Updated at Thursday at 1:55 p.m.
In a year of high legislative turnover in the Vermont House, Tuesday’s primary election winnowed down the choices that voters will make in November.
Rebecca Holcombe, former Vermont education secretary and 2020 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, appears likely to join the new crop of state lawmakers, representing Norwich, Strafford, Thetford and Sharon in the House.
Her Upper Valley district is represented by two members in the Vermont House. One seat became vacant this year after Rep. Tim Briglin, D-Thetford, who chaired the House Energy and Technology Committee, announced he would not seek reelection.
Holcombe earned 37% of the 5,338 votes cast in the district’s Democratic primary, surpassing even the second incumbent, Rep. Jim Masland, D-Thetford, who has served in the Vermont House since 1999. Masland received 31% of the Democratic primary vote.
“I just feel incredibly honored, to be blunt, that they trust me to carry their concerns forward and act on their ideas related to climate, housing and making sure our communities are places people can live,” Holcombe said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Holcombe also won a decisive victory over Diedre “Dee” Gish, the other candidate for Briglin’s old seat. Gish, an accountant at the Vermont Land Trust who is active in several local civic organizations, received 20% of the primary vote, 17 points behind Holcombe.
Holcombe and Masland will now proceed to the general election, where they will face Republican Bill Huff, who received 43% of the 544 Republican primary votes cast in the district. Forty percent of those Republican primary voters left the state representative spot blank.
In the Queen City, first-time candidate Kate Logan won a Democratic nomination to the House after running a speedy six-week campaign. She also expects to be nominated by the Vermont Progressive Party and plans to run as a Progressive/Democrat in the general election.
“We have knocked on so many doors, made so many phone calls. We’ve texted so many people, and we just weren’t sure what the results were going to be,” Logan said in an interview Tuesday night.
Logan heard just before the filing deadline that Rep. Curt McCormack, D-Burlington, would not be running again, “and a couple of us jumped in at the last minute,” she said.
Logan is a former policy director for Rights & Democracy, the progressive advocacy group, and currently serves as director of the Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs.
She was one of three candidates competing for two spots on the Democratic ballot in her Chittenden County district, which includes portions of Burlington’s downtown and Old North End. Incumbent Rep. Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, the speaker of the Vermont House, drew the most support in the district’s Democratic primary, with 35% of the vote. Logan received 26% of the vote, beating Ryan Addario by 13 points.
Krowinski and Logan will proceed to the general election, and are likely to breeze to the Statehouse next year, since no other candidates sought major-party nominations.
Kate McCann and Conor Casey won the Democratic nominations for the two open seats in the Washington-4 House district, which includes Montpelier.
McCann and Casey earned 27% and 24% of the vote, respectively. The pair campaigned together throughout the primary season as unofficial running mates.
This is the first time in over a decade that both seats were open for newcomers. Incumbents Mary Hooper and Warren Kitzmiller both announced plans to step down earlier this year. Kitzmiller, who took office in 2001, died last month at age 79.
The two nominees were challenged by Ken Jones, an economic research analyst at Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development; Merrick Modun, a Montpelier High School student; and Ethan Parke, former member of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. Parke earned 19% of the vote, Jones 18% and Modun 12%.
The nominees will face Progressive Glennie Fitzgerald Sewell in the general election and independent candidate Dona Bate.
Not far from Montpelier, Marc Mihaly, former president and dean of Vermont Law School, beat Bram Towbin by 12 points in the Democratic primary to represent Marshfield, Plainfield and Calais.
Mihaly will face Republican Tina Golon in the general election, as each hopes to succeed Rep. Janet Ancel, D-Calais, who chaired the House’s powerful tax-writing committee and retired from the Legislature this year.
Elsewhere in the state
A handful of competitive primaries for the House resulted generally from vacancies left after this year’s wave of resignations from the state Legislature. Some were prompted by redistricting shake-ups.
- Monique Priestley beat Lance Mills by 46 points for the Democratic nomination in Orange-2, which covers Bradford, Fairlee and West Fairlee. The seat is vacant this year due to Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas’ decision to run for secretary of state. (She won the Democratic nomination in that race Tuesday.) Priestley, who founded the nonprofit coworking and community hub Space on Main, will face Republican Zachary Lang in the general election.
- Allen “Penny” Demar defeated Zacharia Messier in the Republican primary for the seat representing Enosburg and Montgomery. Demar won the nomination in a landslide, with 85% of the vote. In November, Demar will face Democrat Cindy Weed — a former state representative who is looking to reclaim her seat — and independent candidate Suzanne “Suzi” Hull-Casavant. Each is seeking to succeed Rep. Felisha Leffler, R-Enosburg, who did not run for reelection.
- In Addison County, Jon Christiano of New Haven won the Republican nomination, beating out Zachary Kent, of Bridport, by just 29 votes. Christiano will face Democrat Jubilee McGill in the general election.
- Rep. John Kascenska, R-Burke, whom Gov. Phil Scott appointed to a vacancy in the Legislature in March, sought voters’ approval to return to the Statehouse this year, but he lost the Republican primary to Rep. Terri Lynn Williams, R-Granby. Burke was redistricted into the Essex-Caledonia district this year, pitting the two incumbents against each other. Williams will likely return to the Statehouse next session, since no other party has put up a candidate in the race.
- In Hinesburg, selectboard member Phil Pouech narrowly defeated Christina Deeley, a Champlain Valley Union High School teacher and Emerge Vermont alum, in the Democratic primary. The Hinesburg seat is vacant this year after longtime incumbent Rep. Bill Lippert, D-Hinesburg, who chaired the House Healthcare Committee, declined to run for reelection.
- In the newly drawn Orleans-4 district, incumbent Rep. Vicki Strong R-Albany, fended off Republican challenger John Courchaine. Strong received an overwhelming 82% of the primary vote.
Strong will face a highly competitive race in November. Because of this year’s redistricting, two incumbents — Strong and Democratic Rep. Katherine Sims — are vying for one seat, which represents Craftsbury, Albany, Greensboro and Glover. While each candidate did well in their respective primaries (Sims ran unopposed), the total vote count from Tuesday leaned in Sims’ favor. More than twice as many voters pulled Democratic primary ballots as Republican ballots.
Emma Cotton contributed reporting.
Clarifications: An earlier version of this story misstated Phil Pouech’s status on the Hinesburg selectboard; omitted candidates Dona Bate and Suzanne “Suzi” Hull-Casavan; and failed to note that Kate Logan is also planning to run as a Progressive.