Gov. Phil Scott easily won the Republican gubernatorial nomination Tuesday against businessman Keith Stern.
Scott defeated Stern by a 2-to-1 margin, and the governor said finding ways to strengthen the state economy will continue to be his major focus.
On Tuesday, Scott was greeted enthusiastically by a gathering of roughly 40 staff, family members and close friends at a low-key victory celebration at the Comfort Inn in Berlin.
There were a lot of questions coming into this primary election around if Scott’s strong support for gun control bills this past legislative session would have a major impact on voters in the Republican contest.
His opponent in this race, White River Junction businessman Stern, said he thought the legislation was unconstitutional because it took away the rights of some gun owners. It was a charge that Scott repeatedly denied.
And even on Tuesday night, Scott had a message for voters who strongly oppose the state's new gun law:
"I would ask that they put that aside and look at the issues that really matter to us as well, for those who are trying to struggle to get by and those that understand that we need to grow our workforce and grow this economy," he said.
Stern also claimed that Scott’s budget proposals were excessive, and Stern said he would immediately cut $100 million from the state budget by eliminating waste in government.
Scott told the crowd that he was pleased that his message of affordability had been well received by voters.
"Looking ahead, as I've consistently done throughout my political life," Scott said, "I will run a positive, issues-based campaign over the next three months, talking to Vermonters about the things that matter most to them and working every day to grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the vulnerable."
When asked by reporters when he would begin his general election campaign, Scott replied: "Right now!"
Scott also congratulated Christine Hallquist on her victory winning the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and said he looked forward to a robust discussion of key issues in the coming months.
"Campaigns are about choices, and as this campaign goes on, Vermonters will recognize there's a very clear choice in the November election."
Stern was not available for comment Tuesday night.