Party faithful to turnout for primary election

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(Host) Party faithful will turnout tomorrow to vote in Vermont’s primary election.

As VPR’s Steve Zind reports there are at least two statewide races that will draw voters.

There are also races of interest only to local voters that may also help to boost turnout.

(Zind) Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says this year’s primary could see a better than average voter turnout, at least among Republican voters. That’s because of GOP races for two key offices: U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

(Markowitz) “So my guess is that because of the visibility of the races, because these races are perceived as being very, very important for not just for Vermont but for the country that you’ll have more people coming out on the Republican side..”

(Zind) Markowitz it’s hard to predict, but as many as 50,000 Republican voters could go to the polls statewide versus about 30,000 for the Democrats.

As a result, there can be a lot of crossover in a primary. Sometimes there’s a bit of mischief making involved, but other times there’s genuine interest in another party’s primary. For example, University of Vermont political scientist Garrison Nelson expect some Chittenden County Republican voters to cast their primary ballots as Democrats because there’s a lot of interest in that party’s primary race for state’s attorney.

(Nelson) “That Chittenden County state’s attorney’s race will be a turnout generator and will keep people out of the Republican primary.”

(Zind) In Orange County, the opposite may be true. Judging from lawn signs and letters to the editor in the local paper, there’s a great deal of interest in the Republican race to fill the seat of the outgoing sheriff.

This is a low key race run on shoe leather and out of pocket money. The candidates campaign weekends and evenings. Candidate Emile Fredette says he’s heartened by the interest in the race.

(Fredette) “People I’ve talked to so far have showed interest in the election and have been pretty much up to speed on reading newspaper articles, so the numbers may be good.”

(Zind) Experience and increased community involvement by the sheriff’s department is a theme of all three candidate’s campaigns.

Candidate Bill Bohnyak has the endorsement of the outgoing sheriff. Bohnyak says part of campaigning is educating people about what the sheriff does. Many people don’t know the name of their county sheriff.

(Bohnyak) “We do come across that. It’s interesting. It’s not just the sheriff. If you ask who’s your state senator, people don’t know.”

(Zind) The third candidate is John Pelligrini. Like the others, he cites his many years in law enforcement experience. Pelligrini says all three candidates have avoided talking about their opponents and focused on their own qualifications. He says it’s been a challenge to campaign in a county that covers a big chunk of central Vermont, stretching from the middle of the state to the Connecticut River.

(Pelligrini) “It’s exciting. It’s American politics at its best. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve met so many nice people and I think one of the reasons its garnered so much interest is the office is being vacated.”

(Zind) Whoever wins the Republican primary has a good chance of becoming sheriff. None of the other major parties is running a candidate for the office.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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