Statewide GOP candidate forum focuses on inflation, crime, election security and more

Michael Bielawski/TNR

SIX GOP CANDIDATES: They are, left to right, Ericka Redic for U.S. House, Gerald Malloy for U.S. Senate, Greg Thayer for lieutenant governor, Anya Tynio for U.S. House, Joe Benning for lieutenant governor, H. Brooke Paige for secretary of state, and Myers Mermel for U.S. Senate.

BELLOWS FALLS — Last week, the Windsor and Windham County Republicans hosted a half-dozen statewide candidates at the Living Hope Community Church in Bellows Falls. The forum focused on inflation, public school controversies, election security, rising crime, and more.

Participants running for U.S. Senate included Myers Mermel, a businessman and former national finance chair for Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential run, and U.S. Army veteran Gerald Malloy. Former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan missed the event.

Candidates for U.S. House included YouTube “Generally Irritable” show host Ericka Redic, of Burlington, and Anya Tynio, a former GOP congressional nominee from West Charleston.

Two candidates for lieutenant governor, Greg Thayer of Rutland and Sen. Joe Benning of Lyndonville, also attended the event, as did H. Brooke Paige, of Washington, a candidate for secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, and state treasurer.

The candidates gave opening speeches and took questions during the forum.

“We now are having food shortages because we don’t have enough fertilizer,” Ericka Redic said during her opening statement. “The cost is skyrocketing because of fuel and gas and all those other things. We have a baby formula shortage — I thought we lived in a first-world country.

“I don’t know how that happens except by intentional policy, intentional degradation of our constitutional rights, our constitutional values, our ideas of a free market and personal liberty, all of these things are being infringed upon by our federal government.”

Her opponent Anya Tynio also talked about the struggles of everyday Vermonters in this economic recession.

“I will partner with the other representatives that believe as I do that we have an affordability crisis, I will work as hard as I know how to bring about the most immediate relief possible for the people of Vermont,” she said. “Winter is coming, people are scared about heating their homes. People can’t afford to get to work but they can’t afford not to work. … That is our job in government, to not over tax and over regulate and outspend the quality of life.”

In the race for lieutenant governor, Gregory Thayer talked about the importance of securing our schools, including the embracing of school resource officers (SROs), who are armed guards within schools acting as a deterrence to mass shootings.

“We need to have police in our schools working with children and staff, I think that’s really, really important,” he said. “To me, public safety is the number one issue of government. Other than that, the government should be in the back seat.”

His opponent, Joe Benning, spoke out about the undue influence of lobbyists in Montpelier.

“The simple answer to the question is to elect people who are not going to grow your government. But presently, your legislature is dominated by people who are responding to every lobbyist in the building,” he said. “If you’ve taken a look at the lobbyist list that is provided to us by the secretary of state, you will notice six pages single-spaced of about 300 lobbying organizations.

“Every single possible liberal cause is represented by the bulk of those individuals, and it’s problematic for those of us who are Republicans running for office, and we try to get money for the positions we’re in.”

Gerald Malloy again talked about the importance of energy independence to boost the economy.

“I also think that the president crusaded to kill the oil and gas industry,” he said. “That is actually causing these oil and gas prices, so I’d like to return that executive order, which I think is unconstitutional one way or another.”

His opponent, Myers Mermel, focused on getting economic policies under control.

“The first thing I want to do is reduce wasteful spending like this new IRA plan that [Sen. Joe] Manchin has proposed. … The second is to cut taxes.”

Other initiatives he listed include restoring energy independence, selling assets to the Federal Reserve, and seeking the resignation of Janet Yellen, “who quote ‘didn’t see the path that inflation was taking.'”

A crowd of about 20 Vermonters watched in the audience of the small church. The nearly three-hour candidate forum can be viewed online here.

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