Abbott wins recount; Smith will run anyway

Martha Abbott, the chair of the Progressive Party, and John Franco, an attorney, appear in Washington Superior Court on Sept. 17, 2012. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana

Martha Abbott, the chair of the Progressive Party, and John Franco, an attorney, appear in Washington Superior Court on Sept. 17, 2012. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana

A Washington County Superior Court judge today announced preliminary results from the recount for the Progressive gubernatorial race, which showed Progressive Party chair Martha Abbott leading write-in challenger Annette Smith by 381-340.

Final results will come tomorrow, as Judge Robert Bent examines five questioned ballots at a brief court hearing where concerned parties can raise objections about the recount process: but the overall outcome already seems certain. A total of 994 votes statewide were cast, according to recount figures.

Annette Smith plans to run for governor as a write-in candidate in any case, even if she isn’t placed on a major party line. “I’m just going to continue,” said Smith, after hearing the preliminary results. “I mean, the Prog thing has a lot of baggage with it, and this [method] would not guarantee me a seat in the debates.”

But, Smith said, she’d already been invited to a debate in Bennington on Oct. 11, an invitation which Randy Brock had also accepted. Alex MacLean, campaign manager for Peter Shumlin, says the governor will not be attending. The debate would be on Mike Bethel’s “Bennington Tonight” TV show.

Smith said she planned to run because she saw a clear need for “a candidate of the people” in the race as opposed to a traditional politician. “If there’s a popular uprising out there, I’m going to give people a chance to express it.”

Asked whether she’d bring positive policy proposals to the table, Smith answered instead that she’d bring “process proposals,” designed to give people a voice in in the public process.

The most significant error discovered through the recount came via a typo made by an elections official in the Secretary of State’s office, who mistakenly typed 58 – instead of the actual 5 – votes for Smith, in the Orleans County town of Westfield.

Meanwhile, Abbott said she was happy with the preliminary results, but was awaiting the definitive count tomorrow. Until then, she continued, the recount, whatever the outcome, signaled to her that the Progressive Party still “has something of value, something that people want to participate in.”

The outcome, she said, shows first, that “we have something of value that people would like to use, if you will,” and secondly, “that there’s a lot of interest. Hopefully that will signal more participation for the party in the future.”

Abbott confirmed she’d still decline the party’s nomination to run if she won tomorrow.

Smith also took issue with a procedural problem in Chittenden County, where a minor controversy occurred over whether to count votes written ‘Smith’ or ‘A. Smith’ as votes in her favor.

Nat Rudarakanchana

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