Updated: 11/04/14, 10:34 p.m.
Democratic Attorney General Bill Sorrell — Vermont’s longest-serving statewide officeholder — cruised to re-election, fending off a challenge from political newcomer Shane McCormack, a Republican who got on the ballot after waging a last-minute write-in campaign.
With 55 percent of precincts reporting, Sorrell was ahead 59 percent to 37 percent, prompting the Associated Press to call the race for the incumbent.
Sorrell has been Vermont’s top law enforcement officer for 17 years. McCormack is a lawyer from Underhill who had never run for public office and enjoyed little name recognition at the start of the campaign.
McCormack, a 39-year-old father of four who works as a contracts lawyer at a small Burlington law firm, criticized Sorrell throughout the campaign for devoting too many resources to consumer protection issues and not enough to tackling crime related to the opiate trade in Vermont.
"I drove around to barbeques and different events, to spaghetti dinners and put on 10 pounds to try to convince people to write my name down, that I wasn’t crazy, that I was going to talk about real issues and not fringe issues," McCormack told Republican supporters during his concession speech. " And you know, I got [many] people to believe that."
Sorrell, 67, was first appointed to the post by his childhood friend, former governor Howard Dean. As recently as July, it appeared that Sorrell would coast to a ninth term. He was not challenged in the Democratic primary and no Republican had stepped forward to run.
McCormack decided he did not want to see the office uncontested and launched his write-in campaign. He convinced enough Vermonters to scrawl his name on the ballot to win his party’s nomination.
He ran his own campaign with little outside support, driving himself across Vermont to introduce himself to voters. He raised less than $5,000, compared to more than $40,000 by Sorrell.