Buxton Wins Rematch Vs. Ainsworth
South Royalton — State Rep. Sarah Buxton, D-Tunbridge, won re-election yesterday with a wider margin of victory than she enjoyed two years ago.
Initial tallies put Buxton ahead of former Rep. David Ainsworth, R-Royalton, 1,113 to 917 in Royalton and Tunbridge, which make up the Windsor-Orange 1 district. Buxton won Royalton 650-611 and Tunbridge 463-306.
The late Rep. Rosemary McLaughlin, a Royalton Democrat, never won her hometown, Buxton said late last night, and Buxton herself lost Royalton two years ago when she unseated Ainsworth by a single vote.
“I feel very humbled,” Buxton said. “It’s been a long race, it’s been a lot of conversation and it’s been a lot of person-to-person contact.”
Ainsworth could not be reached last night.
This year’s vote featured much heavier turnout than two years ago, when Buxton won 881-880, but only after a recount and a court decision handing a disputed ballot to the challenger.
The difference in this year’s results turned on Buxton’s first term. The 34-year-old veteran of Howard Dean’s campaigns for governor and for president brought energy and political savvy to her first biennium in Montpelier. She served on the Education Committee, which put her in touch with issues essential to her constituency, including leveling the playing field between public and independent high schools.
She also was instrumental in coordinating volunteer efforts and fundraising after Tropical Storm Irene ravaged Royalton last year.
Ainsworth, 58, operates a dairy farm that’s been in his family since the 1860s. He served in the House from 2007 to 2010, and said he hoped to return to the Legislature to continue work in the Agriculture Committee. He said he hadn’t had as much time to campaign as he had two years ago.
The one-vote victory in 2010 guaranteed a rematch, and conservative super PACs, notably Vermonters First, spent heavily on mailings and advertising in an attempt to return Ainsworth to the House.
Buxton, a native of Orwell, Vt., who graduated from Vermont Law School and now works in the school’s development office, countered the conservative ad blitz by knocking on doors and using social media, including ads on Facebook, to get her message out. She also raised $6,850, as of Oct. 15, more than twice the $3,000 Ainsworth had raised for his campaign in the same period.
The district has a history of close elections. Ainsworth lost in 2004 to McLaughlin by 63 votes. He won election in 2006 after McLaughlin died of cancer during the fall campaign.
Alex Hanson can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3219.