Primary Election Is Next Tuesday

Front Page / Sep. 7, 2006 12:00am EDT

By M. D. Drysdale

Primary Election Is Next Tuesday

By M. D. Drysdale

Voters around Vermont will go to the polls next Tuesday for a primary election, in which the political parties will choose which candidates will run against each other in the general election in November.

The second section of this week's Herald is filled with thoughtful letters discussing the various candidates.

Unlike the general election, the primary election is organized by political parties. Vermont has an "open" primary, so nobody has to be a party member in order to vote. Also, everyone may choose which party's ballot they will vote on.

Voters will be handed four ballots: Democratic, Republican, Liberty Union, and Progressive. They must vote just one of the ballots and discard the other three.

The two most closely-watched statewide races to be decided Tuesday are:


The race for Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. The winner will face Republican Brian Dubie and Progressive Marvin Malek, in November.

Matt Dunne of Hartland is running against John Tracy of Burlington. Both are leaders in the Democratic legislature—Tracy in the House of Representatives and Dunne in the Senate. Both claim credit for helping to push the health care bill through the legislature this year.

Dunne is a generation younger than Tracy and has waged the more energetic campaign, in Central Vermont at least. During a sojourn from Vermont, he was director of Vista/Americorps under President Clinton for several years, and volunteering has been a theme of his campaign, as he sends his young adherents into the communities to fix things. He also has raised considerably more money than Tracy.

Tracy is relying on his voter base in Democrat-laden Chittenden County and his years in the trenches in the House of Representatives, where he was well-liked and respected.


Second is the race for Republican nominee to replace Bernie Sanders as Vermont's lone member of the U.S. House of Representative. Martha Rainville and Mark Shephard of Burlington are competing for the right to face Democrat Peter Welch of Hartland in November.

It's the first statewide political race for either of them. Rainville has won wide statewide recognition, however, as adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard. She won wide respect and sympathy for her handling of troop deployments in Vermont and for lobbying to ensure Vermont soldiers get the appropriate equipment.

Shepard is finishing his second term in the Vermont Senate as a representative from Bennington. He lacks Rainville's statewide exposure and has expressed frustration that the party's leadership has welcomed Rainville with open arms and has relatively ignored his candidacy. He believes his rapport with voters he meets will produce a "surprise" on Tuesday.

Other Statewide

The other contests on the ballots for statewide office are not expected to pack much punch.

In his attempt to be the Democratic candidate for U. S. Senate, U.S. Rep Bernard Sanders is faced by four little known candidates: Larry Drown of Northfield, Craig Hill of Montpelier, Peter D. Moss of Fairfax, and Louis W. Thabault of South Burlington.

The Republican ballot also includes a contest for Senate. Rich Tarrant of Colchester is expected to win easily, however. One of his opponents Greg Parke, has run previously, and has raised well over $1 million but has done very little campaigning with the money. The other candidate is Cris Ericson of Chester.

There's a race for attorney general nominee. Dennis Carver of East Montpelier is running against Karen Kerin of Royalton.


On the county level, there's an important three-man race for sheriff (see other story).

Finally, there's a race among three Republicans for the nomination for state representative. Only two will survive the primary, to run in the fall against Democratic incumbents Patsy French and Jim Hutchinson.

The three Republicans on the ballot Tuesday are David Atkinson of Braintree, Tom Barkley of Randolph and Bob Wolffe of Randolph. Both Atkinson and Wolffe explicitly accept the label of "libertarian" as well as Republican.

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