politics

Recount for Mitzi Johnson House seat set for Friday, Nov. 20

by Guy Page

The recount for the Grand Isle – West Milton district in the Vermont House of Representatives will be held Friday, November 20 at the North Hero Town Hall, sources say. 

Last Tuesday the Republican uncle-nephew team of Leland and Michael Morgan won both seats in the two-seat district, unseating House Speaker and Democrat Mitzi Johnson. 20 votes separate Johnson from second place finisher Michael Morgan, according to this screenshot of voting totals posted today Vermont Secretary of State’s website:

Leland Morgan netted 2,776 votes, Michael Morgan 2,627 votes, Johnson 2,607 votes, and Andy Julow 2,404. Johnson requested the recount. 

Local paid media campaigns may have played a role in Johnson’s defeat. Before the election, local Republicans ran full-page ads in the Islander newspaper decrying Johnson’s support for the Global Warming Solutions Act (H688) and the carbon pricing they said is likely to result. Also before the election, opponents of marijuana legalization ran advertising criticizing Johnson for her role in passing S54, this year’s bill legalizing the retail sale of marijuana. 

If the recount finds Johnson a winner, she may face competition for election as House Speaker. Three, possibly four candidates have thrown their hats into the ring. Reps. Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington), Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford), and Charlie Kimbell (D-Woodstock) all have publicly declared their candidacy. 

Jill Krowinski, the House Majority Leader, is a former vice-president of Planned Parenthood of New England. Copeland-Hanzas chairs the House Local Government Committee and is a former member of the Democratic House leadership. She co-chairs the Climate Caucus. She and Copeland-Hanzas represent two of the driving interests behind the Vermont Democratic Party: support of legal abortion and carbon emissions reduction. Additionally, Copeland-Hanzas is an outspoken legislative advocate of retail sale of marijuana. 

Rep. Charlie Kimbell

Kimbell is less well-known both inside and outside the Legislature. He holds no chair or vice-chair position. He sits on the Commerce and Economic Development Committee. Raised in St. Albans (his mother was Vermont Mother of the Year) as the youngest of eight children, he attended Woodstock Union High School and graduated from the University of Vermont, majoring in political science and competing for the UVM alpine ski team. He has worked for 30 years in the private sector in diverse industries: retail and commercial banking, art licensing and publishing, software development and publishing with MISys, Inc, sales and marketing consulting, and as co-owner of Elevation Clothing in Woodstock.

Also mulling a run is Rep. Cynthia Browning (I-Arlington), who lost in the general election after the Democratic Party ran two candidates against her. Browning was an irritant to Johnson during the last session, publicly opposing Johnson on several policy and procedural issues. The Vermont Constitution does not forbid a non-representative from being elected Speaker of the House. 

Former radio host said facts, not opinions, led to firing – In response to Vermont Daily’s Nov. 10 story about his firing from WDEV’s morning talk show, Dave Gram offered the following in the “comments” section:

“CLARIFICATION: The quote beginning, “I was too critical of the president …” was a paraphrase of management. It was not an acknowledgement by me that that was the case.

“CORRECTION: I did not say, as your first paragraph claims, that I “interjected (my) political opinions into discussions.” I believe where I got into trouble was when I interjected facts – not opinions – into discussions that some listeners didn’t like. For example, I noted that people affiliated with Trump’s 2016 campaign and administration had amassed 27 criminal convictions as of Roger Stone’s seven last November, far more than any other presidency then less than three years into its first term. I used convictions as a measure because these are not just charges by Democrats or indictments from overzealous prosecutors, but findings of fact – yes, as a legal matter, fact – by an independent judiciary.”

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