Phil Scott to run against transgender Democrat in gubernatorial race

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:57 a.m. Wednesday.

Despite losing part of his base to a rival conservative candidate, Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday won the Republican gubernatorial primary and now must face Christine Hallquist, a liberal Democrat and the nation’s first transgender major-party nominee for governor.

After a raucous internecine battle over gun control measures he signed into law in the spring, Scott emerged a big winner against fellow Republican Keith Stern, garnering 65.4 percent of the vote with 272 of 275 districts reporting. The incumbent governor defeated the Springfield resident by a vote of 24,142 to 11,669.

Gov. Phil Scott

REPUBLICAN NOMINEE: During the primary campaign, incumbent Gov. Phil Scott touted multiple accomplishments he claimed were achieved during his first term.

“I want to thank those Republicans who have stuck with me through thick and thin, and all those who have put aside partisanship to engage in the primary. It says something very important,” Scott said in his acceptance speech.

“I know there are some who are still upset with me, who may not welcome tonight’s result, but there is so much more that unites us than sets us apart,” he said.

Scott touted a 19-month record as governor that included reducing income tax rates by $30 million, eliminating the tax on Social Security for some Vermonters, and preventing a $71 million property tax rate increase. He said his administration has expanded treatment for opiate addiction, invested millions in affordable housing and presided over a 4,500-person rise in the labor force.

Hallquist, the former CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, ran on a highly progressive agenda of universal health care, a $15 minimum wage, 90 percent renewable energy by 2050, and high-speed fiber-optic internet for every home. She defeated her three rivals by garnering 27,622 votes, about 39.4 percent of the 70,007 votes cast in the Democratic primary.

The Republican Governors Association released a statement Tuesday night suggesting Hallquist’s agenda will significantly raise the tax burden on Vermonters.

“Hallquist supports nearly $100 million in new tax hikes, including tens of millions of dollars in property tax hikes that would take the state backwards,” RGA spokesman John Burke said. “Vermont must keep moving forward and that is why voters will reject Christine Hallquist this November.”

Other races of interest

In the first state primary election since 2016, Vermonters cast their ballots Tuesday for a variety of candidates including governor, the U.S. Senate and House, several state office posts, and state legislative spots.

In the race for U.S. Senate, Sen. Bernie Sanders easily won while running on the Democratic Party ballot. Sanders’ challenger on the Republican side will be H. Brooke Paige, who narrowly defeated Lawrence Zupan by a count of 9,782 to 9,308.

Paige also won the Republican nomination for U.S. House, setting up a run against Democrat U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, who handily defeated Dan Freilich with almost 81 percent of the total votes. The Washington resident has said he plans to withdraw from the race to let the Vermont GOP pick a better-known candidate to run against Sanders and Welch.

In addition to challenged U.S. House and U.S. Senate races, Paige ran unopposed for attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and auditor of accounts, all on the Republican ticket.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, Republican House Minority Leader Don Turner ran unopposed and received 28,282 votes. Turner will face incumbent Democrat Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, who also ran unopposed and received 59,236 votes.

Lou Varricchio/TNR

Keith Stern’s perceived lack of polish and weakness in discussing a variety of issues, turned off enough Republicans to send the governor on to the general election in November.

Gubernatorial issues: guns and betrayal

In his race against Scott, Stern made the governor’s flip-flop on gun control the primary focus of his campaign.

Scott supported gun-control measures earlier this year, which angered many conservative voters. But in the end, Stern’s perceived lack of polish and weakness in discussing a variety of issues helped Scott skate to victory.

The governor also had the endorsements of former Gov. Jim Douglas of Middlebury, and former Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie.

“I know how hard it is to be governor, and I’m impressed with the job Phil Scott has done,” Douglas said. “He’s been a strong leader in his efforts to grow the economy and make Vermont more affordable, and we desperately need him to continue this work in Montpelier.”

But Stern didn’t mince words when it came to criticizing Scott for embracing left-wing social agendas.

“Our governor has forgotten who elected him and why,” Stern posted Monday on his campaign’s Facebook page. “He has turned his back on the gun owners groups who he met with and promised there would be no gun legislation signed by him. Then he took the opportunity to rub their faces in it as he made a big show of it signing it outside the capital with gun owners watching.”

Chittenden County Senate District

In Chittenden County, all six incumbent state senators won their party’s nomination to run for re-election in the fall. Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe was the top vote-getter with 13,521 votes. State Sen. Chris Pearson got in with the least amount of votes among the incumbents, with 9,026.

Republicans, hoping to break up that six-pack of liberal senators, picked Alex Farrell with 3,598 votes. Dana Maxfield came in a close second with 3,325 votes.

In-fighting between Paige and Zupan

During the GOP U.S. Senate primary contest, Zupan and Paige were like oil and vinegar poured into the same constricted cruet bottle.

Paige, a multi-office candidate who perturbed both Secretary of State Jim Condos and some Republican leaders for acting as a self-appointed party “place holder,” said he runs for multiple positions to stop Democrats from writing-in inferior candidates in the Republican primary to “sabotage” the ballot — a subversive activity made possible in Vermont’s open primary system.

On Monday, Paige posted a political ad designed to tweak Zupan, who sometimes is seen in photos crossing his arms.

“Angry Larry,” Paige posted. “One of the common mistakes inexperienced presenters make in public appearances relating to body language is mistakenly crossing their arms in front of them. This stance not only sends a message of … defensiveness and unapproachability, it also betrays feelings of nervousness and a lack of confidence.”

Zupan’s campaign aide and relative, Zachary Zupan, challenged Paige with his own Facebook putdown related to various characterizations between the two rivals. In one instance, he accused Paige of not having “his facts straight on such a simple and petty smear.”

Paige also took a Facebook jab at 1970s former Vermont Assistant Attorney General Bob Orleck, of Randolph, who has been a critic during the 2018 primary campaign.

“Bob Orleck thought he was so smart criticizing me in a Rutland Herald and Times Argus (guest commentary) which was published on Friday in violation of their self-imposed seven-day exclusion rule,” Paige posted. “Bob chose to castigate me for running to protect the Republican primary ballot from Democrat mischief, I must assume he has no problem with their fooling around with the propriety of the election, just like Jim Condos.”

Orleck offered a retort that “if Mr. Paige wants to play the game as the self-proclaimed protector of the Republican Party ballot, I guess it is his choice if the rules so allow, especially considering the pathetic state of the situation when it comes to available candidates.”

Open primary

Since Vermont law calls for open primary elections, voters are not required to register with a political party. Three ballots are issued — Democrat, Republican and independent — with voters choosing one of the three. Winners of Vermont primary elections are decided by a voting plurality: the candidate with the highest number of votes wins. Primary candidates in the Green Mountain State can win even without a majority of votes cast. However, if a tie occurs, a runoff election must follow by law.

Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at Bruce Parker contributed to this story.

Images courtesy of Phil Scott for Governor, Gov. Phil Scott and Lou Varricchio/TNR

6 thoughts on “Phil Scott to run against transgender Democrat in gubernatorial race

  1. Time to get behind Governor Scott, we will never agree on everything nor should we try to but Phil Scott is a proven leader who has tried to keep Vermont affordable and free. The Hallquist policies would be disastrous for Vermonters. Higher taxes, more regulation and loss of freedom. Many Vt liberals must feel intelligent and morally superior by voting en vogue, they actually would be intelligent and morally superior if they would vote for a candidate with smart, sustainable ideas that can be paid for.

  2. Hallquist cannot implement the CEP goal of “90% RE of ALL Primary Energy by 2050” without a huge carbon tax of several hundred million dollars per year for starters.

    Various Vermont enviro groups are salivating at the prospect of such unilateral carbon taxes so they can implement their socialistic, nanny state, distributionist programs that would damage most households and would not shift the global warming needle by one iota.

    Scott reluctantly placed some minor restrictions on guns, but Hallquist will go all out to take guns away from various groups of people (per desires of Dem/Progs nanny state, policies) and restrict any remaining guns even more.

    Implementing the CEP goal would cost at least $1.0 BILLION PER YEAR from 2017 to 2050, and likely more thereafter, as estimated in the EAN 2015 Annual Report. See URL.

    Carbon Tax Impact On A Typical Vermont Family, as reported on VTDigger:

    – The carbon tax would impose a $10 per ton tax of carbon emitted in 2017, increasing to $100 per ton in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would generate about $100 million in state revenue in 2019 and about $520 million in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would be added to the fuel prices at gas stations and fuel oil/propane dealers. Drivers should expect a tax increase of 9-cent per gallon of gasoline in 2017, increasing to about 89 cents in 2027.
    – Homeowners, schools, hospitals, businesses, etc., should expect a tax increase of 58-cent tax per gallon of propane and $1.02 per gallon of heating oil and diesel fuel in 2027.
    – A typical household (two wage earners, two cars, in a free-standing house) would pay additional taxes in 2027 of about:
    – Some of the carbon tax extortion would be at the pump, some when the monthly fuel bills arrive, and some as higher prices of OTHER goods and services.

    Driving = $0.89/gal x 2 x 12000 miles/y x 1/(30 miles/gal) = $712/y
    Heating = $1.02/gal x 800 gal/y = $816/y
    Total carbon tax in 2027 = $1528/y
    Sales tax reduction 5/6 x 1400 = $233/y
    Net tax increase = $1295/y

    – The hypocritical sop of reducing the sales tax from 6 to 5 percent would save that household about $233 in sales taxes, for a net loss of $1295 in 2027. That means such households, the backbone of the Vermont economy, would have about $1300/y less to make ends meet.
    – Many of these households have had stagnant or declining, spendable real incomes (after taxes, fees, surcharges; other recurring expenses, etc.), plus dealing with a near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy, since 2000.
    – With less real income, and higher real prices for goods and services, they also would have to make their own energy efficiency improvements.

  3. I did not vote for Phil Scott, with that being said Congratulations !!

    If you look at the ” Dismal ” numbers on this election, hopefully in fall we
    will see double the number for Republicans.

    It will be disastrous if we don’t keep the Governorship and we need to take
    the Lt Governor position also if you really want to save the state and your tax

    Wake up Republicans, you’re looking at Hallquist / Zuckerman and Vermont
    cannot afford this combo Free, Free, Free………. God Help Us !!!!!

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