State Republican Party turns eye to 2014 elections

Vermont Republican Party Chairman Jack Lindley at campaign headquarters on election night in 2012. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana

Vermont Republican Party Chairman Jack Lindley at campaign headquarters on election night in 2012. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana/VTDigger

Jack Lindley had a bit of good news at Saturday’s Vermont Republican Party State Committee meeting.

The Republican National Committee (RNC), Lindley said, will be funding a new position for the Vermont GOP, bringing its staff to three, and supplying them with some “computer hardware.”

Lindley, the chair of the Vermont party, presented the news as proof that the national party isn’t neglecting some of its more far-flung affiliates. (The RNC did not pitch in during the 2012 election cycle.)

“A 50-state strategy means no one is left behind, and we’re not being left behind and we should all be proud we have support from the national committee,” Lindley told the crowd of about 45 that met for three hours in a dim, chandelier-lit room at the Elks Country Club in Montpelier.

Loyalty to the national party has been Lindley’s refrain as his party seeks to recover from a trouncing in the 2012 elections, and he stuck to that message Saturday.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, meanwhile, has been advocating for distancing Vermont’s party from its national ties, and Seven Days’ Paul Heintz and Vermont Press Bureau’s Peter Hirschfeld have both reported that he is actively recruiting a replacement for Lindley.

Scott wasn’t at Saturday’s meeting due to the death of a relative. Lindley said he doesn’t begrudge the lieutenant governor’s efforts to unseat him.

“I wish him success,” Lindley said.

That doesn’t, he clarified, mean that he won’t run for re-election. “If he’s successful in finding someone else, good luck.”

Jack Lindley,chair of the Vermont Republican Party, and Brent Burns, Vermont party political director, address members at the State Committee Meeting on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Photo by Alicia Freese/VTDigger

Jack Lindley,chair of the Vermont Republican Party, and Brent Burns, Vermont party political director, address members at the State Committee Meeting on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Photo by Alicia Freese/VTDigger

Republicans went cordially about their business, the main piece of which was approving a new strategic plan. Lindley described it as the “guts and soul that will drive this campaign.” The plan, political director Brent Burns said, was informed by “16 two-inch binders of data,” but Burns provided only a broad-brush sketch to the crowd.

Legislative seats will get most of the party’s attention in the 2014 elections. Party leaders have homed in on about 18 districts where they think they can unseat vulnerable Democrats. The goal, Burns said, is to increase the number of Republicans from 45 to at least 55 in the House and get out of “super minority” status.

“We have run the computers. We know where the vulnerable Democrats are,” Lindley said.

Burns said he’s been soliciting potential candidates with the help of House Minority Leader Don Turner of Milton.

“More people are coming out of the woodwork and saying, ‘I’m not scared to be a Republican in Vermont,’ and that is progress,” Burns said.

“We haven’t actually approached any potential candidates at this point,” Turner explained. “We are just basically doing the homework part of it — talking to people in the communities and collecting names.”

Turner also said he’s especially interested in finding younger candidates and people who might not fit the mold of “your traditional Republican candidate.” (Turner described this as “non-business owner type people, people that are involved in their communities in different ways.”)

“I am very concerned that we don’t have the young base that the Democrats supposedly have,” said Turner, who is 49. “When I look around, I’m one of the youngest people, I think, oh, my God.”

Turner is also fighting legislators’ retirements, too — nine Republican incumbents chose not to run last election cycle, and according to Turner, there are others in his caucus contemplating retirement.

“I know that I have some work,” Turner said. “We are asking them to please at least consider sticking around for another election cycle to give the party a chance to grow.”

What about the statewide races?

“It’s just early,” Lindley said. “No one is willing to raise their hand at this particular time.” But he’s not worried about a shortage of candidates. “They’ll be plenty, they’ll be plenty. Don’t you worry.”

Randy Brock, the Republican’s 2012 gubernatorial candidate, was in attendance Saturday, but he’s among those not raising a hand, just yet. Asked if he’ll run again in 2014, he replied, “Who knows?”

Another objective in the strategic plan is to “win the Web,” which, Burns said, will mean, among other things, getting more Republican lawmakers on Twitter and Facebook.

Health care reform — and, in particular, Gov. Peter Shumlin’s recent proposal to use a payroll tax to fund single payer health care — was the buzz on Saturday.

“How many of you are small-business men?” Lindley asked the group. A number of hands went up. “That tax is a killer,” he warned.

“Businesswomen, too,” someone called from the audience.

Alicia Freese

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  • Kathy Nelson

    What the VT repugs DO NOT need is to reflect the lunacy of the national party. We don’t need any Rick Perrys here! The Dems here already know they need a major overhaul because Shumlin has disgraced them. The Repugs will continue to fail because the young people will not be attracted to their antiquated, blowhard nonsense. And you can forget about women being interested in the repug party, even at the meeting described in this article the speaker had to be reminded that women exist.

    • Kathy wrote:

      “And you can forget about women being interested in the repug party, even at the meeting described in this article the speaker had to be reminded that women exist.”

      Excuse me?

      Ellin Anderson
      Vermont Republican
      Does not claim to speak for all women

  • rosemarie jackowski

    As a matter of conscience, I cannot vote for any candidate in a Party that supports war, so I guess that leaves me out. Both Parties have been war Parties for a very long time.
    Why can’t we have Independent Candidates who stand on their own record and their own platform???

  • paul poirier

    Lindley should know that there are many businesses like the manufacturing sector that pay a large percentage towards health care cost. There will be winners and losers in the business community. The state needs to raise 2 billion to replace the premiums people and business pay for health care. As an example, if there were a 10% payroll tax that would raise 1.5 billion.

  • Wayne Andrews

    Kathy: Where are the young people in Vermont?

    • Kathy Nelson

      Wayne, any young person who finished school in VT is likely looking for a job at the manufacturing plants for Wal Mart in China. I’m sure our governor will be hawking just that when he is over there stumping for Bill Stenger. Some of our VT youth will be unable to afford higher education and will not be able to afford transportation to get to a minimum wage job even if they could find one, so they will live with their parents and collect assistance.
      We no not need democrats and we do not need republicans, we need intelligent leaders with courage, integrity and vision. I wish I had a list of names of those people. Do you? If anyone reading VT Digger comments have names of good people who could run for office please lets start the nominations here!

  • Brian McAllister

    I thought long and hard before posting on this story.

    It does not boil down to Republican or Democrat. Honestly, if that is all someone see’s when they vote, then they should probably not be allowed to vote. What it should be is the issues.

    I have been approached by many in my community about running for office on the local or state level, and honestly I don’t think that I would.

    I am not a business owner, so I am not part of the “old boy network” that seems to dominate elections on the local level. And on both the local and state level it would ultimately be an exercise in futility simply because we are in Vermont.

    Growing up in Burlington, and now living in Saint Johnsbury I have noticed something about Vermonters. What almost always happens is this; non stop complaints about the people in office while they are in office, then instead of voting for change, the incumbent is re-elected for another term of whining and complaining.

    I gave up a good career a few years ago to move back here to Vermont so I could take care of my mother and father (both have cancer and other health problems). And after being away from Vermont for over ten years I noticed that the some things never change.

  • Dennis Shanley

    Lindley will certainly need a huge amount of “Good Luck” if he is unable or unwilling to shed his Tea Party baggage!

  • Ben Palkowski

    Congratulations, Chairman Lindley, on your new “computer hardware” – whatever that is.

    Every year you clowns unveil your master plan to become relevant again by targeting legislative seats.

    I can’t wait to see what’s in your playbook this time. If encouraging your caucus members to join Facebook and Twitter is part of this “16-binder” long playbook, I look forward to meeting your older, weaker, smaller legislative caucuses next year.

    • Brian McAllister

      If you don’t know what computer hardware is, then please don’t vote. We already have enough uniformed voters on both sides that do nothing but vote a party line (one of the highest forms of ignorance).

      • Ben Palkowski

        Thanks for the advice, Brian. I will be sure to take your literacy test prior to voting in the next election.

  • Don Peterson

    In 1956 I went with my dad to Seattle Wa. and we stopped at a storefront and got two Eisenhower/Nixon campaign buttons. I lost mine right away ( I was five). Now Im 62. I own property. I dont expect anyone to take care of me. I’m a natural republican. I vote regularly. I donate to candidates.

    But you trot out Rush Limbaugh, Paul (Ayn) Ryan, Newt (I led three wives) Gingrich, James (Mr Climate) Inhofe and John (Beefeater) Boehner as your standard bearers. You’re anarchists, obstructionists, and meddlers in the affairs of private persons with your obsession with sexuality and other peoples reproduction. You seem to hate a lot of things.

    Who would ever vote for any of that? And would Eisenhower even get into your party now? Or Nixon even? Wake up Republicans. I don’t want to vote for Democrats, but I wont vote for dinosaurs.

    • Don, I have been following your posts vis-a-vis Vermont’s wind-turbine tragedy. You are a thoughtful and even-tempered gentleman, and I am so sorry about what happened to your little town.

      On Monday, I posted a comment to this thread that made a similar analogy, to the effect that the entire Democratic party has been tainted at the national level. Due to their nomination of Barak Obama, they will never get another vote from me, in any race, even if JFK rises from the grave.

      The post appeared, was moderated, then deleted. Apparently, criticism of ‘President’ Obama is not allowed on this site.

      I subsequently made a post that was less controversial. It appears near the top of the thread.

      I hope that folks like Joe Benning, Randy Brock, Kurt Wright, and other worthy Republican candidates will not lose your vote due to the pronouncements of some of the bigger fish. BTW, I get House Speaker Boehner’s weekly newsletter, and it seems to focus on job creation. Obamacare, on the other hand, is a torpedo pointed at the 40-hour work week; employers in its sights are frantically cutting workers down to 29 hours to evade this ridiculous law.

      Ellin Anderson

      cc: Jack Lindley if this post disappears

      • P.S.

        House votes 230-189 to fund government, defund ObamaCare

        A proud day.

        My fellow Republicans.

        “Each week, we hear stories about how both major employers and small businesses are cutting back benefits and cutting back hours,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said. “The president’s healthcare law is turning our full-time economy into a part-time economy.

        “Let’s defund this law now, and protect the American people from the economic calamity that we know ObamaCare will create.”

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