This commentary is by Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP.
This is my favorite time of campaign season. This last week before the election ends. I look back on what we’ve been able to do over the last year together, and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as chairman for this organization of great people. This is a time where we can look back at all that we have accomplished and the air is filled with hope and possibilities.
I’ve been surprised as I go around to canvass for some of our House candidates how many people recognize me, or read this newsletter. We are making a difference and able to encourage the silent conservatives who are outnumbered in their far-left towns.
And encourage them we must. I strongly believe that this election will come down to turnout. In other states Republicans are feeling the rush of the Red Wave and it is bringing a level of excitement rarely seen before. States like Oregon may election their first Republican governor in almost 40 years, and Washington State is likely going to get their first Republican senator. Places like Nevada and Colorado are looking better than anyone could have dreamed for Senate Republicans. Even Lee Zeldin is drawing gigantic crowds and polling within the margin of error against an incumbent Democrat in NY — and that’s even after many NYers moved to Florida to escape the Blue State pandemic lockdowns.
Will the Red Wave crash into Lake Champlain, or get stuck in the Connecticut River? It’s happened before where Vermont gets left behind in national trends. But one of the joys I’ve had this year is knocking on a few doors all around the state, and I am happy to tell you my friend, I am feeling good. I’m cautiously optimistic that even Vermont Republicans are going to have an opportunity to celebrate next Tuesday night. So I hope that you can come join us at the Barre City Elks Lodge starting at 6pm.
Did we do enough to meet all of our goals? Probably not. I have told many of you that I usually have about 10 good ideas, and only enough time and money to implement 2 of them. But I do think we are building momentum for next week and the next election. And even if we are only doing 2-3 more things this year than we did last year instead of 10 — we’re still making progress in the right directions.
I am so proud of our candidates this year too. So many first-time candidates have come out of the gate and worked harder than almost anyone else and raised 3-5 times more money than campaigns usually do. I also see more candidates and campaigns working together than they usually do.
In almost every district our house and senate candidates are working together to do joint sign waves and canvassing projects. And candidates in our two-member districts are doing joint mailers, joint radio commercials and joint social media at an unprecedented rate for Republicans. This is a year where I see more unity than ever before because the stakes are so high.
What the Democrats are doing is downright frightening. They voted 3 times to let other unelected bureaucrats increase the cost of heating your home. Some are trying to give your kids puberty blockers without your permission. Others are trying to legalize prostitution. Meanwhile Democrats try to play make-believe that gas prices are fine, crime is fine, our schools are fine. We see what’s really going on.
I think the alarming things that Democrats are doing in legislature is what is finally bringing Republicans together, and I remain optimistic that it will bring them out to the polls next week as well. Republicans are lagging behind in early voting in Vermont, so we have to keep the pressure up to remind our supporters to get out and vote on election day. Make a plan and think about whether you are going to vote in the morning before work, in the middle of the day during a break, or later at the end of the day. And make sure to encourage a friend or neighbor to do the same.
From my position I know that we are going to have a few surprises for the Democrats in this next week. And despite our best efforts, we may fall short in an important race or two. But for this last week I am filled with the kind of hope that keep me going to do everything I can, go everywhere I must, put in long nights and early mornings, because for only one more week what we do matters. After that, we have to wait another two years to work towards a better balance in the legislature. But I really feel there is great momentum behind us, not only for this year, but leading in to 2024 as well.
But as Rep. Samantha Lefebvre told me earlier this year, “We aren’t going to RIDE any Red Wave — we have to MAKE a Red Wave”
In this last week don’t be a spectator on the sidelines. Jump in, volunteer and let’s make some waves!