By Guy Page
All six Democratic/Progressive Vermont legislators whose seats were “flipped” by voters in favor of Republicans Nov. 3 had been strongly endorsed by the Planned Parenthood of Vermont Action Fund.
In the House, four lawmakers whose seats went Republican had received a 100% “Champion” endorsement from the political arm of Vermont’s largest abortion provider and advocate:
- Dave Potter, Democrat, Rutland-2 district, replaced by Republican Art Peterson;
- Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, Progressive caucus leader, Rutland-Bennington district, who lost to Republican Sally Achey;
- Carl Demrow, Democrat, Orange-Caledonia district, replaced by Republican Samantha Lefebvre;
- Chip Conquest, Democrat, of Newbury, who did not run for re-election and whose seat was won by Republican Joe Parsons.
DETHRONED – Republicans were elected to the seats of six Vermont lawmakers (above) endorsed by Planned Parenthood. Clockwise from top left: Sen. John Rodgers, Rep. Mitzi Johnson, Rep. Chip Conquest (who did not seek re-election), Rep. Dave Potter, Rep. Carl Demrow, and Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman.
Mitzi Johnson, Democrat House Speaker from Grand Isle, was replaced by Republican Mike Morgan, pending a Nov. 20 recount. As Speaker she did not cast votes and thus did not have the voting record needed to qualify as a ‘champion’. However she did receive the Planned Parenthood of VT Action Fund endorsement.
In the Senate, “Champion” Sen. John Rodgers (Essex-Orleans) lost to Republican Russ Ingalls. A full-color, backpage, full-page ad for Ingalls in the October 28 Barton Chronicle proclaimed, “I am Prolife.”
By contrast, only two lawmakers with low PP ratings were replaced with pro-legal abortion candidates: Bob Bancroft of Westford, who was defeated, and Linda Myers of Essex Junction, who declined to run for re-election. It is premature to state how the lawmakers who replaced the six PP-endorsed legislators will vote. In the upcoming session, the Legislature is likely to vote again on Proposition 5, the proposed constitutional amendment granting “reproductive autonomy” to all Vermonters regardless of age and circumstances.
The electoral losses came after a 2019-2000 session in which abortion was the centerpiece of legislative action. Planned Parenthood ‘Champions’ were selected for complete loyalty to the organization’s position on H57, a law requiring total access to abortion, and Prop 5, a proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine reproductive autonomy as a human right – regardless of circumstance and age.
“At a press conference held in the State House on January 22, 2019, Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson, President Pro-Tempore of the Senate Tim Ashe and other Vermont legislators joined representatives of Planned Parenthood to declare that abortion would be the centerpiece of the 2019 legislative agenda,” Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life, said today. “Johnson and Ashe made good on that promise by allowing enormous amounts of legislative committee time, state resources, public hearings and numerous hours of floor debate to dominate the session with passage of both H. 57 and Proposal 5.”
During contentious rollcalls on abortion legislation, Planned Parenthood publicly stated it was closely watching the votes of all legislators and would take appropriate action. It may be that the hundreds of pro-life Vermonters who attended public hearings, only to have the Legislature vote against their wishes, were doing the same.
“Public hearings on both pro-abortion issues filled the State House with hundreds of pro-life Vermonters who objected to the promotion of unlimited, unregulated abortion throughout pregnancy,” Beerworth said. “I am not disappointed that both Johnson and Ashe are now out of office.”
A Planned Parenthood press statement appearing in the Nov. 11 World newspaper did not address the losses, but instead focused on the election of pro-legal abortion candidates at the state level, including Gov. Phil Scott, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, Attorney General TJ Donovan, Secretary of State Jim Condos, and Treasurer Beth Pearce.
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