By Wilson Ring, Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders cruised to re-election in Vermont for his third Senate term Tuesday, easily defeating a little known candidate.
The Associated Press called the race for Sanders, an independent who is considering a 2020 run for the White House, when the polls closed at 7 p.m.
Sanders was challenged by Republican businessman Lawrence Zupan, of Manchester.
Sanders spent little time campaigning in the state ahead of Tuesday’s election. Zupan, a Manchester real estate broker with experience in international trade, campaigned against what he felt was big government and social welfare programs.
In the House race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, who was first elected in 2006 and has consistently been one of Vermont’s most popular politicians, is defending his seat against Republican Anya Tynio.
Vermont’s two main gubernatorial candidates were waiting to learn their fates as town and city clerks across the state began counting the votes Tuesday night.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist cast her ballot at about 8 a.m. before heading out across the state for some last-minute campaigning.
Incumbent Republican Phil Scott voted about noon in his hometown of Berlin.
In addition to local issues in some communities, voters chose among candidates for governor, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and all 180 members of the Legislature.
“I don’t like the way the country’s going these days, so I was interested in making that known,” said Joe John, 60, of Marshfield. “I voted Democrat.”
The race between Scott and Hallquist offered voters a clear choice between their policies. Hallquist, a former utility executive who is the first transgender major-party gubernatorial nominee in history, campaigned with a promise of a $15 minimum wage, universal health care and paid family leave. Scott’s campaign focused on a theme of not raising taxes or fees as part of a broader effort to promote economic development.
Jeff Maclay, 32, of Marshfield, said he voted mostly for Democrats, except for Republican Gov. Phil Scott.
“I feel like he’s doing a reasonable job and I’m not going to mess with success,” he said.
As of last week, there were almost 483,000 people registered to vote in Vermont, which is more than the 2016 presidential election year by about 18,000.
AP reporter Lisa Rathke in Marshfield, Vermont, contributed to this report.
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