State Rep. Corey Parent (R-St. Albans) on Tuesday formally announced his bid for one of Franklin County's two seats in the Vermont Senate. The 27-year-old Parent touted his blend of youthful energy and legislative experience. He is in his second term in the House and is currently the ranking member of the House Energy and Technology Committee.
His announcement comes one week after incumbent Sen. Carolyn Branagan (R-Franklin) declared at her town meeting in Georgia that she would not seek reelection. Parent launched his campaign with a show of political strength: A press release he issued included endorsements from the district's other incumbent senator, Randy Brock (R-Franklin), and Brock's predecessor, Dustin Degree, who left the Senate last year to take a post in Gov. Phil Scott's office.
In the press release, Degree praised the Senate hopeful as "a strong and consistent voice" in representing his constituents and their values. Brock, who was appointed by the governor in December to serve out Degree's term, noted Parent's "keen understanding of the issues facing his generation and our state."
Parent has built his political career on hard work, keeping in touch with constituents and pounding the pavement during campaign season. That will be a tougher task in a Senate district, but he says he's up to it. "I'm excited for the challenge," he said in a phone interview. "I'll run my Senate campaign with the same vigor as my House campaigns."
Franklin County has a history of being a political battleground, though in recent years it has trended rightward. The last Democrat the county elected to the Senate was Don Collins, who chose not seek reelection in 2014. That fall — and again in 2016 — former Democratic senator Sara Kittell failed to recapture a seat she willingly vacated in the 2012 election. This year, the Dems may see an opportunity for a comeback.
Brock, a former GOP gubernatorial nominee, told Seven Days late Tuesday that he expects to seek a full term this fall and hopes to share the ticket with Parent.
"I'm planning to run, unless the frustration level gets so high I change my mind,” he joked.
Corrected at 2:40 p.m. to note that Don Collins was the last Democrat to represent Franklin County in the Senate.