[EM] Vt. Legislature May Pick Governor

DEMOREP1 at aol.com DEMOREP1 at aol.com
Sat Nov 4 00:12:17 PST 2000

A slight reality check from the current real political world.

I have noted that if NO executive/judicial office candidate gets a YES 
majority from the voters, then that democratic p.r. legislative bodies can 
fill any vacancies.

However, there is gerrymander minority rule in the current VT Legislature.

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Vt. Legislature May Pick Governor

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont's race for governor may be decided not by the 
voters on Tuesday but by the Legislature in January. 

Democratic Gov. Howard Dean is locked in a bitter three-way race, facing 
fierce criticism for signing the state's landmark law allowing gay couples to 
form marriage-like civil unions. 

Under the Vermont Constitution, if no candidate gets at least 50 percent of 
the vote, the new Legislature selects the governor. And the new Legislature 
is likely to have a decidedly unfriendly cast because of the backlash against 
civil unions. 

Which means that Dean could win the popular vote and still lose. 

``I think the goal is to win, but I think it's really important that I get 50 
percent because the Legislature is clearly going to be more conservative,'' 
he said. ``I don't think the majority of Vermonters want the Legislature to 
decide this race.'' 

The lawmakers get to vote by secret ballot. Over the years, they have 
generally chosen the candidate with the highest share of the popular vote. 
But nothing in the Constitution says which candidate they must select. The 
winner needs a simple majority of the 180 senators and House members. 

Some lawmakers say they would follow the will of the voters. Others say they 
would vote the way their district went. Still others say they would vote for 
their party's nominee. 

``If it comes down to that, I've made a pledge that I will look at where 
Washington County voted,'' said Phil Scott, a Republican state Senate 
candidate. ``If it's overwhelming for one person or another, I'd vote that 
way. However, if it (the popular vote) is close, I'd vote for Ruth.'' 

Ruth is Ruth Dwyer, the Republican nominee and a staunch opponent of civil 
unions. She has benefited from the Take Back Vermont campaign, which has 
railed against Dean and other lawmakers responsible for the civil unions law. 

While Dean has between 45 percent and 48 percent in recent polls, Dwyer is in 
the mid 30s. Complicating the picture is a strong third-party candidate, 
Progressive Party nominee Anthony Pollina, who draws about 6 percent in the 

``If Anthony Pollina weren't in this race, we wouldn't be having this 
conversation,'' said University of Vermont political scientist Anthony 
Gierzynski. ``He draws disproportionately from Howard Dean. If there wasn't 
that erosion of the Democratic support from the left caused by Pollina, the 
Take Back Vermont, Ruth Dwyer and anti-civil unions forces wouldn't have a 
chance in terms of the governor's race.'' 

Democrats control both the House and Senate, but most analysts believe that 
the Republicans will gain control the 150-member House and pick up seats in 
the 30-member Senate. 

If the race goes to the Legislature, anyone could win. In 1976, lawmakers 
chose Republican T. Garry Buckley as lieutenant governor after he lost the 
general election by eight-tenths of a percentage point. 

The Legislature has been forced to decide the governor's race 21 times since 
it first happened in 1789. The most recent instance was in 1986, when 
Democrat Madeleine Kunin won 47 percent of the popular vote - the highest 
total of the three candidates that year - and went on to be elected governor 
by lawmakers. 

A newspaper poll a week ago found that 57 percent of those surveyed felt 
lawmakers should choose the candidate with the most votes. 

``That's the way this whole government was founded,'' said Jeff King of 

Emily Garland of Colchester agreed: ``This is a democracy. If more people 
vote for one person, that's who should get it.''
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