Morning Read: Civil War in the Vermont GOP? | Off Message

Morning Read: Civil War in the Vermont GOP?

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Who knew the Vermont Republican Party was big enough for a schism?

So it seems, according to an interesting piece of GOP palace intrigue by the Vermont Press Bureau's Peter Hirschfeld in Wednesday's Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and Rutland Herald.

Here's the nut graph:

The emergence of two factions — one led by Vermont Republican Party Chairman Jack Lindley, the other by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott — has pitted the old-guard GOP against a cadre of upstart reformists looking to put some distance between themselves and the Republican National Committee.

In Hirschfeld's telling, Lindley's and Scott's factions have been waging war over the composition of the party's "Strategic Plan Committee" (fascinating stuff, right?). That committee, which was stocked with Scott's moderate allies, has been traveling the state seeking to rebrand the party and pull in independents and disaffected Republicans.

But Lindley and his more conservative compadres took issue with the initiative, suspecting that Scott was seeking to take control of the party to further his own electoral ambitions — be they a run for reelection or a campaign for governor. So Lindley "intervened forthwith, invoking his authority as party chairman to reconstitute the committee that had been working on the re-branding initiative," Hirschfeld writes, and stacked it with his own loyalists.

Hirschfeld saves the best for last, when he questions whether Lindley's days as party chief may be numbered:

Scott said he’s optimistic about the future of the Republican Party. Asked whether Lindley can be its leader:

“Um, I think that, um,” and here Scott pauses for a full 10 seconds. “I think he can, for now. I don’t doubt his intentions. I think he’s been working very hard to try to, I guess, re-energize the party. But we’ll see. Time will tell.”

In fact, the knives are coming out for Lindley, who is viewed by many in the reformist camp as a divisive figure ill-suited to unite the various constituencies that will be needed to restore the Republican Party to prominence. 

You can — and should — read the story online here or here, or pick up a copy at your local corner store.

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