This is Allison Duquette, farmer, personal trainer, candidate for Vermont House in the Chittenden-25 district, and ardent deployer of dog whistles.
Duquette goes to great lengths to present herself as a fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republican. Trouble is, she’s just not very good at it. Her brand of dog whistle is so poorly constructed it can actually be heard by human ears.
Chittenden-25 includes Westford and an eastern chunk of Milton. Duquette’s Democratic opponent is Julia Andrews. This is a newly-reapportioned district; Westford used to be in Chittenden 8-3 and has been represented by the very conservative Bob Bancroft.
Duquette and Andrews appeared at an online candidate forum in late September, which can be viewed on Lake Champlain Access Television. Her answers usually started off acceptably moderate before veering right off the cliff. Details to come, but first a note about her Facebook page.
It largely consists of family photos and cute animal pictures. But there’s one big fat exception, and it blows a hole in her carefully curated image. She wrote about attending a May event featuring James Lindsay and Prof. Nick Meriwether. “I had a wonderful time at the James Lindsay talk and lunch today put on by Grassroots Vermont!!” she wrote. “It was awesome meeting like minded people.”
Those “like minded people” would be a collection of hard-right evangelical Christian wackadoos. I wrote about the Lindsay/Meriwether Vermont tour last spring. Lindsay, for those just joining us, is a former massage therapist who makes a living by stirring up the base over critical race theory. Meriwether’s bugaboo is pronouns He’s a professor at a small Ohio college who refused to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns and became a Free Speech Hero to the far right.
“Grassroots Vermont” is actually Vermont Grassroots. (Grassroots Vermont is a medical cannabis dispensary in Brandon.) Vermont Grassroots was organized in part by Gregory Thayer, who helped arrange the bus trip to Washington on January 6 and put on a low-budget 2021 traveling road show decrying critical race theory, He was last seen losing his bid for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.
That’s the kind of company that Allison Duquette finds “wonderful” and “awesome.”
Now, let’s get to that candidate forum and Duquette’s repeated failure to color within the lines of plausible moderation.
A question about Article 22 prompted the usual bullshit. She claimed to be pro-choice but questioned the wording of the amendment. And she proffered a couple of farfetched hypotheticals. Noting that the amendment establishes personal reproductive autonomy, she said, “Perhaps a man’s right is to tell a woman that she can’t have an abortion because it’s his personal reproductive autonomy.” I think it’d take the courts about a hot second to dismiss that one.
Then, noting the language about “compelling state interest” potentially superseding an individual’s rights, she turned a hypothetical Vermont with single-payer health care into a Handmaid’s Tale dystopia: “‘Compelling state interest’ might be that the state could request that someone abort a child that could be a drain on the health care system.” Yuh-huh.
On climate change, she rolled out the usual talking points and then went above and beyond. “Vermont is a state of 630-ish thousand people. To think that we would make any sort of difference, even if we got to zero emissions, is kinda crazy.” As I’ve said before, any jurisdiction in the world could make that claim, even China and India. It’s no excuse for inaction. And then came this howler: “Vermont has some of the cleanest air in the country… so a carbon tax will do nothing for the environment.”
Dear Ms. Duquette, “dirty air” is not the issue with climate change.
When asked if she supported President Trump, she ducked the question like a brave patriot. “President Trump is not in office,” she said. “I’m running for a state office, it’s not a federal office. I don’t think President Trump is relevant to this discussion.”
There was a question about what happened on January 6, 2021. Duquette did her absolute best slash worst to duck the issue, in the process revealing her pro-insurrectionist beliefs.
It is my understanding that there was a large rally, about a million people on the Mall. Of that, a few thousand people entered the Capitol, and some of those people rioted, forced their way in, which I completely condemn. Others were allowed in, police ushered them in… We don’t have the full story of what happened that day, especially because video related to the event has not been publicly released.”
Do I need to annotate this one? Okay, there was nowhere near “a million people” on the Mall. There’s no evidence that police ushered in any rioters. As for “video…[that] has not been publicly released,” I have no idea what the hell she’s talking about. We’ve seen hours upon hours of video, and it all shows the same events: Rioters breaking through police lines and forcing their way into the Capitol, injuring numerous officers in the process, and causing lawmakers and the vice president to flee for their lives. There’s also the Confederate flags, bear spray, and the shitting all over the place, but hey. Probably not enough Porta-Potties for the crowd.
A few more quickies. She blames our housing crisis on landlord-unfriendly laws, taxes and regulations. Landlords have it so tough that they’re converting perfectly good apartments into short-term rentals. Ease the burden and, like magic, we’ll have plenty of housing!
She blamed the fentanyl epidemic on President Biden’s “porous” southern border with the nonsensical argument that “There has been two million border apprehensions so far this year.” So, you’re saying that evidence of border enforcement is, in fact, proof of an open-border policy? Right.
She also blamed the opioids crisis on mental health issues caused by Covid restrictions and, of course, “the defund the police movement.” Which hasn’t actually defunded anything.
Duquette said her candidacy was inspired by her difficulties with getting information about curricula in the Milton public schools. She decried the lack of transparency and the resistance to parental involvement, and naturally called for “back to basics” in the schools. I’m sure she’s a delight at school board meetings.
There you go. Duquette is another entry in the ever-lengthening list of stealth conservatives littering the Republican ticket. She’s another in the growing subset of hard-right evangelical Christians seeking office in Vermont. There’s a story to be told by an enterprising political journalist: How many evangelical churches (Ignite in WIlliston, Grace Community Church in Canaan, the Cornerstone Church in Royalton, Riverbank Church in White River Junciton, the Valley Bible Church in Middlebury) are encouraging their faithful to run for office and lie about their real beliefs in the process?
I have the sense that there’s a lot of this going on. These people are highly motivated and not afraid to enlist in a losing cause. They have faith, you know, and short-term setbacks only cement their belief that their eventual success is ordained by God. In the words of one of their favorite Bible verses, they “walk by faith, not by sight.”
These candidates are occupying more and more space in the Vermont Republican Party and on the ticket. And our political press is not paying attention.