Veterans for Responsible Leadership: Statement on 2020 Endorsements

For the first time since its founding in 2017, VFRL will endorse a broad slate of candidates across Federal and State offices in an election cycle. As an organization committed to nonpartisanship, but at the same time dedicated to defeating Trumpism, this process has not been without its challenges. A threshold criterion for VFRL’s endorsement is simple and binary: has the candidate stood up for our democratic institutions, the rule of law, and America’s standing in the world by denouncing President Trump and the threats his reckless, divisive, immoral, and often unconstitutional rhetoric and actions pose to our nation? As Veterans, we swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Our elected officials who hold high office do the same. This shared oath binds us in a common commitment to the high ideals and values we as a nation proclaim. But this bond is only as strong as our fidelity. Last winter, our representatives in the House and Senate were each posed essentially the same, simple question: was President Trump’s withholding of aid and accompanying request of a foreign head of state to investigate a political rival an impeachable offense? Save one Congressman and one Senator, all those in one political party pronounced to the American people and the world that they were unwilling to declare it so. We applaud the courage of Senator Mitt Romney and Congressman Justin Amash. We are deeply saddened by the failure of that courage in so many others.

There are many Republican members of the House and Senate in whom we have great hopes; however, until they vocally and publicly turn from Trumpism, we are unable to endorse their candidacies. For now, leaders like Governor Phil Scott of Vermont must guide the way for their fellow Republicans. Governor Scott recognized the threat posed by a Trump presidency in 2016 and has now voiced his opposition to Trump’s reelection, citing his abuses of power and unfitness for office. Governor Scott’s courage and leadership in Vermont and nationally among Republicans on this issue so essential to our national character and our collective success has earned him VFRL’s endorsement for reelection in 2020. We thank Governor Scott and wish him well.

While not up or running for reelection in 2020, VFRL also commends Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Nebraska State Senator John McCollister, New Jersey State Senator Dawn Addiego, South Carolina State Representative Gary Clary, Oregon State Representative Cheri Helt, Rhode Island State Representative John Lyle, California State Assemblyman Chad Mayes, as well as the many former Republican executives, officials, legislators, and judges who recognize Trump and Trumpism for the threats that they are, have followed their consciences, put their country over politics — and, for many, their political fortunes — and spoken out.

In the coming days, VFRL will announce further endorsements for Federal and State offices. The roster will include few Republicans. It is our great hope, however, that the elected officials and candidates in this party will, sooner than later, recognize their error, announce their contrition to the American people, and commit themselves to principled service to this great Nation, girded by their faith to the oath we share. Should they do so, they will find VFRL ready to welcome them with open arms.