This isn't Florida in 2000, with chads hanging and people threatening to riot outside. No, call it a kinder, gentler recount.
The second-place finisher in Vermont's Democratic gubernatorial primary last week, state Sen. Doug Racine, is supporting the first-place finisher and urging him to get his fall campaign under way.
The first-place finisher, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, says he has no problem with Racine calling for a recount of the results, which showed Shumlin winning by 197 votes out of nearly 75,000 cast.
"We're going to do this Vermont-style," Shumlin said Tuesday.
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz joined representatives of Vermont's major political parties in signing the certification documents to make the primary results official but the numbers won't be truly final until a judge's order after the recount. That likely won't begin until Sept. 8 and could stretch into the following week, said Claire Mee, clerk of the Washington County Superior Court.
The vote challenge is a far cry from the battle for the White House in Florida a decade ago between then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, which ended up decided in Bush's favor in a 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
For one thing, the gubernatorial primary involved only Democrats. Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie sought and won the Republican nomination unopposed.
"This one's a little different," Racine said. "It's among Democrats who have been working well together and will continue to work well together."
Racine added, "He (Shumlin) does have the certification which says he's the nominee. I'm urging people to be helping him out to get that campaign going ... Chances are, he is the nominee and I'm helping him."
The top three finishers — Shumlin, Racine and Markowitz — have issued joint mass e-mails loaded with Democratic talking points and appeared Monday at a joint news conference to fillet an economic recovery plan Dubie had unveiled hours earlier.
Vermont law says an apparent election loser who trails the winner by less than 2 percent of the total votes cast can request a recount. Markowitz, who finished 696 votes behind Shumlin, was eligible to seek a recount as well, but said Tuesday she would not.
Leading up to the primary, the five Democrats also were loath to criticize one another, focusing their ire instead on Dubie and Republican Gov. Jim Douglas, who is stepping down after eight years.
"Voters responded to a positive campaign by turning out ... on Aug. 24 to choose from really exciting candidates," Shumlin said. "And what do you get? They like us all."
Karl Hammer, owner of the Vermont Compost Co. in Montpelier, might agree. While dishing up a lunchtime salad at the Hunger Mountain Co-op, he suggested the top three should be allowed to govern as a "troika."
Both Shumlin and Racine have run small businesses, Hammer said. "Deb's a lawyer, a technician about governance, but is not a person who's made payroll," he said. A blend of those talents would be ideal, in his view.
Under Vermont law, each of the 14 counties recounts its ballots and forwards the results to the Washington Superior Court, a block from the Statehouse in Montpelier. Judge Geoffrey Crawford would then issue the order finalizing the election results.
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