Vermont GOP declines to back US House nominee Liam Madden

Liam Madden speaks during VTDigger’s debate between U.S. House Republican primary candidates at the Double E Performance Center in Essex on Tuesday, June 28. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

The Vermont Republican Party’s state committee doesn’t plan to support Liam Madden, the Republican nominee for Vermont’s open U.S. House seat, in the general election.

Vermont GOP Chair Paul Dame said in a written statement Saturday that the party’s state committee met Saturday morning “and after a lot of deliberation the committee decided at this time that the state party would not commit any resources toward (Madden’s) campaign due to his unwillingness to commit to caucusing with Republicans in Congress.”

Reached Monday afternoon, Madden told VTDigger that he had not expected resources from the state Republican Party in the first place, and had only asked the party to “remain politely neutral throughout the rest of the general election.”

“I went in eyes wide open that they are part of the two-party system that I am deeply critiquing, so it's not a shock to me how this turned out,” Madden said.

Last week, Madden, a self-described independent and critic of America’s two-party system, won the Republican U.S. House primary in a three-way race, defeating his closest opponent by an eight-point margin.

The Marine Corps veteran and anti-war advocate has been open about his intentions to compete in a party primary in order to build name recognition early in Vermont’s election cycle. Independent candidates typically don’t get comparable coverage or public appearance opportunities until after party primaries. After the primary, he reasoned, he could rescind his Republican nomination and run as an independent.

But Madden did not register his independent candidacy with the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office by the Aug. 4 deadline. On Wednesday, Madden told VTDigger that he would accept the Republican nomination in order to appear on the November ballot against Democratic nominee Becca Balint.

“I would happily take the Republican label and keep it a two-person race, because the label means nothing to me. The actual chance of winning means a lot more,” he told VTDigger last week.

On Monday, Madden told VTDigger that he attended Saturday’s state GOP meeting, where he took questions from the delegates and executive committee, and made his case to them why he thought he was a good candidate to run under their party banner. But he said he didn’t ask for their endorsement or monetary resources.

“I was 100% upfront the entire election that I'm an independent. I didn't expect the Republican Party to support me,” he said. “I requested polite neutrality and said I don't expect any resources, and that's basically what I'm getting.”

‘Not a traditional Republican’

For the Vermont Republican Party, Madden’s independent streak poses a problem when it comes to hypothetical caucusing in Washington. But Dame also said in Saturday’s statement that there’s a lesson to be learned from Madden’s candidacy and primary victory.

“Liam is not a traditional Republican who came from inside the party apparatus,” Dame said. “You know who else did that? Donald Trump.”

Dame noted that Trump, too, prevailed in Vermont’s multi-candidate Republican presidential primary in 2016. “Many discounted him” at the time, Dame said, “but it’s undeniable that he activated a voter base that had not previously voted Republican.” 

Dame mused whether Madden might do the same. On Monday, Dame said he didn’t have any comment to add to his statement from the weekend.

“People came out and voted for Trump that had been ignored by the party establishment. One of the things I’m trying to evaluate is whether Liam is tapping into a voter base that had been ignored by everyone previously and may be harder to categorize as being right or left — depending on the issue,” Dame said in the statement.

It appears Madden will have another opportunity in November to face his closest rival from the Republican primary, right-wing content creator and accountant Ericka Redic. Following Madden’s victory last week, Redic said on her online show she plans to run in the general election as a Libertarian.

In his statement Saturday, Dame hypothesized that Redic or third-runner-up Anya Tynio could have won the Republican primary if either had dropped out of the race and rallied behind the other, as state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale did in the Democratic primary for Balint. In the Republican primary, Dame wrote, Redic and Tynio’s vote totals revealed that “the majority of Republicans wanted to send a conservative woman to congress.”

“When conservatives fail to unite they fail to win,” he said. “That was true in the primaries — and if nothing changes it will be true in November as well.”

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Sarah Mearhoff

About Sarah

Sarah Mearhoff is one of VTDigger's political reporters, covering the Vermont statehouse, executive branch and congressional delegation. Prior to joining Digger, she covered Minnesota and South Dakota state politics for Forum Communications' newspapers across the Upper Midwest for three years. She has also covered politics in Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she is a proud alumna of the Pennsylvania State University where she studied journalism.

Email: [email protected]

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