(Host) Vermont Democrats have added to their strong majorities at the Statehouse.
Election results show the Democrats gained 10 seats in the Vermont House and 2 seats in the state senate.
Legislative leaders say they hope Governor Jim Douglas will recognize their strength and be willing to work with them on the critical issues facing the state.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) The large Democratic gains in Tuesday’s election surprised a number of political observers. When lawmakers return to the Statehouse in January there will be 93 Democrats, 49 Republicans, 6 Progressives and 2 Independents.
Republicans lost 11 seats this year. The Democrats picked up ten of them and one went to an independent candidate.
The combination of Democrats, Progressives and Independents technically gives this coalition a veto proof majority in the House.
However House Speaker Gaye Symington says she’s not thinking in those terms:
(Symington) “I think Vermonters are not looking for our Legislature to become one that just puts forward legislation and then overrides vetoes. I think what they’re looking for is a Legislature, their elected leaders, to tackle issues and work together. They’ve elected a Republican governor and they’ve elected a even more solidly Democratic Legislature.”
(Kinzel) Symington does hope that the new Democratic majority gains more respect from Republican governor Jim Douglas.
(Symington) “I think that from day one I hope that the governor gets the message this time that he needs to work together with us and not sit on the sidelines and wait until we’ve finished our work and then weigh in.”
(Kinzel) The Vermont Senate will now have 23 Democrats and just 7 Republicans.
Senate Majority leader John Campbell believes his caucus will stick together on most major issues.
(Campbell) “Do I expect there to be differences? Absolutely. Do I expect us to work as a cohesive group? Absolutely. And I think the most important thing is that every one of the democratic senators have that same goal in mind, and that is to make sure that we continue with the issues that we are dealing with in the areas of health care and energy and then also deal with the property tax issue.”
(Kinzel) The Progressive Party had hopes of adding to its 6 member caucus in the House but that didn’t happen. Party chairman Anthony Pollina says he’s actually pleased that the Progressives didn’t lose any of their net strength in a year that he says resulted in a Democratic wave rolling across the state.
For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier