News Analysis

Where will the asteroid hit?

By Guy Page

It’s 11:41 AM. In Vermont, almost half of the votes have already been cast. The asteroid is on its way. 

Which political species it wipes out, none can yet say. Maybe the Democrats, already weakened by failing to adapt to a changing electoral climate. Maybe the Republicans, like woolly mammoths already living in fear of drowning in the tarpits of academia, media, and regulatory government. Maybe it’ll just be a dud, with predator vs. prey continuing uninterrupted. 

The latter is more likely in Vermont’s statewide races. Democrats (and Democrat-friendly Republican Phil Scott) all seem poised to win statewide races. Still, some Republicans see hope for change. GOP U.S. Senate candidate Gerald Malloy outworked every Senate candidate in recent memory. For sure he outworked the competition, Democrat Peter Welch. And is it crazy to think that a Phil Scott centrist like Joe Benning will beat a Progressive Democrat like David Zuckerman? Likely, perhaps not. Crazy? No. 

But the asteroid might just nail the Democratic/Progressive supermajority in the Vermont House of Representatives. The House GOP caucus needs 3-4 more seats to give Gov. Phil Scott bulletproof protection for his vetoes. Of course, the turnover in over a third of legislative seats also could turn the State House an even brighter shade of blue. These House races will be watched closely:

Republican Sally Achey vs. former incumbent Democrat/Progressive Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, in the multi-town (Middletown Springs, Pawlet, etc.) district. 

Republican Samantha Lefebvre vs. former incumbent Democrat Carl Demrow in a redistricted Orange County seat. The redistricting works to Demrow’s advantage. A loss by Lefebvre would hurt the GOP House caucus. Many see her as a rising star and a longterm, serious threat to Democratic control of the House. 

Republican Vicki Strong vs. Democrat Katherine Sims, in Orleans 4. Both are incumbents running against each other due to redistricting. 

Republican incumbents Tom Burditt and Art Peterson vs. former Democrat incumbent Dave Potter and newcomer Ken Fredette (D), in the two-seat district representing Clarendon, Wallingford and West Rutland. 

Republican incumbent Scott Beck and second-time candidate Frank Empsall vs. Democrat incumbent Scott Campbell and Brendan Hadash representing St. Johnsbury and some smaller towns. Campbell is one of the House’s strongest Climate Change warriors. Rural Vermont disenchantment with proposed climate legislation may help Beck and Empsall. So might the Senate candidacy of J.T. Dodge, as fervent an opponent of Democratic climate legislation as Campbell is a supporter.  

Longtime GOP Rep. Mary Morrissey of Bennington faces the same problem as Campbell – running alone in a two-seat race. Ditto the hard-charging Republican Joe Gervais, running for the Manchester seat against incumbents Seth Bongartz and Kathleen James

Will former Rep. and Sen. Carolyn Branagan return to the Legislature, running with Ashley Bartley in the two-seat Fairfax-Georgia House seat? 

In Barre City, former state’s attorney Tom Kelly and perpetual conservative gadfly Brian Judd, both Republicans, hope to claim a House seat (or two) from longtimer Peter Anthony and newcomer Jonathan Williams, both Democrats. 

And here’s a big one to watch: Windsor-Orange 2, where incumbent Jim Masland and former guv candidate Rebecca Holcombe, Democrats, are taking on Bill Huff and Matt Stralka, Republicans. Incumbent Dem Tim Briglin chose not to seek re-election. 

And finally, the two constitutional ballot items. 

Will Article 22 pass – or will voters decide that a constitutional imprimateur for late term abortions and transgender surgery without parental consent is a bridge too far? 

Will Proposal 2/Article 1 voters realize the ‘anti-slavery amendment’ has heavy, unspoken overtones of mass incarceration reform? And if they do – will it offset the desire to vote against the archaic ‘slavery light’ practice of indentured servitude? 

If your Watch List race isn’t here, you can find it at this Secretary of State list of all Vermont electoral candidates.

Categories: News Analysis

1 reply »

  1. Guy, Article 2. And I hope Vermonters see threw this thinly disguised pig in a poke in time to vote it down. If you do the crime, you need to do the time. I voted NO on both Articles 2 and 22.

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