Jeffords Will Fundraise for Democrats

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(Host) Senator James Jeffords says he plans to campaign for some Democratic U.S. Senate candidates this year. Jeffords says he’s concerned that a return to GOP control of the Senate will lead to an abuse of power by the Republicans.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) When Senator James Jeffords stunned the political world by leaving the Republican Party last spring to become an independent member of the U.S. Senate, he made it very clear at that time that he was not joining the Democratic Party.

Although he still firmly maintains his independent status, Jeffords has now decided to campaign and raise money to help the Democrats keep control of the U.S. Senate. Jeffords says he decided to do this because he is very concerned that GOP control of the Senate, the U.S. House and the White House will lead to an abuse of power by the Republicans:

(Jeffords) “And obviously I believe very strongly that under the circumstances, it’s important that there be a check on the power of the administration. As I look at certain events in the past and look towards the future, that if you have a situation where the White House and both bodies of the Congress are of the same party it invites abuse of that power.”

(Kinzel) Jeffords says he is disappointed that his decision to leave the Republican Party – move that threw control of the Senate to the Democrats – has not resulted in legislative victories for the northeast dairy compact or special education spending. But Jeffords says his switch has taken absolute control away from the Republicans:

(Jeffords) “But the difference is that abuse of power is not there¿. So at each conference committee that meets, there will be one house that will have the ability to prevent passage of that legislation.”

(Kinzel) Jeffords says he won’t campaign against any incumbent Republicans and that he will choose which Democrats to support on a case by case basis. Jeffords will deliver the keynote address at a Democratic national fundraising dinner next week.

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

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