Local voters join Democratic tide, back Obama and other victors

ADDISON COUNTY — Addison County balloting in the Presidential race on Tuesday mirrored statewide voting, as Vermont became the first state in the nation placed in Democratic President Barack Obama’s column in his march toward a second term.

Meanwhile, county voters also backed winners in all statewide contests. Eric Davis, a political analyst and a professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College, noted how closely local balloting tracked with statewide results in what he called a big day for Democrats across Vermont.

“The big story from yesterday is simply there was a Democratic wave that swept over the state,” Davis said.

At the top of the ticket, Gov. Peter Shumlin easily won, garnering 58 percent of votes (as of Wednesday morning with 95 percent of votes counted) to 38 percent for Republican challenger Randy Brock. Davis noted that Brock won only the typically Republican counties of Caledonia, Franklin and Orleans.

But, he said, Brock failed to win in Republican-leaning Essex and Rutland counties.

“There are fewer and fewer areas of Vermont that can be considered solidly Republican,” Davis said.

Davis said the Vermont Republican party faces a demographic dilemma in broadening its appeal to state residents: Its only current solid support comes from older voters and from younger voters who lack post-high school education, and those groups are growing smaller in the state.

“That is the Republican challenge going forward,” Davis said.

In Tuesday’s marquee race, with about 95 percent of the Vermont vote counted, Obama was leading his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, by 67-31 percent statewide.

In Addison County, the final tally was 12,279-5,211 in favor of Obama, or roughly 70-30 percent among the votes cast for the two candidates. Obama carried all 23 Addison County towns.

Also winning every county town were two incumbents who Vermonters returned to Washington, D.C., by landslide margins, Independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic Rep. Peter Welch.

As of Wednesday morning, Sanders was leading his Republican challenger, John MacGovern, 71-25 percent, and Welch was defeating GOP rival Mark Donka, 72-23.

Sanders’ final tally over MacGovern in Addison County stood at 12,864-4,329, or about 75-25 percent among the votes cast for the two candidates.

Welch earned the most votes of any candidate in the county earning a 12,997-3,859 margin over Donka, or about 77-23 among votes cast for the two men.

The closest race statewide came between auditor candidates Douglas Hoffer, a Democrat, and longtime Republican state Sen. Vince Illuzzi. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Hoffer had been declared the winner with a 51-45 percent lead, representing about 16,500 votes.

Of that margin, almost 1,997 came from Addison County voters, who backed Hoffer by 9,160-7,163. Hoffer carried 18 of the county towns and earned 56 percent of county votes cast for the two men. Illuzzi prevailed in the typically right-leaning communities of Addison, Bridport, Orwell and Panton. Leicester’s tally between the two men ended in a 420-420 tie.

Addison, Bridport, Orwell and Panton were also the only four towns to back Brock against Shumlin, who won the county by 10,452-6,680, or 61-39 percent among votes cast for the pair.

As was the case statewide, incumbent Lt. Gov. Phil Scott proved to be the bright spot for the GOP. In Addison County he defeated Democratic challenger Cassandra Gekas, 9,904-7,071, or 58-42 percent among votes for the two candidates. Gekas won locally only in Middlebury, Lincoln and Ripton. As of Wednesday morning, Scott held a 57-40 lead among all votes cast statewide.

In a race that some observers had expected might be closer after a PAC-fueled barrage of advertising for Republican challenger Wendy Wilton, Democratic appointed incumbent Treasurer Beth Pearce prevailed statewide, 52-41 percent.

In Addison County, Pearce captured 56.5 percent of the votes cast for the two women, 9,147-7,051. Pearce’s margin of victory was especially notable in Middlebury, 2,050-931, and Wilton won only five towns, Addison, Orwell, Leicester, Salisbury and Shoreham.

Democratic incumbent Attorney Gen. William Sorrell also received strong Addison County backing on the way to a 58-34 percent statewide win over Republican challenger Jack McMullen. County voters back Sorrell, 10,518-5,653, and the incumbent captured about 65 percent of the county votes cast for the two men.

See town-by-town results from this election at our special Addison County election page.

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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