Roper: So, a 78% approval rating and $2 gets you a cup of coffee

By Rob Roper

Phil Scott, according to some polls, is the most popular governor in the United States. He has an overall approval rating of nearly 80 percent. Curiously, he has a higher approval rating amongst Democrats than he does with the Republican voters of his own party. While that appears to be a good formula for holding the corner office on the Fifth Floor, it hasn’t panned out as a good strategy for being able to use that office to advance an agenda — or oppose one.

Rob Roper

This week, with lighting speed, House Democrats overrode Scott’s vetoes of all five house bills that he returned to that body at the end of the official 2023 session. None of the votes was even close. As a result, Vermonters will be paying for an $8.5 billion budget (H.494), a 13% increase over last year and nearly a 50% increase over the last pre-Covid budget of 2019. We can look forward to a brand new $125 million payroll tax on top of our regular income tax burden (H.217). Vermont professionals will be tagged with higher licensing fees (H.305). And non-citizens can start voting in Burlington while sixteen-year-olds can start voting in local elections and holding local office in Brattleboro (H.509 and H.386 respectively), despite the now-apparently-irrelevant state Constitution.

Adding insult to injury, the House used the veto session to bring up and pass H.158, another bill the governor opposes, expanding the state’s bottle bill — the 5¢ and 15¢ deposit mandates — to include bottled water, sports drinks, etc., jacking up the cost of these products for consumers. Will he veto it? Will it matter?

All of this, of course, follows the override of Scott’s veto back in May of S.5, the fraudulently named “Affordable Heat Act”, which puts Vermonters on a path to paying significantly more for the heating oil, propane, and kerosene we need to stay warm through winter.

None of these laws is particularly popular, and some, such as S.5, are demonstrably despised by solid majorities of Vermont voters. Still, Scott was unable to leverage his historic popularity to change Democrat, Progressive or Independent minds to vote with him on any of these bills. The votes that did change from original passage to veto override overwhelmingly went against the governor.

So, the verdict is in: if Scott wants to be exceptionally popular, he can continue disassociate himself from his own party as much as he likes. But if he wants to be relevant and respected as an effective leader, he better start working with his party (and, in fairness, vice versa) to elect more like-minded members of the House and Senate. Arguably, and call me crazy, it’s better to be 51 percent popular and 100 percent relevant than 78 percent popular and totally irrelevant.

After Scott’s first election to the governorship in 2016 there were 53 Republican representatives and 7 GOP senators. Now there are 37 and 7 respectively. That is certainly not all Phil Scott’s fault, but, as the de facto leader of the Party, he hasn’t done much to help.

For a point of contrast, when I served as chairman of the Vermont Republican Party during the 2008 election year, Governor Jim Douglas, recognizing that his ability to sustain a veto was on the line, helped to raise over half a million dollars to support state house and senate candidates as well as party operations. Douglas and his campaign team were deeply involved in candidate recruitment. As such, the VTGOP was able to hold its ground during the Obama “Blue Wave.” (Though I still regret we weren’t able to pick up at least a couple of house seats….) If Scott had been equally committed to helping build Republican legislative numbers in 2018, 2020, and 2022, who knows how things might have turned out last Tuesday.

The one bright side to Tuesday’s veto session took place in the senate, where S.39, the bill that would more than double legislators’ pay and benefits package over the next couple of years, was recommitted to the Committee on Government Operations as it didn’t appear to garner enough votes for an override. Nevertheless, Senate President Pro Tem, Philip Baruth, pledged to bring it back and pass it in 2024 – an election year. Good luck with that.

So, going into the 2024 election cycle, Republicans are in a position to point out to voters that the Democrats and Progressives thwarted public opinion, and in some cases public outcry, in order to raise taxes on their incomes, raise their property taxes, jack up their fees to own/drive cars and do their jobs, dilute the power of their votes, and, as a reward for all this so-called governing, voted to give themselves a truly massive pay raise at taxpayers’ expense.

This should be a winning hand. Still, it has to be played. Here’s hoping the governor will help his party play it.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics,

Image courtesy of Public domain

19 thoughts on “Roper: So, a 78% approval rating and $2 gets you a cup of coffee

  1. The political imbalance is very much caused by Phil. How many republicans has Phil endorsed and supported? Only a few who are mostly left-leaning RINOs.
    He has made it appear that anyone to the right of him is an extremist.
    He has now help set Vermont up as him being the last republican elected statewide in Vermont.

    • The party would be much better off without him.

      They are afraid to make any change, they think they are winning with him but results prove otherwise. We have no course, no team, no money, no direction, no answers……we are a ship a drift, but party leaders say it’s because we don’t have enough people running.

      This is all crap. They won’t share voting lists, they have no lists, those people in power within the organization will not give up any authority a common problem in many organizations, they won’t let groups within try new things. The VTGOP is their own worst enemy, and certainly VERMONT worst enemy. Having said that there are many within that no the problems, which is a better start than most. Ther are many smart people that could help.

      Watched what they did to your campaign, it was terrible. You were treated more kindly by the other side.,they wouldn’t even introduce you at the summer get together!!!! I saw it! No sane business man after seeing what and how they run from the outside would want to work with this organization. They are their own worst enemy.

      You’d have been a much better Governor by far.

      • Thanks Neil. I can see a lot of things I would have done including promote a conservative agenda, support fellow candidates and definitely promote progressive ideas like lockdowns and woke ideology. I wouldn’t have been riding in an EV.

    • If the vtgop randomly picked people from a compitant pool of republicans we could start anew and have some hope. People are too entrenched. My guess is current leadership hasn’t changed in 20 years. The people that left are perhaps the ones we should be asking back in, certainly exit interviews.

      The organization is a complete failure, if we don’t change, we’ll never get change. And that’s what the current political leaders in Vermont want no change, they love it just the way it is.

    • If one were to restart, reform the party, you’d need to get reasonable people, those who are looking to bring about change, those who’ve been burned by the party, those who know the playing field. Those who know the playing field in Vermont is totally different, who know you can’t lead with traditional red meat republican trope.

      I’ve seen several on video conferences, but I didn’t know their names. From whom I’ve met, I’d have the following:

      Outside/burned advisors – Keith Stern
      The folks from Barre, who run their group seem to have it going on.
      The gentleman who won the races in the Champlain Islands.
      I’d have Mary Beersworth and others like her who know what is going on.
      Bob Orleck.
      There is a gentleman who retired from over Addison County way.
      Would look heavily in the Rutland area to build up their strength and leaders.

      With these people, coming together and advising you could build an effective group of people.

      When your own party won’t introduce a candidate running for governor because his name isn’t Phil Scott…….that’s pretty bad. It’s rigged from the beginning. The love affair with power and money has to stop some time…..

  2. So you can tell a tree by its fruit is good advice.

    Who is he willing to offend, greatly?l
    Who is he not willing to even ruffle feathers with?!

    Look at what he publically declares to the world?
    Look at what bills he is not willing to even voice an opinion on?

    The man is astute and politically savy. You can tell his master by how he votes.

    Now if we had a Republican who could speak like Kennedy, not offending the 20% of conservatives, exposing and offending the marxist 20% and getting along with blue dog democrats, we’d have something.

    There is so much Vermonter across the political spectrum (excluding the alynsky disciples) agree upon its staggering. We could knock on any door I the most blue part of the state and get interest on issues that matter to every one, most importantly conservatives. You can’t lead with the trigger words, and even then they will change the words and meanings, which is why we need to be smarter than snakes and more innocent than doves.

    Kryptonnite to the uniparty is loving your neighbor and coming together to solve mutual problems with wisdom, love and patience. When you satisfy the marxist, when you satisfy the pride filed leadership, things aren’t going to end up well. And here we are, 20, 30 years later having built the biggest uniparty political system completely controlled by the NWO, Lobbyists and corporatists in the nation.

    We reap what we sow. Time to change direction, set a new sail.

  3. Insightful comment, Mr. Roper:

    “…it’s better to be 51 percent popular and 100 percent relevant than 78 percent popular and totally irrelevant.”

    BINGO! Phil Scott is put in power by the Dem votes for him, fact. They vote him in, to create the fake notion that “they” are seeking “balance”….and they truly “care” (they don’t). It’s a lie. Dems & Libs will stab Phil Scott in the back every time….they always will. Phil is powerless, a Eunuch, neutered and irrelevant…save for him doing his “for-show-job-justification-veto”….so he can ballyhoo his veto. How’d that work out for ya’, Phil?

  4. Instead of blaming Governor Scott for the lack of Republicans in the legislature, it might be wiser to look at how the extremist and negative politics that have become for many to be synonymous with the Republican party have damaged the party in Vermont. This is the major problem we who believe in less intrusive government and more personal responsibility face.

    The extreme and impractial actions of the Democrat/Progressive legislature call out for an effective opposition. Yet, the blind adherence of the majority of national Republican party to Donald Trump makes it extremely hard for Vermont Republicans to unify and create that effective opposition or gain the broader public support needed to elect candidates. Blaming Phil Scott misses the point.

    • “The extreme and impractial actions of the Democrat/Progressive legislature call out for an effective opposition.” Yes, they do. And the person who was elected to lead that effective opposition is Governor Scott. His approach to that task has not worked out. As such, he should change strategies. My suggestion: start recruiting candidates for office who support your agenda, and then raise money to help them get elected. Don’t like who the state committee is recruiting because they are too extreme? Find someone else. Surely the governor knows people.

      • Mr. Roper. Sorry, but I think it is too late -recruiting good folks & Repubs for office. It’s been a 40 year grass roots effort for the Dems, Libs & Progs to gain control of all VT…They won, brilliant execution…and it will never be undone easily, if ever. They own VT now. So your chances of recruiting good Repubs is slim to none.. I knew a handful of good folks, but no one wanted to. They awee successful, busy and removing five months of income was not worth it (or, no one to run their business while gone)…they are the upper incomes. And then, Your personal, home phone and cell will be harrassed 365 days a year by constituents pestering you, getting angry. It happens to all of them, but Dems and Libs are particulary vicious as it is a BUG part of Saul Alinsky’s playbook….and they will call all hours of day and night..your family be damned.

        Oh, one more thing? Successful repubs all know this old quote:

        “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”

        I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than to ever spend 4-5 months with ignorant, brainwashed, indoctrinated.. progressives and socialists.

        Mr. Roper, it is game over…and the crux will be when they finally give these Dems and Progs the paid for gold plated union benefits…THAT is the three legged stool….UNION FULL TIME BENEFITS, the increased legislative salary…and the off season non profit place a padded job at one of the hundreds of Liberal funded $$$ non profits…It’s also a twist on the old Groucho Marx saying…”I wouldn’t join a club that would have someone like me as a member”….but the twist is ‘I would not joing a club (the legislature) that has THEM as members (socialist progressive fools)

  5. Rob,

    Sorry, but you have it backwards. The reason Phil got re-elected with such a high percentage of the vote is because he knows how to “read the room”. The state is left-leaning, but the majority of the people still recognize that Phil’s centrist approach, fiscal conservativeness, and willingness to accept that some left-leaning ideas are not all bad. Maybe the Republican State Committee should find more centrist candidates that the people voting for Phil would be more likely to take a chance on…

    • Totally incorrect, wrong. You make no logical sense. Phil Scott won because DEMOCRATS wanted him there! VT is a total left wing state. If so, it is IMPOSSIBLE that Phil who won 70% of votes cast…if it WASN’T FOR DEMOCRATS VOTING FOR HIM! Ya’ get it now? DEMOCRATS DON’T VOTE REPUBLICAN…but they sure vote Republican for Phil??? WHY???? It’s simply because they want the ruse of “liberal balance”, but really a puppet they can play with…..stab him in the back anytime. SO ANSWER THIS! The DEMS voted Phil in (won 70% of all votes cast) and if they LOVE Phil’s policies SO MUCH to MAKE HIM GOV…..WHY DO THE DEMS OVER RIDE ALMOST EVERY SINGLE VETO OF HIS – IF THEY VOTED FOR AND LOVE PHIL’s POLICIES??????? Humm?

      You’re pretty much stupid, sorry :)…..and ya’ can’t fix it…cause’ you’re seemingly a brainwashed Lib 🙂

      • Like many other Americans was a lifelong Republican who bailed because of MAGA.There are still a few true Republicans left who are critical thinkers.Our governor is one.Most arent and I will vote against them at every possible opportunity.Crime and treason are not my cup of tea.

        • He thinks what is popular in a marxist run state, hardly critical thinking by any means,mhe’s compliant to the whims of WEF that is for sure.

        • MAGA is an offshoot of Reaganomics!!

          Reagan did pretty well until he got screwed by the deep state and became enmeshed in its Iran-Contra special-ops

        • Bob, I suppose you think that Joe Biden is a critical thinker, right. I bet you were not much of a republican to begin with. A critical thinker would have known that Joe Biden has been a criminal for most of his political career. Further, after the Russia gate hoax and the continued persecution of Trump by the media and the demorats, you still think Trump was the problem. So that leads me to believe that you aren’t much of a critical thinker either. Especially, after seeing what the criminal party has done to America in two short years.

        • The only crime Trump committed was showing us how corrupt our government is.

          I am your voice.
          I am your justice.
          I am your warrior.
          I am your retribution.

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