A Republican candidate for a Newport seat in the Vermont House has broken with the GOP and plans to run as an independent.
Kendall Lambert announced the news in a Thursday Facebook post entitled "Running as a Republican for the Vermont House Was a Mistake." In it, she proclaimed her advocacy for small government, low taxes and Constitutional rights, including the unfettered right to bear arms.
But her belief in individual liberty has put her at odds with the national Republican Party. Lambert wrote that the GOP is advancing "policies and rhetoric [that] seek to codify racism, sexism, discrimination, and inequality."
"When I began to think about running for office, I thought the Republican Party would be the best way to represent my beliefs and have major party backing," Lambert said in an interview Friday. "But as I started campaigning, I realized that I couldn't. The national GOP is not a party I could support."
She believed that the Vermont party was "different" and more amenable to her beliefs. But then came "the last straw" — the June 22 House vote on a resolution condemning President Donald Trump's policy of separating families that cross the U.S. border seeking asylum. The measure passed by a margin of 106-17. All the "No" votes were cast by Republicans.
"I just had to say, 'I'm done,'" Lambert said.
Lambert is the administrative director of the Memphremagog Watershed Association, a nonprofit that promotes conservation activities and awareness around Lake Memphremagog and its tributaries.
She is collecting signatures to get on the November ballot as an independent; her name will remain on the August Republican primary ballot along with Woody Page and incumbent Republican Michael Marcotte, both residents of Newport. (The other incumbent in the two-seat district, Gary Viens, is not seeking re-election.) She says she is "undecided" whether she will accept the nomination if she finishes in the top two in the primary.
If she does, it will be against the wishes of the party.
"We probably would push to support the two Republicans on the ballot and distance ourselves from Kendall," said Chet Greenwood, chair of the Orleans County GOP. "The party hasn't officially supported anyone in the primary, but I think we will now."