By Guy Page
Lee Zeldin was a longtime U.S. Congressman before he ran for governor in New York and almost defeated Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul. But perhaps more important in the long run, Zeldin galvanized the candidacies of Republican challengers to longtime Democratic members in the U.S. House of Representatives. With his help, N.Y. Republicans flipped four seats in the Congress – enough to push the GOP caucus into the House majority.
Zeldin spoke to the Chittenden County Republicans at a dinner in South Burlington last night. Beforehand, Vermont Daily Chronicle asked him, ‘what can Vermont do to become a more Republican state?’ His answer appears below, with minor edits for readability:
“I think that it’s important for the Republican Party to be earning the support of Independents and Democrats, by not pandering but telling people what our ideas are.
“Republicans didn’t earn a red wave nationally in 2022. I don’t blame Democrats. I blame Republicans for why there was no Red Wave nationally. Red Waves are created by telling people what we stand for, by letting people know what they are investing in by voting Republican.
“There are a lot of Americans whose votes are up for grabs. They’re independent-spirited, they have issues that transcend blind partisan loyalty. They want to know what you could do for them and their family. They’re concerned about their American Dream, they might care about safety or the economy, their kids, education, border security, foreign policy – their top issue might vary.
“But in 1994, when Republicans had a Red Wave nationally, Newt Gingrich wanted to become the Speaker of the House, Haley Barber was the chairman of the RNC, and they had this Contract for America. Candidates were talking about it. The media knew what was in it. Voters and volunteers had their favorite parts of it. They couldn’t wait to see it implemented.
“I feel like at the end of 2022, that was missing. And if you want to have people open up their their heart, and their trust, their faith, if you want a movement, momentum, enthusiasm, energy that’ll create a wave – it’s not just about saying ‘Joe Biden’s bad, the Democratic party’s bad, vote for me.’
“So for anyone here in Vermont trying to do your part in our corner of America, to be able to move things forward, I would say it’s not about brilliantly articulating what you’re against. I would say that the magic is brilliantly articulating what you’re for.”