Progressives’ write-in campaign stops Liberty Union primary candidates

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(Host) Unofficial results from last week’s primary election show that the Progressive Party has defeated an effort by leaders of the Liberty Union party to run as Progressives in the November election in several statewide races. A statewide canvassing committee will certify the results on Tuesday.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The problem arose when the Progressives decided to run only one candidate for statewide office – Steve Hingtgen in the lieutenant governor’s race. Because the Progressives are a major political party, they’re required to hold a primary to select their statewide candidates. Minor parties, like Liberty Union, choose their candidates at state caucuses.

Since no Progressives were running for offices such as governor and Congress, several Liberty Union candidates saw an opportunity to win those races. The Progressives launched a write-in campaign to thwart the Liberty Union plan and Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says that campaign was successful.

In most cases the winning write-in candidate will decline the Progressive nomination and the race will be considered vacant on the November ballot, which is what the Progressives originally wanted. Markowitz says she’s a little concerned that fewer than 700 people voted in the Progressive primary at a cost to the state of $50,000:

(Markowitz) “I think it’s something that needs to be looked at by the Legislature. I think it’s time to start looking at what are we spending and does it make sense. And it may be that we want a threshold participation. It’s time to look at this at least because what we’re spending is so disproportionate to the number of people participating.”

(Kinzel) Progressive Party Chair Martha Abbott says she’s pleased by the outcome of the primary. She thinks one solution to the problem of low voter turnout is for all the political parties to do a better job encouraging people to run for office:

(Abbott) “I think it’s a failing on behalf of politics in general and all three parties in particular that we haven’t inspired a large number of people to come and participate in that process. And I don’t have the magic answer, obviously, but I think that maybe [one of] the things we should focus on is, why aren’t more people participating? Rather than, how do we narrow the process even further?”

(Kinzel) Abbott says it’s likely that one of the write-in winners will decide to remain on the November ballot: that’s Sue Davis who’s running for the post of attorney general.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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