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Early Voting Underway in Vermont Primary

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/28/2016 12:17:23 PM
Modified: 6/28/2016 12:17:27 PM

White River Junction — Early voting started Friday for Vermont’s Aug. 9 primary — yes, it’s early, too — and candidates in primaries were urging their supporters to get out there and vote now.

“Check in with your town clerk’s office to learn more … and get out the vote for Phil,” Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s gubernatorial campaign emailed to supporters. “Your support has kept us going throughout this campaign and Phil needs you now more than ever to make sure we send a clear message about the type of campaign Vermonters deserve — one on the issues, not slinging mud.”

Scott is running against former Wall Street exective Bruce Lisman, a Burlington native who is trying to link Scott to Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Lisman on Wednesday released an ad where he said, in part, “Phil Scott stood next to Peter Shumlin at a press conference for the failed health exchange. I wouldn’t do that,” and also chided Scott for once having called Shumlin “fiscally prudent.”

With primary day falling in the heart of vacation season, turnout is likely to be light, and candidates who can organize and muster their core supporters are going to have a leg up on opponents.

Registered voters can vote early in person at their town clerk’s office, or request that the town clerk mail them an early absentee ballot, according to the Vermont Secretary of State’s website.

The ballot can be returned any time, but must be received by the clerk before the close of the polls on Aug. 9 in order to be counted.

On the Democratic side, former state Sen. Matt Dunne, D-Hartland, on Friday highlighted his endorsement from Rights & Democracy, a grassroots group focusing on workers rights.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of Rights & Democracy, an inspirational grassroots organization fighting for the same progressive policies our campaign is about: a $15 minimum wage, universal healthcare and addressing the serious problem of climate change” Dunne said in a news release.

He also has the backing of Upper Valley Young Liberals, which is running some candidates against incumbent Democratic House lawmakers, including against state Rep. Alice Emmons, D-Springfield, who herself was first elected when she was 27 and has served in Montpelier for 34 years, making her the so-called dean of the Vermont House.

One of Dunne’s rivals, Waterbury Democrat Sue Minter, released an ad focusing on her work as deputy transportation secretary helping Vermont to recover from the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

“I have seen our state at its toughest times but also at our best. And, what I’ve learned is that when Vermonters come together, we can do great things,” she says in the ad.

The third major Democrat in the race, former state Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Townshend, released a plan this week to provide free tuition to Vermont state colleges for every Vermont high school graduate, and free or reduced tuition to in-state University of Vermont students who are eligible for a Pell Grant.

Galbraith would pay for the tuition assistance by repealing up to $45 million in tax breaks and loopholes, including a measure passed in 2013 that taxes capital gains at a lower rate than ordinary income, which he said primarily benefits wealthier taxpayers.

N.H. Senate Politics

New London Democrat John Garvey said he has raised more than $80,000 so far in his run for the open District 8, Newport-area seat in the New Hampshire Senate, though it was not immediately available Friday on the Secretary of State’s website.

“I’m proud to have the support of Republicans, Democrats and independents who want to see Concord work for them, not a partisan agenda,” Garvey, a law professor at Universiy of New Hampshire School of Law, said in a news release.

The candidates on the Republican side are Ruth Ward, of Stoddard and Jim Beard, of Lempster.

Over in the Haverhill-area District 2, Warren Democrat Charlie Chandler recently paid a visit to the Piermont Selectboard. Chandler, a retired attorney, served in the New Hampshire House in the 1990s at the same time as his father and brother, both Republicans. “I’m the black sheep of the family,” he said.

When a woman in the audience of a dozen or so residents asked him why he was running, Chandler replied, “I’m 71 years old; it’s time.”

Chandler will face off against either state Rep. Brian Gallagher, of Sanbornton, or former state Rep. Bob Giuda, of Warren, in November in the bid to replace state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, the Meredith Republican running for governor.

Briefly Noted

Look for fireworks on Wednesday at the Executive Council. The panel is expected to vote on restoring funding to Planned Parenthood, pitting Democrat Colin Van Ostern against Republican Chris Sununu.

Both are running for governor, and Van Ostern voted for funding last year, while Sununu and two other Republicans were opposed.

Haul out those smartphones. Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing programs can now operate legally in New Hampshire under one uniform standard, including background checks for drivers. State Rep. Steven Smith, R-Charlestown, helped push the measure through the Legislature.

Jim Kenyon contributed to this report. John P. Gregg can be reached at

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