SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — In what may be a sign of just how far Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has pulled the state of the left, a Progressive state senator appears to have defeated a Democratic Party stalwart and four-term House speaker in the primary race for lieutenant governor.
With 265 of 275 districts reporting early Wednesday, Chittenden County Sen. David Zuckerman led Speaker Shap Smith by a margin of 43 percent to 37 percent, with a 4,300-vote lead, according to the secretary of state’s website. Indian-American Rep. Kesha Ram came in third with 17 percent of the vote. Smith did not immediately concede the race.
Ram was the first woman of color to run for statewide office in Vermont history, and was elected to the state’s House of Representatives at the ripe age of just 22. She conceded early in the night and said that although she feels she’s closed a chapter on her eight-year stint in the Legislature, she’s not sure what’s next.
“I feel it’s only the beginning,” Ram said.
“We ran an incredibly optimistic and positive campaign, and it resonated with many Vermonters, and for that I’m eternally grateful,” Ram added, thanking her supporters and campaign volunteers.
Zuckerman declared his victory before an assembled crowd of supporters, saying The Associated Press had already declared him the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. During his remarks, Zuckerman said he would continue to fight for Sanders’ progressive ideals and pledged to bring a $15 minimum wage and universal healthcare to the state.
The former Democratic presidential candidate endorsed Zuckerman shortly before Tuesday’s primary.
Of the three candidates, Zuckerman invested the most in television, radio and online advertisement. Should he win election, Zuckerman would hold the highest office the Progressive Party has ever seen in the state since it was formed in 1999. He has already focused his sights on Republican opponent Randy Brock, a former state auditor, state senator and the party’s nominee for governor in 2012.
“We’ve got Randy Brock as an opponent, and he’s held statewide office before. He’s got the respect of a lot of Vermonters, and we’re going to run a respectful and positive campaign,” Zuckerman said.
Progressive Party Chair Emma Mulvaney-Stanak said Zuckerman’s victory is a validation of the viability of a third party in Vermont.
“The Bernie momentum is real, and the Progressive Party is a real and vibrant alternative to the two-party system, and Vermonters are really hungry for that,” Mulvaney-Stanak said.