Vermont Democrats to wield supermajority in next legislative biennium
Republican Gov. Phil Scott may have enjoyed a banner night at the top of the ticket Tuesday, but his party took a thumping in down-ballot races for the Vermont House of Representatives.
As of Wednesday afternoon, it appeared that Democrats were poised to pick up 12 seats in the House, bringing their total caucus in that body to 104 members. Add in the five Progressives who won their House races Tuesday, and left-leaning lawmakers now have 109 votes in the House — nine more than they’ll need to override any prospective vetoes from Scott.
Republicans will see their numbers in the House drop from 46 to 38.
“If the governor wants to stand in the way of expanded child care, or if the governor wants to stand in the way of affordable housing, the nice thing about our supermajorities is we can let him,” said Jim Dandeneau, executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party. “He can stand in the way of those, and if we’ve got something that can get 100 votes in the House and 20 votes in the Senate, then we’ll be able to do it.”
The partisan makeup of the Vermont Senate will be unchanged next year. Republicans lost a seat Chittenden County but picked one up in Rutland County, which means Democrats will once again have a 23-to-7 majority in the Senate.
Dandeneau called Tuesday a “fantastic result” and said Democrats’ focus on housing, child care, paid family leave and clearly resonated with local voters.
“It’s about making it easier to live in Vermont,” he said. “All of these are pieces that we could be doing, and we hope to be doing with expanded majorities that Republicans have stood in the way of.”
Paul Dame, executive director of the Vermont GOP, didn’t immediately respond to an interview request Wednesday. He said before results came in Tuesday that he hoped Republicans’ emphasis on public safety and inflation — specifically gas and home heating prices — would help his party win the 51 House seats they would have needed to unilaterally sustain Scott’s vetoes.
“It’s affordability, price of gas, home heating fuel — those are the things that Vermonters are concerned about,” Dame said Tuesday.
Scott, meanwhile, is hoping that his lopsided win Tuesday will make Democrats reluctant to run roughshod over the executive branch. Scott’s 46-point margin of victory is the widest in a gubernatorial election in Vermont in 30 years.
“To win by this margin I think says a lot about our team, the approach we take,” Scott said. “And hopefully we can get results working with the Legislature.”
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