Bates won't seek 2nd term
BENNINGTON — Rep. Chris Bates, a Democrat who won election to the Vermont Legislature two years ago as "The Fishin' Politician," says he won't seek a second term from the Bennington-2-1 House district.
His announcement was one of several developments this week that continue to shape the upcoming races for the House and Senate from Bennington County. The deadline to register for the Aug. 11 primary election as a Democrat or Republican is Thursday at 5 p.m.
Bates said Tuesday that he plans to pursue other opportunities — including some involving fishing and other outdoors-related sports. "I have some TV opportunities, with other networks," he said. "Something with more visibility."
Bates is a fishing guide who also has hosted outdoor sports programs like "Outdoor Secrets Unwrapped," on the local cable access network, CAT-TV. He said he also is weighing shows on commercial networks.
In addition, he recently became a board member of the nonprofit community group that operates WBTN-1370 AM in Bennington, and he appears regularly on radio shows there.
Bates, 60, has been a frequent presence on social media since before his election in November 2018, and he has sometimes voiced independent positions running counter to Democratic leaders in the Legislature.
Overall, he said, "I think it has been a very good experience for me. I have learned so much about how Vermont operates, and made a lot of good friends."
While not running again, Bates said he will finish out his term, ending in January 2021.
"I also want to thank all the constituents of the 2-1 District," he said. "They have been very supportive of me."
If Bates had sought a second term, he would have faced longtime incumbent Rep. Timothy Corcoran II and Dane Whitman, chairman of Bennington's Democratic Party Committee, in the primary for the party's nomination from the two-seat district.
Among others filing paperwork for House seats in the county are Michael Nigro, co-owner of Green Mountain Concessions and the husband of Select Board member Sarah Perrin; and Rep. Jim Carroll, also a town Select Board member, and an incumbent in District 2-2.
The other incumbent in Bennington 2-2 is longtime Republican Rep. Mary Morrissey.
Incumbent Reps. Nelson Brownell, D-Pownal/Woodford; and Rep. David Durfee, D-Shaftsbury (Bennington-3), both said they will seek new terms and at present apparently are unopposed.
Rep. Laura Sibilia, I-West Dover, is running again as an independent and won't face a primary.
In the Northshire, Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan, D-Dorset, is seeking another term and also running to oppose incumbent state Auditor Doug Hoffer for that post in the Democratic Primary.
And in Bennington-4, incumbent Rep. Kathleen James, D-Manchester, and former state Sen. Seth Bongartz, of Manchester, are seeking Democratic nominations from the two-seat district, while incumbent Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, has said she will run this fall as an independent, following a number of disputes with Democratic legislative leaders over her votes over several years on key bills.
That move sets up at least a three-way race for the two Bennington-4 seats in November, unless another candidate files paperwork by Thursday.
Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and Manchester Journal. Twitter: @BB_therrien
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