CNN/TIME AllPolitics Vote '96

Vt.: Incumbent Governor Takes Easy Victory

Dean

MONTPELIER, Vermont (CNN) -- Howard Dean, Vermont's incumbent governor, apparently won easily Tuesday against Republican John Gropper. Gropper, a business consultant, conceded the race at 9 p.m. EST, in the face of Dean's overwhelming win.

Gropper's concession speech was upbeat. He said that in a meeting with Dean earlier Tuesday, the governor had asked if he would consult on streamlining government. "There are no surprises. The good news is I will in fact be helping the governor," Gropper said.

In October, polls by the Burlington Free Press, the Becker Institute and the Mason-Dixon poll gave Dean anywhere from 64 to 75 percent of the vote.

According to exit polls Tuesday, Dean remained popular even among voters who said their family finances had gotten worse in the last four years. Fifty-eight percent of those voters chose Dean. Three-quarters of independents voted for Dean, as did three in 10 of conservative voters and 60 percent of moderates.

Dean has won high approval ratings since he took office in 1991 -- his 1994 opponent, Republican David Kelly, won only 19 percent of the vote.

The Democrat had expected a harder campaign this year against Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling, but she had to drop out of the race after a near-fatal stroke.

Dean won with a single-person campaign staff. In his acceptance speech he praised Gropper for his "gentlemanly campaign."

"I appreciate his hard work and the ideas that we are going to use," he said.

Dean's easy campaign also allowed him to boost other Democratic candidates in his state, notably Lt. Gov. Douglas Racine, who Republicans had viewed as the easiest to defeat. President Clinton also won a decisive victory in the state, and Republicans were shut out of the U.S. House race by independent candidate Bernard Sanders, who defeated Republican Susan Sweetser.

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