Rivers defeats Backus in Democratic lt. governor primary

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(Host) Cheryl Rivers defeated Jan Backus to win the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in Tuesday’s primary election. Rivers won the race with roughly 53 percent of the vote.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The race pitted against each other two former state senators who had very similar legislative voting records. Rivers, who represented Windsor County during her Vermont Senate career, ran strongly throughout the southern and central parts of state and only lost to Backus by several hundred votes in Backus’s home region of Chittenden County.

Rivers, who was endorsed by Congressman Bernie Sanders, says her victory is a strong message from Democratic primary voters that they want a candidate for lieutenant governor who will articulate clear differences on key issues with Republican incumbent Brian Dubie:

(Rivers) “From here on in it’s united we win, divided Dubie’s back in. United we win in the struggle for universal health care, fair prescription drug prices, livable wages. United we win in our efforts to make sure that we preserve women’s right to make their own reproductive decisions. We have a lot of work to do between now and November 2.”

(Kinzel) Backus says she’s disappointed that she didn’t emerge as the winner of this primary but she’s glad that she and Rivers were able to run issue oriented campaigns:

(Backus) “It was very important to me that as Democrats we not end up fighting with each other, destroying each other but focus on what this race was all about. Both of us felt passionately that we needed as Democrats to beat the incumbent and that’s what it’s all about.”

(Kinzel) Rivers will now face Dubie and Progressive candidate Steve Hingtgen in the General Election.

And in other Democratic primary news, five-term U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy coasted to victory over Craig Hill of Montpelier. Leahy received roughly 95 percent of the vote in this primary election. Leahy will now face Republican Jack McMullen in the General Election following McMullen’s victory in the GOP primary Tuesday night.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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