By WILSON RING Associated Press
Voters in deep-blue Vermont elected Republican Gov. Phil Scott to his fourth two-year term as the state’s top executive.
Scott, 64, defeated Democrat Brenda Siegel and three independent candidates.
Since he became governor in 2017, Scott has said, he has focused on minimizing the tax burden, ensuring that vulnerable Vermonters are helped and growing the economy. On Tuesday night, he thanked supporters and staff and said that work is not yet finished.
“So we need to be willing to do the hard work, to level the playing field so we’re helping the communities that need us the most,” he said in a victory speech.
Although a Republican, Scott was a frequent critic of former President Donald Trump and voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Along with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan — neither of whom sought re-election in 2022 — Scott has often been highlighted in national politics as among Republicans not caught up in the Make American Great Again version of the party that has emerged in recent years.
He led Vermont through the COVID-19 pandemic, winning high marks for helping the state avoid some of the harsh impacts felt by other states.
Scott is a fiscal conservative who has been reluctant to raise taxes or impose more of what he feels are onerous regulations that reduce economic opportunity in Vermont. The state is trying to counter a demographic crisis that has seen it lose young people over the years.
But Scott also has pushed, he says, to, make Vermont more affordable, and protect the vulnerable through efforts such as fighting the opioid epidemic, strengthening the mental health system and working to protect the environment. He has said he also wants to restore trust in government.
Siegel, speaking Tuesday night at the Democratic Party’s campaign event in Burlington, said the campaign gave her the opportunity to focus on issues important to her, such as ensuring Vermonters have adequate housing and fighting opioid addiction.
“At some point in this campaign, I turned to my team and I said, ‘Let’s fight like hell to win. But also let’s fight like hell to win on the issues, because losing on the issues is not an option for me,’” she said.
The progressive activist has said her experiences as a small-business owner and low-income single mother give her a perspective lacking in Vermont politics.
Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.