Super Tuesday Enthusiasm Growing in Vermont

The presence of hometown candidate Bernie Sanders may help boost voter turnout, the Secretary of State said

A day ahead of Vermont's presidential primary elections for Republicans and Democrats, enthusiasm is growing among voters and campaigns.

"We think that this could be a strong turnout," said Jim Condos, Vermont's Secretary of State.

Condos said about 14,000 new voters have registered across Vermont just since January, a spike he suggested is likely due to both a hotly-contested GOP primary and Vermonters' enthusiasm for their U.S. Senator, Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democrats' nomination for the White House.

"I think there definitely is local excitement for Senator Sanders," Condos said.

Several polls, including a recent Vermont Public Radio poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute, indicated Sanders enjoys a monstrous lead over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in his home state.

On the Republican side, the VPR poll found business mogul Donald Trump had the support of approximately a third of likely primary voters in Vermont, followed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich at about 14 percent each.

Sanders is holding a Super Tuesday evening rally at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction, with doors opening at 4:00 p.m. and entertainment starting at 6:00 p.m. Admission is free, but the Sanders campaign encouraged people to RSVP at this link: https://go.berniesanders.com/page/event/detail/rally/4gb4k

"His campaign has led us to believe that in the neighborhood of 5-7,000 [attendees] would not be an unreasonable number," said Chris Ashby of the Champlain Valley Expo. "The building capacity is in the 5,000-ish range, so it'll be a squeeze, and it might make sense to get here early."

But Sanders does not have universal support among Democrats in his own backyard. In an editorial this weekend, the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus newspapers wrote of him, "As the leader of a movement he has been a great success. As president of all the people, he is not the best choice."

The papers endorsed Hillary Clinton, arguing she could beat Donald Trump, should he be the Republican nominee. The editorial said, "The Democrats must be prepared to turn back that threat [of Trump] with the best possible candidate. No one will argue that Clinton is the best possible candidate."

The Zero Gravity Craft Brewery in Burlington is firmly behind Sanders, creating a tart German-style wheat ale it's calling the Bernie Weisse, with limited edition cans it'll sell at a Super Tuesday watch party.

"It's refreshing, maybe a little like Bernie, I don't know," said Matt Wilson of Zero Gravity Brewery. "It's a really exciting time for Vermonters, with one of our own going for the highest office, and what better reason to celebrate?"

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