Roper: Want a balanced checkbook? Yes, it DOES have to be Republicans

Gov. Phil Scott responds promptly (Facebook video, 30 minutes, 32 seconds) to reporter’s question about what he’s doing to get more Republicans elected.

by Rob Roper

At the end of June shortly after the Democrat supermajority overrode almost every veto Phil Scott issued, including that of the budget, in what seemed like less time than it takes get a cup of coffee at Starbucks, a reporter asked the governor, “What are you going to do to get more Republicans in office?”

Editor’s note: Hear WCAX reporter Calvin Cutler ask this question, and see and hear the governor’s response, at 30 minute, 32 second mark of this Facebook video of the governor’s June 29 press conference. Also, a previous headline has been edited to more accurately reflect the message of this commentary.

Scott snapped back, “It doesn’t have to be Republicans. I just want more legislators with common sense. More centrists, moderates, that understand how to balance a checkbook.”

That response irked a lot of Republicans. Rightfully so. In the 105-42 House override vote, not a single Democrat supported Scott’s budget veto. (A handful of Progressives did, but not because they know how to balance a checkbook. They thought the budget didn’t spend enough.) But every Republican legislator backed the governor, and in the lead up to the vote, grassroots Republicans worked feverishly to rally public support behind Scott’s veto.

So, given this softball chance to simply acknowledge the effort and thank the people who stood with him, Scott chose to spit in their collective eye instead.


It is perhaps theoretically true that one doesn’t have to be a Republican to vote for fiscally responsible policies. But in the real world of Vermont politics? Does Scott really think there are Democrats in Vermont today who have common sense? Who are moderate centrists who know how to balance a checkbook?

If so, where are they? Under Vermont law if a legislator vacates a seat for some reason – they die in office or decide to step down – the governor gets to appoint that person’s replacement for the duration of the term. Tradition holds that the governor will replace a representative with member of the departing lawmaker’s party, though he is not legally bound to do so. Scott has abided by this custom. And it occurred to me that there are currently three sitting Democrats in the House of Representatives who Phil Scott personally appointed to their positions.  

In 2019, Scott appointed Kristi Morris (D-Springfield) to complete the term of Representative Robert Forguites, who passed away. In 2021 he appointed Golrang “Rey” Garofano (D-Essex) to replace Marybeth Redmond, who left her seat due to health reasons. And just this year he appointed Melanie Carpenter (D-Hyde Park) to replace Kate Donnally, who resigned for financial/family reasons. (If I missed anyone, please let me know.)

So, given the opportunity to interview, vet, and hand pick some Democrats to serve in the legislature, the governor surely would have prioritized – dare we would hope insist upon — those checkbook balancing qualities outlined in his press conference before bequeathing a seat. But long story short, none of the Democrats personally appointed by the governor supported his veto of an $8.5 billion budget that increased spending by a whopping 13 percent.

Moreover, none of the three supported Scott’s veto of S.5, the “Clean Heat” massive carbon tax on home heating fuels. None supported Scott’s veto of the new $120 million a year (and sure to grow) payroll tax. On the “moderate,” “centrist,” and “common sense” side of the ledger, none supported the governor’s vetoes of bills allowing non-citizens and children 16 and 17 years old to vote in local elections.

Hmmm…. So, if the governor, with all his team’s experience, political insight, and resources at his disposal, can’t find a single Democrat to pluck from the population to fill a vacant seat who is willing to support policies that limit taxing and spending to moderate, sustainable levels (we’re not even talking about cuts!), what’s the lesson here?

I posit that the lesson is if you don’t want to see your payroll, property, income, sales, fuel taxes and fees painfully ratcheted up year after year to the point you can no longer afford to live here, you do in fact have to “get more Republicans in office.”

And, yes, in fact, they do have to be Republicans because just look at every Democrat’s voting record. (There are a few moderates in the Senate – not enough — but really none at all in the House.)

Even if there are some Democrats who are elected (or appointed) with thoughts and promises of fiscal responsibility, those notions will be quickly and thoroughly beaten out of them by an increasingly radical and politically vindictive Party leadership. Show me where I’m wrong.

So, governor, next time a reporter asks you, “What are you going to do to get more Republicans in office?” I sincerely hope your answer is, “Everything in my power!” If not out of polite courtesy to the only people who’ve backed you up time after time, how about in the name of common sense and the need to balance our state’s checkbook.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics,

Categories: Commentary

21 replies »

  1. As I’ve stated before, Scott the so-called ” Conservative GOP ” Governor,
    is anything but a conservative. I understand the VT GOP thinks he’s great
    but as a seventy-two-year-old ” Conservative ” Vermonter, Scott will never
    get my family’s vote again…..His real party members are the Progressives.

    • Dear CHenry,

      I wouldn’t say the VT GOP thinks Scott is great. I would say the present Vermont State GOP Party Leadership thinks Scott is great and they are holding the Vermont State GOP Committee Members hostage to their beliefs.

      The Vermont State GOP Party Leadership thinks Scott deserves loyalty because he ran as a Republican. Scott still says he is a Republican even in the face of the abundant evidence of unconstitutional and tyrannical actions that show otherwise.

      The Vermont State GOP Party chooses not to hold anyone who calls themself a Republican accountable to anything in their platform, especially Scott. The Vermont State GOP Leadership is being played like a fiddle by Scott.

      This reality has been evident for quite sometime for those who aren’t afraid to acknowledge the truth. There are consequences to denial. I would ask the present Vermont State GOP Party Leadership: What is a Republican in Vermont?

      “A Party that STANDS for nothing, will FAIL in everything.”

      • You have stated this very well, and accurately. We do have some very dedicated Republicans in Vermont, but the current leadership doesn’t appear to acknowledge them. There are a lot, like myself, that have all but given up on the VTGOP, sadly. When I first returned to Vt., I didn’t understand the term RINO, but I do now!

  2. What governor Scott doesn’t understand (or maybe he does and won’t acknowledge it) is that it is in the very nature of government to corrupt one’s sensibilities. The Founders warned of this over and again – from Franklin’s admonition that we have a Republic ‘if we can keep it’, to Madison’s concern with ‘factions’ – ‘groups of people who gather together to protect and promote their special economic interests’… and who ‘frequently work against the public interest and infringe upon the rights of others.’ Or, as may have been misattributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, that “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

    What Scott apparently doesn’t understand is that free enterprise, and only free enterprise, can moderate our tendency for corruption. As Milton Friedman put it: “…if an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it. Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.”

    The only people who advocate for an ever more powerful centralized government are that slim majority who profit from it at the expense of the slim minority. It only takes two wolves to vote to have the lamb for lunch.

    Serving in political office should be more like serving on jury duty. Don’t vote for the person who tells you why they should be in political office. The person who can explain to you why they don’t want to be in office, is likely to be the better candidate.

  3. Well…can’t but concede that Mr. Roper is right…again. But one of the hard truths behind this governor’s long standing position is that democrats and progressives are wrong. And they’re not representative of their constituents on an array of issues. This makes it our job to replace them with Republicans… sure enough, but also to do the missionary work to converted them to some semblance of their constituents’ good sense.

    • If Scott really thinks that “democrats and progressives are wrong” as you have stated, why do his actions say otherwise? I would even contend that Scott behaves outside the bounds of even the progressives/democrats in Vermont and more like a Freedom-hating, tyrannical Marxist at times.

      How could a reasonable Governor who swore to uphold the Constitution, easily sign and allow the passing of the egregious and unconstitutional makeover of our Vermont State Election System as it exists? Much thanks to Scott who is a so-called Republican, we don’t have a free and fair election system or even an election day anymore.

      We now have a chaotic, corrupt “selection” system in Vermont where a non-government organization called ERIC has access to our voter rolls to do who knows what? Why?

      Instead of an election day, we now have 45 days of ballots circulating sent out and controlled by the state with no chain of custody. We have no voter ID’s to know who’s really voting, ballot drop boxes 24/7, legal ballot harvesting and questionable machines counting our votes.

      Do you think your votes count anymore? With no way to measure, how do you know? What is the Vermont GOP doing about this?

  4. Has anyone considered the possibility that Scott is sick to death of party-driven politics and might want to just get something accomplished based on common sense and balanced budgeting, of value to all Vermonters? Perhaps he thinks that Vermonters from across the spectrum might have something to offer, not just party junkies.

    • I’m quite sure that is what he would like. How’s it working out? What common sense, budget balancing policies has he been able to implement following this strategy?

    • So, how does that work? Parties have platforms and policies. If Scott acts as if you assume he might be, he is all alone. He can’t change anything by himself which is well proven. The governor seems to lack a backbone and the logic to understand that the only way he can bring his ideas to the table and have them stick is to get more republicans in the legislature to back him up. I think he’s already burned to many bridges to real republican support by passing unconstitutional laws after promising to defend the Vt constitution. He has bent over backwards to support crazy, unconstitutional changes to the Vermont constitution brought on by progressive democrats.

      He acts like and performs like a moderat5e democrat of days gone by. The progressives have him right where they want him because they don’t care what he thinks or does, they can and will override his vetoes. He is the first republican to lose so many republican legislators and it has made him weak, not a leader. As the state heads for insolvency and the destruction of the middle class, who is responsible? He should bow out now because the next legislative session is bound to be worse than the current mess that just ended. And the governor will have no power to stop any of it.

      Republicans need a fighter, not a pushover.The GOP needs new leaders. Corporations fire bad CEOs to stop the business from failing. In Vermont, the voters reward incompetence and failure. Have we already forgotten the Pandemic fiasco? Without change nothing good is going to happen. Are the voters this blind or just plain stupid? Dreaming about a no party system is a fools errand. It’s not going to happen.

    • I might consider it if he hadn’t voted for the various climate scam and covid response policies, both being junk science and brainwashing/fearmongering mass psychosis propaganda, not to mention fiscally irresponsible — you know, that thing that he bemoans in our current legislators, besides being cruel to poorer Vermonters for whom he should have a little more regard than he has demonstrated so far. And on other “cultural” related bills, he chose the cowardly route and let them become law without his signature.

      But like the RINO’s on the federal level, even if a stellar and popular conservative candidate should arise in the field, you can be sure the VT GOPe would do everything in their power, such as using their current modus operandi — lawfare, to keep him/her out of the primaries and, failing in that, the general election, where lying and cheating are totally acceptable. The ends justify the means.

    • I have called the governor’s office multiple times as I actually thought he cared about Vermont’s most vulnerable demographics like children and seniors, too. I actually spoke to a nice person in the governor’s office and reported an employee in the state equity office who responded to my concerns about a 5 year old being traumatized due to the color of his white skin. The child actually came home from school emotionally disturbed because all white people are bad and they hurt black people. The child wanted to be black. I asked the equity office to investigate the Essex Westford School District’s heavy handed implementation of it’s equity program. The state employee responded to my concern with this question “Don’t you think white children should feel the same pain as black children?” The employee was never fired and the governor refused to return my call. I called the governor’s office again to report seniors being attacked for gathering at the state building and a second time for driving in a Veterans Day Parade, as a Veteran’s car was beaten with an American flag by a belligerent leftist. Interestingly enough, the governor did not make a public statement that Vermont isn’t the kind of place that doesn’t emotionally abused child or a state that doesn’t attack seniors. Although, our governor made a public announcement about a black family that didn’t feel welcome. He rose to the occasion in that instance. The governor is a progressive in Republican clothing.

  5. Thumbs up for Scott. Saw a post today that said: Instead of looking for intelligent life on Mars we should be looking for intellligent life in government.

  6. Don Keelan and Rob Roper both consistently write good articles with great information and common sense. They would be good candidates I could vote for in the governor’s race. I bet you could even start a new party and call it “Real Republican Strong” or MVIA (Make Vermont Independent Again) — something maybe even Ethan Allen could get behind.

    …just a thought…

  7. I think it is time conservative Vermonters started a new party. The Constitution Party sounds good to me. Liberty, Integrity, Prosperity and Peace.

    • Since there’s a statue of Ethan Allen at the main entrance to the capitol building I go with honoring is thoughts and actions against the despot of his time. The Ethan Allen Constitutional Party to take back our state from the carpetbaggers who now control the legislature. We have a foreign body of invaders telling Vermonters they must live under their thumb. Enough already, not even any decorations on the capital on the 4th of July but they can finance charging stations for those wealthy enough to buy an EV that still runs on electricity generated by fossil fuels. Disgraceful!

      • “Today, it may seem impossible to imagine the U.S. government without its two leading political parties, Democrats and Republicans. But in 1787, when delegates to the Constitutional Convention gathered in Philadelphia to hash out the foundations of their new government, they entirely omitted political parties from the new nation’s founding document.

        This was no accident. The framers of the new Constitution desperately wanted to avoid the divisions that had ripped England apart in the bloody civil wars of the 17th century. Many of them saw parties—or ‘factions’, as they called them—as corrupt relics of the monarchical British system that they wanted to discard in favor of a truly democratic government.”

  8. Does anyone in spineless Phil’s team have experience or insight? I doubt it they all seem like booger eating nitwits

  9. Come on Rob,
    I read a veryvhonest pragmatic response. We don’t have the numbers to do anything. We need to atarr bringing moderate democrats into a moderate centrist position or we won’t get anything sensible done. Republicans don’t need the govenors public strokes, we need more legislators looking our way, not looking the other way.

  10. The smell of desperation wafting from Montpelier is getting more pungent. Even with the smoke from Canadian wildfires or rotting flood debris can’t hide the rising odor of RICO and crimes against humanity. While a large segment of the populace is wildly flailing in the darkness, others see the blinding light of exposure and factual evidence showing what was hidden and distorted for years and decades. The repugnant arrogence of leaders who believe they can deny, refute, and defeat God are about to receive the just rewards for their deeds. The chicken dance is in hyperdrive.

  11. Hi Rob
    I agree and disagree with several of your statements in recent commentaries you have written.

    First, a little bit about me. I was born and raised in Vermont. I was an active supporter of the Republican Party in Vermont, and nationally, for a number of years. The politicians I respected were Gerald Ford, , Phil Scott, Dick Snelling, Peter Smith, Bob Stafford, Dean Davis, George Aiken and Jim Douglas, among other moderate Republicans. In the 90’s I started to get disenchanted with the party and at some point, stopped my donations. I saw the party go further and further right and that did not align with who I was and still am. At that time, I started to become an Independent.

    First where we agree. I think your point that Governor Scott needs to do more to get like-minded people elected is spot on. He is popular in Vermont for a reason and he needs to help change the make up of the Vermont Legislature.

    Where we disagree. It does not need to be Republicans to change the direction of Vermont. The Governor is right on this. I lived for 5 years in South Carolina for work. I would explain to my liberal friends there my values were rooted in being a Vermont Republican, which was different than a Republican. It didn’t make any difference. To them there was no difference between a Republican and a Vermont Republican. I share this story with you because the Republican brand is toxic in Vermont. Phil Scott realizes this as I do. Many people that now live and vote in Vermont do not know what a Vermont Republican is. And Trump has only added to this toxicity. I am no fan of Donald Trump and did not vote for him, but understand why people support him. In my mind he is not the solution but part of the problem. But I am also not a supporter of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. I have worked really hard to get what I have in my life so when politicians start talking about give aways like forgiving student loans, I get upset. In my mind both Parties have lost their ways and now just give themselves to the highest bidder. And the politicians, lobbyists and media love that we are divided as they can keep on doing what is right for them and not the country.

    I am a realist, and don’t see the Republican Party returning to any kind of power in Vermont, at least in my lifetime. Very few people in Vermont identify with the Republican Party. On the other hand, the Demogressive Party (yes the Democratic and Progressive Parties are one in Vermont) are well organized and funded. They have convinced Vermonters they are the best solution for Vermont, even many people I know that don’t relate to a number of bills they have passed and overridden. That because they have little clue of what is going on in the legislature these days. They just see the sound bites that the Demogressives put out in the media, media that is friendly to them (which is most of Vermont Media). I’ll give you a great example. I was at some friends house the other day. They showed me their new boiler system that was just installed, an oil system. They were pretty excited about using it this coming winter. I asked them if they knew what bill S5 was? They did not. I explained it to them and you could see the concern. One of them told me she typically votes Demogressive in Vermont elections. Maybe she will reconsider that in the next election.

    So what is the point of this long winded post? That Vermonters that oppose the direction the State is headed need to organize and help get like-minded people elected. We also need to spread the word of what is really going on in Montpelier. We need to support Vermont Daily Chronicle to help get that message out. And I think there are a lot of people that oppose the direction of the State. Also, I see all the commentaries on this site about how bad Governor Scott is. But from my viewpoint he is the only politician in a state-wide office holding his finger in the dike. If you think it is bad now, how does Governor Zuckerman sound to you? Laugh? He got elected to Lt Governor.

    Finally, I don’t want to debate the above through this site or social media. No good typically comes with this type of discussion. I want to see Vermont go back to its roots, before the Demogressives took over. I am fortunate though. I have the means to move.

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