by Peter Freyne
There's only one Vermont.
No billboards along the highway and no one-party rule!
Yesterday, Vermont voters showed just how finicky they can be. They know what they want and they vote that way regardless of party label. For U.S. Senate and U.S. House, Vermonters sent a clear message to the Bush administration, choosing Independent Left-Wing Legend Bernie Sanders, our eight-term congressman, and liberal Democratic attorney and State Sen. Peter Welch.
Then, in the races for governor and lieutenant governor, the majority of Vermont voters made it clear they are not ready to toss out Gov. Jim Douglas and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, two incumbent Republicans who have supported the Bush administration like loyal boy scouts.
"The people of Vermont have told America that they are sick and tired of right-wing extremism," shouted Senator-elect Bernie Sanders to the huge crowd in the jam-packed ballroom at Burlington's Wyndham Hotel last night. "This is the beginning of a grassroots movement all over America," declared Ol' Bernardo, "in which our citizenry is beginning to stand up and say our government has to represent all of us, not just the wealthy and the powerful."
"Destiny has suggested," said Sanders, "that this small state of Vermont is going to lead America in a very different direction." And the day will come, he predicted, "when people all over America are going to say, 'Thank you, Vermont!'"
Boy, it's going to be fun watching the rest of country get to know our Bernie Sanders, the Vermonter with the Flatbush accent.
"Barak Obama called," said Welch the Winner to the same ballroom crowd an hour or so later. That sparked a huge cheer for the Illinois senator many consider a top contender for his party's 2008 presidential nomination.
"I've got to call him back," quipped Pedro, er, Congressman-elect Welch, "and tell him what kind of reception he got." Welch said he told Obama, "I don't know what your plans are, but if they include running for president, I've got a campaign manager whose name is Carolyn Dwyer!"
That's Carolyn the Campaign Manager getting the boss' adulation and thanks last night at the Wyndham Hotel before his victory was official.
Yes, indeed. Democrat Welch had his proverbial hands fulls with his GOP opponent, first-time candidate Martha Rainville. Marvelous Martha, the former Vermont National Guard adjutant general, has awesome candidate skills and they have been noticed by the Democrats. Without Bush and the Iraq War, this election could easily have turned out differently. She'll be back.
U.S. Senate candidate Richard Tarrant, however, will not. Can't think of anyone who will miss him...or his obnoxious and mean-spirited TV commercials. The Seven Million Dollar Man ran an abysmal, negative campaign that only emphasized his lack of political skill and grasp of the issues. If Tarrant had a message of any substance, we never, ever heard it. Can't wait to see what the retired gazillionaire does next.
Hey, no need for pity. Richie Rich has a brand new $9 million oceanfront mansion in Florida to go home to. The house cost him $2 million more than the U.S. Senate campaign. His bruised ego will surely heal.
"I think we ran a real good campaign," said Tarrant last night. "We ran hard."
Sure you did, Richie, whatever you say.
But Vermonters had a very different view when it came to state officers. Republican Gov. Jim Douglas really didn't have to break a sweat against Democrat challenger Scudder Parker. It's obvious our Gov. Scissorhands can do this in his sleep. Unoffical results show Douglas won easily in a landslide with 57 percent to Ol' Scudder's 41 percent. Parker's campaign remained a mystery to many - including many Democrats - all the way to the end. He has the experience and the grasp of the issues, but never was able to express his "message" effectively.
Meanwhile, Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie got a run for his money from Democrat State Sen. Matt Dunne. But Doobie-Doo held on to win a third term by five points with 51 percent of the vote to Not-to-be-UnDunne's 46 percent.
"This is, for us, just the beginning," said Dunne last night. For a guy who lost, he sure was smiling a lot.
Like Martha Rainville, Matt Dunne will be back. Both take to the game like ducks to water. In 2008, Vermont Ds need a gubernatorial candidate. Matt Dunne's name immediately shoots to the top of the list. And Vermont Rs need someone to take on Congressman Welch. Hear that, Martha?
So there's our first take on the November 7 happenings in Vermont.
Oh, did we forget the biggie?
The corrupt, dishonest and incompetent Bush-Cheney administration lost its one-party control of Congress.
The House has gone Democrat and the Senate remains too close to call with two races still up in the air.
The times, they are a changin'....