MONTPELIER – The Vermont Democratic Party has both barrels blazing as it responds to recent comments from state Republican Party Chairwoman Pat McDonald, and its doing all it can to link the state GOP to the Republicans in Washington, D.C
McDonald issued a news release last week that criticized Gov. Peter Shumlin's handling of the economy before Tropical Storm Irene caused major flooding in the state on Aug. 28. She also outlined a five-point plan to “get Vermont back on track quickly” after the flood, a plan that called for education finance reforms and a rejection of new taxes to pay for the recovery, among other things.
She also called for a freeze on non-essential, non-Irene spending.
Later, she told Vermont Public Radio there were “legitimate discussions to be had” about how the country funds disaster aid – a reference to the fight over budget offsets U.S. House Republicans were seeking to pay for disaster spending.
The Vermont Dems have pounced, issuing a news release Tuesday and another one Wednesday taking McDonald to task.
They're using McDonald's apparent endorsement of budget offsets for disaster aid to try to make as close a link as they can between the state GOP and the U.S. House Republicans, who have been less-than-forthcoming with disaster cash.
“The Vermont Republican Party has embraced the extremist partisan agenda of the Tea Party movement in response to Tropical Storm Irene,” Tuesday's attack began.
From the latest attack issued Wednesday:
“Just like their Tea Party colleagues in Washington, the Vermont GOP leadership is intent on pitting people against each other for their own political gain,” Jake Perkinson, Vermont Democratic Party Chairman, said in a written statement.
Are the Vermont Dems taking free on-air advice from Eric Davis, the retired Middlebury College political science professor and frequent political commentator? The day before the Vermont Dem's attacks started, Davis told VPR that a link between the Vermont GOP and the U.S. House Republicans could hurt the party in the state.
“If the Vermont Republican Party's leadership is seen in any way as supportive of what the House Republicans are doing in Washington, that could be very damaging for the Republican Party brand in Vermont in the next cycle,” Davis said.
- THATCHER MOATS