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Vermont primary not drawing much candidate attention

Vermonters haven't seen nearly as much of the presidential candidates this year as have their neighbors in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. One reason for this is that, while the March 4 balloting in Vermont will have a direct bearing on the selection of 10 of the state's 19 GOP national convention delegates, it will decide none of the 12 Democratic national convention delegates.

Those Republicans and Democrats who will represent Vermont at next summer's nominating conventions in Detroit and New York won't be picked until late April at statewide party gatherings.

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Most of the White House aspirants, however, have spent a little time in the nation's third least populous state.

The Vermont Democratic primary competition is between President Carter and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. initially filed for the primary, but later withdrew.

Four years ago, a week after topping the crowded candidate field in the New Hampshire presidential primary, Mr. Carter won the Vermont primary with 42.2 percent of the total vote over the second- and third-place finishers R. Sargent Shriver and Fred Harris.

Under state Democratic Party rules, the outcome of the Vermont primary is in no way binding in the delegate-selection process. Those who will be in the 12 -seat delegation at the August national convention will be selected at the state convention, which will be preceded by municipal caucuses.

For the Republicans it is a different story. A first-place finish in the March 4 Vermont primary is especially important, since the winner will get a majority of the state's Republican National Convention delegates, to be chosen at the party's April 22 state convention.

The March 4 Vermont Republican primary ballot includes US Rep. John B. Anderson of Illinois, US Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennesee, for United Nations Ambassador George Bush, former Texas Gov. John B. Connally, US Rep. Philip M. Crane of Illinois, former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, and one-time Minnesota Gov. Harold Stassen. Missing from the ballot are US Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas and California businessman Benjamin Fernandez.

A first-place finish in the Vermont GOP primary is especially important, since along with it goes the assurance of a majority of the state's Republican National Convention delegates, to be chosen at the Party's April 22 state convention.

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In the 1976 Vermont primary President Gerald Ford swamped his lone challenger , Ronald Reagan, with 84 percent of the votes.

This year, two of the state's three highest-ranking Republican elected officials, Gov. Richard Snelling and US Sen. Robert T. Stafford, are supporting Senator Baker. The other, US Rep. James Jeffords, is backing Congressman Anderson.

Former Republican Gov. Deane Davis is backing Mr. Reagan.


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