In front of a crowd of 40 supporters on the Vermont Statehouse steps, political newcomer and conservative commentator John Klar announced Monday he’s running for Vermont's Republican gubernatorial nomination.
While former Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe is running for governor as a Democrat, incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Scott has not yet said if he will run for a third term. He has said he will announce his plans in the spring.
Rebecca Kelley, a spokeswoman for Scott, said the governor is not focused on the coming campaign.
“The governor is only 11 months into his term, and he remains solely focused on achieving real results to improve the lives of Vermonters, grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable,” Kelley said in a emailed statement.
Assuming he does run again, Scott will face a primary challenge on his right. Brookfield resident Klar describes himself as a farmer first, a lawyer second. He said Vermont needs to return to traditional Republican values and trim the size of state government.
“The government has grown like a bloated tick off the blood of working Vermonters," Klar said in his announcement speech. "It's time to pop it, and make sure we get the head out."
Speaking in front of about 40 supporters, some carrying “John Klar for Governor” signs emblazoned with a red maple leaf, Klar said Monday he is the real Republican running for governor.
“If Phil Scott does announce that he's going to run again for re-election in 2020, he will be challenging me, and his base, because we have retaken the Republican Party," Klar said. "We represent the vast majority of conservatives in this state."
Thetford resident Bill Huff attended Klar's announcement. He said he appreciated what he called Klar’s common-sense approach.
“I think we can do better [than Phil Scott],” Huff said. “I will probably always vote for a conservative type position, but there are a number of different issues where Phil Scott really hasn’t met that desire that I have for a direction for the state, and I think John will.”
Klar said he voted for Scott twice, but has since grown disillusioned with the moderate governor who is a frequent critic of President Donald Trump. Klar said the governor’s race should not be a referendum on Trump, although Klar also declined to say whether he supports the president.
“I did not vote for him,” Klar said. “Aside from that, I refuse to be dragged down into a single person’s personality. It terrifies me that our entire nation, and our whole state, are going to decide all of these issues and let the tick belly grow, because of Donald Trump.”
Klar is newcomer to politics but is a frequent commentator for conservative websites and publications. He has called for the repeal of the Act 46 school consolidation law, and for repealing the Act 250 development review law. He also criticized lawmakers for passing a bill that codified into law a woman's right to abortion.