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Election 2018

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Compromise or Veto Overrides? Vermont Dems Have New Leverage Over Scott

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 10:18 PM

House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington) - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington)
Democrats and Progressives in the Vermont Statehouse now have the numbers to override a veto, giving them greater leverage over Republican Gov. Phil Scott. Whether they'll successfully wield that power to advance a progressive agenda remains to be seen.

On multiple occasions during Scott’s first term, the 53 House Republicans blocked Democrats and Progs from overriding his vetoes, which requires a two-thirds majority in the 150-member House. That bulwark blew up Tuesday night.

After reviewing unofficial election results from the Secretary of State’s Office, Seven Days has confirmed that Democrats gained 12 seats in the House while Progressives held onto their seven, bringing the total number of left-leaning lawmakers to 102. Meanwhile, Republicans lost 10 seats to leave them with 43 members, while independents lost two seats and now hold just five.

In the 30-member Senate, Democrats, who already had a two-thirds majority, picked up another seat, leaving Republicans with only six.

Democratic legislators, who have criticized Scott for being unwilling to work collaboratively, say he’ll no longer have that option. “The governor is gonna need to do more than just issue veto threats,” said Rep. Sam Young (D-Glover).

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He Couldn't Lose: Bissonnette to Represent Winooski in Vermont House

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 6:18 PM

Clem Bissonnette - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Clem Bissonnette
Most politicians try to win elections. Clem Bissonnette tried not to. But on Tuesday, he won an eighth term in the Vermont House anyway.

By Wednesday afternoon, he decided to embrace the victory after all. Bissonnette announced that he will keep the seat, changing his plan to move out of Winooski this year and retire.

"I told people not to vote for me," 73-year-old Bissonnette explained to Seven Days. "Seeing I still got elected, it seems to me that the people want me to go back to Montpelier."

The Democratic lawmaker won a primary in August. But the next month, he announced his intention to retire to the Northeast Kingdom, where he and his wife, Sharon, had purchased a home. He resigned from the House. He told voters he didn't really want to be on the ballot — but it was too late to remove his name.

If he were not willing to serve, Republican Gov. Phil Scott would appoint someone to the seat. Now, that won't happen.

That's a double blow for Hal Colston.

He's the Winooski Democrat who decided to wage a write-in campaign for Bissonnette's seat. Colston, who ran a successful write-in campaign to get on the Winooski City Council in March, didn't manage a repeat this week.

The write-in votes totaled 939, while Bissonnette collected 1,184 votes and incumbent Rep. Diana González (P/D-Winooski) received 1,824 votes.

That tally gave González and Bissonette return tickets to Montpelier — even though political observers assumed Bissonnette would decline the trip.

Colston said Wednesday that he had hoped, if he failed at the polls, to be considered for an appointment to the seat. Now that's not an option. But Colston still wants to go to Montpelier. "I'm interested in serving and I'll be running in the next election, on the ballot," Colston said.

Colston said he was pleased with the support he got as a write-in candidate. "I'm not feeling too shabby," he said.

"I wish him well," he said of Bissonnette.
Hal Colston - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Hal Colston
The change of heart for Bissonnette came as the results filtered in Tuesday night.

"I did not campaign," he said. "I did not spend a cent on the election. The people still elected me."

He entered local politics in 1970 and has served as city councilor, mayor and legislator for the Onion City.

He and his wife aren't planning to sell their Winooski home until the spring of 2019, Bissonnette said. He might then rent a room in Winooski to finish out his term in the legislature. It's also possible he would resign before the full two years is up, he said.

Bissonnette said he is sure he's heading to the Statehouse in January.

He said, "We're going to Montpelier and we're going to take it day by day.’’

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Vermonters Turn Out in Record Numbers for a Midterm Election

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 5:24 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders votes Tuesday in Burlington - SOPHIE MACMILLAN
  • Sophie MacMillan
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders votes Tuesday in Burlington
Unofficial election results show that Vermont voters turned out Tuesday in record numbers for a midterm election.

According to data from the Secretary of State's Office, about 279,806 Vermonters cast ballots, roughly 57 percent of registered voters in the state.

Before Tuesday, the record high for a Vermont midterm came in 2006, when 262,568 people — 60.56 percent of registered voters at the time — cast ballots in the final midterms of president George W. Bush's tenure.
Secretary of State Jim Condos, who oversees Vermont’s elections, confirmed that 2018 may set a record for the most ballots cast in a midterm, but said the election likely won't set a record in terms of turnout percentage. He said that’s because the number of registered voters in Vermont is steadily rising.

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About Last Night: Seven Days' Full Coverage of Vermont's 2018 Elections

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 11:46 AM

Sen. Bernie Sanders greets supporters Tuesday night at a Vermont Democratic Party event at the Hilton Burlington. - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders greets supporters Tuesday night at a Vermont Democratic Party event at the Hilton Burlington.
Vermont voters, like many Americans, delivered a split verdict in Tuesday's elections. They reelected a Republican governor, but they also bolstered the Democratic legislature — and they sent a self-described democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, back to the U.S. Senate.

What else happened in Vermont on Election Day 2018? Seven Days has you covered. Click the links below or read on for our full coverage:

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Opinion
Walters: Democrats Gain Ground in Vermont Legislature

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 3:31 AM

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • House Speaker Mitzi Johnson
Vermont Democrats appear to have won a veto-proof majority in the state House on Tuesday and bolstered their existing supermajority in the Senate, according to preliminary results from the Secretary of State's Office.

Among the victims of a surge in Democratic enthusiasm was Rep. Kurt Wright (R-Burlington), who was ousted Tuesday by New North End voters. He was the last remaining Republican to represent the Queen City in the House.

A few districts remained unsettled as of early Wednesday morning, but unofficial returns indicated that Democrats picked up 12 seats held by Republicans, plus two seats occupied by independents. The Dems also lost two seats to Republicans, while Progressives held on to all seven of theirs.

If the current tallies hold, a net gain of 12 seats for Democrats and Progressives would push their combined caucuses to 102 — two more than the two-thirds majority required to override gubernatorial vetoes. The House Republican caucus would be reduced to a mere 43.

In his victory speech Tuesday night at the DoubleTree by Hilton in South Burlington, Republican Gov. Phil Scott hinted at the daunting opposition he will face in his second term.

"By electing a governor of one party and a legislature [of] another, the message Vermonters have sent to us tonight is clear: 'Work together,'" Scott said. That may signal a new approach, after a first term that saw 14 gubernatorial vetoes.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Zuckerman, Down-Ballot Democrats Win Vermont’s Statewide Races

Posted By and on Tue, Nov 6, 2018 at 11:00 PM

Lt. Gov. Davis Zuckerman - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Lt. Gov. Davis Zuckerman
Updated at 1:38 a.m. on November 7, 2018.

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a Progressive and Democrat, will return to the Statehouse for a second two-year term.

The organic farmer from Hinesburg beat out Rep. Don Turner (R-Milton), the House minority leader, in the race for Vermont's No. 2 job. With all but six precincts reporting late Tuesday night, Zuckerman led Turner 57 percent to 39 percent.

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Vermont Gov. Phil Scott Elected to Second Term

Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2018 at 10:12 PM

Gov. Phil Scott - SOPHIE MACMILLAN
  • Sophie MacMillan
  • Gov. Phil Scott
Updated at 2:30 a.m. on November 7

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott cruised to reelection Tuesday night, beating Democratic challenger Christine Hallquist, who conceded the race around 10:20 p.m.

With all but four districts reporting, Scott had clinched 55 percent of the vote to Hallquist’s 40 percent. That’s larger than his margin of victory in 2016, when he beat Democrat Sue Minter by nine percentage points.

Throughout the campaign, the first-term governor touted his efforts to hold the line on taxes and fees and repeated his pledge to make Vermont more affordable.

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Bernie Sanders Wins Third Term to U.S. Senate

Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2018 at 7:01 PM

Jane O'Meara Sanders and Sen. Bernie Sanders arrive at the Robert Miller Community & Recreation Center to vote Tuesday morning. - SOPHIE MACMILLAN
  • Sophie MacMillan
  • Jane O'Meara Sanders and Sen. Bernie Sanders arrive at the Robert Miller Community & Recreation Center to vote Tuesday morning.
Updated at 11:37 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) coasted to reelection Tuesday night, winning a third term to the U.S. Senate without breaking a sweat. The Associated Press called the race for him at 7:00 p.m. sharp, the moment polls closed.

About two hours later, the AP projected that U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) won a seventh term representing Vermont’s at-large seat in the U.S. House.

Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist from Burlington, faced Republican real estate agent Lawrence Zupan of Manchester, as well as seven other candidates, in a race that never quite took off. Sanders campaigned infrequently in the state, spending much of his time stumping for Democratic candidates across the country. He agreed to take part in just one debate and one candidate forum.

With 253 of 275 precincts reporting at 11:35 p.m., Sanders had 66 percent of the vote compared to 27 percent for Zupan.

At a Vermont Democratic Party gathering at the HiltonBurlington, Sanders told an enthusiastic crowd, “Being a United States senator from Vermont has been the honor of my life.”

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Women in Nude Photo Shoot Say Online Backlash Proves Their Point

Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2018 at 9:26 AM

A photo from the campaign - COURTESY OF JOHN SCHREINER
  • Courtesy of John Schreiner
  • A photo from the campaign
The Vermont women who posed nude for a get-out-the-vote campaign say they’re undeterred by internet trolls and naysayers who have disparaged them over the past week.

Since Seven Days reported on the "Grab Them by the Ballot" campaign, the story has gone viral, garnering publicity from such outlets as the UK's Daily Mail — and vitriolic responses from others. Organizer Dawn Robertson said the response has only hardened the resolve of most of the 10 women who dropped trou in a bold statement on sexuality, empowerment and ownership of their bodies.

The response has been particularly harsh from right-wing news organizations and websites. Fox News, Breitbart and the Blaze wrote about the “Democrat women” who decided to protest Republican policies with nudity. “YUCK!” screamed a headline from the Gateway Pundit, a website rife with conspiracy theories. “Democrat Women Get Naked to Protest GOP With ‘Grab Them by the Ballot’ Campaign.”

Rush Limbaugh, too, decided to disparage the women on his talk-radio show.

“They replace the vagina hats as a means of inspiring and spurring female [turnout],” he said on his November 2 show, according to a transcript posted on his website. “No matter where you look on the left, you have virtually nothing but hatred motivating people. Hatred and anger.”

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