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Independent Bernie Sanders elected to Senate

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/vote2006/VT/VT.htm?csp=34 Independent Bernie Sanders elected to Senate; Democrat Welch beats Rainville Updated
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7 5:41 PM
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      Independent Bernie Sanders elected to Senate; Democrat
      Welch beats Rainville
      Updated 11/7/2006 8:33 PM ET

      MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermonters, turning out in big
      numbers Tuesday, elected left-leaning Bernie Sanders
      to the Senate and also chose candidates for the U.S.
      House, governor and a host of other statewide and
      local offices.

      Sanders, an independent who describes himself as a
      "democratic socialist," defeated Republican Richard
      Tarrant in the contest to succeed retiring Sen. James
      Jeffords, according to a statistical analysis of the
      vote from voter interviews conducted for The
      Associated Press and the television networks by Edison
      Media Research and Mitofsky International.

      RESULTS: U.S. Senate by county

      Democrat Peter Welch beat Republican Martha Rainville
      in the race to replace Sanders for the U.S.House
      Representative, the survey concluded.

      In the governor's race, Republican Gov. Jim Douglas,
      55, sought a third two-year term highlighting his
      "affordability agenda" to make health care, taxes,
      education and housing cheaper. Democratic challenger
      Scudder Parker, 63, ran a scrappy campaign questioning
      why such an agenda was needed after four years of
      Douglas in power.

      Results in other contests were being counted in city
      and town clerks' offices across the state, where
      election workers said turnout was high.

      "This is great," Assistant Williston Town Clerk Denise
      L'Esperance, said as she surveyed the 39 voting booths
      set up in a school gymnasium, where 1,645 people had
      voted by 1 p.m ET. "It's wonderful to see the booths
      completely filled. Look at those."

      A lot of voters said they had been closely watching
      events in Washington and it influenced their voting.
      "I want to clean out the White House in Washington and
      put some more people in there," said Vaughn Adams, 74,
      said after casting his ballot in Berlin.

      In Burlington, Democrat Steve Safner, 51, said
      President Bush was on his mind when he voted.

      "He got us involved in the war in Iraq, which he was
      predetermined to do before he was elected, and now he
      won't back down," Safner said. Safner said he hoped
      his vote would help Democrats regain control of the
      U.S. House and Senate.

      Despite complaints about the tenor of candidates' TV
      commercials, voters appeared to be engaged in the
      weeks leading up to Election Day, turning out at town
      and city clerks' offices seeking absentee ballots so
      they could vote early.

      In Burlington, the state's largest city, 15% of voters
      cast their ballots early, Secretary of State Deborah
      Markowitz said, but no statewide count was available.

      "We're expecting a higher-than-ever absentee turnout,"
      she said. Only two incidents had been reported to her
      office of people not having the absentee ballots sent
      to them, requiring a court order to allow them to
      vote. "We were worrying about the absentees, but we
      ended up really having very little problems with it,"
      Markowitz said.

      The campaign, which began in earnest in April 2005
      when Jeffords announced his retirement, featured a
      heated race for Jeffords' seat and a closely watched
      campaign for the U.S. House seat being vacated by

      Nearly 19 months later, voters had the chance to make
      history by sending Sanders — a popular eight-term
      congressman who calls himself a "democratic socialist"
      — to the U.S. Senate. Sanders, a 65-year-old
      independent, was favored to win election to Jeffords'
      seat despite a bruising campaign challenge from
      Republican businessman Tarrant.

      Tarrant, 64, spent more than $7 million of his own
      money on his campaign, most of it on television
      commercials that took aim on Sanders, posing the
      question "What's happened to Bernie?"

      The ads, which underscored Sanders' votes on the Amber
      Alert child kidnapping program, international
      narcotics trafficking and sex offenders, were widely
      criticized by voters and others because of their tone.

      Sanders spent lavishly, too, putting nearly $6 million
      into the race.

      His decision to seek Jeffords' seat, meanwhile, set
      the stage for what turned out to be a clean but
      spirited campaign between Rainville and Welch.

      Welch, 59, who is the state Senate president pro tem,
      squared off against the 48-year-old former Vermont
      National Guard chief in a House race whose combined
      spending reached about $2 million.

      The race, which party officials said was the only one
      in the nation to stay positive despite being targeted
      by the national parties, centered largely on the war
      in Iraq and whether it would be better to have a
      Republican or Democratic congressional majority to
      resolve it.

      The lieutenant governor's race got testy, too, with
      Democratic challenger Matt Dunne, 36, questioning the
      work ethic of incumbent Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, 47,
      while his own voting record was challenged.
      Progressive Marvin Malek also was on the ballot.

      There also were races for secretary of state between
      Markowitz, the incumbent Democrat, and Essex Town
      Clerk Cheryl Moomey; for auditor among incumbent
      Republican Randy Brock, Democrat Thomas Salmon and
      Progressive Martha Abbott; and for attorney general
      between Democratic incumbent William Sorrell and
      Republican Dennis Carver.
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