Vermont Republicans Choose Paul Dame to Lead the Party | Off Message

Vermont Republicans Choose Paul Dame to Lead the Party


  • Courtesy photo
  • Paul Dame
Updated, 5:28 p.m.

The Vermont Republican Party on Saturday elected former Essex Junction representative Paul Dame to succeed Deb Billado, its Trump-loving chair.

The investment adviser from St. George easily won election over Essex resident James Sexton, a pro-life activist and vaccine skeptic.

Dame said he received 57 votes to Sexton's 25. Delegates from across Vermont gathered at a South Burlington hotel for the party’s biannual reorganization.

For four years, Billado sought to align the party with the polarizing president. Dame positioned himself as someone ready to rebuild the battered party.

He said he would work hard to get more Republicans elected. Despite modest gains in 2020, Republicans hold just seven of 30 seats in the Senate and 46 of 150 in the House.

Dame represented Essex Junction from 2015 to 2017. He lost a 2018 bid for Senate.

He argued that to grow the party’s influence, Republicans need to get more involved, appeal to younger voters and “be focused on the future, not stuck in the past."

Billado chose not to seek another term in order to focus on a new job, she said. The Essex Junction businesswoman won election to the post in 2017, beating a candidate backed by moderate Republican Gov. Phil Scott. She won reelection in 2019. 
  • File: Sophie Macmillan ©️ Seven Days
  • Deb Billado
While Scott and many elected Vermont Republicans distanced themselves from the president, Billado regularly defended Trump and repeated MAGA talking points. As the distance between her politics and of those of some Republican lawmakers grew, many increasingly began to worry about the party's viability. 

In January, several GOP lawmakers called for Billado to resign after she refused to join calls for Trump’s removal from office for his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. She declined.

In a goodbye message, she suggested she had made the party stronger, and said she would continue to support "limited government, fiscal prudence, personal responsibility, and individual liberty."

Other officers elected include Rep. Samantha Lefebvre (R-Orange) as vice chair, Deb Ricker as secretary, and Billado as treasurer.

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