Campaign workers man the phones at the Romney headquarters in...

Campaign workers man the phones at the Romney headquarters in Montpelier, Vt. (Feb. 27, 2012) Credit: AP

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won Vermont's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, but many voters' attention appeared focused elsewhere.

With 26 of 260 precincts reporting, Romney had drawn support from 39 percent of those voting in the GOP primary. Texas congressman Ron Paul had 26 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had 25 percent and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 8 percent

In the smallest of 10 states holding Super Tuesday primaries or caucuses, the event shared the stage with the state's annual Town Meeting Day state holiday, when residents traditionally gather in town halls and school auditoriums to debate and vote on municipal and school budgets and elect local leaders.

Many voters turned out to do their local business and vote on ballot questions ranging from supporting homegrown agriculture to protesting a U.S. Supreme Court decision lifting restrictions on corporate and union giving to political campaigns.

"We have a greater voice in local elections than we do on a national scale," said Robb Kidd, a 41-year-old organizer for a farm advocacy group.

Kidd said he was supporting Paul in the GOP primary.

"I don't necessarily agree with all of his issues," Kidd said, "but he'll bring a serious challenge to the status quo."

Secretary of State Jim Condos said he expected turnout to be between the 28 percent of voters who turned out for the 2004 primary and the 47 percent who turned out in 2008.

Condos also predicted that in strongly liberal Vermont, more people would take the Democratic primary ballot than the Republican one, despite the fact that President Barack Obama was running unopposed for his party's nomination.

In an interview outside Montpelier City Hall, site of the only polling station in the nation's smallest state capital, Kidd said his main interest was in supporting a ballot item promoting local "food sovereignty" over "the industrial food system that exploits local resources to benefit multinational corporations."

"Generally, the country is in economic collapse," Kidd said. "We're going to need to re-localize energy, food consumption. ... We have to retool America."

Another ballot item that appeared to be drawing interest encouraged adoption of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating that "money is not speech and corporations are not persons." That was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision of 2010, which allowed corporations, unions and wealthy people to raise and spend unlimited campaign funds via political action committees known as super PACs as long as they don't work directly with a candidate.

Vermont Republicans said even a small number of delegates like the 14 up for grabs in the state's Republican presidential primary could make a difference in a nominating contest that is still volatile.

Vermont will send 17 delegates to this year's Republican convention. Three of the slots are taken by the state party chairman and two national committee members, who have endorsed Romney. If, as appeared Tuesday evening will be the case, no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the delegates will be distributed proportionately.

"With a competitive primary like this has been, every delegate counts," said Darcie Johnston, a volunteer on Romney's campaign. "Vermont's 14 delegates are just as important as Arizona's or Ohio's or any other state, to reach the number of delegates needed to be the nominee."

But even as people prepared to vote Tuesday there was indecision among potential Republican primary voters.

"I still have second thoughts about any and all candidates that are involved," said Lisa Marinelli, of Montpelier. "I will vote, Republican if I do, but I'm not sure I'm going to vote in the primary this time. I'm not satisfied with any four of those candidates."

She said she's "looking for a lot more."

"Maybe if we could bind them all together and come up with something that would be my candidate, but right now I'm still undecided," she said.

But support for Obama was strong.

"I will continue to vote for him because I think he's doing a good job even though the Republicans are preventing him from doing what they want," said David Murtagh, who is 71 and is retired. "If the Republicans have an idea that will help us and Obama says, 'Oh, that's good, let's go with it,' the Republicans immediately will shoot it down. So until they can start acting like humans that are working for us, I can't go Republican, on any level I can't go because they're all tied in with that tea party."

East Hampton discrimination … Hempstead housing development … Holocaust survivor learns to dance  Credit: Newsday

Sands Beach Club fire ... LI sharks this summer ... Rangers Game 4 ... Cheap Florida trips

East Hampton discrimination … Hempstead housing development … Holocaust survivor learns to dance  Credit: Newsday

Sands Beach Club fire ... LI sharks this summer ... Rangers Game 4 ... Cheap Florida trips

Latest videos


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months