- File: James Buck ©️ Seven Days
- David Zuckerman
Zuckerman, who served as LG from 2016 to 2020 before an unsuccessful run for governor, received 42 percent of the vote with 90 percent of districts reporting.
He edged out former Danville representative Kitty Toll, who received 37 percent of the vote despite raising more money than Zuckerman.
Burlington nonprofit executive Patricia Preston came in third, with just under 9 percent of the vote, while state Rep. Charlie Kimbell (D-Woodstock) received just under 8 percent.
Zuckerman, a Progressive who was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and left-leaning environmental and labor groups, demonstrated that he remains a force in Democratic politics despite his crushing loss to Gov. Phil Scott in 2020.
Sanders also backed winning bids from state Sen. Becca Balint in Vermont's Democratic U.S. House primary and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary.
While some in the Democratic establishment backed other candidates in an effort to elevate a more centrist candidate to the largely ceremonial post, Zuckerman's victory served as a testament to the power of incumbency, name recognition and a network of volunteers built over more than 20 years in public office.
Zuckerman, a farmer from Hinesburg, said he felt grateful to have been tapped for another run at his former job and said he felt good about his chances in November. But ultimately, it's not about him, he said: It's about the people who are sleeping outside, the people working 60 hours a week to make ends meet and the young people fighting "for a planet that is on fire."
The results mean Zuckerman will face off in November against state Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia), who fended off a surprisingly strong challenge from right-wing candidate Gregory Thayer of Rutland.
A proud Trump supporter who attended and later downplayed the January 6 Capitol riot, Thayer ran on an anti-abortion, pro-police, parents-rights platform. He raised a mere $2,400 for his campaign but still managed to draw 40 percent of the vote. Benning earned 49 percent of the vote, with 90 percent of districts reporting results.
Because of his moderate stances on issues such as gun control and his generally positive record of handling the pandemic, Scott has regularly polled as one of the most popular governors in the nation.
He’ll face Democrat Brenda Siegel and Progressive Susan Hatch Davis in the November election. Both Siegel and Hatch were unopposed in their party’s primaries.
Contacted outside the Democratic Party's festivities at Zenbarn in Waterbury, Siegel said she knows it will be difficult to beat Scott in the fall but she's never shied away from a fight.
On the housing crisis, the opioid crisis and the climate crisis, Siegel said voters know the state can do better.
- Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
- Mike Pieciak announcing his candidacy
State Auditor Doug Hoffer ran solo in the Democratic primary, while Marielle Blais ran unopposed for the Progressive line, as did Paige in the Republican contest.
Of all the statewide races, the lieutenant governor's race proved the most expensive by far. The candidates combined to raise nearly $670,000.
- File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
- Kitty Toll
Toll was well known in Democratic political circles from her 12 years in the state House and time as chair of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations. But she acknowledged that she lacked statewide name recognition. She sought to overcome that deficit with multiple television ads and an aggressive campaign schedule that saw her crisscrossing the state.
Preston, executive director of the Vermont Council on World Affairs, also ran a vigorous campaign, tapping into her network of supporters around the state and raising $140,000.
"Even though we didn't win tonight, I think we won in the long run," she said, adding that she felt good about the momentum her campaign built despite the result.
Kimbell, the most conservative Democrat in the race, pulled in $76,000. He campaigned, in part, on rehabilitating older buildings to create new housing around the state. The idea, which he dubbed the Phoenix 251 Project, called for tax credits and other ideas to ensure at least one building was fixed up in every town in the state.