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August 06, 2018

Why Almost Every Vermonter Should Vote for Phil Scott on Primary Day

August 14th is Primary Day in Vermont, where we can freely vote in any party’s primary. This year there are three ballots: Republican, Democratic, and Progressive. The only hitch is that, once you choose a ballot, you can only vote for candidates on that ballot; you can’t split your primary vote (except with write-ins). Choosing a ballot doesn’t tie you to a party in any way in the future; it certainly doesn’t prevent you from splitting your vote across party lines in the general election as I often do.

This year I recommend that Vermonters, regardless of party affiliation or lack of affiliation, vote in the Republican Primary for Governor Phil Scott unless they are vitally interested in the outcome of the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, which is the only seriously contested statewide race in that party. Scott has earned support both for the economic benefits of his policy and, IMO, for having the political courage to change his mind on the charged issue of gun control. It is also vitally important that there be a moderate Republican alternative to a legislature dominated by Democrats. One party rule is not good no matter which party exercises it.

It will be a shame if this election turns on the issue of gun control, even though people are passionate on either side. General election voters will consider a variety of issues. However, primaries in non-Presidential years traditionally have appallingly low turn-out; in 2014 only 7.7%, 36,100 people decided whom the candidates for Governor of Vermont would be. A small turn-out election is easily dominated by people who are committed to a single issue. That means, frankly, that Phil Scott could lose the primary to Keith Stern, who is running on the gun control issue. I have no personal beef with Stern and he is certainly entitled to run on his beliefs; but it would be a loss for Vermont if Scott is not the Republican nominee. We don’t want to reinforce the general political wisdom that politicians need to cater to the extremes of their party in order to survive primaries; we want to prove that thoughtful people actually bother to turn out and vote in primaries.

Were Keith Stern nominated, he almost certainly would not be elected. So, even if you are passionately opposed to any change in gun control laws, your best strategy to avoid a real draconian threat to second amendment rights is to have Phil Scott back in office and acting as a brake of a left-leaning legislature. A vote for Stern is a protest vote; a vote for Scott is a vote for a moderate candidate who can be reelected governor.

But let’s go beyond gun control. Scott’s policies have been good for Vermont. He assured that the tax laws were modified so that changes to the federal tax law did not result in a $30 million increase in Vermont state income tax; he stopped the legislature from raising residential property taxes although he could not stop them completely from raising the non-residential property tax, even in the face of much-higher than estimated tax revenues. It’s scary to think what might happen to taxes next year if Democrat and Populist domination of Montpelier is complete.

Only Scott’s veto threats are sufficient to get a legislature dominated with a majority which is apparently terrified by the teacher’s union to even consider the educational reform we need for the sake of children and taxpayers. A vote for Scott in the primary is a vote to keep education reform on the table.

Scott and Stern have been in three debates:

WCAX Primary Debate

VPR Primary Debate

Channel 17/ VT Digger Debate

I hope you’ll vote for Phil Scott on primary day; but, even if you don’t, it is still very important that you do vote. Our ballots in the primary actually make more difference than in the general election, since there are more choices and less people voting. In order to make sure we have good candidates to choose from in the general election, we have to vote in the primary.

You can vote now at your town clerk’s office, by absentee ballot, or at your town’s polling place onthe 14th. Please don’t leave the choice of candidates to “them”; please vote!

See also: Primary Power

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