Republican Stealth Candidates: Chickens, Maple Syrup and Kombucha

Meet Rebecca and Tom Pitre. They make maple syrup and keep chickens. She plays guitar. She ferments her own kombucha. She’s a certified riding instructor, using horses as therapy animals.

She has also said some very nasty things about Drag Queen Story Hour on social media.

Which matters because Rebecca Pitre is a Republican slash Libertarian candidate for Vermont House in the Lamoille-3 district, which includes Cambridge and Waterville. In her campaign, she presents herself as an everyday sort who just has some sincere concerns about the health of rural Vermont. In service of this deception, she seems to have scrubbed her past social media activity; her only extant Twitter account is a campaign-related one that only recently went live and has [checks notes] 13 followers.

Unfortunately for her, a community member dug up her five-year-old drag queen comments, and Aaron Calvin of the Morrisville-based News & Citizen has done a thorough job of reporting the controversy. In his story, Pitre makes a strenuous effort to weasel out of her self-inflicted corner — but she makes it clear that she still believes 100% in her past statements.

This story is why, my friends, I keep hammering on the duty of political reporters to dig beneath the surface when writing candidate profiles. In a time when Republican candidates are trying to disguise their extremism, who else is going to pull off the masks?

So what did she say about Drag Queen Story Hour? Glad you asked.

Drag Queen Story Hour is an atrocity that is spreading across the country. Do not be fooled into thinking that this is a healthy or wholesome type of entertainment for children. Confusing children in this way is nothing short of child abuse. These drag queens have a hidden agenda to further their social and political views and they are using children all across our country to do so.

“Atrocity,” hmm? “Child abuse,” eh? “Hidden agenda,” you say. Sounds like boilerplate far-right Christianity to me.

Pitre explained, unconvincingly, that she was merely expressing her disapproval of Drag Queen Story Hour, that accusations of bias are “a distraction” and she’s perfectly capable of fairly representing all the people of Lamoille-3. However, Calvin reports, she “declined to answer direct questions concerning her support for the LGBTQ community and how she planned to vote on LGBTQ issues.”

But wait, there’s a dog whistle! From her campaign website:

I want to make sure that no legislation is passed that weakens family bonds. In fact, I want to put my support behind ideas and legislation that recognizes the family as the institution where decisions should be made concerning children’s education, health care and moral training.

That’s conservative evangelicalism, pure and simple. Strengthening the family, as noted in my previous post, is their fundamental solution to all our social and economic problems. The “family” is a monogamous heterosexual couple and their children. Nothing else qualifies. And that thing about “decisions… concerning children’s education” is a coded way of bashing critical race theory and promoting censorship of curricula and school libraries.

But she’s so concerned about that perception that she said that Front Porch Forum CEO Michael Wood-Lewis had agreed to censor any posts accusing her of homophobia.

Unfortunately, Calvin checked with FPF and they say Pitre’s claim is false, and that they don’t make comment moderation decisions “based on requests from individual members.”

Whoops.

That’s another characteristic of far-right evangelicals: they’re willing to lie when it serves “the cause” as they see it.

No matter how she might protest, there can be no doubt that she’s a far-right family-values type, kombucha notwithstanding. The voters of Lamoille-3 absolutely have the right to vote for her, but they should know who she really is and what she really stands for. Especially since her Democratic opponent is the real thing: Lucy Boyden is a fifth-generation member of the Boyden farming family. (The district is currently represented by Democrat Lucy Rogers, who is stepping out of politics.)

There are a lot of conservative Republican hopefuls presenting themselves as “common sense Vermonters” and concealing (usually badly) their true beliefs. In fact, I’ll bet you that a sizeable portion — maybe even a majority — of Republican House candidates hail from the Rebecca Pitre/John Klar/ Art Peterson sludge pit of toxic Christianity. If enough of them get elected, the House minority caucus is going to be an unruly clown car that will make as much noise as possible and accomplish [checks notes] absolutely nothing.

Let’s try to keep the noise to a minimum, shall we?

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