NEW HAVEN/STARKSBORO — Rep. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, and Starksboro Republican Mark Snelling finished on the losing end of their respective party’s primary races for lieutenant governor, but voters have likely not heard the last from the two candidates.
“For my first statewide race coming from a small town in Addison County, I’m pleased at how close I was,” Bray, a two-term House incumbent said in reaction to his loss, by 52 percent to 48 percent of the vote, to Rep. Steve Howard, D-Rutland City.
“I thoroughly enjoyed going throughout Vermont, meeting all the voters,” said Snelling, a longtime businessman and the eldest son of the late Vermont Gov. Richard Snelling and former Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling. Mark Snelling lost to Sen. Phil Scott, R-Berlin, 56 percent to 44 percent, according to figures supplied early Wednesday afternoon by the Associated Press with 249 of Vermont’s 260 precincts reporting.
Both Bray and Snelling scored big wins in Addison County, but their vote margins here proved not enough to offset losses to their opponents in other counties.
Bray topped Howard by a whopping 3,814 to 938 margin in Addison County and Brandon, taking every town except Orwell, where the two tied at 48 tallies apiece.
But Howard, former chairman of the state Democratic Party who has served 12 years in the House, scored big wins in his Rutland County base and in other regions where he is better known than Bray.
Bray was disappointed to have not prevailed, but stressed he will continue to work on the issues he underscored during his campaign — strengthening the state economy through increased local food production, business development and renewable energy initiatives.
“Will I run again? I’d say ‘yes,’” Bray said. “I don’t imagine staying out of elective politics. As I have said in this campaign, you’re in the world to make it a better place, so you need to step up and act.”
Snelling topped Scott — a longtime state senator, construction company co-owner and racecar driver — by a 1,138-834 margin in Addison County and Brandon. Scott scored modest wins over Snelling in Hancock, Monkton, New Haven, Ripton and Vergennes.
“Phil Scott did far better in Washington County than I thought he would,” Snelling said Wednesday morning. “And we were not as successful getting out my voters in Chittenden County. We won a bunch of counties, but in the trade of Washington and Chittenden counties, I lost in that exchange.”
Snelling is unsure of his political future. But public service and Vermont politics have been engrained in his family’s history, and he was pleased with his campaign.
“Vermont’s political process is a wonderful thing,” Snelling said. “It allows people to get involved so they can make a difference.”
Eric Davis, Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Addison Independent political columnist, said Bray missed out on some votes because some folks who turned out at the polls apparently did not know enough about him or Howard and chose not to make a pick in the race. He noted that around 71,000 people voted in the Democratic primary for governor, but only 52,000 voted in the bracket for lieutenant governor.
“Chris Bray might be thinking, ‘If the primary had only been a week or two later, I might have pulled this out,’” Davis said.
Reporter John Flowers is at firstname.lastname@example.org.