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Rep. Van Wyck wages successful write-in campaign to get on ballot for re-election

FERRISBURGH — Rep. Warren Van Wyck, R-Ferrisburgh, has decided to postpone his legislative retirement plans.
The three-term incumbent waged a successful, eleventh-hour write-in campaign leading up to Tuesday’s primary election, which will allow his name to appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot in the race for one of the Addison-3 district’s two House seats.
Citing a desire to spend more time with family and a return to full-time status at his job as a computer analyst programmer with the University of Vermont, Van Wyck had announced in May he wouldn’t run for re-election to the House seat he had held since 2012. It was in February of that year that then-Gov. Peter Shumlin appointed Van Wyck to fill an Addison-3 vacancy created by the tragic death of Rep. Greg Clark, R-Vergennes. Van Wyck was elected in his own right during the 2014 and 2016 elections. His district-mate throughout his tenure has been Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes.
Van Wyck assisted county Republicans in their effort to recruit at least one candidate to challenge two Democrats — Lanpher and Matt Birong of Vergennes — who had declared plans to run in Addison-3, a district that includes Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham.
But GOP recruiting efforts in Addison-3 failed as the filing deadline for major party candidates arrived on May 31.
“We talked to a dozen or 20 candidates,” Van Wyck noted. “The goal of me going into retirement was to clear the field to see who might be interested (in running).”
But all of the local GOP prospects took a pass for various reasons, mostly because the timing wasn’t right due to personal and/or professional circumstances.
It looked as though Lanpher — one of the county’s most tenured lawmakers — and Birong would get a clear shot at both seats in what has traditionally been a GOP stronghold.
State GOP leaders have been focused on at least retaining seats in a Vermont House in which they are vastly outnumbered by Democrats. House Republicans were able to sustain two consecutive budget vetoes by Republican Gov. Phil Scott during the past biennium, and the party wants to prevent Democrats from securing a veto-proof majority in the aftermath of the November elections.
So holding onto Van Wyck’s Addison-3 post became a top priority for the GOP. Party officials and Van Wyck continued efforts this summer to recruit a candidate, who at this point would have to gather at least 26 write-in votes in the Aug. 14 primary in order to get on the general election ballot to face Birong and Lanpher.
Republican leaders ultimately wooed Van Wyck to reconsider his retirement. He discussed the matter with his spouse, and together they agreed that seeking another two years in the House would be OK. He reasoned that several past Addison-3 representatives had put in more time than his six years. He said he was also able to recharge his batteries during a recent two-week family vacation to California.
Van Wyck on Aug. 13 reached out for write-in votes, and the Vermont Secretary of State’s website confirmed that he’d accumulated a total of 105 write-ins in the Addison-3 GOP Primary in an unofficial report, with Bill Kipp garnering two write-in votes and 17 others garnering one each. While that’s more than enough to place his name on the Nov. 6 ballot, Van Wyck stressed as the Addison Independent went to press that the secretary of state’s office had yet to sign off on his election paperwork.
Van Wyck is now getting ready for a new campaign, instead of counting the days to the expiration of his current term. He pledged to serve out an upcoming two-year term, if re-elected.
“We’re gearing up,” Van Wyck said, noting he had fortunately kept his old campaign signs.
Birong, the owner-operator of 3 Squares Café in Vergennes, wasn’t surprised to hear he’ll be facing competition this November after all.
“I expected it,” Birong said on Thursday. “I never thought there wouldn’t be someone on the Republican side of the ballot.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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