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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Republicans Gain Two Seats In Vermont Senate

Nina Keck
/
VPR

Vermont Republicans picked up at least two senate seats in Tuesday’s election.

Republicans picked up another senate seat in Rutland County and now control all three seats there. In Franklin County, Republican Dustin Degree claimed the seat left vacant by the retirement of Democrat Don Collins.

Rutland County Senator Kevin Mullin handily won reelection along with fellow incumbent Peg Flory and a newcomer, Republican Brian Collamore.

Speaking at a celebration event in Rutland last night, Mullin said he’s excited about the gains the GOP is making in Vermont this year.

“I think as I’m watching the results come in we’ve made small gains but it’s definitely in the right direction. We’ve picked up a seat in Franklin county and a seat in Rutland county," Mullin said. "So there’s definitely a movement in the senate towards the middle and that’s a movement in the right direction," Mullin said.

Mullin said he thinks the Republican gains are a clear message that people want "more moderation," and a focus on the economy.

Political newcomer, Brian Collamore, a popular local radio personality for many years, managed to unseat Democrat Eldred French to win the third seat. 

 

“I think the three of us early on  --Kevin Mullin, Peg Flory and myself -- decided to run as a team and I think that lent a certain atmosphere to our campaign. We appeared a lot together at events and I think we share the same message and the same philosophy. And I think that resonated well with people and again I think people are just ready for a little bit of a change and a little bit of the swing of the pendulum and a little bit of balance in Montpelier and I’m thrilled," Collamore said.

Republicans also put the pressure on in several other Senate races. Senator Mark MacDonald of Orange County was one democrat who survived a strong challenge.

Unofficial results show MacDonald defeated political newcomer Bob Frenier.

MacDonald says he understands many voters are unhappy about property taxes and uncertainty over health care.

But MacDonald says he remains committed to the current statewide property tax formula and the need to change the way health care is paid for.

“The Republican campaign this year was, ‘Vermont is a bad place to live.’ The Republicans didn’t suggest what they would do.  We go back to the legislature and we’ll have 180 people roll up their sleeves and say, ‘what do you propose to do to change the fair property tax system we have now that treats everybody the same’?”  

A strong Republican Senate challenge also fell short in Washington County.   

Voters in Bennington County and the Windham County town of Wilmington chose two familiar faces to represent them in the state Senate.

Brian Campion won his Senate bid after serving two terms in the House. His running-mate, long term incumbent Dick Sears, was elected to a twelfth term.

The two Democrats defeated Republican Challenger Warren Roaf, a former middle school principal.

Sears says he thinks people are happy with the job he’s doing in Montpelier.

“They feel like I’m a straight shooter. I tell it like it is. I let them know what we’re doing and I try to be honest with my constituents," Sears said.

Campion, who is gay, says he admires Sears for his role in passing Vermont’s Civil Unions Law.

“It was a life changer for a lot of people," Campion said.

Campion was on the House Education committee. He says education reform in Vermont should start with a comprehensive education plan.

Sears, who has chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee for 18 years, expects child protection to be a big issue, along with health care. But he says balancing the budget will be the real challenge of the coming legislative session.

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