MONTPELIER —Vermont’s Republican Gov. Phil Scott is headed for a second term as the state’s top executive after fending off a challenge from a former utility executive who had become the first transgender major party gubernatorial nominee in history.
On Tuesday, Scott defeated Democrat Christine Hallquist, who had campaigned with a Bernie Sanders-esque promise of a $15 per hour minimum wage, universal health care and paid family leave.
Vermont voters, with their long history of supporting incumbent political candidates, stood behind the well-liked Scott and his theme of not raising taxes or fees as part of a broader effort to promote economic development and jobs while bringing more people to the state.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, Vermont’s lone representative in the U.S. House, easily won re-election to his seventh term Tuesday, defeating Republican Anya Tynio and two third-party candidates.
Welch, of Norwich, traditionally one of the most liberal members of Congress, said Vermont residents must fight what he feels are the disastrous policies of President Donald Trump.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders also easily won re-election to this third term. He was challenged by Republican businessman Lawrence Zupan, of Manchester.
Sanders spent little time campaigning in the state ahead of Tuesday’s election. Zupan, a Manchester real estate broker with experience in international trade, campaigned against what he felt was big government and social welfare programs.
Vermont’s two main gubernatorial candidates, meanwhile, were waiting to learn their fates as town and city clerks across the state began counting the votes Tuesday night.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Hallquist cast her ballot at about 8 a.m. before heading out across the state for some last-minute campaigning.
Gov. Scott voted about noon in his hometown of Berlin.
In addition to local issues in some communities, voters chose among candidates for governor, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and all 180 members of the Legislature.
“I don’t like the way the country’s going these days, so I was interested in making that known,” said Joe John, 60, of Marshfield. “I voted Democrat.”
The race between Scott and Hallquist offered voters a clear choice between their policies. Hallquist, a former utility executive who is the first transgender major-party gubernatorial nominee in history, campaigned with a promise of a $15 minimum wage, universal health care and paid family leave.
Scott’s campaign focused on a theme of not raising taxes or fees as part of a broader effort to promote economic development.
Jeff Maclay, 32, of Marshfield, said he voted mostly for Democrats, except for Republican Gov. Phil Scott.
“I feel like he’s doing a reasonable job and I’m not going to mess with success,” he said.
As of last week, there were almost 483,000 people registered to vote in Vermont, which is more than the 2016 presidential election year by about 18,000.