by Paul Dame
It seems like the week here between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a time where nearly everyone is taking a moment to look at the year behind us. Regular talk radio programs, and even some TV news shows will run their “best of” material so their staff get the week off without skipping programming. Many of your favorite websites or news aggregators will do a “top stories of 2021.” Sometimes even your bank or credit card company, or your music streaming service will give you their own version of your “year in review” on how you spent your time or treasure.
I want to look back at what I consider 5 of the most memorable moments for Republicans here in Vermont. This is not only to encourage us with the year we just had – but also to sharpen our resolve for the year that lies ahead. Here are a few of the most memorable moments in chronological order:
1) Republicans Unite to Fight for a Repeal of the Military Pension Tax (April)
It’s no secret that in the past Republicans have been divided, but this moment proved to be a turning point, and a reminder that despite the labels used by some, every Republican in the House and Senate joined together to support our Governor in calling for a complete repeal of the Military Pension Tax. It was a sign of hope that when Republicans put aside personalities, and focus on policies we agree a lot more than we disagree. We also had over 1,000 Vermonters sign our petition to support our efforts, and our numbers have continued to grow. While we came up short on this issue, because we just didn’t have enough Republicans serving to cast the votes we needed, I am optimistic that this is an issue that is gaining ground and we can win on – if we simply refuse to give up. I have already talked to our current legislators who have drafted Senate Bill S.12 to have this idea re-introduced, and I have already begun talking to people who have expressed an interesting in running for office, so we can begin the recruitment effort we will need in order to change the outcome after the next election.
2) Governor Scott Sets Record for Most Vetoes in Vermont History (May)
This year Gov. Scott set a record for the most number of vetoes by a Vermont Governor, breaking the record previously set by Howard Dean. Among some of the legislation that Gov. Scott has prevented or attempted to prevent from becoming law included last year’s veto of the Global Warming Solutions Act, and this year’s veto of the non-citizen voting for Winooski & Montpelier. This has become especially important because while some smaller bills he has prevented from being passed into law, these two larger ones were overridden due to a lack of just a few votes. In the case of the Non-Citizen Voting bill, we were only ONE vote shy in the Senate. But I’m optimistic we can continue recruiting efforts to pick up the candidates and the votes we need to change things for next year. If you want to join the fight and have the chance to make a difference by supporting our Governor’s vetoes and the Republicans in the the Legislature, make sure to contact us to learn more. There are going to be a LOT of opportunities for Republicans this coming November, and just a few more wins can really shift the balance of power.
3) Governor Douglas’s 70th birthday Party (June)
There is little doubt that Governor Jim Douglas is among the most beloved Republicans in our state’s history. His pragmatic common-sense approach, and unflappable humor have been a model for nearly every Republican who has served after him. After months of lock downs, mask mandates, and prohibitions on larger meetings, The Vermont Republican Party held it’s first in-person fundraiser in over a year to honor our former Governor for this milestone birthday. It was the first time many of us had been able to gather at all, and it was also the first time that some of our freshmen legislators met other Republicans in person. We had an estimated 200 people in attendance and raised a significant amount of money for the party while lifting the spirits of all who attended. The event served as a reminder that Republicans are the party that want to move forward past COVID and get back to normal life.
4) Republicans Run on Education, and Sweep in Virginia (November)
Republicans all across the country were eager to see what would happen in the Virginia Governor’s race. While the state had been somewhat reliably blue for years, Republican Glenn Youngkin was poised to make huge gains for Republicans in his state. Despite the efforts of Democrats to make the race about former President Trump, Youngkin and the rest of the Virginia Republicans made the election about parents, and their right to be involved with their child’s education. This new focus on education policies, and not national personalities was a winning combination for Youngkin. The Lt. Gov and Attorney General candidates joined him in a sweep all three state-wide races. In addition to that, Republicans also flipped control of the Virginia House of Delegates out of Democrat control. Even in deep blue New Jersey, the Governor’s race was too close to call on election night – which was a major moral victory for Republicans across the northeast. While those wins didn’t happen here in Vermont, they breathed a great deal of hope and momentum into the conversations I have been having with fellow Republicans that we can do things in our state that might seem impossible today. A clearly articulated education policy was a key part of their success in Virginia, and I look forward to working with our legislators to develop that here in Vermont as well. I’ve already seen a great deal of movement with more conservatives running for, and winning seats on their local school boards here in Vermont.
5) Let’s Go Brandon Rally in Brandon, VT (November)
And just a few weeks ago the VTGOP made international news with our “Let’s Go Brandon” Rally in my hometown of Brandon, VT. I just posted a video today on the final wrap-up of the event, which was an incredibly success. We were able to draw in around 200 people in the cold November Rain on the first day of deer season – with just 6 days notice. We saw a lot of new people who had never engaged with the party before; young people, international immigrants, even curious independents came to the event, and helped to support the local economy. We’ve also seen the number of small dollar donors increase, as well as get some major donors talking again. Even some of the people who sent me hate mail when they first heard about the event softened their response when they saw for themselves what the event was about. If you still want to order merchandise, you can get it HERE.
Next week will be the first week of a new year, and I’m excited by the opportunities that Republicans will have in the months and year ahead. I feel like we are heading into 2022 with more momentum than I’ve ever felt in the nearly 10 years I’ve been involved with the party. I have a lot of plans for new and exciting things we’ve never done before – because we need to get results like we haven’t had before. I hope you will join me.