Former Governor Wins Vermont Primary UPDATES throughout with latest figures, Smith winning; no pickup.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) _ Former Gov. Richard Snelling took the first step Tuesday toward winning back the office he held for eight years.

Snelling, who served as governor from 1977 to 1985, defeated one minor candidate in the Republican primary to capture a place on the November ticket against former state Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch, who won the Democratic primary.

With 85 percent of the state's precincts reporting, Snelling had 33,157 votes, or 88 percent, against 4,624 votes, or 12 percent, for Richard Gottlieb, a perennial candidate of the leftist Liberty Union party.

On the Democratic side, Welch had 12,811 votes, or 90 percent, to Montpelier writer William Gwin's 1,439 votes, or 10 percent.

Welch, who unsuccessfully sought his party's 1988 congressional nomination, entered the 1990 gubernatorial contest this spring when Gov. Madeleine Kunin, also a Democrat, decided not to bid for a fourth term.

A contest for the state's lone seat in the U.S. House attracted wide attention, but mainly for the potential general election matchup between former Burlington Mayor Bernard Sanders, a socialist, and incumbent Rep. Peter Smith, a Republican.

Sanders had no primary opposition as an independent; Smith turned back Timothy Philbin by 24,027 votes to 14,826, a 62-to-38 percent spread.

Peter Diamondstone and Dolores Sandoval were running neck-and-neck in the Democratic primary. With 225 of 262 precincts reporting, Sandoval had 5,319 votes, or 51 percent, to Diamondstone's 5,077 votes, or 49 percent.