Write-in results show tangling of party lines
By Neal P. Goswami
VERMONT PRESS BUREAU | September 03,2014
MONTPELIER — Progressive Dean Corren, through a write-in campaign, has secured the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, but the Republican incumbent tallied a significant number of write-in votes himself without much organization.
Official results from last week’s primary, marked by extremely low voter turnout, were certified Tuesday at the secretary of state’s office. Results featured cross-party nominations, some of which aren’t exactly welcomed.
Corren, the Progressive Party’s nominee who also asked Democrats to write him in on their ballot, tallied 3,874 write-in votes. The 60.5 percent of the vote he earned was enough to beat Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, who received 1,895 write-in votes, or about 30 percent. No one had submitted a valid petition to earn a place on the ballot.
Even if Corren, of Burlington, now receives an official endorsement from the Democrats, the party won’t be able to spend on his behalf because he has secured public financing for his campaign.
“It’s an honor to have so much support from Democrats around the state,” Corren said in a statement Tuesday. “... Now I look forward to engaging in a spirited debate about the future of our state.”
He again pledged to address climate change, seek a single-payer health care system for Vermont and “limit the role big money plays in our political process.”
Scott’s tally came even though there was no major campaign urging voters to write his name in. A handful of Democratic stalwarts in the Senate expressed their displeasure with Corren and endorsed Scott, including Sens. Dick Mazza and Dick Sears and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell. The incumbent remains the heavy favorite in the general election.
In the Republican gubernatorial primary, Scott Milne, a businessman from Pomfret, easily won the nomination with 11,486 votes. That amounts to nearly 72 percent.
But Dan Feliciano, the Libertarian from Essex who waged an aggressive write-in campaign hoping to thwart Milne, managed to garner 2,093 votes, or 13.1 percent. Two others on the GOP ballot, Emily Peyton and Steve Berry, grabbed less than 6 percent each.
Feliciano, who has pledged to carry his campaign forward as the Libertarian Party’s nominee, could continue to siphon votes from the more moderate Milne.
Both men face incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is seeking a third term. He cruised in his primary race against H. Brooke Paige, securing more than 15,000 votes, or 77 percent. Paige, a little known candidate despite previous statewide runs as a Republican, received 3,199 votes, or 16 percent. There were more than 1,300 write-in votes, or nearly 7 percent of those cast, but the secretary of state’s office did not break those down.
The closest race in last week’s primary went to Hartford resident Mark Donka, who again secured the GOP nomination for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House. He was the party’s nominee in 2012, too, but lost badly to Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, who faced no primary this year.
Donka won 4,340 votes, or 33.7 percent. That was enough to edge out Donald Russell, who won 4,026 votes, or 31.2 percent. Donald Nolte received 3,803 votes, or 29.5 percent.
Meanwhile, three incumbent Democrats secured the GOP nomination for statewide offices after the Vermont Republican Party failed to recruit its own candidates.
Secretary of State Jim Condos, State Treasurer Beth Pearce and Auditor Doug Hoffer all won GOP nominations based on write-in votes.
Attorney General William Sorrell, a Democrat, will have a Republican opponent although no GOP candidate earned a spot on the ballot. Shane McCormack waged a late write-in campaign and won 794 votes, or 36.5 percent. Sorrell got 663 GOP write-in votes, or 30 percent.
Turnout statewide was just 39,424 voters, or 9 percent. That’s low, but not a record, according to the secretary of state’s office. The primary in 2008 saw just 8.5 percent of voters turn out. Most voters this year, 55 percent, cast Democratic ballots. Republican ballots accounted for 43 percent.