he tweeted Monday night.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Vermont Rep. Bissonnette to Resign, Opening Seat in Winooski

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 at 8:12 PM

Clem Bissonnette - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Clem Bissonnette
State Rep. Clem Bissonnette (D-Winooski) will submit his resignation Tuesday after 12 years in the Vermont Statehouse. His departure will shake up what otherwise would have been a predictable race in Winooski's two-seat district.

Bissonnette, an Onion City native, and his wife are moving to her hometown, Guildhall, in the Northeast Kingdom. They're making the move earlier than they expected because "a house that we love came up for sale," he explained.

Since Bissonnette missed the deadline for Democrats to replace him with another candidate, his name will still appear on the November 6 ballot alongside that of his seatmate, Rep. Diana González (P/D-Winooski). The two were running unopposed.

The outgoing lawmaker is encouraging voters to write in former Winooski mayor Michael O'Brien. Hal Colston, who won a write-in bid for the Winooski City Council last March, announced via Twitter Monday night that he also plans to run. WPTZ-TV reporter Stewart Ledbetter first reported news of Bissonnette's plans earlier Monday.

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Sunday, September 2, 2018

Walters: Hallquist Leaps Forward in Fundraising

Posted By on Sun, Sep 2, 2018 at 9:07 AM

Christine Hallquist - FILE: TAYLOR DOBBS
  • File: Taylor Dobbs
  • Christine Hallquist
Christine Hallquist's victory in the August 14 Democratic gubernatorial primary brought a flood of national — and global — attention to her candidacy. That night, she became the first openly transgender candidate to win a major party's nomination for governor. The resultant publicity is making the money flow as never before.

September 1 marked another campaign finance reporting deadline for Vermont candidates. Between August 15 and September 1, a little more than two weeks' time, Hallquist raised more than $71,000. That's nearly half her total for the preceding five months of campaigning. And a Friday campaign press release boasted that Hallquist had received at least one donation from every state in the union.

It was a welcome boost, since she exited the primary with essentially no money in the bank. Even so, she spent almost as much in late August as she raised, and enters September with roughly $14,000 in cash on hand.

Her opponent, Gov. Phil Scott, continued to fundraise at a rather leisurely pace. His total for the second half of August was $41,000 — and he spent a bit more than that. He has about $50,000 in cash on hand, plus another $18,000 left over from his 2016 campaign.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Walters: VTGOP Cobbles Together a Ticket

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 11:21 PM

Rick Kenyon, Richard Morton, Rep. Janssen Willhoit, Anya Tynio and Lawrence Zupan - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Rick Kenyon, Richard Morton, Rep. Janssen Willhoit, Anya Tynio and Lawrence Zupan
The Vermont Republican Party's state committee approved a slate of nominees for statewide office at a not-very-democratic special meeting Wednesday night in Montpelier. The meeting was necessitated after political gadfly H. Brooke Paige ran for, and won, six separate Republican nominations in the August 14 primary — for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state and treasurer.

Last Friday, Paige withdrew from every nomination except secretary of state. The VTGOP had to choose new nominees by August 31, the state's deadline for adding candidates to the November ballot. Only members of the Republican state committee were eligible to vote.

After an hour of wrangling over the rules, the committee quickly filled the available slots. Two men faced off for U.S. Senate: Manchester real estate broker Lawrence Zupan and Dan Feliciano, a 2016 Republican candidate for auditor who also ran for governor in 2014, as a Libertarian. Zupan bested Feliciano 56 votes to 12. (One vote was cast for "Douglas," an apparent reference to former governor Jim Douglas.) Zupan will now challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

"I'm going to invite Sen. Sanders to have eight debates with me," Zupan said when asked how he would take on a very popular and deep-pocketed incumbent. "I think the people of Vermont miss Bernie. He's been everyplace but Vermont, it seems, and I'd like to invite him to revisit the state that launched his political career."

Zupan depicted Sanders as a "socialist" with "a complete misunderstanding of how the world works and how economics works. It's a pity that he doesn't love the American Revolution as much as he loves his imaginary new revolution."

Anya Tynio, 25, a sales representative for the Newport Daily Express, won the nod for U.S. representative on a voice vote. Tynio had been a candidate in the Republican primary, but lost to Paige. She will face U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). If she wins, she would be the first woman elected to Congress by the state of Vermont, but she faces long odds against a popular incumbent.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Bill Norful Is Back in Chittenden Probate Judge Race — As a Republican

Posted By on Fri, Aug 24, 2018 at 6:15 PM

  • Oliver Parini
  • Bill Norful
Bill Norful will again face incumbent Greg Glennon in the race for Chittenden County probate judge. This time, Norful, a lifelong Democrat, will run as a Republican.

The attorney and former Winooski mayor lost the Democratic primary to Glennon earlier this month, getting votes on 22 percent of the ballots cast, as opposed to 44 percent for Glennon.

But Norful also got 95 write-in votes in the Republican primary.

Last Friday, Chittenden County court clerk Anne Williams confirmed the vote count and found that Norful had bested Republican National Committee member Jay Shepard, who got 71 write-in votes. (Glennon received 66 GOP votes.) Most GOP voters left that spot on the ballot blank.

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