Vermont conservatives opposed to Republican Gov. Phil Scott's reelection werethwarted Wednesday evening in an attempt to hold a vote of no confidence in the governor at a gathering of Chittenden County Republicans.
It was both a visceral display of the party’s ambivalence toward its standard-bearer and a sign that the anti-Scott ranks have yet to prove their clout.
More than 40 people packed into a small room in the Shelburne town offices for ameeting of the Chittenden County Republican Party.It was uneventful until Ed Gallo, the newly elected head of the Richmond Republican Town Committee, said his piece.
Mere days before Scott faces off against Republican challenger Keith Stern in the Aug. 14 primary, Gallo questioned the governor's GOP bona fides and called on the county committee to disown its only statewide officeholder.
Scott's decision to sign sweeping gun legislation earlier this year won praise from Democrats but provoked members of his own party, who have vowed payback at the polls this year. A Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS poll conducted in July found that 49 percent of Republicans approved of Scott and 35 percent disapproved — a higher disapproval rating than Scott's among independents and Democrats.
Gallo read a litany of complaints, which included the governor's “brazen reversal on his campaign promises, including marijuana legalization and gun laws,” his “concern for poorly vetted refugees over the safety of Vermonters,” and his “open disdain and contempt for Republican President [Donald] Trump.”
He ended by calling for a vote of no confidence: “The Vermont Republican Party has the chance to do the right thing even though it’s difficult. We have the opportunity to stand up to a Republican governor who has arrogantly and willfully broken his word with the citizens of Vermont and say, ‘You, Mr. Scott, are no Republican.’”
“Seconded,” a man called out. Another said, “So moved.” Brief murmuring among the crowd was followed by an uncomfortable silence as county committee chair Mike Donohue sought to quash the insurrection on procedural grounds.
Mike Donohue, chair of the Chittenden County Republican Committee
“Come on, guys. It’s not on the agenda and the motion’s out of order,” said Donohue, a Scott ally.
“Well, you put on me the agenda,” Gallo responded.
“You didn’t tell me you were gonna make a motion,” said Donohue.
After an extended back-and-forth, Gallo told Donohue, “Your boy has dodged the bullet tonight,” referring to the governor.
“Yes, he’s quaking about a possible motion that nobody knew about,” Donohue said sarcastically.
“This is counterproductive,” Donohue said, before putting an end to the debate.
Later, the party chair described the motion as a "manufactured stunt" orchestrated by Gallo and Mazza.
“I have absolutely no doubt it was going to be crushed, but ... I was annoyed that they were so sneaky about it,” Donohue said. “I felt I was poorly repaid for bending over backward to allow people's voices to be heard and welcome new members into the party.”