Democrat T.J. Donovan is set to become Vermont's next attorney general, after handily winning the seat in Tuesday’s election.
Donovan, the Chittenden County State’s Attorney, will become the first new face in the attorney general's post in nearly two decades. In his victory speech at a hotel in Burlington, he gave props to his main opponent, Republican Deb Bucknam, for running a civil, issues-based campaign.
Donovan also vowed to turn his campaign rhetoric into policy. He says he wants to take on what he suggested were the root causes of crime: mental illness, poverty and addiction.
“We need to integrate our public health system with our public safety system and create treatment on demand, and end the opiate epidemic in this state,” Donovan said in his victory speech, to a round of applause.
He suggested that means more restorative justice, not just punitive justice. Donovan also repeated his campaign rhetoric against the state's use of a private prison in Michigan.
“When we fulfill a basic government obligation of incarcerating another Vermonter, let us do it the Vermont way,” Donovan said. “Let's say no more private prisons! End the contract with for-profit corporations in this state!"
Off the stage, though, Donovan's tone went from celebratory to concerned, as presidential race results Tuesday night began to suggest a route to victory for Republican Donald Trump.
“We’re not going to allow what we saw during the [presidential] campaign, to insult and demean Americans — people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities,” Donovan told VPR. “We're going to stand up and we're going to fight for people, regardless of who they are, where they're from, who they love or what their religion is.”
Donovan said he hoped to join a possible coalition of Democratic attorneys general across the country that he said would be “on the front lines battling the Trump administration.”