Tag Archives: Ron Lawrence

That “Big Tent” Lacks an Entrance or Two

It was probably inevitable that Kolby LaMarche would resign as chair of the Burlington Republicans. A bit less so that he left the GOP altogether. But here we are.

Whenever she’s asked about extreme elements in the party, VTGOP chair Deb Billado resorts to the “big tent’ analogy. The party, she says, is big enough to include all comers.

Nice theory, but it’s not working in practice. The kind of die-hard Trump supporters who still believe he was cheated out of the election are more than welcome in the party ranks and, what the heck, leadership. But people like LaMarche, who believe the GOP must abandon the Trump delusion, are made to feel so unwelcome that they eventually leave. And the party’s rightward tilt gets that much more pronounced.

If the VTGOP really believes in the “big tent,” then Billado and her colleagues would be pounding the phones, begging LaMarche to give them another chance. Somehow I doubt that’s the case. Because to the chair and her allies, including vice chair Deb Bucknam and national committee members Jay Shepard and Suzanne Butterfield, fealty to Trump is a litmus test for good Republicans. Not to mention local party officials like Ron Lawrence of Essex, co-instigator of the CovidCruiser that went to Washington for Trump’s attempted insurrection on January 6. That’d be the same Lawrence who launched a petition drive to get Gov. Phil Scott to abandon his party affiliation.

Yes, the Phil Scott who is the one and only Republican success story in statewide elections. According to Lawrence and the 2200-odd signers, he’s the real problem in the VTGOP.

Did Billado rush to Scott’s defense? Uhh, no. She “declined comment” on the petition, claiming she hadn’t read the thing and wasn’t involved. No “big tent” references this time.

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Another Step Toward Irrelevance for the VTGOP

Yet another can of lighter fluid has been tossed on the roaring fire that is the Vermont Republican Party. This time the perp is Ron Lawrence, chair of the Essex Republicans and co-organizer of the CovidCruiser excursion to the January 6 Capitol riot.

Lawrence, whose town is rapidly transitioning from purple to deep blue, has taken to Change.org to post a petition calling on Gov. Phil Scott to leave the Republican Party.

That’s right, Lawrence believes that the VTGOP would be better off without the only member who’s managed to win a statewide office since 2010.

For those keeping score, that’s Phil Scott, undefeated with a 6-0 record running for LG and governor. The rest of the party from 2010 onward? A sterling one win, 29 losses. (Turncoat Tom Salmon is the one. He won another term as state auditor on the Republican ticket in 2010 after originally winning the office as a Democrat.)

That’s a winning percentage of .033. )The 1962 New York Mets, the measuring stick for futility, had a winning percentage of .250.) Any statistician will tell you that’s… not good.

Obviously, there are two separate VTGOPs. There’s the party hierarchy, which is full of Donald Trump loyalists such as Lawrence, and its elected officials. With the exception of a few dead-enders, Republican officeholders realize that to win elections in Vermont, they have to tack to the center. Like Phil Scott.

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Further Adventures in Broadening the Base

Protip: When a political operative posts something on Front Porch Forum, every FPF member in that town will see it. And sometimes, one of them will send it on to me.

Case in point: This FPF message from Ron Lawrence, chair of the Essex Republicans.

Get Involved with the Essex Republicans
In recent days, it’s been out of vogue to stand for “less government” and “personal responsibility”; but jobs are leaving Vermont, and our children are leaving with them. The rest of us are left holding the bag for a very expensive government. These things are not an accident. They are the result of decisions we make and the people we elect.
The Essex Republicans are the official town committee for the Republican Party. We have current initiatives in three main areas: Community, Communication, and Candidates.
In our Community, we seek to establish programs that help us to better connect with each other, to appreciate our own unique history, and to uphold the values that history has taught us. In the area of Communications, we are developing new ways of sharing those values. One such value is the civil discussion of issues. This takes practice. It also takes the development of new venues and media to allow that discussion to happen in a safe and civil way. Finally, we are actively recruiting and supporting candidates. Running for office is an enormous, personal commitment. The Essex Republicans are working to ensure that we have good candidates, and that our candidates do not have to go it alone.
There is more to the Essex Republicans than you may know. We are holding our bi-annual caucus on September 21st, 7 p.m. at the Essex Center Grange. This is our biannual reorganization meeting and your chance to become a member. You need not be a member to get involved, but membership gives you a vote in committee decisions.
By contrast, the politics of “caring” haven’t worked out like many have hoped. People are beginning to sense that change is needed. If you want to be part of that change, then I urge you to join us at our caucus on September 21st.
Ron Lawrence,
Essex Republicans chair

I sense a touch of “white conservative persecution mania” in that first sentence. Does he feel like an oppressed minority because his party is in a perpetual minority position, and its only apparent path to victory is to turn away from the hard-right base and moderate its message?

Aww, too bad.

But the sentence that really caught my attention is the one near the end. I’ve rendered the line in boldface.

By “the politics of ‘caring,'” I presume he means liberalism. We’ve been fighting the War on Poverty for 50 years and we’ve still got poor people, so it’s time to give up. Something like that.

So yeah, by all means, let’s try “the politics of ‘not giving a f*ck'” instead. It worked so well in the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.