ST. ALBANS — Incumbent state representatives Michel Consejo, of Sheldon, Mike McCarthy, of St. Albans, and Cindy Weed, of Enosburgh, all lost to Republican challengers in the General Election on Tuesday while Republican Dustin Degree picked up the Senate seat vacated by Democrat Don Collins, who did not seek re-election.
The result is that the county’s legislative delegation will be comprised of 10 Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent. Across the state, Republicans picked up at least eight seats in the House and two in the Senate.
Degree received 6,862 votes making him the lead vote getter in the Senate race with incumbent Republican Norm McAllister, seeking a second term, coming in at 6,554.
“I think I’m recovering,” said McAllister of the impact of the win for himself and Degree, who ran together. “It was a lot of excitement. Two years ago, Dustin and I tried to get this to happen.”
Degree narrowly lost to Collins in 2012, resulting in a recount.
As for Degree, who was unable to be reached by press time Wednesday, McAllister said, “To say that he’s excited would be an understatement.”
McAllister added that he and Degree will be getting to work before January, holding some local forums to gather ideas. “Once the dust settles, we’re going to try and figure out what’s next,” he said.
This time, Sara Kittell, a Democrat who previously served 17 years in the Senate, came in at 4,972 votes third and well behind the winners. (See town-by-town results charge, page 5A).
“I’m a little sad of course,” said Kittell. “We didn’t have all our voters out – we didn’t have the number of voters we needed.”
She added that she was grateful to those who helped with her campaign, those who voted for her and all the people she was able to meet and talk with along the way. Gathering ideas for bettering Franklin County, Kittell said, was her purpose in running.
“I’m certainly appreciative of it all,” she said. When asked whether she would run again, Kittell responded that she would wait until the end of this next session before deciding.
Newcomers Bill Roberts, a Democrat, and Michael Malone, an Independent, received 3,920 and 823 votes respectively.
In Franklin District 3-1 – which includes St. Albans City and a southern portion of St. Albans Town – a close race put 25-year incumbent Democrat Kathie Keenan and newcomer Republican Corey Parent out front as winners of the two state representative seats.
“We’re excited about the results,” said Parent. “[People] are really looking for a different direction in Montpelier. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and make Vermont a more affordable place to live.”
Parent was out in front with 1,348 votes, while Keenan followed with 981 votes.
Keenan said this morning that she was pleased to continue her long run at the Statehouse. “I’m very happy to be going to Montpelier to be representing my community,” she said.
Democrat incumbent Mike McCarthy, who served in the House for one two-year term, came just behind Keenan with 923 votes and Republican Claude Bouchard trailed with 742 votes.
McCarthy said of his loss on Tuesday night, “A lot of good legislators are losing their seats tonight.”
He added, “We’ll regroup. I feel good about the campaign. I feel good about the two years.”
Voting varied between the two municipalities (see chart page 5A) – the town trended more conservatively by favoring Republicans Parent and Bouchard while the city was split, putting Parent and Keenan out in front with McCarthy just behind.
Five-term incumbent Consejo’s loss was perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening. He lost to Marianna Gamache, of Swanton, by just 49 votes in the race to represent Franklin-4, a two-seat district consisting of Swanton and Sheldon. Consejo received 1,000 votes to 1,049 for Gamache and 1,373 for Republican incumbent Brian Savage, of Swanton..
Gamache said this morning she was grateful to her supporters and vowed to work “as hard as I can.” “I’m so pleased people have put their trust and their faith in me,” she said.
In a close race with heavy campaigning by both candidates, Enosburgh selectboard member Larry Fiske defeated one term Democrat and Progressive Cindy Weed, 766-632. The Franklin-7 district has one representative for Enosburgh and Montgomery. Fiske carried Enosburgh 585-390, with Weed winning Montgomery 242-181.
In an phone interview this morning, Fiske – who said he went around to every Enosburgh and Montgomery door twice during his campaign – was shocked at the results.
“I still can’t believe it,” he said. “First time running and everything. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
Weed, who attributed her loss to a feeling of frustration with the Democratic Party, said she would still be pushing for what she believed in despite not going back to Montpelier this term.
“There was a Republican resurgence,” said Weed. “I think people were frustrated from the Shumlin administration downward. When people are frustrated they look – out of frustration – for change.”
This was apparent in the gubernatorial race neck in neck race between incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican candidate Scott Milne. As of press time Wednesday with 84 percent precincts reporting, Shumlin led Milne by just over one point with 84,015 votes to 82,030.
Milne, despite being a political newcomer, easily carried Franklin County with 7,353 votes to 4,850 for Shumlin, who carried just one Franklin County community – St. Albans City.
Weed added that it’s too early to say if she’s running again, but said she’ll be sticking around. “I’m not going away,” she said. “I will always continue to fight for Democratic values. There’s a lot of nameless and voiceless people out there and we have to better their quality of life.”
In the Franklin-2 district race, comprised solely of Fairfax, Independent Barbara Murphy carried the day with 586 votes to 571 for Republican Chris Santee and 228 for independent Bob Shea.
“It was a very close race,” Murphy said last night. “My guess is that there were several counts [of the ballots].”
She added, “I’m shocked, only because it was so close.” Turnout was high in Fairfax, with 42 percent of registered voters showing up at the polls.
“I’m really excited so many people turned out to vote,” she said. “There was the desire to respond to the message that we need to get past parties and get some work done.”
Murphy added that she was also happy that she won without going over the $500 campaign-spending limit after which campaign finance reporting is required.
“I just felt there was some ethic that I wanted to meet,” she said.
In Franklin 5, Republican incumbents Steve Beyor and Albert “Chuck” Pearce prevailed over Democratic challengers Robert Irish and Daniel Nadeau by a large margin. Pearce was the lead vote getter with 1,356 votes. Beyor came in second with 1,335, Irish 718 and Nadeau 495.
In the county’s other three House districts, there was no race. Republican incumbents Carolyn Branagan of Georgia and Lynn Dickinson of St. Albans Town were unopposed, as was Democrat Dan Connor of Fairfield.