Surprises and Fresh Faces in Down Ballot Races

Redistricting prompted a shakeup in the Chittenden County Senate Races this year. In the Chittenden North district, Democrat Irene Wrenner, a former Essex Town Selectboard member, will face off against Republican Leland Morgan, a former House member, for a Senate seat. However, in the Chittenden Southeast and Central districts, primary winners are likely to cruise through the general election to a seat in the Senate. In the Chittenden Southeast district, all three incumbents, Senators Ginny Lyons, Kesha Ram Hinsdale, and Thomas Chittenden, secured primary wins. In the new Chittenden Central district, incumbent Phil Baruth and current Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky easily secured two of three seats, but only two votes separated the next two vote-getters for the third and final seat, with Erhard Mahnke requesting a recount to challenge Martine Larocque Gulick.

In Washington county, incumbents Ann Cummings and Andrew Perchlik secured two of the three Democratic nominations, but it was Anne Watson who secured the most votes, a significant result for the current mayor of Montpelier. In Windham County, former Rep. Nader Hashim and Wendy Harrison won the Democratic nominations for Senate and will face off against Republicans Mark Coester (who is not being backed by the Republican party after he displayed alt-right and fascist imagery at a 4th of July parade) and Richard Kenyon, in the general election. Mark Coester has since announced his decision to run in this race as an Independent, and the party nominated third-place finisher Richard Morton to replace him on the ballot. In Windsor County, Rep. Rebecca White and incumbents Alison Clarkson and Richard McCormack won the Democratic nominations for Senate. Like Watson, White also secured the most votes in her primary race, another significant result for a first-time Senate candidate.

Notable House races included Chittenden-5, where Democrat Chea Waters Evans challenged incumbent Michael Yantachka over his vote on Prop 5, and won. Two incumbents, Republican Vicki Strong and Democrat Katherine Sims, will face off for the only seat in the new Orleans-4 district. In Washington-4, Kate McCann and Conor Casey, who ran as an informal ticket, secured the two Democratic nominations to represent Montpelier.