How Not To Be a Stealth Candidate

Gregory Thayer and John Klar are both running for office this year. Thayer, for lieutenant governor; Klar, for state senator. And as is the current strategery for far-right candidates, they are trying to present themselves as mainstream conservatives.

This can work for a relative unknown like Liz Cady, who lied her way to a seat on the Essex-Westford school board (and resigned earlier this year). But Thayer and Klar? They’ve been in the public eye far too long. What’s more, their hearts and minds really aren’t in it. The cray-cray leaks out all over the place.

Let’s do Thayer first. I thought I’d check in on the trainwreck race for the Republican LG nomination, which features serious human being Sen. Joe Benning versus Thayer, who attended the January 6 insurrection (heck, he helped organize a bus tour to the thing) and put together a nice little anti-critical race theory road show. Both VPR — err, Vermont Public — and VTDigger have hosted LG debates recently. Digger’s suffers from horrible audio quality, so I watched the Vermont Public Ra — cough, sorry — event.

Benning, of course, ran rings around Thayer logically. But Thayer’s demeanor was curiously subdued because he was trying to be someone he’s not.

It didn’t work very well.

The trouble began when moderator Connor Cyrus asked about Donald Trump’s “baseless claims” that he won the 2020 election. “The election is over,” replied Thayer. “Joe Biden won.” But then he went on to compliment “2000 Mules,” the discredited election truther movie made by conservative crank Dinesh D’Souza. Thayer said “people ought to watch” the film because it contained “good evidence” that something was screwy.

Huh. So I guess the election was stolen but the statute of limitations ran out? That’s the stuff.

Eventually, the subject of his Critical Race-baiting Theory tour came up. He did his best to, ahem, whitewash the events. “The goal is to talk to people, listen to people, hear what’s going on in their school,” he said, not mentioning that all the speakers were rabidly anti-CRT and anti-Black Lives Matter. He also, without any specifics, said that “a lot about Black Lives Matter [has] come out in the last couple of months.”

Yep, he’s been skinny-dipping in the shallow end of the intellectual scum pond again.

During a candidate-to-candidate exchange, Benning showed a printout of Thayer’s mandatory financial disclosure, on which the crucial information was covered up by a black magic marker. “I was given advice to do it that way, to blacken out,” Thayer explained. “I asked the Secretary of State’s office, they said it was fine.”

He then refused to say who had given that advice, or which of Jim Condos’ staffers told him it was “fine” to turn in a non-disclosing disclosure. “I’m not on trial, so I’m going to leave it right there,” he concluded with a smirk.

Benning also asked that, if Mike Pence could have thrown out the 2020 Electoral College results, couldn’t Kamala Harris do the same in 2024? “It’s a lot different because of all the allegations that were goin’ on,” Thayer replied.

You mean all the unsubstantiated allegations? The ones tossed out of court dozens of times?

Thayer tried, he really did. But every time he began a reasonable response, he couldn’t help but add some conspiracy nonsense. It just spills out.

There haven’t been any debates in Klar’s Senate race because both primaries are uncontested. Klar will face Democratic incumbent Mark MacDonald in November, in what should be yet another ass-whuppin’ for Farmer John. I guess he’s realized that his brand of hard-core, borderline racist conservatism is a loser at the polls, because his campaign website is a blatant exercise in image-washing.

Problem is, he’s created his own paper trail with a persistent stream of ultraconservative commentary pieces. Like the one where he denied the existence of systemic racism, or the one where he claimed that white folks are the real victims here. Or when he tried to add his own slogan to the “BLACK LIVES MATTER” painted on State Street in front of the Statehouse. Or when he wrote that those damn flatlanders have laid waste to the bucolic paradise that was The Real Vermont. Or when he said the Abenaki were victimized by other Native Americans, not by Vermonters. (He didn’t mention eugenics.)

Oh wait, he wrote that one only six days ago. In fact, he’s still a very frequent poster on True North Reports, and his deep thoughts belie the image he’s put forth on his campaign website.

Where he is pictured as a simple man who merely wants “to bring people together from different political views to combat the state’s most pressing and complex problems.” He tosses out mainstream Republican language decrying high taxes and the public sector pension problem. In fact, he asserts that his “knowledge of accounting, economics, and tax policy” make him the ideal choice to “save” the pension funds.

Buuuuut… then the cray-cray starts to show.

John Klar is bravely ringing the alarm, while others are pandering to populist hysteria about climate change.

Climate catastrophe, feh.

Public sector pensions? That’s the real existential threat.

See, these guys can’t help themselves. They’re in way too deep to change course, even in the most cosmetic of ways.


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