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August 24, 2010

Seven on 7: Rutland Just as the Polls Close

Final notes from the reporter's notebook:

6:35 PM, Neshobe Elementry School in Brandon: I may have found the campaign volunteer who's traveled the farthest to work on a statewide campaign: Drew Dunne, Matt Dunne's 35-year-old cousin, who traveled up from New Orleans to help out his kin. Dunne the Younger has been at the polls all day handing out literature, though he hasn't exactly been making much headway in this corner of the state. According to Brandon Town Clerk Bill Dick, the only candidate to show his face here today was former GOP chair and state Rep. Joe Acinapura, who's running unopposed in both the primary and general election.

Despite his lack of opposition, Acinapura was more than eager to bend the ear of a reporter about the list of constituent requests he's gotten today. Among them: A bill to allow artists to hand out free wine at art galleries without a liquor license (isn't that legal already?); a request to do something about all the cars parked on people's front lawns in Brandon; a complaint about the Route 7 upgrade through Brandon being "a complete waste of money;" a request for a legislative earmark to pay for a seniors' bus trip the Statehouse; and, another request for money to pay for "Vermonters' Day" at Fenway Park.

Gotta love small-town politics.

Alas, I arrived in Rutland City jut as the polls closed and didn't get a chance to chat with voters or poll workers. (And, both the Dem and Republican headquarters in downtown were shuttered, presumably to toast their winners or lick their wounds.) Nevertheless, according to the Brandon town clerk, turnout at his polling place was above 20 percent, more than double previous years.

Despite the fact that I didn't accomplish my goal of reaching Manchester by 7 PM, it was an enlightening ride. A few final observations:

Whoever the next governor is, he or she needs to invest in better cell phone and WI-FI service in rural communities. 

Matt Dunne appeared to have more volunteers at the polls than any of his four opponents, with Shumlin a close second.

Despite the claim on VPR that turnout was "mixed," all the poll workers I spoke to reported steady traffic all day and a heavier-than-normal turnout. However, it remains to be seen if Charlie Kireker will win his bet with Eric Davis about statewide turnout surpassing 50,000.

Hoffer had far more signs on the highway than Flanagan, and both more than Salmon. And, even outside of Chittenden County, the "masturbation thing," as Acinapura put it, was on people's minds when they voted.

No one has a clue who's winning this thing.

Finally, whichever Dem wins tonight, he or she has a lot of work to do. By far the most common road sign on Route 7 between Swanton and Rutland City reads: "Brian Dubie for governor."

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