With just seven Republicans in the 30-member Senate, the GOP sought to make gains this fall by targeting moderate districts featuring Democratic incumbents.
The most competitive races appeared to be in Franklin, Rutland, Washington and Orange counties. Republican Joy Limoge, a Williston attorney, raised more money than any other Senate candidate, but she faced steep odds in liberal Chittenden County’s six-member district.
In Franklin County, Democrats Sara Kittell and Bill Roberts, Republican Dustin Degree and independent Michael Malone sought to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Don Collins. Also running in the two-member district was incumbent Republican Sen. Norm McAllister.
Kittell, a school nurse, served 17 years in the Statehouse before retiring in 2012. Degree, a former House member and aide to former governor Jim Douglas, lost to Collins by 35 votes two years ago.
Farther south, Republican senators Kevin Mullin and Peg Flory and Democratic Sen. Eldred French worked to hold on to their seats in Rutland County’s three-member district. They faced tough challenges from Republican Brian Collamore, a popular radio host, and Democratic attorney William Tracy Carris, the son of former senator Bill Carris.
Also running was Democrat Anissa Delauri and Kelly Socia of the Vermont Politically Incorrect Party.
In Washington County, Republican Pat McDonald attempted to dislodge one of three incumbents: Republican Sen. Bill Doyle, Democratic Sen. Ann Cummings or Progressive/Democrat Sen. Anthony Pollina. A former House member from Berlin, McDonald chaired the Vermont Republican Party and served in the Snelling, Dean and Douglas administrations.
Also running were Republican Dexter Lefavour of Middlesex and Progressive/Democrat Sandra Gaffney of Berlin.
In Orange County, Democratic Sen. Mark MacDonald tried to fend off a challenge from Chelsea Republican Bob Frenier. Both emphasized retail politicking: MacDonald said he knocked on more than 4,000 doors, while Frenier said he waved at 31,000 motorists since he entered the race last January.
At least two other new faces were expected to join the Senate. In August, Becca Balint of Brattleboro joined incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanette White in winning the Democratic nomination to represent Windham County. Balint hoped to replace Democratic Sen. Peter Galbraith, who is retiring.
Also running for the two-member district were Liberty Union candidates Aaron Diamondstone of Marlboro and Jerry Levy of Brattleboro, as well as independent Mary Hasson of Brattleboro.
In Bennington County, Democratic Rep. Brian Campion hoped to move up to the Senate, replacing retiring Democratic Sen. Bob Hartwell. Also running for the two-member district were incumbent Democratic Sen. Dick Sears and Republican challenger Warren Roaf.