November ballot lineups still evolving

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BENNINGTON — Democratic primary contests for state's attorney and county sheriff remained close through late Tuesday night, but both incumbents finally secured victories.

Other primary results came more into focus overnight as well, including the addition of names to the Republican line for the Nov. 6 ballot, placed there via write-in votes.

Late on primary night, State's Attorney Erica Marthage held a lead of 136 votes over challenger Arnold Gottlieb, according to unofficial vote totals posted on the Secretary of State's website. But the totals for the race were updated shortly before noon Wednesday when the Bennington results were adjusted.

That change showed a reduction of 400 votes from Gottlieb's total in Bennington.

Town Clerk Cassandra Barbeau said a keystroke error in sending the unofficial totals to the Secretary of State Tuesday night apparently added Gottlieb's total for one of the Bennington voting districts twice, giving him a lead in Bennington.

But in preparing the official totals for submission on Wednesday morning, she said the error was corrected, and the Bennington totals were verified as 935 for Marthage and 855 for Gottlieb.

The Bennington numbers therefore added 400 votes to Marthage's lead countywide, which was listed on the state website Wednesday evening as 526 votes.

"I am thankful to have received the support of over 2,500 Democratic voters here in Bennington County," Marthage said Wednesday. "I think the results speak positively of my record as state's attorney, my support of juvenile justice reform, and my efforts to lead our community towards an alternative, community-based treatment model rather than simply have addicts spend more time in court (as in a drug court model)."

Gottlieb said, "I am thrilled, considering that we campaigned against a 12-year incumbent and came within about 10 percent of the winning numbers. That tells me that our message resonated with the voters, and we will continue our campaign as an independent into November."

Gottlieb was one of several candidates for local offices who will appear on the November ballot as an independent.

Too early to celebrate

In the state's attorney race, as in others on the ballot in Bennington County, winning a party primary won't effectively result in victory on Nov. 6. That is due to candidates filing for both a party nomination run and as an independent, and also to the emergence of write-in candidates Tuesday who won the Republican ballot line.

Marthage said she's confident she will be on both the Democratic and Republican lines, having received enough GOP write-in votes countywide.

"I believe I will be the Republican nominee for state's attorney based on a significant number of write-in votes," she said.

Gottlieb said earlier that he decided to gather signatures as an independent on the November ballot after seeing that Marthage was asking in a Facebook post for Republicans taking that ballot on primary day to support her.

In the primary race between Sheriff Chad Schmidt and Democratic challenger James Gulley Jr., Schmidt was listed Wednesday evening on the state website as leading by 399 votes.

He also appeared to have received enough write-in votes on county ballots to qualify as the Republican nominee.

Gulley had previously qualified for the November ballot as an independent.

In addition, the two state's attorney candidates will face another challenger in November. Christina Rainville, a former deputy prosecutor in Marthage's office, is running for her former boss's job. She submitted the required voter signatures to qualify as an independent.

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And in the county sheriff's race, Beau Alexander Sr., of Shaftsbury, has qualified for the November ballot for sheriff as an independent, making that a three-way race.

Legislative races

Elsewhere in Bennington County, David Durfee won the Democratic nomination for the Bennington-3 House seat now held by Rep. Alice Miller, of Shaftsbury, who also did not seek another term.

Durfee defeated fellow Democrat and Select Board member Tim Scoggins, 417 votes to 213. Both are Shaftsbury residents. No other candidates are expected to be listed on the Nov. 6 ballot.

In the Bennington-1 House district, Pownal Select Board Chairman Nelson Brownell was alone on the Democratic ballot and received 276 votes in Pownal.

Brownell will face a November election challenge from Frederick Miller, of Pownal, who previously qualified for the ballot in the Bennington-1 race as an independent.

And Jim O'Connor, of Pownal, apparently has qualified for the Republican line for the Pownal/Woodford House seat, pending certification of results. He needed at least 25 write-ins and appeared to have more than enough.

Longtime Democratic Rep. Bill Botzow of Pownal did not seek re-election to the seat.

Qualified without opposition

In other primary races, county Sens. Dick Sears and Brian Campion were unopposed and won the two Democratic nominations for Senate.

They will face independent Jeff Kaufer, of Shaftsbury, in November.

Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, and Kathleen James, of Manchester, won the two Democratic nominations for the two-seat Bennington-4 House district, while Rep. Brian Keefe, of Manchester, was nominated on the Republican ticket.

In the two-seat Bennington House 2-2 district, Rep. Mary Morrissey was nominated on the Republican side, while Rep. Kiah Morris was nominated as a Democrat. There are no other candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The way forward is more complicated in Bennington 2-1, also a two-seat district.

Kevin Hoyt was nominated as a Republican and Rep. Timothy Corcoran II and Democrat Chris Bates were both nominated on the Democratic ticket.

In the fall, independent Michael Stern also will be on the ballot, running as an independent.

Democratic Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan, D-Dorset, won her party's nomination for another term in Bennington-Rutland-1. Barring write-in GOP candidates, she will be unopposed in November.

Two independent incumbents, Rep. Kelly Pajala, I-Londonderry, and Rep. Laura Sibilia, I-Dover, are already on the Nov. 6 ballot, having qualified as independents.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont and VTDigger.org. Email: jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com. @BB_therrien on Twitter.


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