Congratulations to Jarrod Sammis, newly elected member of the Vermont House in the Rutland-3 district…
… and the only one on my long list of far-right Republican candidates who didn’t lose.
For those keeping score, and you bet I am, that’s one win and 23 losses. Which kinda explains my previous post about how the Vermont Republican Party has led itself, with supreme confidence, deep into the political wilderness with no idea what to do next except Keep Striding Forward!
That 1-23 record wasn’t the only bad news for Team Extreme. They also lost a bunch of races featuring far-right candidates I never got around to covering. Remember that 16 of the 21 Republican Senate candidates were extremists? Well, 12 of them lost. They may have picked up one seat at best. In the House, where the Republican ticket had 42 in irregular earth orbit, 35 of them lost. And that included three incumbent representatives who won’t be coming back: Vicky Strong, Sally Achey, and VTGOP Vice Chair Samantha Lefebvre.
Instead of bulking up their ranks and possibly upending caucus leadership, the extremists actually lost ground. It was a thorough rebuke for ultraconservatism in Vermont.
But let’s start with their only bright spot, the guy with a YouTube channel full of inflammatory videos that revealed an unhealthy fascination with guns and a probably-controlled desire to train them on socialists and communists. The channel he quickly deleted when it became public knowledge, claiming he did so to [checks notes] protect his family’s privacy. Sammis eked out a two-point win in reliably conservative territory. Bully for him.
Let’s also remember some of the fine folks who made this all possible. Start with Lenore Broughton, who maintained her perfect record of spending loads of money on losing candidates and causes. Then there are three Republican organizations, to use the term loosely. The Essex Republicans extended a losing streak based on nominating a bunch of extremists in this oughta-be-purple stretch of suburbs. The Addison County Republicans tasted across-the-board defeat because they couldn’t stop themselves from fielding a ticket full of nutbars whose only tactical innovation involved a circular firing squad. Finally, let’s give it up for the Lamoille County Republicans, who nominated a quartet of libertarians out of step with their districts. And they had Richard Westman, the living, breathing avatar of moderate Republicanism, right there in front of them.
They, and many other Republican organizations, could take a lesson or three from the Franklin County GOP. But I’m sure they’re too ideologically blinkered to do any such thing.
Speaking of ideologically blinkered, “Farmer” John Klar lost by 11 percentage points to 78-year-old stroke patient Mark MacDonald, who did virtually no campaigning and is still in rehab. Klar took it with customary grace, “I should have had a stroke,” he told VTDigger. “It would have been good. It’s a big qualification these days.”
Before yesterday, it seemed possible that the extremists could rack up some wins. They’ve used the internet to build networks. They’ve benefited greatly from the growing number of conservative Evangelical churches in Vermont. They’re highly motivated. But in the end, it made no difference. Their ranks are just too small to matter.
Let’s hope their resounding defeat gives school boards a bit more backbone when they face protests by handfuls of loudmouths upset over “Heather Has Two Mommies” or some imagined plot to indoctrinate otheir kids. This election is proof that the far right can make a lot of noise, but they’re seriously lacking in electoral clout.
Their overwhelming defeat came despite their strategy of presenting as mainstream conservatives in an attempt to fool the voters. They larded their campaign websites with anodyne language about taxes and regulation and values. But none of them could restrain themselves from occasionally blowing their cover, either on social media or in debates. I hope I played a small part in exposing this deception and sending almost all these people back from whence they came.
As for Mr. Sammis, you can bet I’ll be monitoring his performance on whatever House committee gets stuck with him. If he says anything outrageous, and he will, I’ll do my level best to catch him in the act.