Vermont Democrats urge party unity ahead of November

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 4:05 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 4:35 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - After a historic turnout Tuesday for Vermont’s primary election, the winners are refocusing on the November general election and Vermont Democrats are stressing the need to unite the Progressive and moderate wings of the party.

Vermont Democrats took a victory lap Thursday over the record-breaking turnout Tuesday for their slate of statewide office holders.

"I'm here today to ask Vermonters to support the candidates who have spoken before me and all of the Democratic legislative candidates up and down the ballot which will work for all Vermonters in the coming years," said Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, who will challenge Governor Phil Scott on Election Day.

The former Progressive is now running only as a Democrat. That puts him in the spotlight as he and his former challengers try to bring the wings of the party together. They want the focus to be on issues like paid family leave, minimum wage and the so-called climate economy.

"This is about the fact that we had an economic crisis even before we went into COVID. It's about income inequality and the fact that Vermont still doesn't have an economic engine that will create the economic opportunity that David is seeking," said Rebecca Holcombe, who placed second in the gubernatorial Democratic primary.

Just like the run up to the primary election, candidates will face coronavirus campaign hurdles including a lack of rallies, speeches and gatherings. Meanwhile, Governor Phil Scott remains in the limelight with his weekly televised COVID-19 briefings. While the Democrats have credited Scott for listening to the health experts, they also say any one of them would have done the same. They stress that now is the time to change leadership in Vermont.

"This is a historic and transformative moment, which if we come together and work together, we can face together," said Molly Gray, who will face GOP challenger Scott Milne in the race for lieutenant governor.

On the Republican ticket, the sense of unity is less clear. Scott is the only GOP statewide incumbent and is frequently at odds with party leadership. Milne, was the only other Republican to mount an effective statewide campaign.

“It’s like what Teddy Rooselvelt once said, ‘What do you call someone who you only agree with 70 percent of the time? Your ally.’ That’s the Republican party in Vermont. There’s a lot of strong opinions and I look forward to representing all of them,” Milne said.

Vermont Republican Party leaders did not respond to calls for comment Thursday.

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