Govs. Scott and Douglas ask conservatives to step up and run for office in 2020

Michael Bielawski/TNR

LOOKING UP TO LINCOLN: Former Vermont Republican Gov. Jim Douglas, speaking Wednesday evening at the 2020 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Canadian Club in Barre, looks up to a cutout of famed Republican President Abraham Lincoln.

BARRE, Vt. — Top GOP leaders, appearing Wednesday night at the 2020 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Canadian Club, gave impassioned pleas for conservatives to step up and run for office to counter liberal supermajorities at the Statehouse.

The two keynote speakers at the Feb. 12 event celebrating the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, America’s first Republican president, were Gov. Phil Scott and former Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.

“We need more reinforcements in Montpelier,” Scott told the crowd. “That’s why I’m challenging all of us to get our state, county and local party committees, legislators and everyday Vermonters who share our values to find competitive candidates for the House and Senate.”

Fresh on the minds of Republicans was a recent attempt by Democrats and Progressives to override Scott’s veto of a paid family leave bill that included a $29 million payroll tax. The minority party, with the help of a few moderate Democrats, sustained the governor’s veto by just one vote last week. The tally in the House of Representatives was 99-51.

“With just 43 Republicans out of 150 in the House, and six out of 30 in the Senate, we, unfortunately, have to rely on the very few moderate Democrats we have left to stand with the taxpayers in Vermont on these types of issues,” Scott said. “They are under enormous pressure from their leadership and their base, so we can’t expect to rely on them every single time. The only answer is to grow our numbers.”

Michael Bielawski/TNR

Republican Govs. Phil Scott and Jim Douglas

Douglas echoed that sentiment during his speech.

“We need to try as hard as we can to recruit those candidates because the math is the math. We need more reinforcements in the House of Representatives in order to ensure that the governor’s vetoes are indeed sustained,” he said.

Scott may face another veto-override attempt soon, especially following his veto of a minimum wage hike earlier this week.

“We’re going to see just how important this is over the next two or three months of this legislative session,” Scott said. “As you may have also seen, on Monday I vetoed another bill, my 18th veto, which was to raise the minimum wage. This is the perfect example of why we need more help in the legislature.”

On the issues, Douglas emphasized the demographic challenges facing Vermont.

“We know that Governor Scott has talked a lot about this over the last couple of years and it’s not a new problem,” he said, “it’s just one that the majority party doesn’t seem to take very seriously.”

Douglas noted he created a special Next Generation Commission in 2006 to look into the concerning trends, and he also quoted from the commission’s report: “We must approach the future holistically by viewing economic development and workforce development and education policy as necessarily integrative. It is crucial that Vermont simultaneously implement strategies to expand a skilled workforce, to attract and retain business, and to encourage skilled workers into the state.”

Douglas also noted that despite economic progress across the nation, Vermont seems to be lagging. He cited a recent article from The Economist: “Vermont has seen the weakest wage growth of any state in the past decade, despite a rapid rise in the minimum wage and low unemployment. What has Vermont gotten wrong that much of the rest of America has gotten right?”

Douglas said Vermont’s wages aren’t likely to improve any time soon.

“Vermont’s wages could stay floor-bound for some time because of what the article cites as an unfavorable mix of the types of jobs that we have here now,” he said.

He endorsed Scott’s yet-to-be-announced re-election bid in front of the evening’s 131 guests, which included lawmakers and dedicated members of the Vermont GOP.

“The first thing we do is re-elect Governor Scott,” he said after listing some of the top challenges facing Vermont.

Scott, throughout his speech, reiterated his well known economy-first message.

“It’s critical that we remain laser-focused on the things that appeal to Vermonters regardless of party — and that’s growing the economy, making Vermont more affordable, and protecting the most vulnerable.”

He said his budget puts investments back to the economy, including infrastructure, child care and workforce development, “all without raising taxes, living within our means, just like you and I have to do every single day.”

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

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

33 thoughts on “Govs. Scott and Douglas ask conservatives to step up and run for office in 2020

  1. VT needs to look up and remember. When Reagan took office things were bad and he elevated the country. After Reagan things declined again. Trump takes office and things are looking up again. Things in VT are extremely bad, Need to look up again and here’s a reminder about that previous time, the Reagan years in the 80’s. Need the right people and people to back up the right people.

    Inspiring to watch and listen, from a man’s soul.

    President Reagan’s Farewell Address to the Nation 1/11/89 (21:22)

  2. “Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”
    ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

  3. As I read through these twenty-plus responses, it looks like we have four that
    are willing to jump into the arena as candidates, even though some have been
    belittled by the GOP and our RINO Governor …………. what a shame !!

    If the GOP doesn’t get it together, you can kiss the party & the state as we use
    to know it good-bye !!

    You can hate all the Democrats, but they do stick together right or wrong !!!

  4. How about we find people to run and stop bashing everyone else. If you run you will find support. We lost big in 2018. We failed to get 71 republicans on the ballot. Over thinking can really hurt your cause. We can do nothing about the issues stated here unless we give our party a fighting chance by uniting and stop crying over spilled milk. It is there for the taking we just need to go get it.

  5. I have been successful in persuading numerous fresh candidates to run on a shared vision of fiscal integrity (lowering taxes by reducing government waste and regulations, thereby improving the business climate), repealing Act 46 and actually lowering school costs, and addressing the opioid crisis by helping more people get off pharmaceuticals (also saving money). My efforts prove that leadership can and should seek out and nurture new blood in the Vermont GOP — something Phil Scott has a record of NOT doing. There are excellent people and skill-sets that must be brought together in unity under a common policy list. Voters want to know 1) what we plan to do and 2) that they can trust us to do it. That is not so difficult, and we will build that effort for 2020.

  6. I ran for State Rep. in St. Albans City twice and lost both times. I was encouraged to run by a good democrat Walter Reagan. I threw my hat in the ring because I wanted to be a republican vote supporting Gov. Jim Douglas. I knew the Gov. can’t do it by himself I was extremely concerned about the high cost of health care. I was invited to a republican training session in Montpelier where I was informed that high health care costs were not a concern for republicans. I could foresee in the 90’s that health care costs would be the downfall of Vermont. Locally, in Franklin County I was included in Republican’s effort to elect republicans We worked together and supported each other and it worked. Franklin County has two Republican Senators and most of the State Reps. are republican. Of course the people of Franklin County still have common sense so the people deserve the credit for electing republicans. As a candidate, I felt I was discriminated against because of my life long pro-life views. I was called a single issue candidate . It did not bother me because being pro-life meant I cared about all the issues about life .We are fortunate that Vermont is a small state and it is still possible for Vermonters who love their state to run for State Rep. I encourage people in other counties to run and get elected as republicans to save our state. We need to Bring Vermont Back To Life.

  7. The State’s property tax rebate program is a farce. Collect high taxes, free money and yjen give a portion back and people think WOW, money from the Gov. If taxes were fair, it’s not necessary. If you don’t file for a Homestead exemption regularly, you don’t get the “rebate”. Free money. Seems that’s a government perk at all levels, the income tax as noted also. Fair Market Value on property assessment is not known in VT, it’s what they can get and you have to fight the system.

  8. We had a near win in grand isle where one candidate got in and another almost got in, which would have defeated Mitzi Johnson. Now think about a team work approach where people assisted these guys? I’d go up with some folks knock on doors sign wave, etc.

    Wouldn’t that be a nice feather in the cap the VtGOP? I know Mitzi would like everyone in the state to wear brown shirts, but I’m not sure that’s a good long term plan for our state. How are we supporting the winner and the one who almost won? These men are extremely valuable.

    Team work.

  9. I did try to run in 2016, but I was naive to think I could count on help from my city & county party. When I ran, I had an issue with an old twitter forward that was reported out of context but rather than ask me, or help me, the GOP Chair and others quickly gave news interviews saying I should resign and not represent the party. Who wants to run for office after what they did to myself and 2 others running for State Representative? No support, and quick to assume the worst rumors, we have been eating our own for years. I can’t wait to leave Vermont for a true red state when my wife retires in a few more years.
    As a 2nd generation native, its sad to be in this position.

  10. I am seriously considering running for a Windsor County Senate seat. I don’t expect endorsement from either Scott or Douglas. Mark Donka and Randy Gray both told me of the time they each asked Scott for his endorsement and received no response. I know it will be on my own.
    So far the state is worth fighting for but the window is closing fast

    • Here is a man, a good man who ran for office. He has a great heart for Vermont our country and the truth. He has much experience having run a state wide campaign, he could help,advice many on the do’ and don’t’s.

      He spent his own, people donated and volunteered for him.

      This is a valuable person, where is the best place for hIm to serve? What is the best capacity? Where might he be most effective. There are many of us willing to help, where can we best serve to help win the hearts of Vermonters?
      Keith is a vet valuable asset to the VtGOP


      • Thank you Neil, I appreciate your help and support you gave me and these kind words.
        If I do decide I will do so as an independent/ Green Mountain Party candidate. Unfortunately the liberals have done a masterful job of distorting the Republican Party name. Besides that with elected officials ranging from moderate to progressive (hello governor) the distinction between the parties is blurred.

  11. So Gov. Scott wants conservatives to step to the plate and run for office? It would help if Gov. Scott governed as a “conservative” or if he actually walked the walk when people actually DO run for office. When I ran for State Senate in 2012, he gave a talk at a Rotary Club in my area. I was in the room, but he never once acknowledged my presence, or my candidacy, nor did he even say “hello” as he hurried out of the room with his Old Friend, John Campbell, an incumbent Democrat who was among my opponents.

      • And at a summer gathering of republicans running for office, Keith was not even introduced, while he was campaigning for governor. If you are going to play the game, the body of republicans should at least support ALL candidates running, at a minimum with common courtesy.

        When we try and decide who’s going to win before a primary, when we don’t support people putting their heads in the political arena, others clearly see……if I’m not chosen, then I’ll get no support. We have to be more introspective.

        It would be nice to hear from those who ran and lost, what support did you get? Would you run again, why or why not? Republicans are not afraid to defend the truth. It is why against overwhelming odds any of them are willing to step up and run.

        Ideally if a candidate ran and lost, it would be nice to hear, the Vt’s gOP gave me all the tools needed, they informed what was needed to win prior to my running, they gave me money, they gave me technical support, they gave me volunteers to help canvass, sign waves, I don’t think I could have had a better organization behind me. If you chose to run they’ll have your back.

        Is this happening? Ask…

        • No not at all Neil. Even true Republicans are RINO’s because being a Republican doesn’t mean the party will have your back.
          I had one party chair willing to stick his neck out for me by telling the county the only way he would accept the position was for the county party endorse me. Of course after they agreed they didn’t.

    • That explains a lot, New York John Campbell. He (John) was a gun grabber and has now positioned himself to another nice state job. Remember him as the senator who created an opening in his counties’ states attorney’s office by getting the senate to approve the new position. He then magically got the job. And now we learn that he and the Gov. are best buddies. Also in the news that the governor refused to endorse the president’s reelection opting for Weld from Massachusetts who is nowhere on the national stage and a RINO like Phil.

    • Sadly, that was Phil’s MO many times. Thankfully, it was not Jim Douglas’ style.

      I do find it ironic that now the Governor acknowledges he needs help. With “The Bern” likely on the ballot, going to be a great time for Progs to run for statehouse. If more Rs do run and win by some miracle, I hope he will work with them rather than just using them as a wedge when the legislature gets over their skis.

  12. We do need candidates to step up. The problem I have had when I ran was people love to talk about supporting you until they have to actually step up and do some of the work. I planned on running for the House last election. As a test I gave out 6 petitions and told people to get them signed. Only one came back with 11 names on it. If you can’t get support it makes it really hard to get elected.

    • So much about support.

      People are used to lobbyists, pacs and big money people funding candidates they won’t give money…..but they expect them to send fliers. Meanwhile the Planned Parenthood pac which was funded by planned parenthood, which was funded by our tax payers.

      Then you have lobbyists, VNRC, that form non profits, Vermont Conservation Voters, that grade representatives on their environmental record that is coincidentally everything that VNRC is lobbying for, which is coincidentally the United Nations plan Agenda 21, or Agenda 30 or Sustainable communities which are the same plans by different names.

      Internally we have areas so indoctrinated, they want to be socialist, but these areas can support other areas or candidates that could win. There were two republcans that I know of that could have won with internal support, one gal ran 2x in Bristol, and Mary Beersworth lost by 58 votes? NOBODY was helping, nobody.

      TEAM WORK……strategic plan,,….we need some wins, even if only 2 or 3, build from that.

  13. We need to come together, it’s nice to see Douglas and Scott working together. We are being divided on purpose, there are many in office that love being the minority as they have no responsibility. A small team of smart, kind-hearted conservatives could do wonders for this state

    We have the most divisive, corrupt state government in the nation, to which has had no press coverage questioning what is going on. Republicans want peace and prosperity. What we have now is fighting and people getting rich off keeping Vermonters poor, families broken, keeping out real job opportunities and home ownership.

    Vermont has been subverted. We’ve been brainwashed for the most part. It’s going to require some heavy lifting and reframing of the conversation to expose the lies posed by the socialist take over of Vermont. We can’t be Charlie Brown and not expect to Lucy won’t pull out the football.

    We need to know he game plan on those who don’t respect our Republic, inside and out. We can’t fall for their framing and lies. If we don’t change our game plan, we’re up for a massive defeat again, while the rest of the nation charges closer to the truth. We need to understand why is Vermont so fundamentally different????? Without understanding our land scape we are destined for misery. Sun Tzu the Art of war teaches us to know our landscape, know your opponent.

    It’s the message guys. Everybody knows something is wrong in Vermont, we just need to define it with a peaceful message in 30 seconds or less, three words.

    • Neil, who would a VT taxpayer contact to look into the corruption with this gov’t? I’m talking about the Federal Gov’t looking into what is going on in this State.

      I am curious to find out which one of our gov’t officials benefited from allowing a foreign private company to plant roots in a small rural Town in VT and have the power to stop the USDA from posting the inspection reports on the gov’t website. I did read one of the inspection reports before it was taken down. This company has grown substantially and I am concerned with the environmental issues.

      I also don’t like the lies that were told to the public about ACT 46. My taxes are going to go extremely high this year if the school board is approved for the $60M renovation they are requesting and I’m not seeing any promises kept by the Board of Education. Talking to my Rep. is like talking to a brick wall.

      Any advice would be appreciated.

      • Would love to know myself. I’m not sure. The corruption is so systemic.

        I wonder if we all requested to go on a field trip to see our president? Sounds perhaps a bit over the top. I’ve written so many letters, to so many organizations, ones I thought might help our cause. We need somebody with connections.

        Maybe if we had a 1,000 people go the President? I don’t know. They’ve left us for dead, which allows unfettered access to power. Like our EB-5 court date is being pushed back past October, like why would they do that? Election time perhaps?

        “Everyone” is getting fat of the current system… those with big influence aren’t going to rock their own apple cart.

        Maybe somebody has the answer….I don’t at the moment.

  14. I think most of the conservatives that should be in office have already left the state for their own economic well being. I don’t know the solution, but I suspect it will fix itself after the state is forced to declare bankruptcy after the liberals destroy the livelihood of all but the very rich with taxes, fees and feel-good regulations.

  15. I am a sixty-eight-year-old conservative Vermonter, All I see is the state headed
    into complete turmoil under the current leadership in the House & Senate, but I also
    don’t see any Conservatives jumping into the arena.

    We need to start picking off seats, forget Chittenden country they are a lost cause,
    but I assume there are counties that are vulnerable and we need to make them a
    priority !!!!

    • Yeah, and forget Washington County too. Chittendon and Washington represent 9 liberal senate votes. Almost 1/3 of the senate. They need to be surrounded by republican senators to beat them and save the state.

  16. One might hope Constitutional conservatives not the RINO’S that seem to inhabit the supposed Vermont Republican party and certainly not proven liars.

  17. Would love to see more honest, straight thinking Republicans out there helping to make radical changes in the present culture in Montpelier. Long overdue.

    • I would run but I think I may be too far Right. If no one responds to my concerns on social media about the education taxes, I don’t feel they will vote for me. I think the majority of taxpayers feel that if they are getting the homestead rebate, they don’t care if the taxes go higher.

      • Also Vermont has the largest rebate program in terms of total dollars then any other state bar none. And this is for a state of 620,000 people. Talk about total voter disconnect at the booth!

        • 620,000 don’t pay the taxes. And no one on a local level know what taxes will be no matter what the local school budget is. The taxes are decided in Mountstupid and you don’t know what your bill will be until it comes in August.

          I don’t know anyone who votes for or against a local budget because there is a rebate — which is based on your income, not the property assessment.

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