Vermont self-styled 'independent-minded Republican' holds fundraiser with Mitch McConnell

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Christina Nolan has been trying to present herself as someone who would not rubber-stamp McConnell's far-right agenda.

Republican Senate candidate and former United States Attorney for Vermont Christina Nolan has been trying to convince Vermont voters that she is not a typical Republican. But on Tuesday, she will hold a Washington, D.C., fundraising event with the very Republican establishment leaders she claimed she would buck.

An invitation circulated by Nolan's campaign asked supporters to donate $500 or more to attend a reception at the National Republican Senatorial Campaign with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn (TN), Susan Collins (ME), Joni Ernst (IA), and Lisa Murkowski (AK). The host committee for the fundraiser included former U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

Nolan is an "openly gay" woman who served as former President Donald Trump's United States Attorney for Vermont from 2017 to 2021. In February, she announced that she would run as a Republican for retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) open seat.

In an effort to win in a Democratic-learning state where Trump lost 66%-31% in 2020, Nolan has sought to portray herself as an "independent" Republican who does not subscribe to all of her party's right-wing platform.

"I think I'm very much an independent-minded Republican, a nontraditional Republican and I think fair to say a New England Republican," she said as she launched her campaign.

In her kickoff video, Nolan claimed, "Leaders in Washington in both parties have lost their way. They are more interested in fighting with each other and beating the other party. It's cynicism and gridlock; it's I win or you lose."

Nolan has claimed that, as Vermont's next U.S. senator serving alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), she would stand up for marriage equality, be a "full supporter" of gay rights, fight for paid family leave, and oppose climate change denialism. But when McConnell was Senate Majority Leader, he and his GOP colleagues blocked votes on hundreds of House-passed bills, including legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination, ensure climate protections, and expand paid family and medical leave. He dismissed these as "left-wing solutions."

Nolan noted endorsed the confirmation of President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, saying the pick would "bring much-needed diversity to the highest Court in the land." But McConnell oversaw the GOP opposition to Jackson's confirmation, calling her a "radical." Blackburn smeared her as committed primarily to "to woke progressivism" and "results-based judicial activism." Ernst opposed her based on supposed "progressive and activist choices."

Nolan told NBC5 in Burlington, Vermont, that she opposes "late-term abortions," but added that she wants the U.S. Supreme Court to "honor precedents" on abortion rights. "Roe v. Wade is a precedent. And it has already been upheld in a subsequent decision by Republican-appointed justices," she said in March.

In contrast, McConnell, Blackburn, and Ernst all oppose abortion rights. In February, Collins, and Murkowski voted with their party to filibuster a Senate bill to codify Roe in federal law.

Blackburn, who is slated to attend Tuesday night's fundraiser for Nolan, has been one of the Senate's most vocally anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ voices. For this, she has repeatedly been presented with "True Blue" awards from FRC Action — the political arm of the Family Research Council. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Family Research Council a hate group, citing its "claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science."

Vermont Democrats have pointed out that electing Nolan would likely mean another vote for a Republican majority in the Senate and another vote to put McConnell back in charge of the chamber.

"Christina Nolan — or any other Republican candidate — would put Mitch McConnell in charge of the Senate, empowering an agenda of lower wages, tax cuts for the rich, inaction on climate change, radical anti-choice attacks, higher prescription drug prices, and further assaults on voting rights," Vermont Democratic Party Chair Anne Lezak said in February.

Nolan has refused to publicly say if she would vote for McConnell for majority leader should Republicans retake control of the Senate. "I'll vote in a way that I think is best for Vermonters, and so I'm not going to engage in hypotheticals. I'm going to see what the options are," she told the online news site VTDigger in February.

Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, whose at-large district includes the entire state of Vermont, is expected to win his party's nomination for Leahy's seat.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.