Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman is headed to a second term as Vermont's lieutenant governor, having beat back a challenge by Republican state Rep. Don Turner.
Zuckerman won the race by a healthy margin, taking about 59 percent of the vote to Don Turner's nearly 40 percent.
Speaking to a crowd of Democrats at the Burlington Hilton Tuesday night, Zuckerman applauded the civil tone of contest and said his victory sends a message about specific issues.
"Vermonters spoke very clearly, that we want to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour," Zuckerman said. "Vermonters said: 'We want to clean up the waterways of Vermont, we don't want to keep punting that down the road.' "
Early in the night, Republicans were hopeful about their chances in the race for the state's second-in-command but, fairly quickly, it was apparent that Turner couldn't close the gap with Zuckerman.
In conceding the race, Turner — who's served as the House minority leader in recent years — also lauded how he and Zuckerman conducted their contest.
"I'm very proud that we were able to run a civil, positive campaign that was free of the bitterness we see all too frequently in Washington these days," Turner told supporters at the DoubleTree By Hilton Burlington.
Turner's loss came despite his campaign outraising and outspending Zuckerman's by a significant margin. Asked why he thought that didn't close the gap with Zuckerman in terms of vote totals, Turner said there were factors outside his campaign's control.
"People are upset, I think ... with what's going on in the country, with what's happening in D.C., so I think that that might have been a factor, but I don't know," Turner said. "But I know that the lieutenant governor has a lot of work to make the rest of the people that didn't elect him happy."
Zuckerman, meanwhile, said the person who will really need to find common ground is Republican Gov. Phil Scott. The state's leader heads into his second term with solid majorities of Democrats in both chambers of the state Legislature.
"I think people will really look to the governor to lead on cooperation. When you're at the top, you're the leader of the state," Zuckerman said. "And I hope he sends more of his staff into the Statehouse to work with the legislative committees on these legislative bills long before the endgame."
As for Turner, he won't hold statewide office next year and he's stepping down from the Legislature. But he does hold a leadership role in his day job, which he says he's happy to return to: town manager in his hometown of Milton.