A robust field of candidates is emerging for what many expect to be an open Franklin County Senate seat in this November’s election.
Rep. Carolyn Branagan (R-Georgia), a 14-year member of the House, said Tuesday that she is running for the Senate. Caroline Bright, a 25-year-old Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2012, announced Sunday that she is also running.
Sen. Norm McAllister (R-Franklin) was suspended by his fellow senators this year, with sexual assault charges pending against him. His trial is scheduled for May.
Branagan, 61, said she decided Saturday to make the leap in running, calling it a “tough decision” to leave the House, where she is vice chair of the powerful Ways & Means Committee. Among her reasons to run for Senate, she said, is restoring the county’s image after McAllister’s arrest last May.
As she pored over a bill in the Statehouse cafeteria Tuesday afternoon, Branagan said an hour-long conversation with Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott on Saturday was the deciding factor for her. She said senators, including Democratic Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, also encouraged her to run.
Bright, a former Miss Vermont, is a flight attendant for American Airlines. She said she would take a leave of absence if elected. In a press release, Bright said, “Over the past few years I have been alternately disappointed, disgusted, and frustrated by our current State Senate representation. We MUST do better.”
Interest in the seat has been heating up, said Sen. Dustin Degree (R-Franklin), who also represents the two-seat district and is running for reelection. “There’s at least a half-dozen Republicans who have reached out to me,” Degree said.