White, Balint win Windham Senate primary
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Report | August 28,2014
BRATTLEBORO — Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, and newcomer Rebecca “Becca” Balint won the two Democratic nominations for Windham state senate in Tuesday’s primary.
With 21 of 24 towns reporting to the Vermont secretary of state, White was top vote-getter with 1,906 votes, or 40 percent of ballots cast, with Balint, a Brattleboro resident, receiving 1,365 votes, or 28.8 percent.
Coming in third was Roger Allbee of Townshend, with 1,050, or 22 percent, with Joan Bowman of Putney receiving only 398 votes, or 8.4 percent.
White, a resident of Putney, is seeking her seventh two-year term in the state Senate.
White was top vote-getter in most towns, with the exception of the towns clustered around Allbee’s hometown of Townshend.
Balint, a Brattleboro educator and newspaper columnist, was making her first run for office and had raised the most money of all four candidates — approximately $13,000, including a $1,000 donation from Hollywood’s Jane Lynch of “Glee.”
Balint said Lynch was a personal friend who texted her Tuesday night with congratulations.
Balint, 46, who has taught in Londonderry, Guilford and Marlboro, said the focus of her campaign was economic development for Windham County and issues facing working families.
“My phone has been ringing all day,” Balint said. “We worked really hard.”
She said she had a core group of 10 volunteers and a part-time campaign aide, Lachlan Francis, a University of Vermont freshman who recently completed his student term on the state Board of Education.
Balint said she visited seven different towns on Primary Day.
“The last push, I was feeling very positive, but I couldn’t let myself believe,” she said.
White couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday, but she is seeking her seventh term representing Windham County. She is chairwoman of the Senate Government Operations Committee.
Balint said she was worried about overcoming Allbee’s name recognition and deep family ties in Windham County and “his lifetime of service.”
But Balint, a recent graduate of the “Emerge” program for Vermont women candidates, said she had planned on running even before Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Windham, decided against running for re-election.
The four-way primary was sparked by the retirement of Galbraith, who stepped down after serving two terms. Galbraith, a retired diplomat, had endorsed Allbee and contributed $1,000 to his campaign.
Allbee, a former secretary of agriculture during Gov. Jim Douglas’ administration, is chief executive officer of Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend.
White and Balint will face two Liberty Union candidates, Jerry Levy and Aaron Diamondstone in the general election. Currently there are no announced Republican candidates for the county’s two Senate seats.