How toxic is the Republican brand?

You’ve heard of RINOs — Republicans In Name Only. Now, I guess we’ve got Republicans In All But Name, which is unfortunately not so catchy an acronym.

Earlier today came news that former Douglas Administration Ag Secretary Roger Allbee is running for State Senate as a Democrat in Windham County — a liberal province where no Republicans are likely to run for the two available Senate seats.

Well, no Republicans are likely to run as Republicans.

And now we’ve got another.

Former State Representative Oliver Olsen, who stepped down in 2012, is making another bid to represent his south-central Vermont district. This time, as an Independent. (He actually announced a couple weeks ago, but I just came across the news in the Manchester Journal.) His explanation sounds almost exactly like Allbee’s:

He said he has always been fairly independent and considers himself a centrist.

“I have been encouraged to run by, and have support from, a number of Republicans and Democrats in our district as well as Democratic and Republican elected officials,” he said in an email. “With the challenge of having to juggle full time work responsibilities, I simply don’t have time to deal with overhead that comes with a party label.”


Huh. I’ve never been a candidate, but what “overhead” exactly?  

Olsen served one-and-a-half terms in the House, and was one of the more vocal members of the Republican super-minority during the 2010 biennium. Some considered him a rising star in the party. Not any more, I guess.

Is this the beginning of a trend? Former Republican politicos making comebacks under different labels? We’ll see if anyone else comes out from under his/her rock by the Thursday deadline.

As I said in my Allbee comment previously, it’s strange timing. I can understand why center-right Republicans would feel disaffected during the “Angry Jack” Lindley regime. But now, with Phil Scott leading the charge for a more inclusive VTGOP, I’d think his fellow “moderates” would give their party another chance, and give Scott a little support in his ongoing battle with party dead-enders.

But time and tide wait not for the politically ambitious. And the non-Republican candidacies of Allbee and Olsen appear to be signs that the VTGOP brand is just too toxic for a whole lot of people.

On the other hand, maybe this is a pro-wrestling style swerve: after the election, Olsen and Allbee will appear at the Republican “victory” party, having re-registered as Republicans on Election Day, and sneer at the suckers who fell for the ruse.  

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