The Northeast Kingdom’s new state senator was the lone Senate opponent to a resolution passed by the House and Senate that condemns last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol and calls for the removal of President Trump.
Sen. Russ Ingalls, R-Essex-Orleans opposed J.R.H. 1. when it came before the Vermont Senate on Friday. The measure is a “joint resolution condemning the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as an attack on democracy.”
Ingalls, who was elected in November to serve in the state Senate alongside veteran Sen. Bobby Starr, D-Essex-Orleans, stated that if the language of the resolution had stopped there he would have offered approval. “If this Resolution were to have condemned the rioters that breached the Capital [sic], I would have gladly signed on,” he wrote.
Language included in the Resolution passed Friday holds President Trump responsible for the violent mob and calls for his resignation or removal by other means from office.
“Whereas, this attack was instigated by President Donald Trump, who is attempting to overturn the results of a fair and free election that he lost in order to keep himself in power… Resolved: That the General Assembly calls for President Donald J. Trump to resign or to be removed from office by his Cabinet or by the Congress,” the Resolution states.
Ingalls said the Resolution went too far and the energy of the state legislature would be better spent on state needs like broadband.
“This Resolution was a political statement to cause as much harm as it possibly could to all Republicans and Trump specifically,” he wrote. “It was a hate-filled, poorly written, vile document that was unworthy of anyone’s signature.”
In choosing to oppose the resolution he did what no other Republican Senator did, including longtime NEK legislator Joe Benning and Senate Minority Leader Randy Brock. There are seven Republican senators among a total of 30.
Ingalls said the Resolution should have been focused on the violence of the Washington D.C. riot and all violent protests in the country. “I condemn all violence no matter who perpetrates it,” he stated. “If there were a Democrat president and this were to happen and this resolution was to appear written in the same way, I would not have signed it.”
Reaction to Ingalls stance on the Resolution has been significant with many people criticizing him for it.
“I’d say rookie mistake (BIG FAT MISTAKE) that hopefully he will NEVER make again. First week in office and voting alone? SMH. How ‘bout caucusing with your damn party until you get your feet wet,” wrote Julie Raboin.
She further encouraged people to write to Ingalls and provided his email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). She directed people who send him messages to not “defame his character or call him names.”
Another comment from Tammi Monfette notes she would volunteer to help any person who campaigns against Ingalls in the next election.
Ingalls said support for his decision has far exceeded condemnation.
Legislative opponents of the Resolution weren’t quite so lonely as Ingalls in the House vote, though the result was overwhelming tripartisan support for the Resolution. The measure passed by virtual voice vote 130-16.
No names are attached to the votes so there is no legislative record of who voted a certain way, but the Resolution language does list the names of the representatives who offered it, and most of the House members are on the list. Only 29 House members didn’t put their names on the Resolution in its offering.
Every NEK Democrat in the House is listed, along with Republicans Scott Beck, St. Johnsbury; Marty Feltus, Lyndon; Patrick Seymour, Sutton; Woody Page, Newport; and Michael Marcotte, Coventry.
Not on the list among Northeast Kingdom Republican representatives are Lynn Batchelor, Derby Line; Mark Higley, Lowell; Marcia Martel, Waterford; Joe Parsons, Newbury; Brian Smith, Derby; Vicki Strong, Albany; and Terri Williams, Granby. Paul Lefebvre, a former Republican who turned Independent prior to the last election, also was not on the list.
Among the local House members not listed as offering the Resolution, it’s possible that they voted for it when the vote was taken, but not all did.
“I voted no!” stated Smith. “The bill contained some language that I disliked.” He also said spending energy on the Resolution felt like a quick departure from a spirit of bipartisanship that House Speaker Jill Krowinski was advocating.
Williams, newly elected to serve the Essex-Caledonia House District, said she too opposed the Resolution. “I believe the resolution was made hastily and I was not/am not convinced that the ‘mob’ that attacked the Whitehouse [sic] was the protesters that came in busloads from all over the country in support of President Trump,” she wrote.
St. Johnsbury Republican Committee Chairman Scott Beck issued a statement late Monday in agreement with Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont House and Senate.
“The events in Washington D.C. last week were a disgraceful attack on democracy,” Beck said. “President Trump has incited, encouraged, and supported an insurrection with the purpose of overturning a free, fair, and legal election, which he lost.
“President Trump should resign immediately or be removed from office, by his Cabinet or Congress.”