Friday, October 05, 2018

Vermont Governor- Race of the Day

32 Days Until Election Day

Vermont Governor

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Likely Republican

If a space alien came down to Earth, and met with Bernie Sanders, whom they were told was the most popular politician in Vermont, they would be perplexed as to how the state actually has a Republican Governor.

Alas, it does though, and incumbent Phil Scott is expected to win a second two-year term. Like neighboring New Hampshire, the Green Mountain State elects their Governor every two years. This makes it far less likely that anybody other than a calamity in the office might be thrown out after serving just two years. However, Scott's approval numbers are fairly high and voters seem to appreciate his low-key demeanor, especially after some policy-related tumult under his Democrat predecessor.

Before being elected Governor in 2016, businessman Scott had served as a State Senator and Lt. Governor. By Vermont standards, he was considered in the conservative wing of the GOP, but by national standards, certainly now, he is considered a moderate on social issues. He has chosen to publicly oppose some policies of Donald Trump and other Republicans in Washington D.C. as Governor. Perhaps because of that, he was challenged in this August's primary by businessman Keith Stern who ran as a "conservative constitutionalist" and claimed there was not much difference between Scott and Democrats. (The even further left Progressive Party is also a factor in the state and is the political home of the current Lt. Governor.)  The primary saw the Republican beat his challenger by a comfortable margin of 65-32, which still certainly showed divisions in the state GOP.

While Democrats realized that beating Scott after just one short term might be difficult, some realized that the nomination would definitely be worth having in the state during a midterm election of a divisive Republican President. A 13 year old even announced his campaign, as Vermont has no age limit. That young Democrat finished in fourth place with 7 percent of the vote. Oddly enough, nearly 12 percent of Vermont Democrats also cast blank ballots in the primary.

The party's frontrunner however was Christine Hallquist, the former CEO of the Vermont Electric Co-Op, which seems like something that would only exist in Vermont. Hallquist left her post to seek the party's nomination for Governor. Not long before, while serving in that role, the first time candidate was known as Dave Hallquist. Indeed Christine Hallquist is the first transgender nominee for Governor. She represents the T of the LGB&T that are all Democrat nominees for Governor this year. Hallquist made the transition, as a visible person in the small state, with the support of her family, including her son who made a documentary about it all, and she remains married to her longtime wife. (The first known transgender nominee for statewide office in the country was a Vermont Republican who was nominated for Attorney General in 2008, after having run against Bernie Sanders for Congress statewide as well in 2000.)

Many people have empathy for some challenges that Hallquist has faced in her life and while she claims she has received some threats from around the country or the world, most people in Vermont are said to basically shrug about it all. She won her party's primary with 40 percent of the vote. Running with the endorsement of Ben of Ben &Jerry, was environmental activist James Ehlers who took 18 percent and anti-poverty activist and self-identified "low-income single mom" Brenda Siegel was very close behind. It appears these two candidates split the most left-leaning votes in the state, against their transgender opponent, who was considered the more mainstream Democrat. The Progressive Party is not running a candidate in the general election.

Vermont being as left as it is will surely mean that the Democrat will receive a sizable number of votes from liberals and party regulars. It is also true that voters on the right may choose not to show up to support Governor Scott, the Republican nominee. However, those in between those political poles  are expected to go heavily for Scott. He won with 52 percent two years ago and will probably do slightly better this fall.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

15 D  (2 Safe, 3 Likely, 7 Leans, 3 Tossup) 
19 R  (2 Safe, 9 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

22 D (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 3 Likely, 7 Leans, 3 Tossup)
26 R (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 9 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)


At 8:56 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Scott will be around for 5 terms.


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