Editorial: Well played, Mr. Sonneborn; Hallquist makes it a race

Give Ethan Sonneborn, Bristol’s 14-year-old candidate for governor in the Democratic primary, a lot of credit. He entered the campaign because he thought it was important — crucial, even — to get involved and participate in the country’s democratic process. If individuals — each one of us — don’t care enough to learn about the issues, scrutinize the candidates running for office and cast an informed vote, then the system fails.
So Sonneborn not only entered the race, but he became an articulate champion of that need to become involved, and of the issues facing his peers. Surprisingly, 4,659 voters, or 6.9 percent, gave Sonneborn a thumbs up at the election booth, according the Secretary of State’s official count.
“It’s crucial no matter your age, no matter anything in your background, that you get involved in the process,” Sonneborn said. “If you’re 75 and you’ve never voted, it’s not too late, get involved in the process.”
In this era of hyper partisanship and what seems to be the crumbling foundations of our democracy, Sonneborn’s message may be the most important of all. Well said, well played, Mr. Sonneborn.
Christine Hallquist was the other big winner in last week’s primary election. She made history as the first transgender candidate to be elected by a major political party for governor, and she did it convincingly. In a four-way race, she garnered 27,619 votes, or 40 percent, according to the Secretary of State’s website late Wednesday afternoon, which counted 7,300 blank votes. Of those who cast votes for the four candidates, Hallquist garnered 48.3 percent, and Sonneborn earned 8.2 percent, while James Ehlers gathered 12,668 votes and Brenda Siegel, 12,259, for 22.1 and 21.4 percent respectively.
The convincing win will likely earn Hallquist money from national groups supporting women, gay, lesbian and transgender groups rights, and it also gives her candidacy needed credibility for independent and moderate Vermonters who will likely now be more attentive to her campaign as she faces off against Republican Gov. Phil Scott. We hope she now pivots away from some of the gender issues she emphasized in the primary campaign, however, and focuses on how her leadership style, background and experience could help boost the state’s economy, make the conversation around growth more forward thinking rather than reactionary, and demonstrate how she would work with the Legislator cooperatively rather than relying on late session vetoes to govern as Gov. Scott has too often done.
In his Republican primary, Scott garnered only 24,220 votes, for 67.5 percent of the vote versus 32.5 percent for pro-gun rights candidate Keith Stern — an indication that some Republicans remain miffed at Scott for his support of a modest gun control bill passed this past session.
Scott is still the heavy favorite to win a second term in office, but Hallquist’s victory margin and Scott’s loss of support among some Republicans — along with a do-nothing approach in policy initiatives — will make it a competitive race. Stay tuned, stay involved.

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