Tarrant wins Republican nomination for U.S. Senate

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(Host) Former IDX founder Rich Tarrant defeated Greg Parke to win the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in yesterday’s primary election.

Tarrant won the election by roughly a 2-1 to one margin.

With 215 of 260 precincts reporting, Tarrant had about 64% of the vote, compared to 31% for Greg Parke, and 5% for Cris Ericson according to unofficial returns.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Tarrant spent $5 million of his own money to fund his campaign. Much of the money was used to finance a series of TV ads that have run for the past 7 months. He also attended numerous spaghetti suppers and pancake breakfasts to meet with voters.

Parke raised roughly $2 million but spent nearly $1.8 million in direct mail expenses to raise these funds, leaving him with very little money to run his campaign.

Until the final 2 weeks of the election, Parke spent very little time campaigning in Vermont because his job as a private pilot often took him out of state.

Tarrant thinks he won the GOP primary because his message resonated with Republican voters:

(Tarrant) “I think the fact that I talked to their issues such as health care – I mean health care is scaring the heck out of everyone. People realize that Washington is spending way too much money. They understand a businessperson realizes you can’t spend what you don’t have.”

(Kinzel) Parke says he’s disappointed by the election results but he says there’s no question that he’ll support Tarrant in the general election race against independent candidate Bernie Sanders.

(Parke) “I’m supporting Republicans, period. That’s what I’ve always said. This isn’t about me. This is about advancing an agenda which the Republican Party represents of prosperity for not equal misery for all.”

(Kinzel) A third candidate in the race, Cris Ericson, received roughly 5 % of the vote.

Independent candidate Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary last night with more than 90% of vote, but he says he’ll formally decline the party’s nomination in the next few days.

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

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