McAllister loses Franklin County Senate primary

Sen. Norm McAllister, who was accused of sexually assaulting three women, has lost the Republican primary for the Franklin County Senate seat.

McAllister came in a distant third behind Sen. Dustin Degree and Rep. Carolyn Branagan. Degree got 2,741 votes or 37 percent, while Branagan received 2,458 votes, or 33 percent. McAllister received 771, or about 10 percent.

McAllister, a dairy farmer, ran for office despite allegations that he sexually abused several women. A case brought by a former intern was dropped by the prosecution. A second case will be taken up by the courts in December. A third alleged victim died of natural causes last year.

The Republican senator maintains his innocence.

The Senate voted to suspend McAllister last January.

McAllister told VTDigger last week that he anticipated that his record representing Franklin County in the Senate would be “overshadowed” by the charges against him.

At a Republican Party breakfast in Montpelier Wednesday morning, Degree said that it is an “honor” to be running for office under the party’s banner for the fourth time.

Degree said that the election provided an opportunity for the county to move forward.

“People can pontificate all they want,” Degree said. “But at the end of the day, this was the best way for us to move past this entire situation. Give the folks an opportunity to select our candidates, and you know, move forward that way.”


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Anne Galloway

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  • Annette Smith

    I am glad Franklin County residents will have two Senators again. McAllister did a disservice to his constituents by depriving them of his representation and vote for too long. Whatever happens with his trial, this is a victory for democracy.

    • Jim Manahan

      McAllister did not deprive us of our representation, that was the Senate Democrats who led that fiasco. A man is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but not when the Vermont Democrats see an opportunity.

      • Bradleigh Stockwell

        “A man is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty” – unless it’s a Democrat like Hillary and we’re talking about Benghazi, in which case we can have multiple investigations . . . and come up with nothing. As you’d say, the Republicans saw an opportunity – and spent $14 million on it.

        • Jessie McIndoe

          Hillary is no more guilty than Al Capone was.

        • Walter Carpenter

          “and spent $14 million on it.”

          And it was our money that these Republicans wasted and they did not even ask our permission either

      • Annette Smith

        Initially I don’t think that was the case. He chose to stay away. He could have done his job for a while before he was removed from committees, as I recall.

      • Karl Riemer

        The vote was 20-10. By party, Ds & quasi-Ds voted 15 – 6 for suspension, Rs voted 5 – 4 for suspension (1 of those R Nay votes being McAllister’s). Clear majorities of both parties invited him to get lost.

        He was suspended not for committing crimes, determining which would have required hearings, depositions, judgement and expulsion. He was suspended for being an unbearable jackass and embarrassment, not only compromising effective representation of Franklin County but tying the Senate in knots. He’d been absent since his arrest, only returning to vote on his own suspension, meanwhile filling newspapers with incoherent, contradictory protests that he would beat the rap, that they couldn’t prove anything. Which may well turn out to be true, but whether his behavior was criminal beyond a reasonable doubt is immaterial. His behavior was, by his own belligerent testimony, incontrovertibly reprehensible. Talk of the Senate needing to abide by the concept of innocent until proven guilty is nonsense. ‘Innocent’ in this context is vague slang for “not found guilty” or “found not guilty” or “hoping to be found not guilty” in a court of law. It has practically nothing to do with actual innocence. No sane person can claim Norm McAllister is innocent — of sexual predation nor of spouting delusional, offensive claptrap about what he’s entitled to, what women deserve, or what “consensual” looks like. He was suspended for being a gigantic, oblivious jerk.

        Legal training like Peg Flory’s and Dick McCormack’s blind them to the realities of life outside the court system, cause them to devalue judgements for which we’re responsible as ethical individuals, as opposed to jury members bound by legal technicalities. We have to expect that blindness of them. Ordinary citizens, though, generally know better.

        Expulsion was not considered by the full Senate.

  • Craig Miller

    Perhaps with his free time he can travel around the state supporting his fellow senators that wanted him to remain an active member of the Senate: Least we forget those that voted in favor are:

    Brian Collamore R Rutland [email protected]
    Peg Flory R Rutland [email protected]
    Dick Mazza D Grand Isle
    Dick McCormack D Windsor [email protected]
    Mark MacDonald D Orange [email protected]
    Kevin Mullin R Rutland
    Alice Nitka D Windsor [email protected]
    Robert Starr D Essex-Orleans [email protected]
    Jeanette White D Windham [email protected]

    • Jim Manahan

      You should list those who don’t believe a man is innocent until proven guilty.

      • Craig Miller

        Couple points on this Jim

        Norm, by his own admission “…made you do things you didn’t want to do…”

        He was arrested and charged due to his “alleged actions” with not one, not two but three different women. Hmmm, I suppose all of Bill Cosby’s accusers are part of vast conspiracy…

        Society has long held that the place to determine ones guilt or innocence is in a court of law, so be it.

        Any other public official, be it teacher, fireman, police officer, clergy, or for that matter any employee in any other company, would have been suspended on the spot. Our senate has no such rules in place.

        Norm clearly didn’t have the decency to step aside.

        You, along with the others listed above, may feel it’s OK for our elected officials to behave in such a manner and remain active in office.

        I personally expect our elected officials to behave to a little bit higher standard than someone who by their own admission is a sexual predator.

        Likewise I encourage all to send a clear message this November that those who excuse sexual predators like Norm be removed from office.

        • Neil Johnson

          One of the great differences that separates out country from the rule of dictators or those in power is our legal system of a fair and speedy trial before a jury of our peers. While I can appreciate you vigor and take on the situation, our country has gone to accept mob justice, facebook jury, iphone inquiries…..

          Our leaders have little or no standards as evidenced by our Ethics report cards. We should be more worried about the stealing, money mismanagement, ties to lobbyist than what their sex lives are about. It was common knowledge that they shared a bedroom, with other reps in the house, so what’s that tell you?

          The truth has yet to come out, we should respect that. I’ll wait, literally years, to see what the court determines before passing judgment. By your standards any contentious divorce with false allegations could have good people removed from office. Might be careful what you wish for. Ask some divorce attorneys what they see, it’s frightening.

          • “It was common knowledge that they shared a bedroom…” Whoever had that ‘common knowledge’ shares some of the guilt for not intervening.

            McAllister’s housemates,Kevin Mullen and Timothy Corcoran, at the very least…and probably Dustin Degree and others who had a social relationship with McAllister…will have a lot to answer for.

            If, as I suspect will happen, the investigation of who-knew-what-when is not addressed in the course of the December trial, it will be incumbent on the legislature to undertake that difficult conversation.

            Peg Flory has said that she was prompted to ask how old the ‘intern’ was, because she looked like she was ‘about 12.’

            Flory’s curiosity didn’t go much further, unfortunately, suggesting that there are serious issues with the culture in the statehouse, where young teenagers are often working closely with powerful men and women as interns.

            We would not tolerate kids sharing private bedrooms with their teachers on field trips etc. Why did this apparent intimacy not prompt a whole lot more persistent questions/intervention from elected leaders?

          • Kathy Callaghan

            You raise a very good question that deserves an answer from elected leaders.

          • Karl Riemer

            One answer is that she was not 12. Unattached consenting adults living and/or sleeping together is no one else’s business, no matter what either of them “looks like”. Comparison to teachers & students on field trips is wholly unwarranted. Now, in this case, because of the employee/employer aspect as well as alleged duration of the intimacy, legitimate questions about its consensual nature could have been raised and presumably would have been raised at trial (which didn’t happen and that’s a shame) but by the time she was a statehouse intern this woman was legally an adult and not apparently under duress, so it would have been inappropriate for his colleagues to intervene officially. Declining to share the apartment, sure (I mean, really?!?); having private conversations about public perceptions, sure; asking questions, as Sen. Flory did, absolutely. But if the answers to those questions don’t indicate abuse, that’s as far as private citizens, even if they’re legislators, can go. It seems now that (allegedly) a different scenario back on the farm preceded this chapter, perhaps preceding it enough that she’d been underage and he’d been married. She had certainly been vulnerable. This chapter, though, was what his colleagues witnessed and it passed the “mind your own business” test.

          • I suspect rather few women would agree with you. Are you even aware of the rape statistics for teenage girls, who may be legally ‘adult’ but are still highly vulnerable to exploitation?

            “Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.”

            “Mind your own business?” Really? If she looked like a child…and I assure you that she must have, considering how she looks even now at 21…adults in positions of authority (never mind, elected office) had an ethical duty NOT to mind their own business.

        • Jim Manahan

          I am not in any way condoning anything he may have allegedly done, and I have never suggested any of his alleged behavior is acceptable. I don’t know the man and have never met him.

          My point is simply that it is an allegation and none of us know the facts. I also have a high expectation of our elected officials and that includes the presumption of innocence, so suggesting I or “others listed above” condone such deviant behavior is baseless nonsense. I have not always agreed with Senator Collamore, but he and the others never excused any kind of behavior.

          Based on your comments, you seem to suggest we should shut down our court system and convict people based on an accusation. Go get the rope, you have work to do.

          • But we do know many of the facts because he was recorded discussing some of them with his accusers. I suggest you check the St. Albans Messenger archives for some of the shocking details. It is my understanding that a portion of the recordings was deemed unprintable; but what there was in the paper still requires a strong stomach to read.

            No, I will not rely on the court to tell me whether or not Mr. McAllister is guilty. This is especially true when the accused has betrayed a public trust.

            There is, unfortunately a discrepancy between simple guilt and guilt UNDER THE LAW.

            Many guilty men have gone free in a court of law, and many innocent men have been convicted. Whether or not he is punished for the things he has done to those women, it should be pretty clear to anyone who reads the transcript of the conversations that the relationships were not consensual.

            Even in the dismissed case of the young girl, he has admitted to having sex with her when she was a teenager and he was her sexagenarian state senator, sworn to protect his constituents.

            The man was at least twice her bodyweight! In terms of body mass, seniority and relative social status, Mr. McAllister was clearly the person with all the power in this ‘relationship.’

            I don’t need a court of law to tell me that this was sexual exploitation.

  • Pete Novick

    Time wounds all heels.

  • It is a sobering thought that, despite the evidence of his own words in recorded conversations that were shared in the local newspaper, 700 of our Franklin County neighbors actually voted for this guy in yesterday’s primary.

    • Neil Johnson

      Too bad the people involved with this case couldn’t get a timely trial before a jury of their peers. Interesting how long the whole case is dragging out. So typical of our legal system these days, the major benefactor of this isn’t justice for either party but money for the attorneys. We should have been able to do all the trials within one year. Wonder who is dragging this all out? Prolonging things is a serious tactic used by attorneys, often to bleed one side dry and make them suffer in anguish and the unknown. I know insurance companies do this frequently to avoid paying out claims. It’s an interesting world we live in.

  • Karl Riemer

    771! That’s a big family, and all in one Senate district…