Ah, what a happy group of Republicans! There’s Gov. Phil Scott, Lite-Gov candidate Sen. Joe Benning, and U.S. Senate candidate Gerald Malloy. I can’t identify all of the other people, but I know quite a few.
Next to the governor is state Sen. Russ Ingalls, almost certainly the most conservative person in the Senate. The people in the back row behind Benning are House candidates Lloyd and Lynn Dike, state Rep. (and VTGOP vice chair) Samantha Lefebvre, and House candidate Joe Gervais. Front row, yellow shirt, state Senate candidate and far-right rabble-rouser John Klar, who posted the picture on his Facebook page. The three on the right are three House candidates: Rob North, James McClay, and Jon Christiano. (North is the subject of an upcoming “steath conservative” post.)
That’s a whole bunch of extremists in the company of Smilin’ Phil.
I previously wrote that the extremists have taken over the Vermont Republican Party. They’re in party leadership, they’re on the state and county committees, and they constitute a goodly share of the Republican ticket.
Until now, Scott has kept his distance. Not any more. He has made common cause with the nutbars. Phil Scott owns this Republican Party and should be made to answer for every one of the people in this photograph.
Just to drive the point home, here’s a newspaper ad (remember those?) making the rounds.
Before we delve into the batshittery, let’s stipulate that three of the six signers of this manifesto are in that group photo with the governor: Lloyd and Lynn Dike and Jon Christiano. Also Gerald Malloy, one of the two candidates they are supporting. Not to mention Peter Caldwell, an entry in my rogues’ gallery of stealth conservatives, and Valerie Mullin, who can’t be a stealth conservative anymore because she’s made no secret of who she is in her previous, unsuccessful, campaigns for office.
So why is the governor cozying up to the ass end of his party? I suspect that if he wants to avoid Democratic supermajorities, he needs at least some of these people to win. Klar, for instance, is key to the VTGOP’s faint hopes of breaking the Senate supermajority. That’s why “mainstream” Republicans like Bruce Lisman ($1,400 and counting), Skip and Denise Vallee (a combined $4,500), and Brian Dubie ($200) have opened their wallets to Vermont’s leading xenophobe.
As for the newspaper ad, wow. It’s beyond the fringe.
It begins with an attack on transgender people and abortion. Then comes the hint of crazy to come: “the truth about CO2.” Stay tuned for that.
Then comes a shoutout to “a globalist agenda” and an attack on the schools: “too much indoctrination and too little education.” Below the pictures we get a laundry list of the usual talking points. I’ll call your attention to the last two: “Fentanyl in Children’s Halloween Candy”* and labeling gender-affirming care as “mutilation.”
*I’m a little surprised these goobers are okay with Halloween. I thought it was the Devil’s Holiday.
And then, after all of that, comes the coup de grace: Not only is global warming a hoax, but cranking out all this carbon dioxide is actually good for the Earth.
We have seen this idea before from Stephen Bellows, candidate for state Senate in Grand Isle:
The world is carbon-based. So things are green because we produce carbon. That’s what plants need to grow. We’re not really hurting anything by producing carbon. The world’s greener by it.
What does Phil Scott make of this? Of comparing gender-affirming care to mutilation and child abuse? Of complete climate change denialism? Of slandering those who support reproductive rights? Of public education as “indoctrination”? Of denying science and medicine?
Tell us, Phil. You’re publicly supporting these people. Why? Do you honestly believe our government would be better with the addition of John Klar, the Dikes, Joe Gervais and Jon Christiano? Are you willing to pay any price to safeguard your oft-wielded veto pen? (Mandatory “veto pen” reference)
Phil Scott can no longer claim to have cut ties with the VTGOP. He’s out there fighting alongside some of the most extreme Republicans to ever stink up a ballot.
Finally, a word on the source of the newspaper ad. The address listed, 330 E. Main Street in Middlebury, is a house next door to the Valley Bible Church (322 E. Main), a conservative evangelical congregation. The occupants of 330 E. Main are named Wheeler. According to a February piece in True North Reports, Ed Wheeler is the pastor of Valley Bible Church. And he’s the treasurer for the folks who paid for this ad. I think it’s safe to conclude that Wheeler’s faithful underwrote the ad.
That True North story is about a talk Wheeler gave in which he asserted that the government and media are dominated by “Marxist evolutionary type thinking,” which would come as a pleasant surprise to any American Marxist. He also said Covid-19 was a plot by the elites to get rid of President Trump and rig the elections, and hospitals are being paid off by the government to pad the Covid death toll.
Friend of Phil?
The circle is closing. Phil Scott is inside it. Will he abandon his principles and his putative moderation in order to win a few more seats in the Legislature? If so, why is he different than any other Republican? He expresses “dismay” at his party’s excesses?
Well, now he’s hanging around with the most radical of the party faithful. Whose side are you on, Phil?
That ad you posted was really off the rails. These folks are really paranoid delusional.
Good question on Scott being with them. I suspect you’re right in that he doesn’t want another Demo supermajority, though hopefully he’ll get one and one that is fights back and doesn’t roll over for him.