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Vermont GOP hitches fortunes to Scott

Published: Nov. 4, 2020 at 4:53 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Republicans are smiling Wednesday after Phil Scott’s landslide victory in the governor’s race and small gains at the Statehouse.

Democratic and progressive lawmakers still hold most of the power under the golden dome, but Republicans picked up more seats than they have in the last six years. GOP leaders say they’ve tried to tie their message to the governor’s as his popularity has soared.

“I’m honored to earn the faith and trust of Vermonters once again,” Scott said.

The incumbent Republican gathered over 245,000 votes, shattering Vermont’s previous record set by Howard Dean in 1992 with over 213,000.

Scott’s popularity, in large part, because of his handling of the pandemic. “We will get through it. I have a great amount of faith in the people of our state but also as Americans,” Scott said.

Other than the governors' office, Democrats won big, taking the lt. governor and retaining state auditor, treasurer, attorney general, and secretary of state’s races. And Joe Biden won Vermont’s three electoral votes.

But GOP leaders are also pleased with their own gains. "Governor Scott has that thrust of -- I want to move the ball forward -- and Republicans are going to support him in that,' said Paul Dame with the Vermont Republican Party.

He says republicans picked up several key seats in the legislature - three in the House and one in the Senate.

Democrats still control the senate with 21 seats to the GOP’s 7. But in the House, there’s now 99 Democrats and Progressives, 46 Republicans, and five Independents. That could pose a hurdle to Democrats trying to override a Scott veto.

“We’ve seen that even with a technical supermajority, it is hard to cobble that supermajority on particular issues, so that makes it tougher,” said Bert Johnson, a political science professor at Middlebury College.

And though Republicans are still the minority, the GOP hopes they can tie their brand to Scott and keep picking off seats. “Vermonters want folks who are concerned a little bit more about good government and less on activism,” Dame said.

Mix the new GOP seats to potential shakeups in Democratic leadership and Governor Scott is sitting in a good position going into the Legislative session.

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