Stealth Republicans: Pin That Extremist to the Wall

We can end the competition for Best Moment in a Political Debate in 2022. We already have a winner!

The honorees are state Reps. Kathleen James and Seth Bongartz of Manchester, whose star turn came in an October 12 candidates’ debate on Vermont’s best community access TV service, gnat-tv. The forum featured the three candidates in the two-seat Bennington-4 district. Pictured from right to left (in the photographic sense only): James, Bongartz, gnat-tv moderator Andrew McKeever, and Republican candidate Joe Gervais, seen here desperately wishing he was somewhere else.

Gervais is a Covid denialist, vaccine truther, and 2020 election conspiratorialist among other things. Oh, and he sees the hand of God in random cloud formations.

Throughout the debate, he did his best to conceal his extreme views behind the usual façade of run-of-the-mill Republicanism. But near the end (just before the 49-minute mark in the one-hour program), James calmly rolled out a devastating attack.

When you and I met for the first time on primary night, outside the Arlington polls, you told me you believed that Trump had won the 2020 election and that basically it had been stolen by massive national voter fraud, and that was disturbing to me… And I’ve gotten a call from a constituent who said that you told her that you were at the Capitol on January 6th, the day of the insurrection. And you’re campaigning on honesty and transparency, and I want to know if you were in Washington DC at our nation’s capital on the day that a violent mob attacked it


Gervais paused for a moment, and then muttered “I’m not sure the relevance of that question for state office.”

Brave patriot! Standing up for his principles!

After James pushed back, Gervais finally acknowledged that he was one of “several million people,” sorry but no, and that he was there to “pray for this nation, not to overthrow and to storm the Capitol.”

James: “But you thought the results of the election should be decertified.”

Gervais then claimed that “evidence” of fraud had emerged over the last 21 months, and cited two examples that are, in fact, irrelevant. One was the CEO of Konnech, a data management company that makes software for scheduling poll workers, being arrested for allegedly storing information on a Chinese server.

Prosecutors say the data was all about poll workers, not about voters or vote counts. And there’s been no sign that the data was compromised or sold to email marketers or anything. Sorry, Joe. What’s your other point?

Oh yeah, the Wisconsin Supreme Court “recognized that there was illegal harvesting of ballots from nursing homes.” This would be the court with a far-right majority, but even so, Gervais didn’t get the decision right. In July, the court ruled (along party lines) against the use of ballot drop boxes and “ballot harvesting,” or the gathering of completed, sealed ballots by party organizers. The decision can’t apply retroactively, so there was noting illegal in the gathering of ballots during the 2020 election. Doesn’t change the outcome a single bitty bit.

James and Bongartz then staged a double-team. James noted that in Vermont, out of 350,000 ballots cast, a total of seven were investigated for possible fraud — and only one was found to be fraudulent.

Bongartz came flying off the top turnbuckle. “And every court that has reviewed [the 2020 election] has found that there’s no fraud,” he said. “To see thugs at the Capitol breaking down doors, threatening to hang people… it was one of most sickening things I’ve ever seen.” Gervais didn’t even try to respond.

It was beautiful. So measured, so straightforward, with the occasional touch of earnest concern. Just laid it all out there. No doubt for anyone who was watching: Gervais is an election truther.

He’s also, if you scan his Facebook page, a Covid conspiratorialist who thinks that the pandemic might have been an opportunistic marketing campaign by Big Pharma or possibly a Chinese bioweapon. A bioweapon that can apparently be thwarted by Ivermectin.

Not a very good bioweapon, is it?

He also believes that vaccines cause autism, and he’s a deeply committed evangelical Christian. He attended a rally led by evangelist Mario Murillo, who was one of the three “prophets” who appeared in the FlashPoint online program referenced in a previous “stealth conservatives” piece.

Gervais was deeply moved by Murillo’s ravings, to the point where he thought he saw a miracle in the sky.

Heavens to Murgatroyd, the credulity of this man.

You won’t find any of this stuff on Gervais’ campaign website. No, it’s full of conservative pablum and far-right dog whistles. He’s running on growing the economy, cutting government regulations, clamping down on crime, drugs and immigration, “back to basics” in education, and of course, “Honesty, Accountability, and Transparency.”

Funny, that. There’s nothing honest, accountable or transparent about Joe Gervais’ campaign. He’s trying to sell the people of Bennington-4 a bill of goods. Too bad he got completely exposed by James and Bongartz.


1 thought on “Stealth Republicans: Pin That Extremist to the Wall

  1. John Freidin

    Thanks very much for doing research which is not being done by others in Vermont. Your pieces are informative and a pleasure to read


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