8-10-16 – Vermonters Determined for Change, Not Resigned to Status Quo

by Rob Roper

Our friend Geoff Norman had an article published in the Wall Street Journal titled, In Declining Vermont, the Mood Is More Resigned Than Angry. As much as I like and respect Geoff, I think he misses the mark here. I don’t think Vermonters, particularly those on the right hand side of the political spectrum, are resigned. Maybe some are angry, but I think the best descriptor is determined.

In the last election cycle Republicans and center/right independents picked up a dozen seats in the house and senate, despite the lack of candidate recruitment. These pick ups included many young, energetic legislators who aim to make a difference, such as Corey Parent (R-St. Albans), Paul Dame (R-Essex), Jansen Willhoit (R-St. Johnsbury), Job Tate (R-Mendon), just to name a few with apologies to those not mentioned due to space.

But this cycle Democrats are facing 22 house retirements, three leaving to run for higher office. Overall, the Governor, Attorney General, Senate President Pro Tem, and Speaker of the House, all Democrats, have stepped down. The Republicans, on the other hand, have only two retirements, one of whom left to run for senate. So, which party here looks despondent?

Geoff is right in that it’s hard to get folks to run for office, particularly those with jobs. Even so, Republicans in this cycle have seen many strong candidates step forward to run in competitive races, many of those for open seats. Republicans are the favorites to win the governorship with Phil Scott, and Randy Brock has a strong chance to hold the LTG spot. R’s also fielded strong candidates for Attorney General in Deb Bucknam and Auditor with Dan Feliciano. Though both are underdogs at this point neither should be counted out, particularly Bucknam who’s vying for an open seat vacated by Sorrell. In a crazy political year, I bet Scott Milne is making Leahy a little nervous after seeing what happened to Shumlin last cycle. Who knows? Maybe he’ll catch lighting in a bottle for a second time.

This is far and away the strongest Republican slate we’ve seen top to bottom in nearly two decades.

The issues tend to favor Republicans too, as folks are anxious over the economy, jobs, and crushing taxes. The proposed Carbon Tax is a real stinker, local control issues over education (Act 46, mandatory school district consolidation) and renewable energy siting policy tend to divide the left and energize the right, not to mention the fact that Sue Minter, the Democrat nominee for governor has said gun control is her number one issue — long a third rail of VT politics. If not as toxic as it once was, second amendment advocates in Vermont are a passionate lot and I think you’ll see a lot of single issue voters emerge on the side of Republicans over guns, with a number of blue collar Democrat hunters crossing over.

Geoff’s article is a good read. He gives a great overview of the utter failure of the Left’s agenda under Shumlin and single party rule. Check it out, and after let me know if you’re resigned or determined.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ritva Burton August 11, 2016 at 4:42 pm

I’m determined and angry!

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Peg C August 12, 2016 at 9:10 pm

We were determined then fought to try and change things then got angry and did as many others are doing…..we sold everything and left.
The memories of our childhoods are all we took with us.
Vermont is headed down an unreturnable path and we were determined to not go down with it.

Reply

Paul Slobodian August 12, 2016 at 9:17 pm

Rob,
I read Geoff’s excellent piece in the WSJ….and it left a depressing impression. Your comments on the opportunity for more sane politicians getting into influential positions in Montpelier is a welcome addition in the hope all is not lost in Vermont! Thanks!
Paul

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Jerry Stein August 12, 2016 at 9:56 pm

As long as Republicans in VT remain afraid to take on the teachers’ union, then no real change is possible. Democrats are happy to have a RINO like Scott take the blame for the continued rise in property taxes. No wonder Shumlin supported him for Lt. Gov.

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Paul Frascoia August 12, 2016 at 10:19 pm

Part of the problem in VT is that so many moderates and fiscal conservatives have gotten fed up and fled. I moved to Florida this year myself, I could not take it anymore. I am sorry to leave you moderates and fiscal conservatives behind but the left is every bit or more determined to run the state into the ground fiscally and I hope they enjoy what they are cooking when its done. With so many like myself having left or leaving I don’t think the tide can be turned. That was my assessment and that is why I departed. Good luck though, I will be impressed if you can turn it around.

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Jim Bulmer August 13, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Rob, You are right on. This November we have a golden opportunity to take Vermont back from the brink. If we don’t make serious inroads this year, who knows what the future will hold. We need every one on the right, center and left of center to show up and elect candidates who are determined to right the ship of state.

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Mike Powers August 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

I see no way that the republicans can exert enough influence in the legislature to reverse the steady erosion of individual rights and the take over of practically every facet of Vermonter’s lives. Look at the recent proposal to destroy independent schools using discrimination by the 20 or so private schools in using public funds to provide educational opportunities to 5000/6000 students. It is an an obvious attempted power grab backed by the VSBA and its ally the powerful NEA and could destroy a 200 year tradition of alternative possibilities to educate students. Just another sign of the relentless consolidation of power in Montpelier. I am discouraged, angry, and disgusted with the turn our state has taken!!!

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