United States Senate election in Vermont, 2006

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United States Senate election in Vermont, 2006

← 2000 November 7, 2006 (2006-11-07) 2012 →
  Bernie Sanders.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Bernie Sanders Richard Tarrant
Party Independent Republican
Popular vote 171,638 84,924
Percentage 65.4% 32.3%

Vermont Senatorial Election Results by municipality, 2006.png
Municipality Results

Senator before election

Jim Jeffords

Elected Senator

Bernie Sanders

The 2006 United States Senate election in Vermont was held on November 7, 2006. Incumbent independent Senator Jim Jeffords decided to retire rather than seek re-election to a fourth term in office and Bernie Sanders was elected to succeed him.

Sanders represented Vermont's at-large House district as an independent (one of very few in Congress), won the Democratic primary and then dropped out to run as an independent. Many Democratic politicians across the country endorsed Sanders, as no Democrat was on the ballot. The state committee of the Vermont Democratic Party voted unanimously to endorse Sanders.[1]

Sanders won the open seat with 65% of the vote.

Democratic primary


Four candidates ran in the primary: Sanders and three little-known opponents.[1][2]


Sanders won the Democratic primary, but declined the nomination, leaving no Democratic nominee on the ballot. This victory ensured that no Democrat would appear on the general election ballot to split the vote with Sanders, an ally of the Democrats, who has been supported by leaders in the Democratic Party.

Republican primary


  • Cris Ericson, perennial candidate
  • Greg Parke, retired lieutenant colonel
  • Richard Tarrant, businessman


Tarrant won.

General election



In mid-August 2006, the campaign heated up considerably, with Tarrant fully engaged in heavy media advertising, most of which criticized Sanders' public stances. Tarrant ran several ads accusing Sanders of representing himself differently from his voting record in the House of Representatives, citing such examples as Sanders' votes against Amber Alert and against increased penalties for child pornography. Sanders responded with an ad stating that Tarrant's claims are "dishonest" and "distort my record" and presented what he viewed as more accurate explanations of his voting record.


Since Sanders was allied with the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Democratic leadership successfully dissuaded any serious challengers from their party. Sanders was endorsed by prominent Democrats such as DNC Chairman and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. On February 13, 2005 Sanders received an endorsement from Democracy for America, the political action committee that was founded by Dean after he withdrew from the 2004 Presidential race.[3]


The election was the most expensive political campaign in Vermont history.[4]

Tarrant was a self-funded candidate, with 98% of all his campaign expenditures coming from personal sources. He spent $7,315,854 total.[5] Sanders' top contributors include the plaintiffs' law firm Baron & Budd; the International Union of Operating Engineers; the Laborers' International Union of North America; and the Communication Workers of America. Sanders raised $5,554,466 total.[6] In total, Tarrant and Sanders spent $13,771,060.[5] Tarrant spent $85 per vote, the largest cost per vote of any race in the country during 2006, while Sanders spent $34 per vote.[7]


Source Date Sanders (I) Tarrant (R)
Research 2000 October 23–24, 2006 57% 36%
Research 2000 September 18–19, 2006 58% 33%
American Research Group September 15, 2006 55% 40%
Rasmussen August 3, 2006 62% 34%
American Research Group July 27, 2006 56% 35%
Rasmussen June 16, 2006 67% 29%
Research 2000 May 11, 2006 61% 24%
Doyle Poll March 7, 2006 62% 26%
Rasmussen January 5, 2006 70% 25%
Research 2000 November 1, 2005 64% 16%


Official results from the Vermont United States Senate.[8]

Vermont United States Senate election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Bernie Sanders 171,638 65.4 n/a
Republican Richard Tarrant 84,924 32.3 -33.2
Independent Cris Ericson 1,735 0.66 n/a
Green Craig Hill 1,536 0.59 n/a
Independent Peter D. Moss 1,518 0.58 n/a
Liberty Union Peter Diamondstone 801 0.31 -0.2
Write-ins 267 0.10 0
Majority 86,741 33.1
Turnout 262,419 100
Independent hold Swing

Sanders won a majority of the votes in every county in the state, with 57% as his lowest county total.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Democratic primary is far from ordinary (September 11, 2006). Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus.
  2. M.D. Drysdale, Primary Election Is Next Tuesday (September 7, 2009). Herald.
  3. "DFA Backs Sanders and Welch". WCAX. 2006-02-13. Retrieved 2007-02-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Wilson Ring, Sanders, Welch win in Vermont races (November 8, 2006). Associated Press.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Congressional Races - 2006 Vermont Senate". Opensecrets.org. Center for Responsive Politics. 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-02-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Vermont Senate: 2006 Race Profile - Top Contributors". Opensecrets.org. Center for Responsive Politics. 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2007-02-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Ottenhoff, Patrick (2007-01-31). "What's the value of a vote". MSNBC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Our Campaigns - VT US Senate Race - Nov 07, 2006". ourcampaigns.com. 2008. Retrieved 2015-08-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Preceded by
Patrick Leahy (D)
Vermont U.S. Senate elections
Bernie Sanders (I)
Succeeded by
Patrick Leahy (D)