- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott triumphed over Democrat Sue Minter in the gubernatorial race Tuesday, while the state also supported Democrats Hillary Clinton for president, Patrick Leahy for U.S. Senate and Peter Welch for U.S. House.

Scott, 58, who has served three two-year terms as Vermont’s part-time lieutenant governor and has been a partner in a heavy construction company as well as a part-time racecar driver, will replace Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who decided against running for a fourth two-year term.

Scott, who described himself as a “blue-collar kid from Barre,” campaigned on a promise of “a better and more efficient state government.”

“We’re going to make the economy and affordability Montpelier’s top priorities,” he said.

Minter, 55, told disappointed Democrats that Scott is a person who has “already served our state with distinction,” and she said he would continue to do so.

Meanwhile, Vermont was the first state called for Clinton on Tuesday while Leahy and Welch coasted to re-election.

The race for governor was the most expensive in state history, as outside PAC money poured into the state and raised overall campaign spending in the race to about $12 million.

The state is considered among the most liberal in the country, and it gave rise to Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. senator who launched a “political revolution” that made a bigger impact than many expected on this year’s national Democratic primaries.

At the same time, the state has had a tradition since the 1960s that every time the governor’s office opens, it changes the party in control of it.

It followed that trend again Tuesday, with many analysts pointing to fatigue at the liberal activism of the outgoing Shumlin.

Vermont elects its governor and lieutenant governor separately, and Scott will service with David Zuckerman, a Progressive-Democrat state senator who defeated Republican former state auditor Randy Brock for the No. 2 post.

Democrat T.J. Donovan beat Republican Deborah Bucknam for attorney general. Three incumbents - Democratic Treasurer Beth Pearce, Democratic-Progressive Auditor Doug Hoffer and Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos - all won re-election.

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

Leahy devoted some of his victory speech to criticizing Senate Republicans’ refusal to bring to a vote President Barrack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

“I hope the nation will send a very strong signal to the Republican leadership in Washington,” Leahy said. “You cannot keep a seat on the Supreme Court … vacant against the Constitution. Do your job.”

Welch, a Democrat who also had the Republican nomination, rolled to his sixth term in the U.S. House.

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.


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