NEW HAVEN — New Haven Republican Harvey Smith will be returning to the Montpelier after a four-year hiatus.
Voters in the Addison-5 House district of New Haven, Weybridge and Bridport gave Smith the nod over Weybridge Democrat Spence Putnam by a 1,003 to 843 margin after heavy voting on Tuesday.
“I’m thrilled,” Smith said of the result, which he said was a product of a lot of door-to-door campaigning.
“I wore out my shoes again,” he quipped.
Smith had previously represented Addison-5 from 1998 to 2006, when he was beaten by Rep. Christopher Bray, D-New Haven. Bray was re-elected in 2008 and chose to run this year for the Democrat nomination for lieutenant governor, a primary contest he lost this past August to Rep. Steve Howard, D-Rutland City. Howard lost in Tuesday’s general election to Sen. Phil Scott, R-Middlesex.
Smith, a farmer and former state executive director of the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, will be the lone “newcomer” in Addison County’s legislative delegation next year. All of the local House and Senate incumbents won re-election.
Smith got off to a good start on election night by winning his hometown by a substantial 498-340 margin over Putnam, whom he out-polled in the same district back in 2000. Putnam — past general manager of Danforth Pewterers Ltd., former vice president of operations for the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, and a longtime Democrat Party organizer — won his hometown of Weybridge, 291-169. But Smith sealed the deal with a 336-212 edge in Bridport.
Smith credited Putnam for also waging a hard-fought campaign.
“It was a positive experience,” Smith said.
Asked about his priorities for the coming biennium, Smith replied, “Balancing the budget and re-charging the economic engine.”
Smith said he would like to either return to the House Agriculture Committee — on which he served during his previous stint in the Legislature — or join the Commerce Committee.
Incoming lawmakers will be asked to list their top three committee choices, and House and Senate leaders will pass out committee assignments in early January.
“We need good, common sense solutions to address all the challenges we are facing,” Smith said of his what his approach will be to a legislative agenda that will include energy, health care and economic issues.
Meanwhile, Putnam said has no regrets about his run. Putnam, as of mid-October, raised more than $9,000 in his bid, and Smith raised around $3,700.
“I think I put in a really good effort, with many volunteers,” Putnam said. “It was a great experience running for office. I’m glad I did it.”
He vowed to remain active in Democrat Party causes, and wished Smith well in his upcoming term.
“I worked hard at this and I will work hard at whatever comes next,” Putnam said.
Reporter John Flowers is at firstname.lastname@example.org.