GOP leadership urges Vermonters to unite behind Phil Scott

Michael Bielawski/TNR

CIVIC DUTY: Vermonters took to the polls Tuesday to participate in their right to vote. In the gubernatorial primary election, about 68,235 Democratic ballot votes, and 36,780 Republican ballot votes, were cast.

GOP leaders aren’t taking lightly the nomination of the nation’s first major-party transgender gubernatorial candidate, and are calling on Vermonters to unite behind Gov. Phil Scott in what is shaping up to be a choice between identity and affordability.

The top national headline to emerge from yesterday’s primaries is that Vermont has put forward the first serious transgender candidate for governor in Christine Hallquist, formerly Vermont Electric Cooperative CEO Dave Hallquist.

RELATED: Phil Scott to run against transgender Democrat in gubernatorial race

Leaders of the Vermont Republican Party said Wednesday they are taking the development very seriously.

“I think it’s going to be a race that Phil Scott cannot take for granted by any stretch,” Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, told True North. “You have the novelty of a ‘first in the nation,’ which somehow brings out the Democrats and Progressives in a serious way when it comes time for backing that kind of a thing.”

To win statewide races, candidates need to raise millions of dollars and develop name recognition. Benning said Hallquist is on track to get such resources.

“I think Hallquist will gain the money that she needs to run the race from various liberal groups that will be turning out in force to try to make a point with her candidacy,” he said. “If the Republican party in this state is going to survive, I sincerely believe that Republicans need to rally around Phil Scott and remember where we are in the scheme of things.”

Scott defeated conservative challenger Keith Stern by about a 2-to-1 margin. Stern looked to take advantage of a wave of disgruntled voters after the governor signed a law this year imposing gun magazine limits and universal background checks on law-abiding Vermonters.

But it was an opportunity missed, as critics point to Stern’s weak debate and interview performances as the reason he fell short.

Nevertheless, Scott’s approval rating dropped about 20 percent after he signed the gun bills in front of an irate crowd earlier this year. Many voters told True North that they would never support Scott again. However, if gun owners stay home in November, they risk allowing Hallquist, who is ranked “extremely anti-gun” by Gun Owners of Vermont, to take office.

For her part, Hallquist won by more than a 2-to-1 ratio against both military veteran James Ehlers and single-parent Brenda Siegel. Write-in candidate state Sen. John Rodgers, and 14-year-old high school student Ethan Sonneborn, each failed to make a competitive showing.

Rodgers also looked to capitalize on the wave of discontent over the gun laws, but likely due to his write-in status, he gathered only around 3,900 votes.

It didn’t take long for green-energy groups to start celebrating what they anticipate will be a further shift towards controversial wind and solar energy projects for Vermont. As former head of Vermont Electric Cooperative, Hallquist has a strong energy background, and she is committed to the state’s 90 percent renewable goal for 2050.

Also, early indication is that her transgender identity is already galvanizing voters.

House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, who is stepping down this year to run for lieutenant governor, said it’s essential that the GOP maintains or gains seats in the liberal-dominated Statehouse.

“It’s absolutely imperative for the House to maintain the ability to sustain a veto,” he said. “That is critical for Vermont, whether I win or not.

“I want to ensure that we maintain as many House Republicans and Senate Republicans as possible, because the more balance there is in the legislature, the better chance the governor has of adopting and implementing his agenda, which I know is making it more affordable for Vermonters to live here.”

Turner didn’t face a primary opponent, but he still received 28,156 votes from voters on Tuesday.

“I’m pleased with the numbers, the percentages that we’re doing in our race,” he said. “I feel that is good considering six weeks ago no one knew who Don Turner was.”

Turner faces off in the general election against incumbent Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a Democrat who also ran uncontested this primary and received 58,965 votes.

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

Images courtesy of Hayden Dublois and Christine Hallquist for Vermont and Michael Bielawski/TNR

11 thoughts on “GOP leadership urges Vermonters to unite behind Phil Scott

  1. Phil Scott will not get another vote from me. He made his bed when he turned his lying back on us. I won’t vote for Halquist either. Scott sealed his fate.

  2. When I first decided to run against the governor it was to be a discussion on cutting government waste, lowering taxes not just holding them at unacceptably high levels, and public education including Act 46 and school choice. Then he showed himself to be a man with no moral compass starting with telling Republican legislators he would have their backs on the pot bill and then pulling a reversal and signing the bill in hiding. And after going to all the gun owners group meetings and telling them he would not sign any gun legislation he once again pulled a reversal and made a production of signing it in front of them to rub their faces in it. Then along came the individual mandate bill which will penalize Vermonters for not having health insurance which many can’t afford that he signed before the penalty was decided and tried to run and hide from that in a debate.
    So in the VPR debate Bob Kinzel asked the right question that any thinking Vermonter should have already asked him or herself: How can anyone trust you again? My response is I can’t.

  3. I was a huge supporter of Phil Scott even tho not a Republican but independent more closetly libertarian. I did not and will not vote for him again. Gun betrayal is only one reason – there are many more. Scott does not care about Vermonters. Rather than shuttering schools or forcing students to ride for over an hour in some cases he could have done more to foster independence, that is if he cared. He is a hard-nosed politician masquerading as an affable Mike Rowe wannabe and supposed true blue Vermonter, he is on fact none of the above but a complete phony.

  4. Hallquist cannot implement the CEP goal of “90% RE of ALL Primary Energy by 2050” without a huge carbon tax of several hundred million dollars per year for starters.

    Various Vermont enviro groups are salivating at the prospect of such unilateral carbon taxes so they can implement their socialistic, nanny state, distributionist programs that would damage most households and would not shift the global warming needle by one iota.

    Scott reluctantly placed some minor restrictions on guns, but Hallquist will go all out to take guns away from various groups of people (per desires of Dem/Progs nanny state, policies) and restrict any remaining guns even more.

    Implementing the CEP goal would cost at least $1.0 BILLION PER YEAR from 2017 to 2050, and likely more thereafter, as estimated in the EAN 2015 Annual Report. See URL.

    Carbon Tax Impact On A Typical Vermont Family, as reported on VTDigger:

    – The carbon tax would impose a $10 per ton tax of carbon emitted in 2017, increasing to $100 per ton in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would generate about $100 million in state revenue in 2019 and about $520 million in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would be added to the fuel prices at gas stations and fuel oil/propane dealers. Drivers should expect a tax increase of 9-cent per gallon of gasoline in 2017, increasing to about 89 cents in 2027.
    – Homeowners, schools, hospitals, businesses, etc., should expect a tax increase of 58-cent tax per gallon of propane and $1.02 per gallon of heating oil and diesel fuel in 2027.
    – A typical household (two wage earners, two cars, in a free-standing house) would pay additional taxes in 2027 of about:
    – Some of the carbon tax extortion would be at the pump, some when the monthly fuel bills arrive, and some as higher prices of OTHER goods and services.

    Driving = $0.89/gal x 2 x 12000 miles/y x 1/(30 miles/gal) = $712/y
    Heating = $1.02/gal x 800 gal/y = $816/y
    Total carbon tax in 2027 = $1528/y
    Sales tax reduction 5/6 x 1400 = $233/y
    Net tax increase = $1295/y

    – The hypocritical sop of reducing the sales tax from 6 to 5 percent would save that household about $233 in sales taxes, for a net loss of $1295 in 2027. That means such households, the backbone of the Vermont economy, would have about $1300/y less to make ends meet.
    – Many of these households have had stagnant or declining, spendable real incomes (after taxes, fees, surcharges; other recurring expenses, etc.), plus dealing with a near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy, since 2000.
    – With less real income, and higher real prices for goods and services, they also would have to make their own energy efficiency improvements.

  5. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, guess what? It’s a MAN!!!!!! Whoes kidding whom?

  6. Wake Up Vermont, you already have a StateHouse full of ” Liberals ” this cancer in
    Montpelier, is ruining our State and we surely don’t need another.

    Pro-Gun owners, Scott may have turned his back on us, but Hallquist is a real
    ” Anti-Gun ” Liberal ……………….. Watch what you wish for !!

    Be clear on what you are about to do, we don’t need another first for VT !!!

    • People need to get involved and take a serious look at what is happening in this state. Taxes are high now just think about what they will be if she/him is elected.

    • CHenry…..Very good post. I am an independent voter and have always voted for the person not the party. I fully support Phil Scott for his understanding that the economy is the number 1 issue for this state. Taxes are too high already and putting more Liberals in office will only make things worse.

      • Marion,

        Please tell all your Independent Friends to think about the State as we
        used to know it, the quandary we face today …….

        We’ve been first on enough foolish projects !!

  7. This dude is not a she but an it. When is this lunacy going to stop? He could be Bruce Jenner’s ugly sister.

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