BURLINGTON — Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott won a decisive victory in Democratic leaning Vermont Tuesday and will become the state’s 82nd governor in January.
With 224 of 275 voting districts reporting, Scott led Minter by a 54 percent to 42 percent margin with nearly 260,000 votes counted. Scott jumped out to an early lead on Minter, but the Democratic strong-hold of Burlington had yet to report results. Still, Scott bested Minter in other parts of Chittenden County — the state’s most populous.
“For everyone that voted for me, your support means so much. Thank you. For those of you who voted for Sue, or Bill [Lee] or someone else, I want you to know that I will work for each and every one of you as your next governor,” Scott told supporters at the Sheraton Hotel in South Burlington after Minter called him to concede the race.
Scott said his administration would look to make the economy and affordability its top priorities, and would look to make investments in early education and infrastructure. He promised his administration would ensure Vermont would have “a government that is by your side.”
“My administration will treat everyone with dignity, respect all points of view and honor the obligation we have to care for the most vulnerable. … In my administration, there will be room for everyone who has good ideas on how to make our economy stronger,” he said. “I welcome all — Republicans, Democrats, Progressives, independents, or no label at all.”
Minter did not emerge from her room at the Hilton Hotel in Burlington where the Vermont Democratic Party was holding its election night until after 11 p.m. She finally addressed the crowd and conceded the race around 11:15 p.m.
“I obviously want to start by congratulating Phil,” Minter said. “We talked about how proud we are of the campaign that was run, that here in Vermont we can still disagree without being disagreeable.”
“I’ve known Phil personally for more than a decade and I know that he will do his best to serve as our governor and lead our state,” she added. “I know that he is a person that has already served our state with distinction and will continue to do so.”
Minter had raised more money heading into Election Day than Scott, but Scott was boosted by massive spending on his behalf by the Republican Governors Association. He also had the benefit of having been on a statewide ballot three times before, winning each of his races for lieutenant governor.
Throughout the campaign Scott focused his message on the economy, promising voters he would work to make the state more affordable. He promised to keep the state’s spending in line with economic growth and said he would look to cut taxes on capital gains.
Minter had her own economic message of prosperity, but it included costly initiatives, including two free years of college tuition at Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College, as well as paid family leave.
Minter also had to overcome the challenge of trying to succeed an unpopular Democratic govenor in Peter Shumlin, who chose not to run for a fourth term after a tough re-election in 2014.
Polls released in mid-October showed Scott with a lead, but it appeared endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, coupled with campaign rallies alongside Sanders, would provide Minter a needed boost as Election Day neared.
To win in Democratic-leaning Vermont, Scott needed to attract a significant number of ticket-splitters — voters willing to cast votes for him alongside popular Democratic candidates. It appears he was able to do just that. Scott will remain the only statewide elected Republican in the state as Democrats triumphed in all other statewide races.
Scott victory’s Tuesday preserves a historical trend. Since former Democratic Gov. Phil Hoff’s election in the early 1960s, the governor’s office has switched parties every time there is a race without an incumbent.