Primary voting could decide November ballots - or not


BENNINGTON — Voters have a chance on Tuesday to nominate major party candidates for national and statewide offices, including for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; Vermont governor, lieutenant governor; state Senate and House; state attorney general, treasurer, auditor and secretary of state.

In Bennington County, the local races include those for county sheriff, state's attorney and the party nominations for local Senate and House seats.

It should be noted, however, that decisions on Tuesday won't necessarily determine the full lineup for the Nov. 6 election ballot.

Second chances

The county state's attorney race, with incumbent Erica Marthage facing challenger Arnold Gottlieb in the Democratic primary, not long ago seemed a straightforward, winner-take-all race, but not anymore.

Late last week, Christina Rainville, a former deputy prosecutor in Marthage's office, announced she will run as an independent for her former boss's job. She has submitted the required voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot as an independent.

Meanwhile, Gottlieb, of Dorset, also has submitted enough signatures to qualify as an independent on the Nov. 6 ballot, according to a listing on the Secretary of State's website. He could therefore have a second chance for the office as an independent should he lose the Democratic nomination to Marthage.

And Marthage has asked in a Facebook post that residents who are voting in the Republican Primary Tuesday show support for her for state's attorney. If a candidate gets enough write-in votes in a primary race without a party candidate listed, they can qualify for that party line as well as their own.

For instance, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders could appear on the Nov. 6 ballot as both a Democrat and an independent, depending on whether he wins the Democratic nomination.

The Democratic Primary race featuring county Sheriff Chad Schmidt and challenger James Gulley Jr. could follow a similar course.

Gulley is listed by the state as having qualified as an independent for the Nov. 6 ballot, which could offer him a second chance to run against Schmidt should he lose on Tuesday.

Beau Alexander Sr., of Shaftsbury, also has qualified for the November ballot for county sheriff as an independent.

In a House race that more than likely will be decided on Tuesday, Democrats David Durfee and Tim Scoggins, both of Shaftsbury, are seeking the Democratic nomination for the House seat now held by Rep. Alice Miller, D-Shaftsbury, who did not seek another term.

However, a Republican could be nominated through write-in votes in the primary.

Uncontested party races

Many of the party nomination races on Tuesday are uncontested, although there are a number of independent challengers awaiting on the November ballot.

Both county senators, incumbent Sens. Dick Sears and Brian Campion, are unopposed for the two Democratic spots on the November ballot.

Jeff Kaufer, of Shaftsbury, is listed on the state website as qualifying as an independent.

In the race for two House seats in Bennington District 2-1, an independent entry by Michael Stern of Bennington means he will be listed in November along with incumbent Timothy Corcoran II, D-Bennington; his fellow Democrat Chris Bates; and Republican Kevin Hoyt.

In the Pownal/Woodford House district, Pownal Select Board Chairman Nelson Brownell is the lone Democrat running to replace Rep. Bill Botzow, who is not seeking another term.

However, Frederick Miller of Pownal, has qualified as an independent for the Nov. 6 ballot.

At least one former House candidate from Pownal, James O'Connor, has put out lawn signs and is said to be considering a write-in bid for the Republican nomination, which has no listed candidates on the primary ballot.

For county probate judge, incumbent Democrat D. Justine Scanlon, of Bennington, is unopposed, as is Democratic incumbent High Bailiff Frederick Gilbar, and Assistant Judges James Colvin and Wesley Mook.

Among local independents seeking a statewide office, Bruce Busa, of Readsboro, and Brad Peacock, of Shaftsbury, are among six independents challenging U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

There are also four Republicans seeking to challenge for the Senate seat in November, including Lawrence Zupan, of Manchester.

Rosemarie Jackowski, of Bennington, is running for attorney general as a Liberty Union candidate.

More information about the candidates statewide can be found at

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont and Email: @BB_therrien on Twitter.


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