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Phil Scott on his win in the race for governor

A photo of a man at a podium with an American flag behind him.
Peter Hirschfeld
Vermont Public
Gov. Phil Scott opted to celebrate his win Tuesday at an event in Berlin instead of at the official Vermont GOP event in Barre.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott handily won re-election to a fourth term yesterday, grabbing more than 71% of the vote to defeat Democratic activist Brenda Siegel's 24%.

But the governor was not celebrating with the state’s Republican Party. The Vermont GOP held their election night event at the Elks Club in Barre, while Scott held a small, separate event in Berlin. To political watchers, it was yet another example of the divide between moderates like Scott and far-right party members.

Find the full 2022 Vermont Election results here.

Vermont Public's Peter Hirschfeld spoke with Scott moments after he was declared the winner. Their interview is below and has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Gov. Phil Scott: Well, first of all, it's an incredible honor to be voted back in. Wasn't sure what to expect in a lot of a lot of ways, because of COVID before, and the bump we received from COVID, whether that was sustainable. And we'd hadn't done any polling. So it felt OK. Especially after the 14-county tour we did yesterday. I reinforced a lot of what I was feeling on the ground, from the response we were receiving on the road. But it exceeded my expectations. I don't know what the final numbers are going to be. But as I said in my remarks, it isn't just about me.

And I receive a lot of accolade when I win a stockcar race; I have won a number of them over the years. And I always remind people, it's not me; it's not the driver — it's the team. Without the team, you wouldn't have the car that would be capable of winning. And so the driver is just one small part of the whole process, the whole team. And without them, we wouldn't be successful.

And I've been proud of everything we've accomplished. But we have a lot of work left to do. And that was again reinforced on our 14-county tour yesterday, when we went from here to Ferrisburgh, up through Chittenden County, up to Franklin County, then we went in the Northeast Kingdom. And you could see the communities that were left behind — the poverty. We have a beautiful, beautiful area. But but you can see that we're struggling. And we need to continue to focus on making sure that we have give those communities the tools they need to succeed. Because we need more people in the state; we need more housing; we need broadband. But we need the communities to be able to give us a path forward. We'll assist them, but we they need to have a vision as to what they want. And again, it reinforced that throughout the state there really is a big difference between northwest part of the state and the other 12 counties.

Peter Hirschfeld: What is the result like this mean in terms of your ability to govern over the next two years that you wouldn't necessarily have if you eked by by a few points?

Well, I think a lot of it is that Vermonters understand me. They've gotten to know me over the years. There's a level of trust there. And I am doing the best I can with what we have. And we need to bring people together. And that's what Vermonters, I think, want.

To be honest, I think most Vermonters, and most Americans, for that matter, are in the middle. The vast majority of people in the country are in the middle. They're not Republicans or Democrats. They're squarely right there. And they just want a better life. They want a government that works as balanced and gets results. And that's what we need to do.

I'm not a rubber stamp for the Legislature. The vast majority of Vermonters don't want them to go along with every initiative I have either. So we have to work together to find compromise and to give Vermonters what they deserve. And I think that's the challenge we have. But on a statewide basis, in what some had thought was going to be a very competitive race — to win by this margin, I think, says a lot about, again, our team, the approach we take. And hopefully we can get results working with the Legislature.

I spent some time this evening at the GOP election night party down in Barre. People weren't angry that you weren't there, but they were bummed out. They wish they'd had an opportunity to see you and to share this victory with you. Why did you decide not to go?

We had decided long before they had made any plans. I didn't know they're going to the Elks. We don't have a straight line of communication. In some respects. I had no idea they were going there. And we had decided we wanted to have something here small with friends and supporters and cabinet members and staff.

And to be honest with you, many of them — most of them — probably wouldn't have attended the GOP event there. Because there are some there who they don't agree with their approach. Their philosophies are different than mine, even. I truly believe we need more respect and civility. We need to do work together, put politics aside and move forward. And there's some extremes in this on both the right and the left, the fringe of both parties that don't want to compromise. They don't want to. They don't care about succeeding. They don't want to compromise in order to do that.

So we decided that we wanted to have something someplace we could celebrate, watch the results and be together as we've been over the last six years. And so I've made the decision that we're gonna have a small event here.

What responsibility do you think you have to bring the party together and to reach out to the folks that some members of your team think are too extreme and convince them that your style, your way of doing things is better than theirs?

I think they just have to look at the results. I mean, I don't know if this is my 12th election. Multiple, multiple primaries. It's probably 20 total over my years in the Senate, and lieutenant governor and now governor. I think it's pretty obvious that my approach works. It's something that I've been trying to work with the party over the last 20 plus years, to no avail.

And, again, there are a lot of Republicans out there that are friends of mine, who were Republicans, still consider themselves Republicans, that don't want to be associated with the party. And so, I want to help them. We need them; we need their voices. But they need to tone down the rhetoric. They need to look beyond the national politics and figure out what's best for Vermont and then be a part of the solution — not part of the problem.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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