Write-in votes today could help turn balance of power in State House

By Guy Page

Write-in votes cast today could help decide whether Republicans overcome the Legislature’s Democratic/Progressive Super Majority in November. 

Today’s write-in candidates hope to eliminate the disadvantage faced by candidates running alone in their party in a two seat-district. Republican (and Democrat) voters who don’t want to “waste” their votes will sometimes cast a ballot for a candidate from the other party – not realizing that the vote can actually work against their first choice. To that end, party leaders seek to fill empty slots in multi-seat districts in hopes of winning just a few more seats and overcoming the razor-thin but powerful 100-seat House ‘supermajority’ that allows the Legislature to overturn Gov. Scott’s vetos on climate, taxation, drug legalization, and other important bills. 

Also, several write-in candidates are running in districts with no Republicans currently on the ballot.

In most House districts, only a few dozen write-in votes are needed to insure that candidates are added to the November 8 general election ballot. Concerned that some House and Senate races have too few Republicans running, or none at all, party leaders have asked citizens to step up to run for office and to ask people in their districts to write their names on today’s primary ballot.

The people below have said “yes.”

Maryse Dunbar is a retired registered nurse and an Essex Town resident running for the Chittenden-23 seat in the Vermont House. She ran in 2020 but hesitated for personal reasons to run again this year, but then decided things simply must change in the Vermont Legislature. She’s asking her friends and neighbors to write in her name on the ballot. 

“Today we find ourselves in a crucial time of skyrocketing inflation, irresponsible spending & taxation, increased crime,  unaffordable fuel prices, food insecurity, and so many issues which are crippling the average Vermonter,” Dunbar said on her website. “Meanwhile there has been a one-sided majority at the Statehouse for close to 50 years.  Do we like what’s happening?  Families just want to thrive and feel safe. It’s overdue time to restore balance in power at the Montpelier Statehouse.”

Brian Christie of Essex City (formerly Essex Junction) is an engineer and former math teacher who graduated from UVM in 1997 with a degree in electrical engineering. 

When Tony O’Rourke ran for the House seat from Williston in 2020, he posted the following: “If you want political pandering and a rubber stamp approach to legislation, I am not your candidate.  If you want someone that will question every single tax dollar, will not support legislation that is fundamentally unsound but is wrapped in a pretty package, and will work on your behalf, not in the interest of party politics, you have a choice.” 

Longtime incumbent Jim McCullough is not seeking re-election, leaving O’Rourke and fellow Williston/Chittenden District 2 Republican write-in Bruce Roy against one-term Democratic incumbent Erin Brady and a newcomer.  

Gene Leon of Montpelier wants Montpelier Republicans to write in his name. He will be helped by the newly-formed Montpelier City GOP Committee. The state capital had been without an active GOP committee since 2006.

Matthew Stralka, a Post Mills resident according to his Facebook page, is seeking Republican write-ins for the Windsor-Orange-2 (Thetford, Post Mills) seat. Bill Huff, a onetime Orange County senate candidate, is already on the ballot. With two GOP names on the ballot for the two-seat district, party leaders hope to gain a seat. House Energy & Technology Chair Tim Briglin, architect of the Global Warming Solutions Act (and whose electric car caught on fire in his driveway, no injuries resulting), has declined to run for re-election. Longtime incumbent and former gubernatorial candidate and state education secretary Rebecca Holcombe and another challenger are vying with Masland for the two Democratic nominations.

Jared Jones will seek the Republican nomination via write-in for the Brandon seat now held by Democrat Kitty Jerome. There are no Republicans on the ballot for Rutland 9, in part because the Legislature redistricted the former one two-seat district into two one-seat districts. Republican Butch Shaw will run in the Rutland 8 (Pittsfield).  

Joe Gervais will seek the GOP write-in nomination in Bennington-4, which covers Manchester. It’s now held by two incumbent Democrats, Kathleen James and Seth Bongartz. An independent candidacy by a former Manchester legislator is deemed likely for the November general election. 

Debra Davidson of South Ryegate has thrown her hat into the ring for the Caledonia-1 (Barnet, Ryegate, Waterford) House seat. Republican Marcia Martel of Waterford chose to not run for re-election, and there are no other Republicans on the ballot. She needs about 30 write-in votes. 

Mike Donohue is a write-in for Chittenden 6, a single-seat district for Shelburne in which the Democrat, Kate Lalley, is also a newcomer. 

Dodge Gaskill is a write-in for the Orleans-3 House seat. 

GOP Senate write-in candidates include: Dexter Lefavour (R-Washington County, includes Stowe, Braintree and Orange), Jack Williams (R-Windsor), and Lloyd Dike and Mellen Kennedy (both of Addison).

Categories: Elections

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