Primary voters head to the polls today
By Peter Hirschfeld
Vermont Press Bureau | August 28,2012
The polls in Brattleboro won’t open until 9 a.m. today, but voting is already well under way in this southern Vermont enclave.
Brattleboro Town Clerk Annette Cappy estimates that as many as 700 residents have already cast absentee ballots in the primary election, and she attributes the above-average interest to a hotly contested race for state representative between two well-known Democrats.
Kate O’Connor, a former aide to Gov. Howard Dean, and Tristan Toleno, a local-foods entrepreneur endorsed by the district’s outgoing Progressive legislator, both want to carry this single-seat district in November. Today, voters will decide which gets the chance to do it.
“It’s been steady,” Cappy said. “We have two good candidates and have had a lot of people from that district coming out to vote.”
Across the state, members of the same party — be they Democrats, Republicans or Progressives — will compete for the right to wear their party’s banner in the general election. Visit The Times Argus/Rutland Herald websites later this evening for up-to-the-minute results.
The highest profile race by far is in the Democratic primary for attorney general, where seven-term incumbent Bill Sorrell will look to fend off a challenge from TJ Donovan.
Recalling the razor thin margin in the five-way Democratic gubernatorial primary of 2010, Sorrell said every vote will count.
“A lot of people don’t remember, Peter Shumlin won that by 112 votes,” Sorrell said Monday. “He wouldn’t be governor today if 57 people who voted for him voted for Doug Racine instead.”
But Democrats will also have a close eye on races of more local interest. In Orange County, incumbent state senator Mark MacDonald faces a challenge from Thetford Selectman Tig Tillinghast. In Windham County, three Democrats — incumbents Jeannette White and Peter Galbraith, who are challenged by Mary Cain — are vying for two spots on the general election ballot.
In Chittenden County, only six of the eight Democrats running for state senate will make it through to the general election. Incumbents Ginny Lyons, Tim Ashe, Philip Baruth and Sally Fox will compete alongside David Zuckerman, Debbie Ingram, Peter Hunt and Loyal Ploof for the right to move on.
Republicans will pick a winner in a federal race as two relative unknowns – Brooke Paige and John MacGovern – compete for the right to mount a long-shot candidacy against U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders.
And in Franklin County, outgoing state representatives Dustin Degree and Norm McAllister, as well as former construction-industry lobbyist Joe Sinagra, vie for two Republican slots in the general election for state Senate.
Progressive voters also have some electoral drama, thanks to a late race write-in campaign launched by opponents of mountain-top wind development. Opponents of ridgeline wind are trying to get Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, elected as the gubernatorial nominee for the Progressive Party.
Martha Abbott, the lone name appearing on the Progressive ballot for governor, says she still hopes to win today’s primary, but that she may withdraw from the race if she wins.