DERBY – Mention the Northeast Kingdom and most people will immediately think of Vince Illuzzi.
Illuzzi served in the Vermont State Senate as a Republican for 32 years before deciding not to seek re-election and running for the state auditor’s office.
However, he lost the race by about a five-point margin to Democrat Doug Hoffer.
Next to Lt. Gov Phil Scott, Illuzzi received the second highest number of votes for a Republican running for statewide office.
“It was a very difficult year to run as a Republican,” Illuzzi said. “I think the national party has moved to the right and they have essentially abandoned New England where folks are more moderate to liberal.”
Illuzzi, who is obviously disappointed about his loss, is surprised that he didn’t win considering he received backing from every state newspaper that endorses politicians. He also received backing from many organizations who usually support Democrats. Illuzzi doesn’t feel running for auditor instead of state senate was a mistake.
“I made the decision not to run for re-election long before I made the decision not to run for auditor,” said Illuzzi. “I wanted to stay involved; I didn’t know exactly how and this opportunity presented itself when Tom Salmon announced he was not going to seek re-election.”
Early on, Illuzzi toyed with the idea of running for Vermont Attorney General. Illuzzi doesn’t regret not running for that office. He said he would not run for state senate under the present circumstances. Illuzzi said he left because the Vermont Senate is not operating as it historically operated.
“I was very frustrated and felt it was time to at least take a leave of absence,” said Illuzzi. However, he declined to go into detail on why he feels that way except to say, “It was a frustrating place in which to serve and I decided that my talents could best be used elsewhere if I was to remain in public service.”
Illuzzi remains Essex County State’s Attorney and has his own private law practice. He doesn’t know what new opportunities will present themselves, but said he’s been running at 110 percent, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year for the past 32 years and looks forward to slowing down for awhile.
“Any individual or even a machine running at that speed for that time period has to take a break or something is going to go wrong and perhaps drastically wrong,” said Illuzzi.
He believes that he would have won if he had sought re-election.
“I think most people around here think I did a pretty good job,” said Illuzzi, who lead the efforts for many projects. “I think I represented the area to the best of my ability and people recognize that.”