The Case Against Phil Scott (R)

The Case Against Phil Scott (R)

Background Memo

“Governor Phil Scott is not the moderate he makes himself out to be,” said R. Christopher Di Mezzo, Vermont Democratic Party spokesperson. “In his four years as governor, Phil Scott has worked to destabilize and oppose increased funding for Medicaid, he’s proposed programs that will raise the cost of health care, and he’s denied working Vermonters a raise and paid leave protections. Phil Scott is temperamentally different from Donald Trump; true, but his policies and the effect they have on working families are far too similar. Scott has undeniably made it less affordable for working families to live in Vermont.”

To:          Interested Parties

From:     R. Christopher Di Mezzo, Director of Communications, Spokesperson, VDP

Date:      July 22, 2020

Subject: The Case Against Phil Scott



Phil Scott ran for office on the promise to make Vermont more affordable for working families, yet at every turn he’s made decisions or drafted proposals that would do just the opposite. 

In 2019, Vermont’s health care regulators proposed increasing funding for the state’s Medicaid program. Phil Scott, said he opposed increasing Medicaid funding for working families.

This is far from the first time this governor has tried to saddle Vermonters with higher health care costs -- just last year, Scott proposed an “age rating” system, which would mean older adults could see their health care costs rise yet again.

To top it all off, he’s indicated his willingness to transition Vermont’s Medicaid funding into block grant funding -- a Trump administration proposal -- that would gut Vermont’s Medicaid funding by more than 30 percent.

Scott’s war on working families doesn't end with health care. During the 2020 legislative session, Democrats in the House and Senate crafted and passed historic legislation that would have helped everyday Vermonters achieve greater financial security — a raise to the state’s minimum wage and the foundation of Vermont’s first statewide paid family and medical leave program. 

Shortly after their passage and just weeks before the rise of a global pandemic that would decimate economies across the country and the world, Phil Scott, vetoed both pieces of legislation. Two bills that Scott had vetoed before, in 2018.

Phil Scott ran for office, twice, on the promise to make Vermont more affordable for working families, yet he’s sought to weaken the Vermonters’ health care, opposed increasing funding for Medicaid, indicted openness to a plan that would gut Medicaid funding by 30%, twice vetoed a pay raise for the hardest working Vermonters, and twice stood in the way of a paid leave system in Vermont that would put the average Vermonter in a better financial position. All of this leads us to ask one simple question: Affordable for who?



National Republicans love Phil Scott. He may occasionally issue mild criticisms of Donald Trump, but GOP leaders have found in Phil Scott what they hope to find in all of their Republican governors: a willing partner. Scott’s willingness to toe the party line on issues like Medicaid funding, climate change, minimum wage, and more are the reason they reward him with huge stacks of out-of-state cash. Money raised from the Koch Family, Sheldon Adelson, big tobacco, the oil lobby, pharmaceutical companies, and the NRA.

That influx of dark money is the reason Phil Scott feels confident in his swearing off fundraising for his 2020 re-election campaign. In 2016, during his first run for Governor, the Republican Governors Association bankrolled his campaign to the tune of $2.8 million. The RGA swooped into Vermont again in 2018, sinking more than $800,000 into the gubernatorial election.

Phil Scott is dependent on Republican party bosses outside of Vermont. He claims independence, yet given the opportunity to exercise that independence he chooses to cater to his financiers instead of his constituents.



In 2020, Vermont has a Governor who has vowed time and again not to act in a meaningful way on climate change. During his 2020 State of the State address, climate protesters called on Phil Scott to do something and to lead. As VTDigger reported that day: “after 16 were detained (one was arrested) and order was restored, the governor delivered his address — which didn’t mention climate change until the 53rd paragraph. The governor made it clear that, as far as he’s concerned, significant climate legislation was off the table.”

During his 2020 State of the State address, Phil Scott unveiled his three pronged approach to ignore climate change: (1) Dismiss passionate protesters with dispassionate remarks about the climate crisis. (2) Sprinkle tepid mentions climate change into speeches to appear as though he’s thinking about the issue. (3) Make clear that his support for significant climate legislation is off the table.


In 2019, Scott vetoed S.37, a bill that “would have authorized a cause of action by a person without a present injury for medical monitoring against the owner or operator of a large facility from which a toxic substance was released” (S.37). As is customary for this governor, he chose not to side with corporate interests -- in this case corporate polluters -- instead of Vermonters’.

In short, not only does Phil Scott have no plan to tackle the most serious threat to our way of life as Vermonters, and continues to oppose Democratic-led solutions, but he has failed time and again to articulate any solutions of his own.



A majority Democratic state, Vermont will likely vote for Joe Biden over Donald Trump by more than 30 points -- as it voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. This cycle, Vermont Democrats are hoping to cut down on the number of cross-party voters and fortify the Democratic vote behind the Democratic Party’s nominee. The reality is this: Once Democrats learn more about Phil Scott’s failed record as Governor and can contrast his record with that of our Democratic nominee, we’re confident Vermonters will support the Democratic nominee who shares their values.

During a recent Republican primary debate, Phil Scott bragged about standing directly in the way to Democratic-led legislation that would inarguably make the lives of his constituents better. He said “I’m like the last person standing at this point in time between common sense and some of what we’re seeing in the legislative process.” Phil Scott is the single biggest obstacle to progress in the state of Vermont and his four years as Governor have proven him unequipped and unwilling to be bold and take the actions needed to put Vermont on a strong path forward.

Dark-money-backed Phil Scott has worked to destabilize and oppose increased funding for Medicaid, he’s proposed programs that will raise the cost of health care for those who need it most, and he’s denied working Vermonters a raise and paid leave protections. He has undeniably made it less affordable for working families to live in Vermont.

Democratic candidates for Governor as well as the state party are building strong grassroots, people-powered campaigns that will help propel us to victory. The race for governor is just getting started.