GOP disunity on display in wake of LaMarche resignation

by Janet Metz

As many are aware from sensationalized stories in the press Kolby LaMarche has resigned from the Burlington GOP as well as the State Party. I have been hesitant to comment publicly on this situation but cannot let stand his attacks, and those of others, on our party leadership and members.

Kolby LaMarche

Kolby was from a four-year avid supporter of President Trump, very anxious to attend the RNC nominating convention as a page to the Vermont delegation last summer. He transformed in a few short months into a person fond of smearing in social media and the press good people who first engaged him in politics, nurtured and supported him, shared in his important life events, and counted him as a good friend. “A delusional mob” he called us in a recent email exchange. In his resignation letter, he claimed we “fan the flames of civil unrest by spewing racist dog whistles and supporting the elements of white supremacy found within Vermont communities. “ Really?

Kolby was asked to resign by his committee members because of his caustic and over-the-top public pronouncements, as well as his dereliction of duty. In addition to his constant nasty comments on social media and in the press Kolby upset many Burlington party members by unilaterally deciding not to run candidates in Burlington’s elections next month. His rationale was that the city GOP has been so tarnished by President Trump that it must be remade by him before participating in the electoral process again. His action was not discussed at a formal committee meeting, indeed he did not call one, so members of the group were not given an opportunity to discuss the issue and vote.

Many GOP members are puzzled at this sudden and radical change in Kolby’s behavior. Here’s my take. In the fall he fell in with a circle of GOP members who have been unrelenting in issuing gratuitously nasty and patently false social media attacks on President Trump, his VTGOP supporters and VTGOP Chair Deb Billado for years. They view it as a campaign strategy to endear themselves to Democrats and Progressives. It’s also a story of pique over having their candidate for party chair defeated by Chair Deb Billado in 2017.

Here’s former executive director of the State GOP Jeff Bartley:
“State leadership, almost as a whole, has been focused on removing those that disagree with them from party positions for nearly four years. It’s always been about personalities with the current leadership. That’s not party building …’”

This gentleman had worked for the prior state chair. Deb Billado won the election fair and square because of her long-time service to the party against an opponent who was an unknown at the time but backed by the anti-Trump crowd. When Deb assumed office, she installed her own team, as was her right, with I might add a much-reduced administrative budget, and he was let go. I don’t know of anyone who else who has been removed.

By the way, here’s a current example of Jeff Bartley’s idea of party building:

This crowd blames any electoral defeats on President Trump rather than looking inward. They are rumored to be plotting to defeat Chair Billado when the party reorganizes in November. The attacks are stepping up and Kolby has been used, cynically in my opinion, as their most public mouthpiece.

There is a larger issue here. Party unity. How can we move forward to elect more Republicans in Montpelier with this kind of snarky, hyperbolic rhetoric flying around?

Over one hundred twelve thousand Vermonters voted for President Trump last November. They are not racists, homophobes, or extremists as Kolby infers. They are hardworking nurses, baseball coaches, small business owners, wait staff, lawyers (even Democrats) who cherish traditional Republican values of loyalty to country, personal responsibility and freedoms bestowed by the Bill of Rights. Many are afraid to admit their vote for fear of being doxed and possibly losing their livelihoods in Vermont’s toxic political climate. But they are out there. The energy in our party is with them, hence they are increasingly being voted into leadership positions. Insulting them is antithetical to advancing the Republican cause.

As a county chair, it has become impossible for me to continue to try to silence members who are understandably angry at having lies and insults hurled at them publicly. Governor Scott’s recent characterization of them as “white supremacists “ and “racists” broke the camel’s back. There is now a petition circulating asking for the Governor to step down that has been signed by thousands. We need to fix this if we are to succeed in 2022.

This state and our country face serious social and economic challenges. Engaging in petty name calling instead of constructive dialogue breeds discord and mistrust. We all recognize that unity is imperative to a successful political party, but it does not mean conformity of thought. There are ideological differences in our party as with the Democrats, but we should be able to set aside those differences and personal animosities to advocate for policies from which all Vermonters will prosper. Tolerance starts at home. The more populist elements of the VTGOP deserve an apology and a commitment to working together in good faith.

(The author is chair of the Chittenden County Committee of the Vermont Republican Party)

21 replies »

  1. What happened to the idea that the Republican party is a “big tent” party ? Everybody who believes in basic Republican ideals like a, smaller, less intrusive government, and individual freedoms had better be able to see past the destructiveness of squabbles within the party, and the reduction of these squabbles into name calling, and come together or face the fact that the wacky left has won in Vermont. Governor Scott, and others who disagree with with “official” party positions, be they candidates, or party planks, need to tone down the public disagreement, especially those with large microphones. That does not mean they have to tow a strict party line, I just mean for the good of what the party stands for, tone down the inflammatory rhetoric. We need all Republicans !

    • Very well stated Pat. Since I returned to Vermont 14 years ago, I have been saddened, and dismayed, with the discord within the VTGOP, which has only worsened during the past 4 years. I am more than willing to listen and try to work with people, but I refuse to become part of the infighting within the party. Therefore, I am not participating right now.

  2. Not to be labelled an “ageist”, but who thought it was a good idea to let a teenager run the show?? There’s much to be said for experience and education as opposed to simply being seemingly enthusiastic & a Trump supporter. Sounds like he was a plant to me.

  3. Actually, the GOP HAS disavowed white supremacy since its inception. It seems that Democrats have only recently been “woke”.
    Also, I lament this in-fighting as much as anyone. But the culture of “unity” begins at the top.

  4. Great points, people need maturity and experience before being in such a position. Big Tent? How about people in the party supporting the constitution and America…that’s pretty basic,

    There are others trouble makers within the party. Benning is one. They can run as an independent or Democrat.

    There are only 17 Republicans who stand for the rule of law and have a back bone. We are fooling ourselves to think the party is bigger than that. Once we face the truth, we can start building, defending and working together. Until then the party will be like a baseball team where 80% of the players are professional hockey players.

    You’ll have a full roster, but unlikely to win any baseball games. Hell they don’t even know the rules.

    • The baseball team with a majority of hockey players is an excellent analogy, sir.

      i believe this is, at least in part, due to a justifiable sense of disenfranchisement for many Vermonters, causing them to forego voting, running for office and participation in general.

      I also believe it is imperative that the VTGOP accept at least significant responsibility for its own decay and immediately begin locating, reaching out to, and supporting these disenfranchised folks.

      Essentially, the GOP must start using the same baseball bat the left effectively uses to continuously beat us over the head. Yes, the political left espouses harmful agendas and policies but they unify and take action for their causes and are exceptional organizers and motivators of their flock, we must acknowledge that we are not. and take action.

      Sans this approach it seems logical to foresee the buzzards circling over VTGOP in the not-so-distant future.

  5. Very well said. And for the ones who want to plot in secret to oust Ms Billado, stand up and state your case. That’s what leaders do. We don’t need any ‘et Too, Brutus!?!’ people hanging around. We have 20 months to gain some seats. Get with it or get gone.

    Russ Ingalls

    Senator, Essex/Orleans District

  6. Until the GOP actually disavows white supremacy and homophobia, it will never be the party of the people. Those of us who believe in fiscal responsibility, own small businesses, and believe in the rule of law will never be able to support a party that prefers what you have now; defensive angry white men of both sexes who manage to believe that Donald Trump is their Jesus. It’s a new, brown, America. Women have the right to their own reproduction. If the VT GOP feels the need to ignore these realities and rather support freaks who invade the Capital in horns and fur vests, well, the Dems could not be more thrilled.

    • Jodi, I’ll preface by stating that I am indeed an “angry white” man and I’m angry for the same reasons as are millions of our fellow American citizens of both sexes and of every color, familial heritage, creed, etc.

      “Defensive”? Well, let’s not wonder why good, decent people become defensive when inflammatory, baseless allegations are casually lobbed against them.

      Consider that I do not know whether or not you are racist, sexist, xenophobic, whatever, but I have a suspicion that you would become fiercely defensive if I recklessly decided to publicly label you as such, agreed?

      Conservatives are not obliged to disavow that which we do not avow to begin with and, moreover, Christian conservatives see Donald Trump as an anti-establishment leader. He neither pretends to be, nor do we claim he is Jesus Christ – Who we do worship and glorify as our true and only Savior.

      Thank you.

    • Personally, I can honestly say that I have heard Donald Trump, and other well positioned members speaking as representatives of the GOP, on several occasions denounce “white supremacy”. I have to ask, have you ever heard anybody officially associated with the GOP come out in favor of “white supremacy”? I am however old enough to remember Robert Byrd, Strom Thurmond, and George Wallace, and please refresh my memory, what party did they belong to? Phobias are by definition a fear of something, so I don’t think that the term applies in a political sense, or I at least have never heard a sense of fear in relation to political views as there are homosexual people across the whole political spectrum. I have of course, heard religious beliefs espoused regarding homosexuality in a political arena, but I don’t think I would consider them to have been spoken out of fear, just a strict interpretation of, and adherence to a religious belief.

    • With respect to Jodi R. Harrington’s comment — Just a few points from over here in my alternate universe:
      1 — “…defensive angry white men of both sexes who manage to believe that Donald Trump is their Jesus.” This looks like another left polemic rather than a description of what might actually be there.
      2 — “…the right to their own reproduction.” I think you’ll find that the “…right to reproduce…” is not at issue. It’s the extermination of the issue of what we produce exercising that right. Much like abolition wasn’t aimed at planters’ property rights…it was defining people as property.
      3 – “support freaks who invade the Capital in horns and fur vests” I haven’t come across much support for them however for many of those in D.C the integrity of the voting process was and continues to be at issue.

  7. Jodi – I am a republican woman here and a STRONG, long-term feminist, however, I cannot and shall not tolerate being referred to as a “racist” or “white supremacist” as my OWN family are multi-racial and my best friend of 46 years is African-American & was in fact a former director of diversity at the Horace Mann School in NYC. I also am pro-life and will never waiver – as are approximately over a million and a half of other Americans, many of whom are also women!

    Women DO have the “right” to their own “reproduction”. We have the right to CHOOSE to be or not be sexually active. We then have the right, if choosing to be sexually active, to be responsible for using readily available, inexpensive or sometimes free birth control, as well as can the male partner involved. Thereafter: should you not render appropriate “choices”, SCIENCE (follow the science) kicks in & women can become pregnant.

    Always has been that way. Likely always will, at least for the foreseeable future.

    Ending the life of one’s own offspring in utero is not a “feminist” pursuit NOR is it a humane or humanitarian pursuit. The fetus (which is defined in the dictionary as an unborn baby, by the way) is a disparate, separate individual – as DNA proves – from the pregnant woman and deserves protection just as does the parent.

    Did you know that the original American feminists or “suffragettes” were largely pro-life? The biggest lie women ever bought into from (mostly) men is that ending the life of their own progeny is an easy & viable option….easy for THEM — especially as it removes any & all responsibility from the actions that the man took & he has the “viable” option to simply walk.

    Next, I’m HOPING you aren’t buying into the next great lies of “liberal” ideology that legalizing prostitution is ALSO great for females as well as is having biological males who assert they are really females – usurp females in athletics & allow for no more privacy for us in restrooms or locker rooms. Follow the science! Science can NOT alter male/female DNA.

    As far as your other concerns, some people of faith hold faith-based tenets that they follow. And though NO ONE in this country should EVER be discriminated against, harassed, or abused for who they are – INCLUDING REPUBLICANS & CONSERVATIVES – people have the Constitutional Right to FREEDOM of religion & speech, and to use them at will.

    I respect your opinions, but do not call me names or try to censor me or stereotype me because I have a different ideology from yours.

    Vermonters USED to portray themselves as tolerant of ALL others, now we are seeing nothing less than intolerance.

    It is IMPERATIVE that every American have a say in the direction this nation takes. That is the foundation of democracy.

    Stay well.

  8. I cannot speak to the issues surrounding Kolby LaMarche but I can comment about Jeffrey Bartley.

    As many here may already know, Bartley served on the Colchester select board until – and this is rich – he resigned and hightailed it out of Colchester because, he said, he could no afford to live here!

    After all the time he spent on the select board, even as Chair at the time he quit, his most significant contribution was to financially hang himself. Sadly, he and his cohorts also financially victimized all Colchester taxpayers.

    Also. just prior to quitting the select board and cowering off he took it upon himself to rubber-stamp the irresponsible decision by the town manager to use taxpayer funds to purchase a BLM flag and fly it on public property.

    As a taxpayer I objected to the use of tax funds to support an overtly racist cause that – by BLM’s own admission – is anti-traditional family, promotes Marxist ideology and is rabidly anti-police.

    Yeah, some republican that Bartly.

    • Alan, I live here in Colchester too & NO private organization should be allowed to fly such a flag on public property. As we all know, BLM is NOT a statement, but as you stated, a Marxist organization tied to a political party that endorses violence as well.

      If I had school-aged kids, they would be going to private school, big time.

  9. Who besides the DemoKKKrats and their lapdog media are making the case that Republicans are specifically promoting White supremacy and privilege? The White guilt trip has to stop somewhere. The best golfer to ever play the game is an American Black man. Until Jeff Bezos’ divorce, the richest woman in America was a self-made marketing and entertainment genius, Oprah Winfrey. Two Presidents ago we had a Black man serve 2 terms. Anyone who perpetuates the myth that Republicans are any more racist than Demoncrats is a liar and doing it to serve their marxist masters in BLM and Antifa. (no apologies for capitalizing
    White as well as Black)…

    • Agreed. Much of this is all propaganda in order to indoctrinate. Much like when police stats are used in a distorted, manipulative mannerto show that blacks are purportedly “disproportionately” arrested more than whites…….are they committing more crimes than whites? According to FBI stats, they indeed DO due to poverty, gangs recruiting them, drug abuse, no male role models within the household, etc. — THOSE are social issues that need addressing, not imaginary harassment of blacks by police. Bad at math much, propagandists?

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