Days after losing Vermont's Republican gubernatorial primary, Brookfield attorney and farmer John Klar announced Friday that he would withdraw as an independent candidate for the same office. And in an interview with Seven Days, Klar said he would endorse his erstwhile rival, Republican Gov. Phil Scott — albeit without much enthusiasm.
"Gee, I don't know. I don't know what to tell you," he said when asked whether such an endorsement was in the offing. "I support all Republicans in the 2020 election, and that includes Phil Scott." He added, "I don't always endorse all his policies. You can say that. But I do endorse him as our candidate. I do."
Less than a week before the primary, Klar filed as an independent candidate for governor. He told Seven Days earlier this week he had not decided whether he would actually pursue such a bid but wanted to keep the option open should he lose the primary. Candidates have up to 10 days afterward to withdraw.
Klar challenged the more moderate Scott from the right but fell far short of the incumbent. According to unofficial results from the Secretary of State's Office, Scott won 72 percent of the Republican vote, while Klar picked up close to 22 percent. (Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman won the Democratic primary and was hoping to pick up the Progressive nomination as well, though the result of the latter contest remains undetermined.)
Klar said his margin of defeat influenced his decision, but not as much as the partisan makeup of Tuesday's primary electorate. More than 109,000 voters cast ballots in the Democratic primary, while only 59,000 did so in the Republican primary. "That, too, is a little bit discouraging," Klar said.
The first-time candidate said it was too soon to say whether he would run for office again. For now, he said he would focus on supporting the slate of conservative Republicans he helped to recruit to state legislative races. "I'll press the issues without being a candidate," he said.