- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Democrat Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of Vermont’s three electoral votes Tuesday while Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy coasted to an eighth term over his Republican challenger.

The calls came as polls closed at 7 p.m. on an Election Day that potentially saw record turnout in the state.

More than 470,000 people were registered to vote as of Friday, up from fewer than 454,000 in 2008, the year of President Barack Obama’s first election to the White House. That year had the highest turnout ever, at 71.9 percent.

But 2008 had a less exciting gubernatorial race than this year’s close race between Democrat Sue Minter and Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott for a seat left open by the retirement of Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Clinton easily triumphed in Vermont, widely considered one of the most liberal states in the country, over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Leahy, declared the winner over Scott Milne on Tuesday, is the longest-serving member of the Senate. Milne, a travel industry executive, had focused his low-budget campaign on saying Leahy had been in Washington too long.

Secretary of State Jim Condos said he was hearing from polling places around Vermont that participation was high.

“I would say we have a good chance at an excellent turnout, potentially a record turnout,” Condos said.

The most-watched in-state race, that for governor between Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Democrat Sue Minter, was widely seen as close and unlikely to be called until much later Tuesday if not Wednesday. Both candidates were expressing confidence.

Minter said she was happy to be part of a Democratic team presenting a unified message. She also had the support of independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has stumped with her repeatedly around the state.

Widespread concern about the presidential race “brings more people out to vote,” said Minter. “I do believe in Vermont, when lots of people come to the polls, that benefits Democrats.”

Scott, who has disavowed Trump since early in his campaign, said he was not worried about a Democratic wave.

“I think Vermonters are independent-minded,” Scott said. As for his party’s presidential nominee being Trump, “I’m not feeling any backlash at all in that regard,” he said.


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