Sanders gives victory speech as Tarrant concedes

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(Host) The U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Senator Jim Jeffords will remain in the independent’ column.

Congressman Bernie Sanders defeated Republican Rich Tarrant by a wide margin in a bitterly contested race.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) The 65-year-old Sanders moves to the Senate after serving eight terms in the U.S. House.

The Senator-elect gave an emotional victory speech to supporters that touched on the themes he’s emphasized throughout his political career.

Sanders said that by electing him, Vermonters had served notice to the Republican administration in Washington.

(Sanders) “The people of Vermont have told America that they are sick and tired of right wing extremism and President Bush and Vice President Cheney. This state is going to move America in a very different direction!”

(Zind) Sanders, the independent, held his victory celebration with the Democrats.

Republican Rich Tarrant chose to gather his supporters in South Burlington, instead of joining the GOP at its election night headquarters in Montpelier.

A newcomer to politics, Tarrant could not overcome the sizeable lead Sanders held in the polls from the outset. Speaking to supporters Tuesday night, Tarrant acknowledged that the odds had been against him.

(Tarrant) “I think we really did run a good campaign. But the fact of the matter is we were running an uphill battle. We had a Republican problem in Washington that didn’t go our way. The state has spoken, we need to congratulate Congressman Sanders and wish him the best in Washington because he does represent us.”

(Zind) The race for the Senate seat was the most expensive campaign in Vermont history, driven largely by the 64 year old Tarrant’s ability to pour more than six million dollars of his own money into the effort.

On a per capita basis, his was the most expensive campaign in the nation this year.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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