Must be something funny in the water up Lamoille County way. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Libertarian Party of Vermont claims a total of six candidates for the Legislature, all of them running as Republican/Libertarians. They include previous stealth conservative Rebecca Pitre, House candidate Spencer Sherman, and Senate candidate (and perennial also-ran) Dexter Lefavour.
The other three are all from Lamoille County. And they’re running in a pair of two-seat districts, Lamoille-Washington and Lamoille-2, that have been reliably Democratic for a while now. For the VTGOP to be running Libertarians in these districts speaks of a certain amount of desperation. That, or the VTGOP mainstream is the same body of water as the Libertarian puddle. Lamoille-2 is currently represented by Democrats Kate Donnally and Dan Noyes; Lamoille-Washington’s sole incumbent candidate is Avram Patt. His running mate is Saudia Lamont.
Pictured above with putative moderate Gov. Phil Scott is Nichole Loati, candidate in Lamoille-Washington. Her ticketmate is Ben Olsen, who doesn’t bear the Libertarian brand but seems to agree with Loati on pretty much everything. The R/L’s in Lamoille-2 are Richard Bailey and Mac Teale.
This post will focus on Loati, but these four candidates seem like peas in an ideological pod. Loati’s campaign website reveals little of this. She presents herself as “a married mama of six and a small business owner” and describes her politics as “fiscally conservative, socially moderate and hyper-focused on America’s constitution.” (Lower case hers)
But then you get to the details and it becomes clear that while she’s definitely fiscally conservative, she isn’t that socially liberal. Really, it’s hard to find any distinction between Loati and your typical stealth conservative.
Makes you wonder, again, why Phil Scott endorsed her. You might also wonder why she’s been endorsed by other pillars of Republican moderation: former governor Jim Douglas, outgoing state Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, and Lamoille’s perpetual Senator, Richard Westman. Is it time to stop pretending there are two kinds of Republicans, the extremists and the moderates? They’re all on the same side this fall.
Her website only goes so far with the moderation. Click through to specific issue positions and her conservatism becomes obvious. Let’s start with abortion, where she uses the customary dodge, “I’m pro-choice but I have concerns about the language of Article 22.” Her main point is the antis’ Big Lie: Article 22 will allow unfettered abortion right up until the moment of birth. Oh, and the illustration she chose for the page is a baby pacifier.
Her solution to high health insurance costs is to allow insurers to use age as a criterion in setting rates. That would bring the average cost down, but make insurance unaffordable for many seniors. Her answer to the high cost of child care: Deregulate it. Let anyone run child care centers without state interference.
She says the Global Warming Solutions Act posits a “noble goal,” but questions the cost. She instead supports “micro-goals, baby-steps” (emdash hers). Which is as good as saying she opposes any meaningful action. She doesn’t say whether climate change is a real threat or if it’s caused by human activity.
So that’s the filtered version of Nichole Loati. Now let’s turn to a Lamoille-Washington candidates’ forum where she had to extemporize at some length.
The housing crisis, she says, is caused by (1) Act 250 and (2) all the burdensome taxes and regulations imposed on landlords, which prompts them to flee to the safe haven of short-term rental. Unleash the landlords and the developers, and the housing crisis will be a thing of the past.
Government costs a lot because we have too many bureaucrats and “redundancies.” She wants to “look at ways the government might be interacting with the public that isn’t necessary.” Which means slashing regulations, especially on business.
Loati merits a page on the “Freedom Voter Guide,” which lists her as opposing abortion except when a woman’s life is at risk (nothing about rape or incest), opposing any government funding to any entity that performs abortion (Planned Parenthood), supports “conscience rights” for “creative professionals” and faith-based organizations (which lets them discriminate to their hearts’ content), would ban transgender females form participating in girls’ or women’s sports, would give parents veto power over every aspect of school curriculum, and opposes critical race theory.
Well, that’s pretty much the far-right agenda, isn’t it? I don’t see any “social moderation” in that list. Nor do I see someone who can truly be competitive in this district.
Nor do I see someone with whom Phil Scott finds common ground. Well, except when a Democratic supermajority is at stake. In that case, the hell with principle, I guess.