Could pro-gun Democratic Sen. John Rodgers be Vermont’s next governor?

One of the top Democratic candidates for governor this year won’t appear on the ballot when voters walk into booths for the primary this August — but he might just win anyway.

Bruce Parker/TNR

WRITE-IN: State Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans, has been recruited by voters who want a challenger to Gov. Phil Scott but don’t see a viable candidate in the current Democrat field.

The standard routine of announcing a candidacy and applying for a spot on the ballot wasn’t an ideal fit for write-in gubernatorial candidate Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans, who says he’s running his family business and can’t manage a costly, time-consuming campaign.

But Rodgers is no ordinary Democrat. He’s a pro-gun lawmaker who strongly opposed Gov. Phil Scott’s gun control push and also opposes Big Wind. Supporters across the state want him to challenge Scott so badly that they are working hard to push him over the top as a write-in.

“He’s a moderate Democrat — he’s one of the few left of what we used to call Blue Dog Democrats,” said Angelo Napolitano of Waitsfield, who helped kick-start the write-in campaign in May.

“There aren’t that many that are alive anymore, he’s one of the last. And the thing is, he knows what the rights of the people are. He isn’t the usual politician,” he added.

Rodgers is running against four other Democrats, all of whom will appear on the ballot during the Aug. 14 primary election: U.S. Navy veteran James Ehlers, dance festival director Brenda Siegel, former Vermont Electric Cooperative CEO Christine Hallquist and teenager Ethan Sonneborn. If Rodgers gets the most votes in what many expect will be a low-turnout election, he will become the Democratic challenger against Scott in November — a pro-gun Democrat versus a “gun grabbing” Republican.

As is true of any write-in candidate, Rodgers’ name will not appear on the party ballot. Those who intend to vote for him must write his name in on their ballots.

Richard Ley, a resident of Clarendon, also helped get the Rodgers campaign going. He said there’s not much choice left from either side of the political aisle.

“If we don’t get him on the ticket to run for governor, what choices do we have? We have nobody that really represents us well,” he said. “It’s almost a mandate, we need this to happen.”

In addition to supporting Vermont’s traditional gun freedom, Rodgers opposes industrial-scale wind turbines and the carbon tax. He says the time has come reevaluate Act 250, Vermont’s land use law, and he supports an audit of taxes and fees Vermonters face.

“Something that I’ve been focused on in the legislature is the rural economy,” Rodgers told True North in an interview. “The urban areas are booming, Chittenden County is booming, but the rural areas are still struggling and we really need to focus on how we improve the economy.”

Rodgers has supported legislation to protect forestry operations from nuisance lawsuits, and he also supports hemp legislation. “Our working landscape and tourism are two things that we really need to focus on,” he said.

Napolitano said Rodgers’ position on business development is important given Vermont’s poor economic climate and overregulation.

“For somebody to come into the state and open a new business or new industry, it takes them years and years with all the regulation, and they get fed up and say ‘that’s it, we’re not moving here.’”

But Rodgers is also committed to his family’s construction business, and he’s helping his son with a hemp business as well.

“A bunch of people had been asking me to run, and I told them I would consider,” Rodgers said. “When it came down to getting close to time to getting petitions signed, I just looked at my schedule and my life and decided that a statewide campaign does not fit into my life right now.”

He said that as he explained his situation to his supporters, they doubled down in their resolve to make him governor.

“What happened was a bunch of guys … contacted me and they were disappointed that I wasn’t going to run, and they didn’t know what they were going to do,” Rodgers said. “Basically, they asked if it would be OK to write me in, and I said, ‘Well, I’m OK with that but it’s extremely difficult to pull off a write-in campaign,’ and they were just totally undeterred.”

Ley said he respects Rodgers even more for his dedication to his family commitments.

“He made commitments and he’s honored those commitments,” he said. “I really think he’s even more respected for doing that. The guy is good for his word, and what more could you ask for after what we just went through with Phil Scott.”

Rodgers said he will not be touring the state in a conventional campaign. However, he is willing to make public appearances for the public to ask questions. Ultimately, his grassroots supporters will be doing much of the work for his campaign.

“They think they can pull it off,” Rodgers said. “I told them my time situation, that I was not planning on raising money or spending money on campaigning for governor. I was focused on my Senate race and my business.

“And they said, ‘Well if you will let us use your name then we will do the work.’ So I told them to go ahead. I feel that people should have a choice, and if there are enough Vermonters that write me in and I get the nomination, then I would be happy to serve.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of state of Vermont and Bruce Parker/TNR

23 thoughts on “Could pro-gun Democratic Sen. John Rodgers be Vermont’s next governor?

  1. This election comes down to three anti-Constitution candidates, a pro-Constitution candidate who is for smaller, more efficient and effective government, personal responsibility, and local control of education, or a pro-Constitution candidate who has repeatedly voted for bigger government and higher taxes who doesn’t want the job anyway.

    How is this a difficult choice this year for any pro-Constitution conservative voter?

  2. It’s sad that people will throw all of our legislative candidates under the bus for what reason? Because they agree with one issue that he agrees with them on. It is getting harder and harder to find quality candidates to run and the reason is obvious.
    When I see someone who will ignore the fact that Sen. Rodgers has voted repeatedly for bigger government, higher taxes, and Act 46 to the detriment of our state it causes me to wonder why I am doing this. If people are willing to throw away the opportunity to have a smaller, more responsive government while lowering taxes and having money to fix the rapidly declining infrastructure sometimes I think people should get what they deserve. Then I think of all the people supporting me and know they don’t deserve that.

    • I’ve got your back Keith!

      I cannot believe True north would have multiple articles about a person who goes against what they are supposed to stand for only because he is pro gun…. especially when you are as well!

      I don’t have a lot of pull but I will try and get you interviewed on Lions of Liberty and other podcasts that I sponsor. You deserve it.

    • sad how this isn’t even keith stern speaking for himself… John has the experience and knows who to work with under the dome to get things done for all Vermonters… So all of you who won’t vote for John want to vote for someone who has no experience and put him in a position like “ON THE JOB TRAINING” well thought huh….

      • “John has the experience and knows who to work with under the dome to get things done for all Vermonters”, tell that to the residents suing the state over act 46.

        We don’t need career politicians we need people who will scale back the size of government! Forget how much time they’ve spent in the swamp that’s just that much more time to have been corrupt from the system.

        • Tyler do you really know if John voted for ACT 46 or not.

          Do you really think he’s Stern knows what he is speaking about when he makes these kinds of statements without fact-checking them.

          Are you really in favor of making a man governor of this state when he does not understand the process in government?

          There are plenty of videos out about John Rodgers and his platform with him addressing everyone in those videos to eliminate these kinds of statements that are absolutely not true.

          I’m posting this year for your viewing pleasure

          • “Are you really in favor of making a man governor of this state when he does not understand the process in government?”

            So is it better to have professional government personal,aka politicians,which have created the government we now find ourselves with,to solve the problems of government or citizens willing to serve to fix the ills known as government.

            Perhaps Mr.Rodgers is the solution perhaps not,what is known is the current governor is not.

          • I would invite you to go join the page John Rodgers for governor 2018 so you can learn more about this wonderful man and his platform for Vermont.

            John has always been a supporter of the rights of vermonters and is opposed to the waste that is taking place in government right now and wants to re-evaluate programs to stop the waste and return taxpayer money to the people.

            John is the only qualified candidate to run against Phil Scott that has the ability to take this state and point her in the right direction.

            I am encouraging you to go check out his videos and his platform and you will see he is the only man for the job.


          • Okay so I can admit that I was wrong about Mr. Rodgers’ stance on act 46.

            Is John Rodgers actively seeking the governorship? It doesn’t really seem so, his chances are also diminished, significantly, as a wrote in candidate.

            He already has a state senate seat, who will be filling that seat if he becomes governor?

            I looked at his video on education as well as his voting record and though I agree with home 60-70% of the time I agree with Keith Stern 85-90% of the time.

    • Keith I find it it’s downloading that anyone could take you as a serious candidate for governor of the state of Vermont..

      You do absolutely no fact-checking but get up here I make statements that are totally not true and that is one reason why you should never serve as governor of this state.

      How can we depend on you to properly service and to believe what you are saying when you are not sure of the facts and if they are true or not?

      I’ll give you a little help on this one and maybe Enlighten those who follow you around believing these false statements.

  3. My vote is going to Keith Stern. Bizarre how True North will wrote articles about a pro 2A Democrat but won’t go near the Libertarian candidate.

  4. Anything is possible in VT, just look what we have now !!

    I believed our Republican Governor and we were lied too
    for some” feel good ” foolishness……. Pretty sad.

    Now we have a Democrat that is stating the same thing ??
    wow ……So let’s see how the ” Progressive Democrats ” do
    with handling this quandary !!

    • If you are trying to compare John Rodgers to Phil Scott there is absolutely no comparison.

      You need to check out John Rodgers for governor 2018 page and check out the information on this wonderful man.

      Phil Scott has made statements that were proven not to be true John Rodgers has stood on the Statehouse steps speaking out against the disgusting laws that were passed against the people in this state..

      And John Rodgers is the only candidate that has been fighting this battle since around 2003 fighting to protect the constitutional rights of everyone in the state of Vermont.

      We have an important choice to make in this election and this is do or die for Vermont so that we choose someone that has no clue about government how it works or even who voted for what or do we choose someone with experience who wants to audit programs to get rid of waste and fraud and put Vermont on the right track..

      I am an independent that usually votes Republican but I am definitely voting for the Democrat John Rodgers for governor

  5. Hey, Guy!

    If my personal endorsement were not the kiss of death, I would publicly endorse this guy right now!
    He is sooo impressive.

    I think Angelo Napolitano is leading this effort and I AM A BIG FAN OF ANGELO!

    Phil Scott has totally lost my vote. I WILL SPREAD THIS ARTICLE…..Thank you!

  6. Should he win he will immediately retract his support for the Second Amendment. That’s what Democrats do. They tell you what you want to hear (lie) and then do just the opposite.

    • Obviously you do not know Senator John Rodgers who has stood with us all in support of the right to keep and bear arms. He has been steadfast and stood toe to toe with the anti gun Legislators in Montpelier.
      I guess you also must live on another Planet if you did not see the Republican Phil Scott do exactly what you claim John Rodgers would do. Take a good look at the other options…there are none.
      Just is an honest hard working Vermonter for the people. Seems to me there was a recent election where everyone thought one of the most well known Candidates in the Country could not win.
      Well guess what… know what happened there.

    • Mr. Rodgers if elected is a question mark however what is known of current governor Benedict Scott is he lied to the people of Vermont and he along with many other legislators were so willing to violate their oaths.

      These excerpts are from a message the governor or his staff sent for the fourth.

      “As we pause to celebrate Independence Day with family and friends, we have an opportunity to reflect on all that unites us as Americans. Our country is special because, although many of us come from immensely different backgrounds, we all share in the spirit of democracy and liberty that our founders fought for 242 years ago.”

      “They fought for what they thought was right – for people having the ability to worship and speak freely, and to pursue their own happiness. But, the American Revolution did not end with the Declaration, nor with the British surrender at Yorktown several years later. The American Revolution was not a single event in time, but rather, an idea that lives on today. And, it is our responsibility to continue that work to build a more perfect union – build a society, and government, that is better, and more welcoming to all.”

      “The issue, in my opinion, is that the polarizing fringes in our society monopolize the air time and debate, and leave the vast majority of us pragmatic, moderate Vermonters and Americans behind.”

      “All my life, I’ve tried to treat everyone with the dignity and respect that each of us deserves. Which admittedly is easier to do with those we agree with. But, we must also extend that respect to those with whom we most fervently disagree. Because in order to try to convince the other side of the fallacy of their position, we have to allow them the same opportunity. Otherwise, our democracy becomes a hypocrisy.”

      What the governor wrote or someone on his staff on his behalf,rings of someone from the left.

      We are not a democracy but rather a Constitutional Republic and when it comes to hypocrisy,I would rate the governor a expert on that subject as well as a self proven liar.

      At the very least Mr. Rodgers may be worth looking at,however I tend to support Mr. Stern ,as I will never again support a man who has proven himself unworthy of the position of even dog catcher.

      • Excellent points to keep in mind this election cycle. Scott has not only practiced the art of Hypocrisy but has mastered the art of lying. As far as Rodgers as a viable candidate…his pro tax record as well as his 100% backing of the unconstitutional Act 46 disaster should wipe out any chance of an election. I am 100% behind Keith Stern who is the only candidate with a real plan for the state and the people.

        • John it is a sad day in hell when you get up here and lie about a candidate to further your candidate..

          Please if you are going to make statements up here at least attempt to make them factual..

          John Rodgers is the most qualified candidate running for governor in the state of Vermont.

          If you look at John’s of voting record you will see that Republicans were voting right along with him because it was necessary to keep the state alive..

          This only proves more that your candidate is not capable of being Governor because he has no clue how government operates.

          We cannot afford to elect the governor who has no clue how government operates and we cannot in this time of peril in the state of Vermont elected governor who needs on the job training at the taxpayers expense.

          As far as stating the John Rodgers was in favor of act 46 maybe this will help you get your facts straight..

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