Top 10 stories from 2018: Blue Wave extends to Addison County elections

Democrats turned out in droves at polling places throughout the country to vote in the mid-term General Elections on Nov. 6, hoping to change the balance of power in Washington amid their disenchantment with Republican President Donald Trump and a GOP-led Congress.
But few expected that “blue wave” to have such an impact on contests for Vermont House and Senate seats representing Addison County.
When all the votes had been counted following a stellar turnout, Democratic candidates had captured all but two of the county’s nine seats in the House, and maintained a firm grip on the two state Senate seats representing Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore.
The Nov. 6 results couldn’t have been much worse for the Addison County GOP, which now controls but one elected post in the state’s General Assembly — the Addison-5 House post held by Rep. Harvey Smith of New Haven, who ran unopposed.
The only other Addison County legislative post not in the Democrats’ column is the Addison-Rutland-1 House seat held by Rep. Terry Norris, a Shoreham independent, who beat a challenge by Democrat Barb Wilson.
Local Democrats picked up an additional seat in both the Addison-3 and Addison-4 House districts.
Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, and fellow Little City Democrat Matt Birong both out-polled incumbent Rep. Warren Van Wyck, R-Ferrisburgh, in Addison-3. This coming biennium will be the first during which Democrats will hold both seats in what has historically been a red district.
Rep. Fred Baser, R-Bristol, also found himself boxed out, in an Addison-4 district in which he had been a top vote-getter in past elections. But Democrats Caleb Elder of Starksboro and Mari Cordes of Lincoln took both seats on Election Day in a race that had spurred considerable interest with the announced retirement of longtime Rep. Dave Sharpe, D-Bristol.
Speaking of retirements, a decision by veteran state Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, to step aside produced a big field of candidates, including incumbent Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven; Middlebury Democrat Ruth Hardy; Addison Republican Peter Briggs; New Haven Libertarian Archie Flower; and independents Marie Audet of Bridport and Paul Ralston of New Haven. Hardy and Bray prevailed by a hefty margin over the rest of the field.
It was the most expensive election cycle in Addison County history, with candidates for House, Senate and county offices raising a combined $176,000 for their campaigns.
Local voters elected a new sheriff, Democrat Peter Newton of Middlebury, and produced one of the tightest races in the entire state — for Addison County State’s Attorney. In that contest, incumbent Democrat Dennis Wygmans of South Burlington seemingly edged Middlebury independent Peter Bevere by a 7,803 to 7,793 tally. Bevere requested a recount, which ultimately affirmed Wygmans’ win by a slightly larger 7,816 to 7,795 margin.

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