Carbon Tax Claims Victims

by John McClaughry

I noted with interest the fate of several supporters of the carbon tax in last week’s elections. Long time Randolph Rep. Patsy French and Steve Berry of Manchester, both sponsors of the VPIRG carbon tax bill in the last session, were ousted by the voters.

More interesting is the case of Democratic House challenger Scott Campbell in St. Johnsbury. By any standard, Campbell was a strong challenger to the two one-term Republicans running for reelection. An energy efficiency consultant, Campbell seemed personable, articulate, adequately funded, and competent in policy debates.

Campbell’s Achilles Heel was his passionate advocacy for “carbon pricing” –the latest name for the carbon tax. He raged about heedless humans “pouring greenhouse gases into the sky like an open sewer”, and listed the many benefits he thought would come from driving up the cost of gasoline, diesel, heating oil, propane and natural gas.

His Republican opponents said, in effect, “all right, if you want to hang your campaign on driving up fuel prices for St. Johnsbury businesses and voters, bring it on.” The Republicans organized a downtown sign wave with Halloween characters waving signs reading “Carbon Tax is Scary”

After a debate where both Republicans and even the independent candidate wanted no part of a carbon tax, Campbell backed away from it to offer a much safer list of things like better jobs, affordable housing, and quality education.

But it was too late. Even though Clinton carried St. Johnsbury with 57 percent, Campbell finished 78 votes behind the second Republican, and only 45 votes ahead of Trump. I suspect quite a few Democrats will take note: “carbon tax” is a poison pill with Vermont voters.

John McClaughry is the vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jim Bulmer November 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Carbon tax? RIP, I hope.

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