Douglas Speaks Out Against Sterzbach

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(Host) Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas says there’s no place in Vermont politics for the hate-filled message of the Reverend David Stertzbach. Douglas’ Democratic opponent, Doug Racine wonders why it’s taken Douglas two years to come to this conclusion.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) State Treasurer Jim Douglas, who is also the GOP candidate for governor this year, made an appearance in front of the Republican Senate caucus on Thursday afternoon to deliver a stinging criticism of the tactics used by the Reverend David Stertzbach of Williston.

Stertzbach ran some radio ads earlier this week calling on Republican senators to stand up and vote to repeal the state’s civil union law. Stertzbach said senators who did not follow his advice would face the consequences in the upcoming election. Two years ago, Stertzbach organized a similar campaign and defeated a GOP senator in Chittenden County who voted for the civil union bill.

Douglas told members of the GOP Senate caucus that he strongly opposes Stertzbach’s "politics of personal destruction":

(Douglas) "So I strongly condemn the tactics of the Reverend Mr. Stertzbach and his colleagues in attempting to intimidate the members of this chamber and the Legislature as a whole."

(Kinzel) Meeting with reporters after the caucus, Douglas said he did not speak out two years ago when Stertzbach engaged in a similar campaign because he did not realize the magnitude of Stertzbach’s effort:

(Douglas) "I didn’t understand how serious this was. I heard about a reverend in Chittenden County making a statement. I had no idea that it would have the impact that it did."

(Kinzel) Lieutenant Governor Doug Racine, who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, said he was pleased that Douglas was finally speaking out against the Reverend Stertzbach, but Racine questioned why Douglas did not take a stand against Stertzbach two years ago:

(Racine) "Then I would say he wasn’t paying very close attention. Two years ago the Reverend Sterzbach and others were involved in an effort to personally attack a lot of good Vermonters who have supported civil unions legislation. He would have had to be living in a cave to not have noticed that."

(Kinzel) Jim Douglas also clarified his position on civil unions on Thursday afternoon. Douglas says he would not support efforts to totally repeal the law. But he does back legislation approved by the House last year that eliminates the civil union law and replaces it with a reciprocal beneficiary provision that would be available to same sex couples and a wider group of family members.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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