David Zuckerman after unofficial results show he won the race for lieutenant governor
Sen. David Zuckerman (P/D-Chittenden) on Tuesday became the highest-ranking Progressive ever elected in Vermont, winning the race to succeed Republican Phil Scott as lieutenant governor.
Zuckerman, a 45-year-old organic farmer from Hinesburg, led Republican Randy Brock of Swanton 50.3 percent to 43.9 percent early Wednesday morning with nearly every precinct reporting. Liberty Union candidate Boots Wardinski of Newbury took 2.2 percent of the vote.
Despite having spent most of his political life in the Vermont Progressive Party, Zuckerman won the Democratic primary in August, defeating House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morristown). He gave a triumphant speech Tuesday night to a Vermont Democratic Party gathering at the Hilton Burlington, as it became clear that his lead over Brock would hold.
Earlier in the evening, Zuckerman addressed fellow Progressives at the Skinny Pancake in Burlington.
“I think one of the reasons I’m winning this race is because working people, who have been getting more and more productive, aren’t getting their fair shake of the economic pie, and that’s what I’ve been talking about out there,” Zuckerman said. “So whether it’s racial injustice, economic injustice, environmental injustice, these are the issues that Vermonters care about and this is what’s made it possible for apparently me to maybe be the next lieutenant governor of the state of Vermont.”
Brock conceded just after midnight, calling Zuckerman to congratulate him on his victory.
“There are still a few districts of mine remaining, such as St. Albans City. I don’t think it will swing it enough,” Brock said.
Zuckerman will take over from Scott, who held the office for six years and who was elected governor Tuesday night. The lieutenant governor, officially considered a part-time position, presides over the Senate, breaks its tie votes and is first in line for gubernatorial succession.
The LG-elect benefited from an endorsement by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a grassroots network of supporters he built during his time in the legislature. Zuckerman was an early champion of same-sex marriage, genetically modified food labeling, mandatory paid sick leave and physician-assisted suicide.
In his campaign for lieutenant governor, the pony-tailed Prog promised to continue the push for such issues as paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, marijuana legalization, and lower property taxes for middle- and low-income taxpayers.
Brock, 72, is a former state auditor and state senator who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2012. He argued during the campaign that he had the experience to steer government toward greater efficiency and a focus on the economy.
Democrat T.J. Donovan won an easy victory Tuesday to become Vermont’s first new attorney general in nearly two decades.
The 42-year-old South Burlington resident has been Chittenden County state’s attorney for 10 years. He overwhelmingly outpolled Republican Deb Bucknam of Walden in Tuesday’s voting, winning 63 to 28 percent. Liberty Union candidate Rosemarie Jackowski of Bennington received 4 percent of the vote.
Donovan declared victory at 9:25 p.m. at a Democratic Party gathering at the Hilton in Burlington. Bucknam phoned him about 9 p.m. to congratulate him.
“It was a hard-fought race, a civil race, a race that was about the issues. And we did it the Vermont way,” Donovan said. “Thank you, Deb Bucknam.”
Mingling at a Republican Party gathering at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel in South Burlington, Bucknam said the two spoke Tuesday night about how their race should be a model of civility for others. “I think he’ll make a fine attorney general,” she said.
Donovan will succeed Democratic Attorney General Bill Sorrell, who is retiring after nearly two decades on the job. The AG-elect pledged to “integrate our public health system with our public safety system,” protect the state’s air and waterways, and quit sending inmates to private prisons.
Bucknam said she knew the odds were long running against Donovan, who set the stage for his candidacy in 2012, when he nearly defeated Sorrell in a Democratic primary. He established a reputation for developing court-diversion programs designed to focus on treatment rather than incarceration for nonviolent offenders.
Bucknam, a lawyer based in St. Johnsbury, lacked the name recognition or network to match Donovan but said she had no regrets. “I met all kinds of Vermonters who are doing all kinds of good things people don’t know about,” she said.
Other Statewide Offices
Doug Hoffer, a Democrat and Progressive, rolled to reelection Tuesday, winning a third two-year term as state auditor.
Hoffer, 65, of Burlington, defeated Republican Dan Feliciano of Essex, 51 to 36 percent. Liberty Union candidate Marina Brown of Charleston received about 5 percent.
Feliciano, who ran for governor in 2014 on the Libertarian Party line, was working in Mexico for much of the election season and did minimal campaigning.
Democrat Jim Condos won a fourth two-year term as secretary of state.
Condos, a former state senator who lives in Montpelier, won 81 percent of the vote to 9 percent for Liberty Union candidate Mary Alice Herbert of Putney.
Democrat Beth Pearce of Barre won a third two-year term as state treasurer. She had 75 percent of the vote to 12 percent for Progressive Don Schramm and 4 percent for Liberty Union candidate Murray Ngoima of Pomfret.