- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The primary votes weren’t fully counted before Vermont Democrats and Republicans were trying out some of the brickbats their gubernatorial nominees are expected to throw at one another in the fall campaign.

The emergence of Sue Minter as the Democratic nominee and Lt. Gov. Phil Scott as the Republican pick sets up a key question for voters this fall.

Should one of the bluest states in the country continue to pursue liberal policies on fighting climate change, raising the minimum wage and workers’ benefits and, as Minter supports, adding some new gun-safety measures to the mix?

Or should it focus, as Scott advocates, on reining in taxes and government mandates and making the state more business-friendly?

Shortly after Minter won the Tuesday primary, the Republican Governors Association put out a statement calling her a “Shumlin political insider,” referring to Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is leaving after a checkered tenure of three two-year terms.

Scott, who aside from his part-time lieutenant governor’s job is a construction company co-owner and racecar driver, retweeted a message faulting Minter’s message on gun safety. She supports universal background checks for gun buyers.

Minter served as disaster recovery chief and transportation secretary under Shumlin. She said she’ll run on her own record on those jobs and as a member of the Vermont House.

The Democrats pounced with a list of what they see as some of Scott’s most troubling positions shortly after unofficial tallies showed him beating retired businessman and political newcomer Bruce Lisman for the GOP nomination.

“On issue after issue Phil Scott has failed to stand with Vermont families, instead falling in line with the Republican national platform,” said Christina Amestoy, spokeswoman for the Vermont Democratic Party.

Amestoy pointed to statements in the past year in which Scott has opposed mandatory paid sick leave for workers and increasing the minimum wage.

She sought to tie Scott to the national Republican agenda, though he has been critical of Donald Trump, the party’s presidential nominee.

Some had worried a midsummer primary might not be a big draw. Secretary of State James Condos predicted more than 100,000 voters - about a fifth of the electorate - would go to the polls Tuesday. His prediction proved accurate.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting by midday Wednesday, an unofficial tally showed:

-Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy coasting to his party’s nomination. He’ll face Republican businessman Scott Milne, who nearly scored a surprise upset of Shumlin in 2014.

-In the GOP gubernatorial race, Scott had 61 percent of the vote versus 39 percent for retired businessman and political newcomer Bruce Lisman.

-Minter had 51 percent of the votes in the Democratic gubernatorial contest versus 38 percent for former lawmaker and Google executive Matt Dunne. Former state Sen. Peter Galbraith had about 9 percent and two other candidates had less than 1 percent each.

-State Sen. David Zuckerman topped the Democratic field for lieutenant governor over House Speaker Shap Smith and Rep. Kesha Ram. He’ll face Republican Randy Brock, who had no primary contest.

-Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan won the Democratic nomination for attorney general. He’ll face Republican St. Johnsbury lawyer Deborah Bucknam in the fall. The longtime incumbent attorney general, Democrat William Sorrell, is retiring.

-Incumbent Democratic Treasurer Beth Pearce beat back a primary challenge by Richard Dunne. She faces no Republican opposition in the fall.

-In a closely watched legislative race for two at-large seats representing Franklin County, suspended state Sen. Norman McAllister, a Republican facing trial on criminal sex charges, lost by coming in third as Republicans selected two nominees: Sen. Dustin Degree and state Rep. Carolyn Branagan. Democrats selected Sara Branon Kittell and Denise Smith.

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