By Lawrence Zupan
Next month, Vermont will elect a U.S. senator. Vermonters want a senator for Vermont. By his own choices, Bernie Sanders has ceased to be that senator.
As the Republican Party nominee for the U.S. Senate, I make four promises to the voters of Vermont. If elected to serve in the U.S. Senate, I promise I will show up for votes in the Senate. I will be available to the people and press of Vermont. I will spend my time in either Vermont or in Washington, D.C. And now and six years from now, I will gladly debate my opponent.
These four promises alone set me apart from Bernie Sanders, who has become the Senate version of an absentee landlord — rarely present, incommunicado when you need him, and obviously more interested in his next big venture.
In the first quarter of 2016, our junior senator missed 37 out of 38 Senate votes. He missed 115 out of 163 during the whole (presidential election) year. If — as many people believe — he runs for president again in 2020, Vermont can expect the same dismissive representation on the Senate floor.
Sanders was not only missing from the Senate in 2016, he will be missing from Vermont much of this October, the final month before the election. Talk about voting with your feet — Bernie Sanders has shaken dusty Vermont loose, in favor of bringing his false socialist gospel to more “important” and perhaps receptive voters elsewhere. The headline from today’s Washington Post reads, “Bernie Sanders plans nine-day blitz for democratic candidates on midterm ballot.” Not coincidentally, the trip next week includes several stops in Iowa, home of the first 2020 presidential vote. He will also speak with the good people of South Carolina, Nevada, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado and California.
Rather than travel to South Carolina, I will drive to South Hero. Instead of Nevada, I’ll go to Newport. I’ll pass on Indiana but gladly make the road trip to Ira. At every stop along the way I will be talking to and listening to Vermonters. Since my campaign began earlier this year, I have been listening to what Vermonters want from their Washington, D.C., representatives.
What Vermonters want most is good jobs, education and health care, and a future of hope, peace and prosperity for their families. If elected I will oppose grandstanding legislation like the Sanders BEZOS bill that would load a huge, subjective tax burden not just on bogeyman Amazon but on every U.S. company of 500 or more employees. I would help skills-hungry Americans develop market-ready employment skills rather than champion the obsolete, too-expensive, bricks-and-mortarboard “free college for all.” And I would put the health care consumer in the drivers’ seat by allowing multiple health insurers to offer them the best bang for their buck, rather than have our debt-ridden federal government impose gigantic health care taxes, listed in two recent studies at $32 trillion.
I welcome the opportunity to talk about any of my policies or statements with the Vermont press. Absentee landlord Sanders and his aides were happy to tell the Washington Post about his national campaign plans, but our Vermont media — like our voters — can’t seem to get his attention. VT Digger and Seven Days have published stories about his non-availability. Sure, he’s quick on the draw with press releases, but that’s one-way communication. But national TV shows and magazines have no trouble getting a piece of Sanders’ time.
I have asked the Sanders campaign repeatedly for early debates. It has refused. This is a slap in the face not only to the working press but to the voters who want to see and hear Senate nominees defend policies and positions, especially the Democrats’ choice (Sanders) and the Republicans’ choice (me).
Every mile that Sanders runs toward the voters and donors in California, he runs away from a Vermont debate with me. He is treating Vermonters like an upholstered footstool, a convenient object for him to plant his foot on as he reaches for the top shelf of American government.
I hope our traveling senator soon will realize what this election is really about. It’s about Vermont.
Lawrence Zupan, a Manchester resident, is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.