Chairman Sunderland’s Comments to the State Committee ­

June 21, 2014

I am very proud to be Chair of  our Vermont Republican Party.

As you know, I am a lifelong Republican and completely focused on returning our Party to a position of influence in our state — not for the sake of our party — but for the benefit of Vermont and the families of our state.

There is no doubt in my mind that together, we all share this goal and we can do it if we work together. With a spirit of openness and humility — and civility and respect for all others — we can offer common sense solutions to the challenges all Vermonters are facing….If we do this, Vermonters will reward us with their votes.

To do this…to get the results we want…to win elections…we must move forward with a unified message of hope and opportunity; of individual liberty and solidarity; of Freedom and Unity.

If we do not break away from the negative, “gotcha style” politics of the past, we will not succeed in electing candidates with solutions for the future.

As members of the Republican State Committee, please join me in choosing, as individuals and as a party to move forward to victory.

Our path back to influence in Montpelier will not be easy…and it will not be short. As Minority Leader Turner pointed out recently, we didn’t get into this situation overnight and getting out is going to take time.

It’s also going to take a coordinated campaign that shows we are listening to Vermonters — all Vermonters, not just the ones with whom we agree — and that we have real solutions to the challenges they want Montpelier to address.

And it will require time. Promises of expectations of a quick fix to our party’s challenges are no more credible than the quick-fix government gimmicks for our economy, healthcare system, water quality and public safety challenges offered by Governor Shumlin and the Democrat supermajority.

For the past decade, our slide in Vermont politics has been steady and clear.

From a Republican Governor, Lt. Governor, Auditor, a majority in the House, and a strong Republican presence in the Senate — to superminority status in both chambers and only a single statewide elected official today, that slide is painfully clear.

But it’s not really about the impact of this change on our party. What’s most concerning, to me, and I suspect you, is the impact that this slide has had on our fellow Vermonters.

Higher taxes across the board. About $100 million in new property taxes in the last two fiscal years alone, job losses in all corners of our state, a disastrous health care exchange roll out that has cost Vermonters over $74-million so far and counting, and a crisis of affordability for working families throughout the state. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

This is the work product of an unchecked and unbalanced Democrat supermajority in Montpelier.

Vermont Republicans need to do better for the sake of Vermonters — and we can.

Turning this slide into a rise is up to us. With a renewed spirit of cooperation and support, we can begin the long and hard work of restoring our party — and winning elections.

With a positive, forward looking message of economic growth, affordability, opportunity, and balance in Montpelier we can give Vermonters complete confidence that the VT GOP puts the people of Vermont first — principles and commitments that Jim Douglas, Brian Dubie and Phil Scott, as well as a range of legislative candidates, including me, have proven can work.

An inward focus, however, will ensure a future that closely resembles our recent past — and would be a great disservice to the very Vermonters that are looking to us for change. We must move forward in unity and with a positive message of prosperity, and real solutions, for the state we all love. 

We have a great slate of candidates for November. With 79 seats in play in the House, we will contest about 10% more House races than we did two years ago. We will also run spirited campaigns for half the seats in the State Senate.

We have a strong Lt. Governor in Phil Scott who is running for re-election, and two successful businessmen running for Governor who understand first hand the struggles our stagnant state economy is causing.

Our candidates are deeply committed Republicans who have agreed to put their lives on hold and run for office to help change the course of the state they love and they ALL deserve the thanks and the support of the entire Vermont Republican State Committee.

These candidates need our time, our talent and treasure.

For the first time in several years, we have a dedicated Finance Committee led by Dawn Terrill. Dawn was the motivating force behind the Winter Gala event with Gov. Chris Christie and she played a huge role in making this the single most successful fundraising event for our party in decades. But, she and this committee cannot do this alone.

We will be extending an invitation to all of you to join our efforts in supporting our candidates financially. You will be hearing more about that later today. We have a great list of fundraising initiatives for this year and the success of these events will depend — in part — on all of us.

Already this year, we have seen potential donors turn away from the party due to negativity, exclusion and what one large donor said was “a failure of some to see the value of success of others.”

We simply cannot afford to discourage donors who are looking for a positive, unified, and solution oriented organization in which to invest.

For the first time in several years we also have a Rules Committee. This committee is chaired by our Republican National Committeewoman Susie Hudson and she has assembled an excellent and diverse team of volunteers to look at and make recommendations about our party rules.

In some areas, our rules are outdated, obsolete, unclear, or ineffective.

I have asked Susie to work through these rules and — with an eye on winning elections — propose changes that will make or rules clearer and our committee better.

With the warning for today’s meeting you received the first proposal from this committee. This is a clarification of an already existing rule that will allow the Rules Committee to fulfill its duty to “review and make recommendations on resolutions to be presented at a State Committee meeting”.

Again, this rule has been in effect for quite some time but there have never been parameters set around how this review would logistically take place. With the acceptance of this rule clarification, we will now have a process through which rule changes can be received, reviewed by the rules committee, presented to the entire state committee in advance of meeting, and therefore be more thoughtfully discussed during that meeting. I urge you to support this clarification.

***

The task before us may seem daunting, but the opportunity for success is clear. If we were Democrats, we’d no doubt look for someone to blame, someone to tax or a quick fix, government gimmick to sell to voters. But we’re not Democrats. We’re diligent commonsense Vermont Republicans.

We know revitalizing our party is going to take hard work over the next several elections.

We know that Vermonters value balance in government and good ideas that get real results.

And we know we can show Vermonters that we are moving in the right direction — and deserve their votes — by echoing a positive and constructive message that addresses the problems they tell us concern them most.

Let’s work together to make the 2014 election a success and a first step toward even more victories and the full restoration of the Vermont Republican Party in the future.

Thank you.

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