Republican Phil Scott elected governor of Vermont

Vermont Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott waves to a room full of supporters as he awaits the election results at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel on Tuesday. Andy Duback / AP

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, a self-described ‘‘blue-collar kid from Barre,’’ defeated Harvard-educated Democrat Sue Minter in the race for governor, while Vermont gave its three presidential electoral votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Scott, 58, who has served three two-year terms as Vermont’s part-time lieutenant governor and has been a partner in a heavy construction company as well as a part-time race car driver, will replace Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who decided against running for a fourth two-year term.

He’ll be the lone Republican serving in statewide office. Democrats U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch coasted to re-election. Progressive-Democrat state Sen. David Zuckerman defeated Republican Randy Brock for lieutenant governor. Democrat T.J. Donovan defeated Republican Deborah Bucknam for attorney general and Democratic or Democratic-Progressive incumbents were re-elected state treasurer, auditor of accounts and secretary of state.


In his victory speech to cheering supporters at a South Burlington hotel, Scott reminded them he had campaigned on a promise of ‘‘a better and more efficient state government.’’

‘‘We’re going to make the economy and affordability Montpelier’s top priorities,’’ he said.

Minter, 55, a former lawmaker and state transportation chief, told disappointed Democrats that Scott is a person who has ‘‘already served our state with distinction,’’ and she said he would continue to do so.

The race for governor was the most expensive in state history, as outside PAC money poured into the state and raised overall campaign spending in the race to about $12 million.

The state is considered among the most liberal in the country, and it gave rise to Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. senator who launched a ‘‘political revolution’’ that made a bigger impact than many expected on this year’s national Democratic primaries.

At the same time, the state has had a tradition since the 1960s that every time the governor’s office opens, it changes the party in control of it.

It followed that trend again Tuesday, with many analysts pointing to fatigue at the liberal activism of the outgoing Shumlin.

Leahy, declared the winner over Republican Scott Milne, is the longest-serving member of the Senate and is heading into his eighth term. Milne, a travel industry executive, had focused his low-budget campaign on saying Leahy had been in Washington too long.


Leahy devoted some of his victory speech to criticizing Senate Republicans’ refusal to bring to a vote President Barrack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

‘‘I hope the nation will send a very strong signal to the Republican leadership in Washington,’’ Leahy said. ‘‘You cannot keep a seat on the Supreme Court … vacant against the Constitution. Do your job.’’


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