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Valley voters make primary picks for Vt. legislature

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/12/2020 3:49:56 PM
Modified: 8/12/2020 3:49:48 PM

Upper Valley voters on Tuesday decided several contested primaries for the Vermont Legislature, including multiple bids for the House and one Senate seat.

Longtime State Sen. Mark MacDonald, D-Williamstown, fended off a challenge from former state Rep. Susan Hatch Davis, P-Washington, winning 2,165 votes — about 60% — in a Democratic primary for the 11-town Orange Senate District.

Hatch Davis won 1,217 votes, or about 33%. MacDonald will go on to face Thetford Republican Bill Huff in a general election race to represent the towns of Braintree, Brookfield, Chelsea, Corinth, Randolph,  Strafford, Thetford, Tunbridge, Vershire, Washington and Williamstown.

Hatch Davis said last month that she filed for the Senate race after hearing that MacDonald might not run for an 11th term. Hatch Davis later endorsed him and said she would instead focus on retaking the Orange 1 House seat she represented for five terms before narrowly losing in 2016 to Chelsea Republican Bob Frenier.

She was unsuccessful in that endeavor, coming in last place in a three-way Democratic primary for two spots on the ballot.

State Rep. Carl Demrow, D-Corinth, received 652 votes in the six-town district that covers Chelsea, Corinth, Orange, Vershire, Washington and Williamstown.

Kate MacLean, a Chelsea Selectboard member and farmer, garnered 636 votes to also appear on the general election ballot, while Hatch Davis had 353 votes.

Rep. Rodney Graham, R-Williamstown, topped the Republican ballot with 637.

He’ll be joined in the general election by Samantha Lefebvre, an Orange nurse who also co-owns a bread distribution business. She received 372 votes, while Chelsea Selectboard member Levar Cole had 352.

Windsor 4-1

Meanwhile, an organic farmer from Barnard won a two-way race for a Hartford-area House seat Tuesday.

Heather Surprenant, 29, garnered 423 votes to defeat West Hartford resident Havah Armstrong Walther, 45, in the Democratic primary. Armstrong Walther, who owns a property management business, received 389 votes.

The Windsor 4-1 district is currently represented by outgoing Rep. Randall Szott, D-Barnard. It includes Barnard, Pomfret, West Hartford and part of Quechee.

Surprenant will face Hartford Republican Mark Donka, 63, in November’s general election. Donka, a Woodstock police officer and former Hartford Selectboard member, ran unopposed in the Republican primary.


Kirk White, a 58-year-old licensed acupuncturist from Bethel, highhandedly won the Democratic primary for a House seat representing four White River Valley towns.

White won 738 votes, defeating primary opponent Rochester resident Robert Krattli, who received 128 votes, in a bid to succeed outgoing Rep. Sandy Haas, P-Rochester.

Wayne Townsend, a 47-year-old logger from Bethel, ran unopposed in the Republican primary. The district encompasses the towns of Bethel, Pittsfield, Rochester and Stockbridge.

Windsor 1

In the Windsor area, state Rep. John Bartholomew, D-Hartland, and Elizabeth Burrows, a Brownsville resident who chairs the Mount Ascutney School District Board, defeated two others in four-way Democratic primary. 

Bartholomew won 948 votes, while Burrows 647 garnered votes in the Windsor 1 House district, which covers Windsor, Hartland and West Windsor.

They defeated Hartland resident Jennifer Grant, who won 641 votes, and former Rep. Paul Belaski, D-Windsor, who had 561.

Burrows and Bartholomew will face Hartland Republican Wesley Raney, who ran unopposed, in November.

Windsor 2

Perkinsville resident Daniel Boyer won 264 votes to defeat Tyler Harwell in the Democratic primary for a seat representing Cavendish and Weathersfield in the House.

No Republican ran for the seat, now held by Rep. Annmarie Christensen, D-Perkinsville.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

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