by Rob Roper
Jack Lindley didn’t expect to be the chairman of the Vermont Republican Party again. He served for three years in the late 70’s and
early 80’s, what he called, “the good Reagan years.” But when chairwoman Pat McDonald announced in January that she would be stepping down in Janurary to health issues, Lindley stepped up, modeling his decision after New Hampshire’s John Sununu.
After serving as governor of his state and then as chief of staff for George H. W. Bush, Sununu came out of retirement to take over the New Hampshire Republican Party when he saw things moving dangerously leftward. Under Sununu’s leadership, New Hampshire Republicans reversed that trend, recapturing in 2010 both legislative chambers, holding an open U.S. Senate seat and defeating an incumbent Democrat member of the U.S. House. It’s a model that has Lindley optimistic about Vermont Republicans’ chances in 2012.
“I think there’s a pretty good chance in Vermont that Obama will be rejected by a majority of Vermont voters,” said Lindley. “His leadership, or lack of leadership if you will, is not really what Vermonters want to see, or the direction they want to see our country go.” When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he received 68% of the vote in Vermont. Recent polling shows the president with a 53% job approval rating in Vermont – the fifteen-point decline is one of the largest drops for the president in the nation.
“The atmosphere has turned very good,” insists Lindley. “We’ve had a good presidential primary here in Vermont. Good participation. Republicans came out and voted.”
In addition, “We have an A-team running for our statewide offices and I look forward to picking up an additional thirty-five legislative districts….”
Senator Randy Brock has announced he will run for governor. Incumbents Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott and Auditor Tom Salmon are both running again. Although candidates for Treasurer, Secretary of State, U.S. House and U.S. Senate have not announced, Lindley insists that the VTGOP will have candidates for all of the major races. However, “You won’t see any of the announcements until the legislature is actually out of Montpelier and we have some degree of separation from the foolishness that’s going on under the dome.”
Lindley sees state politics breaking Republicans way as well. “Right now, as you can imagine the word is getting out that arrogance of single party dominance in Montpelier is not good for anybody in Vermont, whether they be Republicans, Democrats or Progressives. The arrogance of single party rule is just foreign to the way Vermonters think.”
Asked specifically about healthcare and energy policy, Lindley replied, “There’s no question that Vermonters are learning that a lot of what they bought in the last election was really a pig in a poke, and we’re going to bring clarity to our concerns about what kind of policies the governor has taken on. His attitude of my way or no way just doesn’t really fit Vermont very well.”
What positive message will Vermont Republicans bring to the campaign trail? Lindley says, “If we stay to our core philosophy of smaller government, lower taxes, greater job opportunities, concern for healthcare costs, and education costs, I think we’ll win the day every time there’s an election held. Those issues are really on the minds of most Vermonters at this point in time, and our story direction is right on for Vermont. We’re a small state with 600,000 people and we have kind of an idea of what’s right and what’s wrong, and what’s going on right now is very wrong.”