Democratic voters hit the polls in Essex on Tuesday to help Christine Hallquist win the Democratic primary and become the first transgender candidate to earn a major party’s nomination for governor, according to unofficial results.
Essex’s three districts – Chittenden 8-1, 8-2 and 8-3, which is shared with Westford – awarded Hallquist the most votes of any candidate for governor at 813. James Ehlers placed a distant second with 466, followed by Brenda Sigel’s 306 and 14-year-old Ethan Sonneborn’s 148.
Republican voters here also strongly supported Gov. Phil Scott over his lone challenger, handing the incumbent 731 votes to Keith Stern’s 239.
While narrowing the field for statewide races, Tuesday’s primary was a trial run for House candidates: All now move onto the general election in November.
In Chittenden 8-1, Democrats Marybeth Redmond and Tanya Vyhovsky secured 632 and 496 votes, respectively, while longtime Republican incumbent Linda Myers finished with 314.
And incumbent Republican Bob Bancroft, the lone candidate in Chittenden 8-3, finished with 167 votes.
Out of the 16,072 registered voters across the three districts, the 2,990 ballots cast Tuesday represent an 18 percent turnout. While that’s three times more than the tepid turnout at last Town Meeting Day, it trailed the 2016 primary by 5 percent.
Primaries in Vermont only allow voters to cast a ballot in one of the state’s three main parties. Results in Essex show voters submitted Democratic ballots at a 2-to-1 ratio over Republican with the following breakdown:
- Chittenden 8-1: 786 to 393
- Chittenden 8-2: 983 to 443
- Chittenden 8-3: 264 to 114
Democratic voters could choose six of nine candidates in the Chittenden County senate race. They went with the incumbents – Tim Ashe, Ginny Lyons, Debbie Ingram, Michael Sirotkin, Phil Baruth and Christopher Pearson – who campaigned as a unit. Republicans Alex Farrell and Dana Maxfield also moved on.
In federal races, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders easily earned the Democratic nomination, with voters here giving him 94 percent of the vote – three points above the state average. (Per usual, he will turn it down to run as an independent).
Sanders will face H. Brooke Paige, who eked out a tight race with Lawrence Zupan for the Republican nomination. Jasdeep Pannu, an Essex lawyer, finished a distant third, though he appears to have benefited from the hometown bump: He led Republican vote-getters in Essex’s three districts.
Paige, a perennial candidate who this year ran for all the statewide and federal offices except posts with governor in the name, also won the nomination for Vermont’s lone seat in the U.S. House. He runs up against incumbent Peter Welch, who handily defeated challenger Dan Frelich for the Democratic nod.