Clippings by Andy Kirkaldy: GOP party head could sour voters
As our esteemed political correspondent, retired Middlebury College professor Eric Davis, has noted, 2016 could be a fruitful election year for the Vermont Republican Party.
Lt. Gov. Phil Scott looks to be the favorite to be Vermont’s next governor. Meanwhile, the Legislature and its majority of Democrats has had to struggle to balance the books in the past few years. That process has meant some unpopular decisions, and it appears the GOP could pick up some House and Senate seats next year.
Given that political landscape, one would think the chairman of the Republican Party in Vermont, Dave Sunderland, would strike an inclusive tone.
After all, the GOP, based on election results in the past couple decades, is the minority party in Vermont. The party must rely on moderate voters to cast ballots for its candidates.
But Sunderland’s tone is, well, snarky. Here are a couple samples from this week alone.
Last week, Sunderland objected publicly to someone hired in Secretary of State Jim Condos’ office as a “Director of Municipal Elections” who had worked on behalf of Democratic candidates.
Condos replied in writing that the individual did not hold that job, but was rather an “elections administrator with no policy making authority.” Condos further suggested that Sunderland “or anyone else pick up the phone and call me if there is an allegation of impropriety in how our elections are administered.”
Undeterred by Condos’ polite, but firm, correction of the record and suggestion that Sunderland was trying to make a mountain of cheap political points out of a molehill, Sunderland plowed forward on Monday with a letter that began:
“Thank your for your prompt response to my letter of October 1, 2015, concerning the brazen display of political bias by an election administrator in your office.”
Well, at least he got the job description correct. Now, about that tone …
On Monday Sunderland also sent out the following, an apparent response to the September entry of Democrats Matt Dunne and Sue Minter into the race for governor.
“Vermonters have felt the sting of single party rule in Vermont for too many years.
They know that the policies championed by Governor Peter Shumlin, Rep. Shap Smith, Sue Minter and Matt Dunne have not improved Vermont’s economy or helped make our state more affordable for working Vermonters and their families.
Over the next thirteen months, we expect to watch each of the Democrat candidates try to distance themselves from the failed policies of the unbalanced, single party rule they’ve worked so hard to create and will work hard to preserve.
But they can’t escape their own records. Vermonters will not be fooled.
It doesn’t matter who the Democrat nominee for Governor is, the choice voters have is clear: Two more years of the same policies or change and progress.
Vermont Republicans are offering struggling Vermonters, working families, young people, senior citizens and our small business owners a new, pro-growth direction for our state.
It’s time for a change.”
Well, let’s ignore for a moment that single-party rule was the result of his candidates getting their lunch money stolen and their glasses stomped in a series of elections.
Regardless, I’m not particularly interested in helping Sunderland do his job, but with the greater goal in mind of improving the quality of Vermont political discourse, I am re-writing this statement in a way that might appeal to a moderate voter:
“Recently, Democrats Sue Minter and Matt Dunne joined Rep. Shap Smith in announcing they will seek to be Vermont’s next governor. The Vermont Republican Party welcomes them into the race and looks forward to Vermonters having a chance to compare their ideas for the future to those of our candidates over the months to come.
While we appreciate those Democrats’ willingness to serve the state, we believe the Vermont Republican pro-growth platform offers more to working families, young people, senior citizens and small-business owners. The choice is clear, and it’s time for change.
The Vermont Republican Party remains confident that our ideals will prevail next November and the state will reap the benefits.”
See, Dave, that wasn’t so hard. Took me five minutes. You will catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Especially up here, where Vermonters will not be fooled.