By Guy Page
He’s hearing it from the left and from the right: Phil Scott should leave the Vermont GOP.
It’s not an idea shared by the party leadership, nor indeed by most Republicans. But there have been public calls for him to leave the party he’s belonged to his whole political life. And the man elected senator, lieutenant governor, and governor as a Republican seems to be thinking about it.
A petition organized by Essex Republican Party Chair Ron Lawrence is seeking signatures “to ask the Governor to Leave the Republican Party.”
“We would love to have seen more leadership from our Governor to champion these themes of ‘smaller government and capitalism’; but, it seems like his leadership in these areas has been less than enthusiastic,” the petition says. “We also challenge the Governor to tell us just what he means by ‘continue with white supremacy’ and ‘racial inequity’. We suspect that there is no specific answer.”
Lawrence notes the VT GOP recently strengthened its party platform on racism. “Rather, we suspect that these outrageous comments from the Governor are his first steps toward leaving the party. We’re guessing that the Governor has his sights set on bigger things, and, Vermont doesn’t seem like it is in the mood to send a Republican to Washington,” the petition states.
Lawrence is not the first Republican to ask Scott to leave the party. He’s not even the first from Essex Junction. In late December, conservative pro-life, pro-police gun-rights activist and outspoken Scott critic Jim Sexton of Essex Junction sent a letter to each of the Vermont GOP county chairs asking them to remove Scott from the party. None of them complied or even provided a detailed response, Sexton said. So when Scott called for the ouster of the President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 riot, Sexton let his feelings be known on Facebook:
“So Scott goes on national news and tells the world about how evil Trump and all his supporters are. ‘He [Trump] must be removed now!’ screams Scott. Must be because of his failed leadership that caused so much hate and division in America, ‘eh Scott ? Kind of like what you have done by supporting the domestic terrorists in Vermont by allowing their name to be painted on our streets, their flag to be flown over our schools and monuments, and allowing them to hold Battery Park in Burlington to be occupied while they threatened police and citizens. Or does that matter? When are you going to resign?”
Scott’s call for Trump to be removed from office prompted Anne Galloway, editor/publisher of VTDigger, to ask him at a Jan. 15 press conference whether he would leave the GOP. He answered, in effect, it depends on the Republican Party: “Whether they will continue with what I perceive as white supremacy dominating, racial inequity, and so forth, then we’ll all have to make some decisions.”
At least one journalist/college professor, Art Edelstein of Calais, likened Scott to former Vermont Sen. James Jeffords, who declared as independent after winning election as a Republican. Noting that Scott was the first GOP governor to call for Trump’s resignation, Edelstein wrote in a Jan. 13 Times Argus letter to the editor, “It’s time for Scott to fully unblemish his reputation by leaving the Republican Party. He doesn’t have to join the Democratic or Progressive parties as that might be a bridge too far. He should declare himself an independent for now. Jim Jeffords left the Republicans in 2001 and became independent: He, too, was an honorable public servant.”
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.