Vermont's Deputy Secretary of State Announces Run for Top Job | Off Message

Vermont's Deputy Secretary of State Announces Run for Top Job


Chris Winters - SCREENSHOT
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  • Chris Winters
Deputy Secretary of State Christopher Winters confirmed Thursday that he is running to replace his boss, outgoing Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, who announced on Monday that he won't seek reelection in November.

Winters, a Williamstown native and 25-year state employee, is running as a Democrat. He said his experience in the office would allow him to “hit the ground running” and carry forward the traditions of transparency and nonpartisanship that Condos and his predecessors valued.

“I’m running as a problem solver who’s done the job,” Winters told reporters on Thursday. “I want to ensure stability and continuity at a time when conducting elections has gotten more complicated than ever, at a time when everything we thought to be true was under attack.”

Condos hinted at Winters’ plans on Monday but stopped short of endorsing him, noting that as the state’s top elections official, he had eschewed backing individual political candidates. Nevertheless, Condos released a statement that offered glowing praise of Winters — though Winters said it was not a formal endorsement.
“You won’t find anyone more dedicated or knowledgeable about this office than Chris,” Condos wrote. “He has been an indispensable partner in carrying out my vision for an office that is efficient, credible, accountable and delivers the services Vermonters expect and deserve.”

Winters said Condos was “in a tough spot” trying to balance his desire to support him with his stated position of election neutrality. Winters said he enjoyed the “full throated, express endorsement” of Condos’ predecessor, Deb Markowitz, who has agreed to serve as Winters’ campaign treasurer.

It’s unclear whether Winters will face any significant opposition. Condos generally coasted to reelection by wide margins.

Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP, said he’s not aware of anyone seriously considering a run for the office, but he noted that could change.

Many of the accomplishments Winters cited were also highlighted by Condos in his retirement announcement. They included: making it easier for people to vote; overseeing a secure election during a pandemic; dispelling an increasing amount of electoral misinformation; and finding ways to make the non-election functions of the office — such as licensing and other professional regulations — more efficient.

If elected, Winters would seek to expand civics education and make it easier for small businesses to interact with state government through a single online portal.

It will be Winters’ first serious run for public office, outside of brief stints on a school board and solid waste district in Williamstown. The 51-year-old married father and Berlin resident acknowledged some discomfort in becoming a political candidate after years overseeing elections.

“We don’t need a politician in charge, we need an experienced manager,” he said at one point in his pitch.

While he acknowledged that Condos, a former South Burlington city councilor and state senator, was an experienced politician when he ran for the office in 2010, Winters said Condos had repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to running the office in a nonpartisan manner.