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Democratic and Republican Vermont U.S. House primary candidates debate in Essex

Screenshot of VTDigger U.S. House debate
Screenshot of VTDigger U.S. House debate

Seven candidates running for Vermont’s open at-large U.S. House seat debated this week in advance of the state’s August 9th primary.

The VT Digger debate was split into two segments. The four Democratic candidates took to the stage first followed by the GOP hopefuls. Some of the questions posed during each section overlapped.

After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling striking down Roe v. Wade, the Democratic candidates were asked what they would do in Congress to codify abortion rights in law. Dr. Louis Meyers said it’s a tragic decision that will cost women’s lives.

“I oppose ending the filibuster. I would work in Congress to begin at least providing good prenatal and gynecologic and obstetric care where we can.”

Republican candidates were later asked if they support the ruling. Ericka Redic does, and said even Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that preservation of the right must be done through a legislative process.

“Really Democrats have only themselves to blame if they’re concerned about this right no longer being available. Even the justices who passed it said it was very flimsy law.”

Republican Liam Madden does not support the decision.

“It is a dangerous precedent for the government to have influence over our own medical decisions. And I think pre-fetal viability a woman’s right to control her own health care is a right. But I would see it as a reasonable compromise after viability to allow states to decide this issue.”

Asked how Congress can address the root causes of inflation, Democrat Sianay Chase Clifford said windfall taxes and fossil fuel company subsidies must end. But more importantly she said Congress must invest in a liveable wage and housing.

“We have to build the baseline resiliency of our communities. Because there are certainly inflationary pressures that we can’t control but a strong economy requires economically resilient families.”

Republican Anya Tynio claimed inaccurately that the 2020 election results have yet to be legitimized.

“I would hope discussing election fraud would help to secure future elections. And I would personally like to see a bipartisan committee appointed to oversee the voting machines prior to and just after elections. I do believe that we have a serious problem with voter fraud and also with foreign interference.”

The two highest-profile Democrats clashed during cross-candidate questioning. Vermont Senate President Pro-Tem Becca Balint quizzed Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray about her voting record.

"Do you think that you owe Vermonters an apology for not being truthful about your voting record in 2020?"

Gray replied, "In 2016 I was overseas. I didn’t have a plan to vote and that will always be on me."

"I understand that you regret not voting," observed Balint. "But that’s not actually what I asked. Do you feel like you owe Vermonters an apology for not being truthful?"

"If anyone felt like I was being untruthful I’m sincerely, sincerely sorry," Gray stated. "I think what’s most important right now is that we focus on the issues

Gray then went on offense questioning Balint’s campaign finances.

"Will you take responsibility right now for the actions of your campaign both in publically rejecting the SuperPAC endorsement and also pledging to file your overdue financial disclosures?"

Balint disputed Gray's SuperPAC claim.

"I have never benefitted from a SuperPAC. There is only one candidate up here who has benefitted from any SuperPAC spending and that is Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray in the 2020 election."

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