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Election 2012

November 09, 2012

Progressives See Hoffer Win as Big Victory for Vermont's Third Party

Doug HofferDoug Hoffer's victory in Tuesday's state auditor's race wasn't just surprising. It was historic.

For the first time, Vermont voters elected a statewide candidate with the Progressive Party label. Hoffer ran as a fusion candidate with endorsements from both the Democrats and Progressives.

But many see Hoffer as a Prog at heart, pointing out that he came to Vermont 30 years ago to work for Bernie Sanders when the latter was mayor of Burlington, and later worked for Progressive mayor Peter Clavelle. Hoffer also provided paid staff assistance to Progressive city councilors and research for the Peace & Justice Center.

On election night, Hoffer stopped by the Progressive Party gathering at Magnolia's Bistro in Burlington before joining the Democratic victory party at the Hilton.

"This is my family," Hoffer told the assembled Progs.

Unlike lieutenant governor candidate Cass Gekas, who ran as a Progressive/Democrat, Hoffer elected to run as a Democrat/Progressive. No doubt, Hoffer's Democratic label helped him enormously in a year when President Barack Obama topped the party's ticket.

But Progressive stalwarts such as state Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington) view Hoffer's 51-to-45 win over Republican state Sen. Vince Illuzzi as an "extremely significant" victory for the Progs. Combined with wins by fusion state Senate candidates Tim Ashe and David Zuckerman — and a strong showing by Gekas — Pearson says the Hoffer victory "sort of suggests that the Progressive label is something voters are pretty comfortable with."

Continue reading "Progressives See Hoffer Win as Big Victory for Vermont's Third Party" »

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

Scoreboard.newDamn. It was a big week in Vermont politics. Now that it's over, we're going to Disney World, where we plan to ride the monorail around for a while.

But before we go, we'd like to present this week's list of winners and losers (and ties!). We've mostly tried to disqualify winning and losing candidates themselves because, well, that'd be even more conventional wisdom than we typically offer.

Without further ado, here's The Scoreboard for the week of Friday, Nov. 9:


Shap SmithYesterday we noted the key role Vermont Democratic House Campaign director Nick Charyk played in slightly expanding Democratic ranks in the House, but we should keep in mind that House Speaker Shap Smith runs the show. And he won big Tuesday. Dude likes to pretend he's a low-key policy wonk, but he's actually a shrewd strategist and an ambitious guy. The question is not whether he'll run for statewide office, but when it'll be — and whether it'll be for attorney general, governor or Congress.

Alex MacLean — Sure, it wasn't much of a fight. But Gov. Peter Shumlin's 20-point victory over Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) has as much to do with good work by administration and campaign officials as with his own impeccable political instincts. MacLean has served as one of Shumlin's chief political advisers since he was Senate President Pro Tem. As his reelection campaign manager, she did a masterful job of ignoring the crap out of Brock.

Liberty Union Party — Thanks to Mary Alice Herbert's 13 percent showing against Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos, Vermont's favorite fourth party will regain its major party status next cycle. That means you can expect to see even more Diamondstones on the ballot in 2014.

Brian Dubie — It was a good year to sit it out.

Vermont Democratic Party — It's impossible to say how much the Dems' domination had to do with rampant Obama fervor here in the Green Mountains, but the Democratic ground game surely added a few points to the board. Credit must go to chairman Jake Perkinson, executive director Julia Barnes, field director Ryan McLaren and all those other indoor kids down on Battery Street.

Numbers Guys/Gals — In the races for state treasurer and auditor, voters backed two candidates — Beth Pearce and Doug Hoffer — who were, um, qualified for the jobs. Go figure!

Continue reading "The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers" »

Nerding Out With Maps: Post-Election Edition

Maps are cool! Especially these maps created by Stone Environmental's Charlie Hofmann for the Vermont Secretary of State's elections web site.

Since they rely upon data from the state's voluntary election night reporting website, they are sadly incomplete for now. Town clerks reported the results from just 206 precincts that night — roughly 75 percent of the state's 275 precincts.

The secretary of state's office hopes to release unofficial results this weekend and certified results next Tuesday. We'll try to bring you complete maps when they're available.

Despite the missing info, these maps show some pretty interesting regional trends. The most obvious, of course, is the northbound retreat of the Vermont Republican Party. The GOP still has a couple southerly pockets of strength — particularly in Rutland County — but they are few and far between.

You can check out all the maps here. Also, in case it's not obvious, you can zoom in to view town names and check out a town's results by clicking on it.

President: This is both the most and least interesting map. Yeah, we all know President Obama beat Mitt Romney 67 to 31 percent in Vermont, but this map shows just one town going for Romney: Maidstone. (Of course, it's likely several other of the 69 precincts not included in the map also voted for Mittens.) Even in Maidstone, it was a close one. Romney won 52 votes to Obama's 50. If only the two voters who backed Gary Johnson and Rocky Anderson had backed Obama, it would've been a tie!

Continue reading "Nerding Out With Maps: Post-Election Edition" »

November 08, 2012

Early Afternoon Read: House Democrats' Unsung Hero

MorningreadWhen you already hold nearly two thirds of the seats in a legislative body, defending them is typically the name of the game. But this year it appears Vermont Democrats actually increased their ranks — from 94 to 96 of 150.

Peter Hirschfeld over at the Vermont Press Bureau has a good story today about the guy who helped make that happen: 26-year-old Nick Charyk, director of the Vermont Democratic House Campaign. Here's a little snippet:

Effective recruitment is the kind of labor-intensive undertaking for which professional staff is usually needed. Charyk spent much of 2011 embedding in Republican districts he believed Democrats could win, or in Democratic districts where outgoing officeholders would leave open seats.

“I sat down with as many people as I could, had coffee, developed a list of people, five or 10 people in town that might make great candidates and worked hard to recruit them,” Charyk said. “The metaphor we use is find out who built the Little League field, and go talk to them first.”

We've made this point beforea couple of times — but it's worth repeating: You just can't win if you're not putting up good candidates. I mean, duh. But really.

Anyway, check out Hirschfeld's story. Two-thirds of it is posted on the Press Bureau's blog. But you should really go buy a copy of the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus or the Rutland Herald. Because, hey, newspapers are totes dying, right? And someone's gotta pay Hirschfeld's salary.

November 07, 2012

With Illuzzi's Defeat in Auditor's Race, a Political Era Ends

Vince IlluzziWhen Vince Illuzzi was first elected to the Vermont Senate, Ronald Reagan was the president-elect, The Empire Strikes Back was in movie theaters and John Lennon was still alive.

The year was 1980. Illuzzi was 27 years old.

Over the next three-plus decades, Illuzzi became a fixture in the state Senate and a powerful legislator known for cutting last-minute deals in the waning hours of legislative sessions to the benefit of his Northeast Kingdom constituents.

That storied Senate career came to an end — or at least a pause — yesterday. Illuzzi retired from his seat representing Essex and Orleans counties this year to run for state auditor, a race he lost to Democrat/Progressive Doug Hoffer, a policy analyst making his second run for the job. Riding a Democratic wave that turned out big for President Barack Obama, Hoffer beat Illuzzi by a margin of 51 to 45.

What's next for the "King of the Kingdom" remains to be seen. For now, Illuzzi says he'll continue in his day job as Essex County state's attorney while pondering his options. Standing beside him at the Republican Party gathering in Montpelier last night, his wife, Eileen Maher (pictured), chimed in, "And spend more time with his family."

Continue reading "With Illuzzi's Defeat in Auditor's Race, a Political Era Ends" »

A Day After Big Victory, Shumlin Says He's Humbled — And Denies Sex Change Plans

DSC04471A day after decisively defeating his Republican opponent, Gov. Peter Shumlin took to a South Burlington factory floor Wednesday afternoon to thank Vermonters for electing him to a second two-year term.

"It's a real privilege," Shumlin said. "It's humbling to get the kind of results we did last night."

Surrounded by dozens of workers on break, Shumlin said he chose to bring his victory tour to Dynapower Corp., because it's just the sort of growing business he believes it's his job to support.

"I really came to say thank you to Vermonters," he said.

Shumlin's remarks followed a big night for a governor whose last two electoral victories — in the 2010 primary and general elections — were nail-biters to the end. This time, he routed Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin), winning 58 percent to Brock's 37.

Despite his formidable cash advantage — much of which he ended up keeping in the bank — Shumlin characterized Tuesday's results as a win for truth over money and "grassroots citizens' democracy" over "outside political consultants."

Continue reading "A Day After Big Victory, Shumlin Says He's Humbled — And Denies Sex Change Plans" »

More Election Results: Statehouse Races and Burlington Ballot Items

Vermont-statehouse-dreamstime_13016088The media spotlight last night focused on the statewide races and that Obama guy, but there were some spirited races on the local level, as well. The big wins Democrats showed at the top of the ticket trickled down to the Legislature; as it stands Democrats added two seats for a "supermajority" of 96 seats in the House of Representatives, while Progressives picked up a couple seats and Republicans lost three. The 22-8 split in the state Senate in favor of the Democrats appears it will hold, although each party holds a seat, for now, that could still change.

For the most complete results page, head over to Vermont Public Radio's elections page. The Secretary of State's unofficial results site once again lagged behind local media outlets on election night, and currently shows only about 75 percent of precincts reporting results.

With the caveat that results are still unofficial, here's how some of Vermont's other interesting races shook out.

Continue reading "More Election Results: Statehouse Races and Burlington Ballot Items" »

Vermont Democrats Win Big — Hoffer Beats Illuzzi in Auditor's Race, Pearce Beats Wilton for State Treasurer

Doug HofferThis story was reported by Paul Heintz. Tyler Machado, Kevin J. Kelly and Andy Bromage

Vermont Democrats went wild as newly-elected State Treasurer Beth Pearce took to the stage late Tuesday night in a crowded ballroom at the Burlington Hilton.

As Pearce settled into her victory speech, the crowd went even wilder. But it wasn’t just for her. To the side of the stage, a television tuned to CNN was flashing some pretty big news. “I think I just heard that Obama won Ohio,” Pearce said. “Boy, I hope I got that right.”

She did.

This was a night of euphoria for Vermont Dems — up and down the ballot. Within minutes of the polls closing, the AP called it for their top officeholders: Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Bernie Sanders (an independent who caucueses with Democrats) and Congressman Peter Welch. And Vermont once again sent Obama his first three votes in the Electoral College.

In the race Vermont Democrats focused on the most, Pearce handily defeated Rutland’s Republican city treasurer, Wendy Wilton, by a 52 to 41 percent margin.

But the biggest surprise of the night came when Burlington’s own Doug Hoffer (pictured above), a Democrat and Progressive, defeated 32-year Republican state Sen. Vince Illuzzi 51 to 45 to become Vermont’s next state auditor.

In a speech as low-key as his win was unexpected, Hoffer — a self-employed policy analyst running in his second race for state auditor — concluded by saying, simply, “I’m going to get to work.”

Continue reading "Vermont Democrats Win Big — Hoffer Beats Illuzzi in Auditor's Race, Pearce Beats Wilton for State Treasurer" »

November 06, 2012

Seven Days on Route 7 — Notes from the Road on Election Day

Happy election day, Vermonters! While waiting for polls to close and the real news of the day — we'll be live-blogging results starting at 7 p.m. — I'm on an election day road trip visiting polling stations up and down a 50-mile stretch of Route 7. I'll be updating all day with notes from the road and opinions from voters.

5 p.m., Charlotte

My respect for the campaigners has gone up significantly since the sun went down. The cold weather wasn’t scaring away the small gaggle of dogged pols outside of the Charlotte Central School. Ed Stone, a Charlotte selectman and incumbent Mike Yantachka are vying for a seat in the House, but just as in Brandon, the mood here was congenial.

“It’s been a great day,” Stone told me. “We’ve all been getting along really great.”

But the real star of the little campaign huddle was Robin Reid, who called out to me, “This is the race of the day, Katie.” Bundled up in a puffy down jacket, Reid was toting a large sign encouraging voters to write in Robin Reid for Justice of the Peace. Reid’s served as a JP in Charlotte for six years — but this year the independent botched her paperwork. “I have to admit, I didn’t get my paperwork in on time,” she said. She was going to throw in the towel, but a few friends encouraged her to give a write-in candidacy a shot.

But it’s a tough race. For years the Republican and Democratic parties in Charlotte put forth six candidates each for the race, and the justices ran uncontested. But today there are 17 names on the ballot for 12 spots.

Apparently, Reid likes serving as a justice of the peace well enough to spend 12 hours outside on a brisk November day. She was hustling, calling out to voters as they streamed past by name to remind them to pencil her in. "It’s a nice way to serve your community,” she told me. She’s done a few weddings — those she described as “fun” — but Reid’s real joy is property valuations and tax abatements. To each her own! 

The voting was taking place in the multi-purpose room at the school. Eighth graders stationed just outside the room were peddling the last of their bake sale wares to fund a class trip; by 5 p.m. they’d made $1000 selling cupcakes alone. Meanwhile, voters came and went at a steady clip. I spoke with Pamela Burton-Macauley on her way out. “I’m wearing my colors,” she told me, unzipping her sweatshirt to flash an “Obama Mama” t-shirt. She’s nervous about the tight race. Her family is moving to England for six months in January; if Romney wins, she’s telling people she’s “leaving the country,” but if it’s Obama, she’s “taking a vacation.”

As for races closer to home — “It’s really boring this year,” Burton-Macauley told me. “I hate saying that!” But in the end, she’s been so transfixed by the presidential election that battles in her home state seem “inconsequential” in comparison.

In other news from Charlotte, it was here that I spotted my first exit pollster! A tall, clipboard-totin’ guy chased down every fifth voter out the door and proffered an anonymous survey. So far, he told me, he’d collected somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 surveys over the course of the day. He would be closing up shop at 6 p.m., an hour before the polls closed, to get the data back to his research firm, which supplies the Associated Press with its numbers.

That, incidentally, was when I threw in the towel — to type up this final dispatch, scarf down a quick dinner, and jet north to Burlington to watch the returns trickle in. Don't forget to join us for our live blog

Continue reading "Seven Days on Route 7 — Notes from the Road on Election Day" »

Of Binders and Rape Babies: A Musical Interlude

And now for something completely different!

While you're waiting in line to get your vote on, here's a quickie music video from local songstress, Nuda Veritas. The video is for her song, "Never," and finds the experimental pop auteur taking aim at Mitt Romney's lady binders, an iron-pumping Paul Ryan and a physiologically confused Todd Akin. Enjoy!  


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