Benning to Zuckerman: let’s leave high platitudes out of campaign

by Joe Benning

This is an open letter to David Zuckerman, my opponent in the upcoming election for Lt. Governor.

Well David, looks like it’s me and you. I’ll repeat what I said when I called you a few months back when you were considering joining the race.  We should use this as an opportunity to show Vermonters we can rise above the national fray and run only on our respective merits.

I suggest we first agree on the basic functions of the office we are actually running for: Lt. Governor.  High platitudes, curing social ills and championing given causes have no realistic place in our race.  Those discussions are dealt with in other offices.  For those unaware, the job we’re running for has three basic functions.  First, you moderate the Senate.  Second, as part of a committee of three you decide which senators go on which committees and who chairs them.  Finally, should the Governor be unable to continue his/her role, you take over that position. 

I know this is boring inside baseball to some, but neither of us should use this race to tell Vermonters our election will cure climate change or provide health care for all, etc. That would be disrespectful to the voters.  True, we can use the office to speak about things we appreciate, but we both know the Lt. Governor cannot draft legislation, cannot argue and vote in committee, and cannot debate or vote on the floor.  At best, the Lt. Governor can break a tie.  Simply put: advancing policy with legislation is not within the job description. Let’s agree we shouldn’t insult Vermonters by pretending the office is something it isn’t.

It is here I see the first of two major differences between us  for voters to consider.  For the entire primary, during your debates and press interactions, you’ve been speaking a language that appears (to me at least) not related to the job we’re running for.  It appears you are using this campaign as a warm up for higher office.  Having previously run against Phil Scott in 2020, it is pretty hard to now avoid the perception that you are using this race as a placeholder.  We know Bernie’s term will expire in 2024 and it is quite possible Phil Scott may step down the same year.  In either case, your present refusal to commit to re-election to Lt. Governor in 2024 makes your intention quite clear.

In my case, two things have me committed to running for Lt. Governor again in 2024.  First, the Senate has just gone through Covid-19- the most trying time in its history since it was formed in 1836.  We still have residual issues that will require institutional knowledge.  You’ve been absent for almost all of that trying time.  Secondly, one-third of the Senate is about to turn over.  A revolving door Lt. Governor is the last thing the institution needs right now.  My hope is that voters appreciate my commitment to that most august body.

The second major difference between us is how we’d treat this office in relation to Governor Phil Scott.  The difference is especially glaring in the event either of us was expected to step into his shoes.  On primary night you announced to your supporters that you were going back to Montpelier to “ride right over that  hump” that was in your way.  The “hump” you were referring to was Phil Scott.  Of course, by extension you were also belittling his administrative team.

This is troubling on three counts.  First, your election would set the stage for conflict between the two top constitutional offices at a time when the massive infusion of federal Covid-19 money is about to end.  Secondly, as frugality becomes the order of the day, it is crucial that the Lt. Governor acts in support of a Governor who will need to deal with the pressures of critical needs versus a decreasing revenue stream.  In your previous terms as Lt. Governor you were not welcomed in Phil Scott’s cabinet and, no matter who was to blame for that, it is clear the two of you would have difficulties being in sync. Finally, in the event you had to actually take the Governor’s place, your “hump” characterization doesn’t exactly endear you to the team currently running this 8.2 billion dollar corporation called the “State of Vermont.” That’s the team you’d have to rely on.  Vermonters might consider that an important concern.

On the other hand, I’ve known Phil Scott for 12 years and consider him a friend.  I’ve campaigned with him, advanced several of his bills through the legislature, and worked with his administrative team on a daily basis as Minority Leader and chair of Senate Institutions.  A transition into his role with his team (should the need arise) would be virtually seamless for me.  He knows that, which is one of the reasons he’s endorsed me in this campaign.  

I’ll leave it to Vermonters to weigh whether these differences between us are worthy of their consideration.

The author is a lawyer, Caledonia County state senator, and Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. VDC will publish any response submitted by candidate Zuckerman.

Categories: Commentary

33 replies »

  1. Thanks Joe, for putting ponytail on the spot. Without high platitudes and a vision for higher office, that leaves Zuckerman with not much in the way of options and dreams for a campaign or a term as Lt Gov. so dont expect him to comply in any meaningful way. Progressives dont live in the real world, so platitudes and pipe dreams are the essence of the appeal to their base.

  2. Zuckerman should terrify every Vermonters. When he welcomed the Chinese Consulate he told him that he would “introduce the Belt and Road ” construction which is also called the new ” Silk Road ” and will massively increase China’s ability to trade . It is unthinkable in my view that an American politician would favor that project .

    From the Chinese Consulate website :” According to David Zuckerman, the Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, he welcomes the Chinese Consulate General in New York to introduce and promote Vermont to more Chinese people. As a native of Vermont, he knows the overall strength of the diary, beer, and other industries in Vermont well, and he believes that China could definitely provide a broad market for them. He is willing to introduce the “The Belt and Road” construction and the holding of the Expo in China to relevant departments of the State Government and the enterprises in Vermont, and to promote more cooperation between China and these institutions’.”
    And more on the Belt and Road project.

    • to offer a correction to the chinese consulate website: Zuckerman is NOT a native of Vermont…born and bred in Massachusetts, like too many of his colleagues in Vermont government. That makes him all the more terrifying.

  3. Joe Benning hit the proverbial nail on the head with this statement.
    “Secondly, as frugality becomes the order of the day, it is crucial that the Lt. Governor acts in support of a Governor who will need to deal with the pressures of critical needs versus a decreasing revenue stream.”
    One cannot spend what one does not have. At a time when everyone is suffering from stagflation ( wages which do not keep up with inflation ) the solution is not to hit folks with increasing taxes. It is high time we learned to do more with much less, and that includes education. Stick to the basics, reading, writing, arithmetic, science, and drop the nonsense programs that have more to do with indoctrination than education. Nonsense programs exist all throughout government and we need to eliminate them. We could focus on state food and energy security as those are basic to any sovereign unit. We could encourage and help small farms and farmers allowing them to sell direct without too many encumbrances from government, and we could train the young to grow food in truly sustainable ways, and not just employing popular virtue signaling strategies. We could improve our energy infrastructure with viable energy resources such as more small scale hydro, and yes even nuclear ( it is currently the most efficient energy resource we have ). We could allow individual small business owners to have the same types of tax write-offs as large corporations.

  4. Excellent. We have to start talking about real issues facing the majority of residents, and their descendants.

  5. So, benning has correctly called zuckerman out. Big deal. I’m not sure if banning believes what he wrote or this is mere political theatre. benning’s legislative actions of the last biennium are nothing to be proud of.
    This appears to be a race of the lesser of two evils, with benning less progressive than zuckerman, but still way left of center.

  6. The original movie, Mash released in 1970 gave birth to the phrase “catch 22”.
    Here’s my catch 22, if there is one thing that would make me vote for Joe Benning it would be David Zuckerman. I think Benning would rationalize to Phil Scott that Vermont needs no more illegal gun restrictions. Call me a one issue voter in this decision. Zuckerman should scare the pants off reasonable democrats also. Say no to Zuckerman!

    • ‘Catch 22’ was the title of a satirical war novel by American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961.

      • Actually, MASH has often been compared to the famous CATCH 22 movie with Alan Arkin, Orson Wells, Martin Balsom and Art Garfunkel. But MASH (the movie or TV show) isn’t where the CATCH 22 ‘saying’ came from. At least I can find no record of the CATCH 22 ‘saying’ in either the MASH movie transcript or the MASH TV series.

      • So apparently my error. For those not familiar with the 1961 book, it seems that the 1970 movie “Catch 22” was when the phrase became famous. The movie MASH was released 3 months before the movie adaption of catch 22.
        MASH went on to make 81 million dollar and the movie catch 22 was accordingly “cut of at the Knees” due to the popularity of MASH. I saw both movies back in the day, so I confused the two. All of which is off subject for this commentary by Mr. Benning.

        Calling something a “catch-22” is, in short, common parlance for when someone is trapped in an inescapable dilemma. Which was the meaning of my original post pertaining should I or shouldn’t I vote for Mr. Benning. I hope this clears it all up for such a simple mistake caught by the perfectionists here.

    • So, after reading some of the other comments I am reminded that Zuckerman was the LT. Governor and he amounted to nothing beneficial or harmful. I have a real hard time voting for a republican in name only who voted for Joe Biden and the destruction of America. I think my conscience will not allow me to vote for Benning and I will write in Greg Thayer’s name who I voted for in the primary. In fact, all true republicans should do the same. Future gun restrictions will be deemed unconstitutional under the Bruin Supreme Court decision in June anyway. The standard capacity mag restrictions will soon be overturned as court cases are proceeding. New York’s new unconstitutional permit scheme will also be overturned, and the so-called assault weapons ban will not pass constitutional muster either. So, on reflection, I’d rather vote for the true republican Greg Thayer in a write in vote. Remember, only 20% of the voters showed up to vote in the primaries. Zuckerman is a nothing burger anyway. Every true republican should Join Me!

      • Dano: I did not vote for Biden. Mind telling me where you got that idea from? I’d really like to trace that source.

      • I can’t verify that you did, but you didn’t support President Trump who was the leader of the republican party. Others have stated that you voted for Biden. None of what I say matters anyway. All I have is an opinion based on what I read. Just like when you called January 6, 2021, an insurrection before any facts were released. We all make mistakes but, my main motivation is that you are a lawyer and that’s the last thing we need in government right now. If you didn’t vote for Joe, who did you vote for, it wasn’t Trump.

      • Mr. Benning, did you ever say, publicly, that you voted for Donald Trump?

  7. Joe Benning Has No redeming Qualities . and The Point of Law and Fact . he was not Legally Elected in 2020 This is why the Republican Party in Vermont refuses to address Election Fraud . as the Entire November 2020 Election is and was Illegal on Numerous Points of Law . Suck it Up Lawyer Dude , Mail Out Ballots were Legislated For by Fradulently Elected officials , and Every Elected official from 2020 Forward Elected with Mass mail out Ballots in Vermont will never be Legally Elected , Im Your Huckleberry

  8. Re: “…curing social ills and championing given causes have no realistic place in our race.”

    Then what’s the point of your candidacy, Mr. Benning? Other than just listening to yourself speak sweet nothings to whoever will listen.

    And to think David Zuckerman is the alternative choice.

    Good Lord, help us.

    How about a write-in campaign?

    • If you’re feeling that you will lose either way, you might as well join me in voting for Greg Thayer as a write in. I’d rather feel good about my vote than voting for and rewarding a Biden voter for Lt. Governor who calls himself a republican.

  9. In reading your open letter to David Zuckerman it made me chuckle.

    Are you not aware David Zuckerman served as our lieutenant governor?

    And your statement, “let’s agree we shouldn’t insult Vermonters by pretending the office is something it isn’t.”

    You don’t think you insult Vermonters when you call them INSURRECTIONISTS and WHITE SUPREMACIST for practicing their constitutional rights?

    Do you really believe it was just the VERMONT senate that went through a hard time during covid-19 and that you are the “lone survivor”

    Joe you must have been asleep during the past 2 years when under the leadership of governor Phil Scott, with your help, Vermont destroyed businesses and went after people because they wanted to practice their constitutional rights. You have proven numerous times that you do not have the best interests of the people in the state of Vermont at heart.


    While some other states under
    proper leadership remained free you and our governor decided to destroy the middle class. You chose to do this along with president Biden, the man you both voted for, by permitting the lockdown of our government and our churches and the people that depend on real leadership but were destroyed as a result of your actions.

    I admire you for your scare tactics and claiming that Zuckerman was not welcomed in Phil Scott’s cabinet…

    Is that what you consider the ability to reach across the aisle?

    Sometimes that is a plus because it keeps both parties in check..

    I’m also glad you point out that this 8.2 billion dollar corporation called the state of Vermont is exactly what it means to you… You have absolutely no regard for the long time Vermonters or the other residents who came to this state to enjoy the freedoms and the life we have come to love.

    Let’s remember one thing this corporation belongs to the people in the state of Vermont not to Phil Scott and not to Joe Benning and not to David Zuckerman or any other politician.

    Anyone that has followed you in the media realizes that you have no concern for the people in this state. It is all about your personal gain and power that drives you… And Vermonters should be very concerned.

    Every Vermonter that is paying attention knows that both you and Phil Scott voted for Joe Biden, who is destroying the United States of America under his failed leadership.

    You’re absolutely correct you side with Phil Scott we have become a sanctuary state we allowed crime to run rampant in the state of Vermont and our state is becoming like a third world banana republic… Could you point me to where you have spoken out against this decay of our state and what you are doing to prevent it?

    In spite of the inflation and what we are forced to pay for fuel and food and health items and clothing and anything else necessary to our survival I do not hear you speaking out. Your silence is deafening.

    As a so-called leader in this state I have never heard you speak out about the crazy spending that takes place that burdens the taxpayers and it will for decades.

    And you’re right. You work closely with governor Scott who has called for the GUN CONTROL that is being pushed by Joe Biden and will affect not only Vermonters but every American.

    You use your past voting record on guns as an excuse to keep being elected as a republican in the state of Vermont while you remain silent about a gun grab across America… How deceitful can you be Joe?

    There are big differences between you and David Zuckerman. You insult Vermonters and you deceive them with your propaganda.

    I have spoken with David Zuckerman under golden dome for a number of years now and never has that man been disrespectful in spite of the fact we disagree on everything.

    Joe maybe if you just block David, like you do to people who disagree with you, he will go away…

    Anyone that considers voting for you does not have the best interest of the state of Vermont at heart…

    If you can convince them that they do they certainly have not been paying attention.

    I’ve been a Vermonter all of my life and believe me I have the ability to sort through the bull crap of false promises when someone is begging for your vote and how they turn on you once they are elected.

    I sure hope Vermonters wake up and do some research on you because you do not represent us at all.

    A vote for you is a vote for more destruction of our beautiful state of Vermont

    • Life long, born and raised Vermonter here too. You changed my mind. See my two comments above. I’ll be writing in Greg Thayer’s name who I voted for in the primary. I’ll also be voting for Kevin Hoyt for governor as an independent. I can’t convince myself to vote for two Biden voters who call themselves republicans. Those votes and the national destruction caused by the Biden election theft and Facebook censorship od the Hunter Biden scandal demonstrates the poor judgement of people with Trump Derangement Syndrome. These two are not republicans. Phil will probably win because the dem/progs love him. He can win without my help.

    • There is planning in the works and there will be an announcement shortly.

      Please visit

      Everyone should spread the word among friends and family, in the community, and on social media.

      Ballot MUST be filled out EXACTLY:

      “Gregory M. Thayer of Rutland”

  10. We will be getting information out as soon as possible to let you know how to write fair in so the vote will count so until that time if you would all hold off on your balance it would be appreciated..

    We are also in the process of setting up a website for greg’s write in campaign that we will be passing around so you can access that for information as well.

    And please don’t hesitate to let all of your friends know what is going on so we finally get some proper representation under the golden dome.

    Thank you…

  11. I apologize for the typos the above post

    We will be getting information out as soon as possible to let you know how to write GREGIRY M THAYER OF RUTLAND in so the vote will count.

    Until that time if you would all hold off on your ballots it would be appreciated..

    We are also in the process of setting up a website for Greg’s write in campaign that we will be passing around so you can access that for information as well.

    And please don’t hesitate to let all of your friends know what is going on so we finally get some proper representation under the golden dome.

    Thank you…

  12. Only one major difference between Benning and Zuckerman, Zuckerman is honest when he tells you his agenda.
    You may like it, you may hate it, ( I disagree with almost everything Zuckermnan stands for )
    But I’ll give him this, he isn’t lying to you.
    Benning on the other hand will tell you how we need unity in the Republican Party. This after calling 116,000 Vermonters that voted for President Trump, ” White Supremacists and Racists. ”
    Echoing the words spoken by Scott the day before.
    Benning voted for Prop 5 twice to advance it to the House. Benning said in a forum at Rockingham he supports Article 22 and will vote for it in November.
    Benning spits in the face of the VTGOP Platform, and he has a lot of company.
    A previous commenter asks, ” is he running as a liberal ? ”
    So pick your poison, Zuckerman who tells you his agenda, or Benning, who will look you in the eyes and tell you he is a Republican while betraying the Platform he voted for.
    If you swallow the lies Benning is your man. If you hate Vermont Zuckerman is your man.

    There will be a write in candidate, maybe more than one.
    Write in someone who represents you and you’ll be able to look in the mirror November 9th.

  13. So in conclusion Joe one can only surmise that you voted for Joe Biden in spite of the fact you would like us to believe you didn’t.

    Who can believe anything you say when you have been deceitful all the while you have been a representative in our Vermont government.

    How can a guy who calls us insurrectionists and white supremacists and racists deny he voted for Joe Biden?.

    Sorry Joe it’s time to write in GREGORY M THAYER OF RUTLAND

    We need to honest representation in the state of Vermont and we need a patriot to take over as our governor in case something happens to Phil Scott

  14. WOW? So people actually believe there were only 2 candidates on the 2020 Presidential ballot and if someone did not vote for Trump they must have voted for OBiden? Seriously? Can’t be bothered to do a little research and look up who was on the ticket so just accuse and emotionally rant. Just WOW!. Kind of sad actually..

    Very good article Joe. Ignore the static. 🙂

    • So what you’re saying is it shouldn’t offend Joe if republicans decide not to vote for him because he decided the same way

      It’s obvious from joe’s remarks that he does not support the republicans or the republican party when he goes to vote however he does request that republicans vote for him.

      And when he calls himself a Phil Scott republican he completely aligns with governor Phil Scott who openly states he voted for Joe Biden..

      Why would Benning think it’s okay for Scott to cover up who he voted for.

      We need transparency and politics and that’s why we cannot support Joe Benning…

      Maybe Joe should do a little research and he would find that yes voter fraud took place and it’s being exposed all over.

      And if Joe wanted to investigate he could find out what took place on january 6th instead of denouncing president Trump on january 8th aligning with the socialists in the state of Vermont who couldn’t wait to post it on twitter.

      Republicans have the opportunity to rid themselves of a man who does not support the conservative republicans in the state of Vermont.

      Tell us again Joe the names you like to call us!

      Joe Benning is a disgrace to the republican party and should be avoided at all cost.

      Joe has got to go!

      We have a much better choice that we can write in and that is. GREGORY M AYER OF RUTLAND


      • No RIchard, that is not at all what I am saying. I believe the party should unite under the candidate who won the primary.

        From what I can tell you are saying someone is NOT a Republican if they DO NOT vote for the person running on the Republican ballot, correct? Seems like that makes you NOT a Republican.

        Please stop accusing conservative Republicans of not being a Republican because not everyone believes what you believe. The Republican party core values do not include some personal values you and some others are projecting. That is kind of how the Democrat party got hi-jacked by the Lib Progs. The LIb Prog values have been driving the left farther left. Some want to drive the Republican party far right. Respectfully, it is ok to have your own values but just don’t force them on others.

        Although I do like Thayer it is statistically unlikely, he can win as a write in so each vote he gets is basically gaining a vote for Zuckerman. Democrats come out to vote in droves, so IMO it is important to not split the votes.

  15. I am coming around to agree with Richard. Is there planning in the works to get the word out to those folks who would vote for Greg, if they knew he is in fact a write in candidate? A 3 way race makes things a whole different ball game.

    • Jim, yes, there is planning in the works and there will be an announcement shortly.

      Please visit

      Everyone should spread the word among friends and family, in the community, and on social media.

      Ballot MUST be filled out EXACTLY:

      “Gregory M. Thayer of Rutland”

Leave a Reply