CORRECTION: Sen. Peter Shumlin, D-Putney, received 41 votes in Ripton for the Aug. 24 Democrat primary for governor, not the mere four tallies reported in the Thursday, Aug. 26, edition of the Addison Independent. This means that Shumlin notched a total of 1,395 votes in Addison County, not the 1,356 previously reported. This total of 1,395 means that Shumlin was in fact the top vote-getter in the county, narrowly eclipsing Hartland Democrat Matt Dunne’s 1,372 tallies.
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County residents turned out in strong numbers during Tuesday’s primary elections to support Democrat gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne of Hartland and two local men vying for lieutenant governor.
Many Addison County towns recorded voter turnout in excess of 20 percent — a good return, given pre-polling forecasts that only around 10 percent of registered voters would cast ballots.
A low turnout was expected because this was a primary held outside a presidential election year, and it was for the first time in Vermont held before Labor Day.
But a five-way contest for the Democrat nomination for governor gave Vermonters some extra incentive to turn out at the polls to cast ballots in a contest that was still almost too close to call as the Addison Independent went to press Wednesday afternoon. The latest returns, with virtually all precincts reporting, showed Sen. President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin of Putney, with a lead of less than 200 votes over his closest rival, Sen. Doug Racine of Richmond. All five Democrats appeared at a “unity rally” in Burlington on Wednesday to show solidarity while the election results were still being gathered and assessed.
Addison County residents were also pretty evenly divided on the Democrat choices for governor. Former state Sen. Matt Dunne narrowly won the county (and Brandon), notching a total of 1,372 votes, to 1,356 for Shumlin. Racine took third in the county with 1,231 votes; Secretary of State Deb Markowitz received 1,142 votes; and Sen. Susan Bartlett, D-Hyde Park, rounded out the field with 244 tallies.
Dunne and Racine both won seven local towns, including Waltham, where they tied. Markowitz prevailed in six communities, while Shumlin prevailed in five, including Middlebury (narrowly beating Dunne).
Area voters overwhelmingly endorsed Addison County locals in another important race. Rep. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, and Starksboro Republican Mark Snelling each ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor (see related story, Page 1A).
The county followed statewide trends by overwhelmingly backing U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who faced a primary challenge from Wilmington Democrat Daniel Freilich. Leahy carried the county (and Brandon) by a whopping 4,787-536 margin.
But local voters parted ways from the rest of the state in backing Rutland City Republican John Mitchell in the GOP primary for U.S. House. Mitchell placed first in Addison County and Brandon with a total of 857, followed by Paul Beaudry of Swanton (the statewide winner on the GOP side) with 655 votes, and Keith Stern of Springfield with 161 tallies.
In the GOP primary for secretary of state, Jason Gibbs of Duxbury, an Otter Valley Union High School graduate and former spokesman for Gov. Jim Douglas, took the most votes in the county with 1,163 votes, compared to 681 for Chris Roy of Williston. Gibbs won the statewide nomination for his party and will go on to face Sen. Jim Condos, D-Montpelier, in the general election. Condos was a big winner in Addison County, topping challenger Charles Merriman of Middlesex by a 2,603 to 1,201 margin.
In the Democrat primary for state auditor, Addison County residents supported statewide winner Doug Hoffer of Burlington over former state Auditor Ed Flanagan of Burlington, by a 2,675 to 1,616 tally.
A fair number of voters cast their votes before Primary Day. In Vergennes, which saw 28 percent of registered voters cast ballots, assistant clerk Melissa Wright said about 60 of 412 votes were filed early as absentee ballots. She said in the last primary election she saw only two early ballots.
While 130 of the 659 ballots cast in Bristol came in early as absentees, town clerk Therese Kirby said that didn’t compare to the 800 early ballots she received before the last presidential election.
As about 24 percent of voters in Panton cast their 112 ballots, town clerk Sue Torrey noted that only about 10 came in as absentee ballots.
Reporter John Flowers is at email@example.com.