(Host) Republican Martha Rainville says she’s hoping to vote for a moderate Republican as Speaker of the House if she’s elected to Congress.
Rainville, who’s seeking the GOP nomination, has clarified her position on the speaker’s election. She says she would vote for a Republican. But she’s not sure she would support current House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
VPR’s John Dillon has more.
(Dillon) Vermont is a battleground in the mid-term Congressional election. Both Republicans and Democrats have placed a top priority on capturing the seat being vacated by Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders.
One of the first and most important votes in a new Congress is for House Speaker, the person who controls the agenda and committee assignments.
At a news conference, Rainville appeared reluctant to say she would support the leadership of Illinois Republican Dennis Hastert.
(Rainville) “I don’t know. Would I abstain? Would it matter? I think we spend a lot of time on who are you going to vote for as speaker and it really just detracts attention from what we ought we ought to be talking about. I think it’s in some sense a ploy by some who don’t want to talk about the issues, or who want to keep Vermonters stirred up about a personality rather than real concerns on Vermonters minds.”
(Dillon) But Democratic candidate Peter Welch said the election of House Speaker transcends personality.
(Welch) “It matters enormously to the future of Vermont and to future of our country. It’s the most important vote that Vermont’s next member of Congress will cast. It’s absolutely the most critical vote and it matters.”
(Dillon) Welch said it’s obvious that a Republican must vote for the Republican leadership while Democrats will support their party’s slate.
(Welch) “Rainville has a dilemma. Her major money early in the election came from the Republican leadership, Boehner, Hastert and others. And the first vote that you make when you run as a Republican Democrat is for the party’s candidate for leadership.”
(Dillon) But Rainville says it’s too early to say whether she’d vote for Hastert, because she doesn’t yet know who will run against him. She says she there may be a moderate Republican in the race.
(Rainville) “With this mid-term election, what I’m hoping is that that moderate voice will be stronger in Congress. And a lot of representatives have come to the realization that we need to change direction. And there are some, particularly in the Northeast, some Republicans that are very strong minded about that.”
(Dillon) But Welch says the only way real change will happen is if Democrats control Congress.
Rainville faces Bennington County Senator Mark Shepard in the September 12 primary.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.