New Contenders Emerge for Vermont GOP Chair | Off Message

New Contenders Emerge for Vermont GOP Chair


Current GOP chair David Sunderland addresses fellow Republicans in 2013 - FILE
  • File
  • Current GOP chair David Sunderland addresses fellow Republicans in 2013
Updated at 12:35 p.m.

At least two candidates are vying to replace David Sunderland as chair of the Vermont Republican Party.

Michael Donohue, who moved with his family to Shelburne in 2016, announced his bid in an email Wednesday. Deb Billado of Essex Junction is also putting her hat in the ring.

Party members will gather at the Capitol Plaza Hotel & Conference Center in Montpelier on November 4 to elect leadership positions, including state committee chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer.

Sunderland, who’s led the party since 2013, said he isn’t running for reelection because he needs to devote more time to his job and his family.

Billado previously served as chair of the Chittenden County Republicans. Her opponent, Donohue, currently holds that post.

While relatively unknown among Vermont Republicans, Donohue says he has been active in national party politics for decades.

Donohue, who could not immediately be reached, wrote in his email announcement that he’s running to “enhance our county efforts, bridge factional divides and assert a professional communications strategy into our advocacy.”

He is currently a self-employed communications and public affairs consultant. Before that, he was communications director for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Va., and spent about a decade doing media relations and communications work for the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Restaurant Association and the American Chemistry Council.

Earlier in his career, he served as deputy press secretary for Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) first presidential campaign and, in 1994, worked as a senior coordinator for the Republican National Committee.

“The instability and division of politics today is like nothing I’ve seen in my career. The politics of Washington, D.C., that I witnessed has reached a level of vitriol and disfunction [sic] that seems unsustainable,” Donohue noted in his email. “The president [Donald Trump] has faced an unparalleled level of media hostility and political obstruction, and division even within our congressional majorities. But we must focus on Vermont and our communities — because the best way to help our national party and all our leaders is to demonstrate unity, common purpose, and success here in the Green Mountain State.”