Republican state Senate candidate Dustin Degree, who lost by 25 votes to Democrat Don Collins in Franklin County, will request a recount early next week.
Degree plans to file a petition at Franklin County Superior Court, within the 10-day post-election deadline. He has been told by Franklin County Clerk Jim Pelkey that a recount would likely take place over three days towards the end of November.
“There’s 33,000 votes, and I feel we have at least a shot at finding 25 votes,” said Degree, who noted that he has no reason to believe that any mistakes or manipulation interfered with the voting. “I owe it to my supporters, to make sure every vote is counted, and counted right.”
“With a margin that small, I feel I’m completely within my rights to do so,” said Degree. Degree is the youngest Republican candidate for state Senate, at 27 years old. The next youngest state senator, Tim Ashe, D-Chittenden, is 35.
Degree has worked in the office of former Gov. Jim Douglas, and also formerly wrote for the St. Albans Messenger. He served in the House from 2011 to 2012.
Degree’s opponent for the Franklin County seat is Democrat Don Collins, who has worked in education for over 30 years and served as the local state senator from 2003 to 2008.
Collins said in reaction to Degree’s imminent recount request, “Mr. Degree can do exactly what he wants: The law is pretty clear.”
State statute says that a state Senate candidate can request a recount if the difference between the winner and loser is less than 2 percent of all votes cast in that race. The last recount for a state Senate seat that Kathleen Scheele, a top state elections official, was in 2006 for a Democratic primary in Chittenden County.
Collins said that even with the slim margin, he wouldn’t have asked for a recount if their roles were reversed, “because it’s very time consuming, delays the winner from doing any serious planning, and it costs money.” Collins said he doesn’t believe the recount will change the ultimate outcome.
Republican Norm McAllister won the other Franklin County state Senate seat, with 7,732 votes. Collins said the county would benefit from both a Republican and Democratic voice, adding that his past experience as a senator could allow him to work effectively from day one.
If Degree loses the recount, the Democratic majority in the Senate will remain at 23 Democrats to seven Republicans, instead of staying at the current 22-8 split. Degree denied that maintaining the Republican presence in the Senate factored into his recount request.
“If we were sitting here talking about a 200-vote margin, I wouldn’t be doing a recount,” said Degree. “The margin we’re talking about is less than one tenth of 1 percent: obviously there’s a chance that we could emerge victorious. It would be foolish not to ask. I’m not worried about slowing down or mucking up anything that has to do with Montpelier. This has nothing to do with leadership, committees, or chairmanships: it’s about making sure that Franklin County has faith in the process and the numbers.”