Several Senate races across Vermont garnered GOP attention in light of promising candidates, but in the end Democrats performed especially well on Election Day, shrinking the GOP presence even more at the Statehouse.
During the 2018 campaign, Rutland County reinforced its status as one of the few Republican bastions remaining in the Green Mountain State.
With Rutland County GOP Sen. Peg Flory’s retirement after serving 20 legislative sessions, and Sen. Kevin Mullin’s 2017 departure to head up the Green Mountain Care Board, the south-central county fielded five Republican candidates running for three seats in the August primary.
Two Republicans candidates, Sen. Brian Collamore and Sen. David Soucy, were the incumbents running for re-election, while Rep. James McNeil, Ed Larson and Terry Williams were non-incumbents who sought the seat left open by Flory.
But the surprise in Rutland County on Tuesday night wasn’t an all-GOP ticket, as some party faithful had predicted. Instead, the top three winning candidates were Collamore with 11,380 votes, Democrat Cheryl Hooker with 10,767 votes, and Republican James McNeil with 10,672 votes.
Hooker, a Democrat-Progressive who was a former member of the Rutland Board of Aldermen, was nearly invisible during the campaign. Yet she quietly became the first Democrat to hold a Senate seat in Rutland County since 2012.
Chittenden County Senate race
To the north in Chittenden County, 27-year-old Republican Senate candidate Alex Farrell received attention early for his young age, pro-business stand and ability to attract young professionals. But in Chittenden County, where the six Senate seats were held by incumbent Democrats and Progressives, Farrell came in seventh place.
Of a total 396,644 votes cast for the top six candidates in the county, Progressive-Democrats Tim Ashe, Philip Baruth, and Chris Pearson, won 11 percent, 9.5 percent, and 7.9 percent of the vote, respectively. Democrats Virginia Lyons, Debbie Ingram, and Michael Sirotkin won 10.5 percent, 10.2 percent, and 9.7 percent, respectively.
Farrell earned only 4.9 percent of the votes cast.
Windsor County Senate race
Down in the south-eastern part of the state, In Windsor County, Republicans Randy Gray, Jack Williams and Wayne Townsend had hoped for at least one of them picking up a Senate seat, but the evening vote tallies proved otherwise.
All three winning Windsor Senate candidates had Democratic or Democratic/Progressive affiliations, and all were incumbents.
Alison Clarkson, a Democrat, was the top vote-getter with 15,091 votes. In second place was Democrat Alice Nitka, with 14,276 votes. The third Senate seat in the county went to incumbent Democrat-Progressive Dick McCormack, who garnered 13,591 votes.
Gray led the losing GOP candidates with a fourth-place finish of 7,183 votes. Townsend and Williams got 6,882 votes and 6,389 votes, respectively.
Addison County Senate race
In Addison County, two Democratic senators will head to Montpelier to represent their district. Ruth Hardy was the top vote-getter with 9,040 votes, and Chris Bray came in second with 8,898 votes.
GOP Senate candidate Peter Briggs placed third with 5,290 votes, falling short of winning a seat. Other candidates who ran but lost include independents Marie Audet and Paul Ralston, and libertarian Archie Flower.
Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.