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In an uphill race for the Senate, GOP candidate Gerald Malloy pitches limited government, business experience

A man in a white shirt and red tie looking towards a person out of the frame holding a WCAX microphone
Liam Elder-Connors
Vermont Public
Republican Senate candidate Gerald Malloy faces an uphill battle against Congressman Peter Welch for Sen. Patrick Leahy's open seat. Malloy, who bills himself as a conservative Republican, thinks Vermonters are ready for a change.

On a bright, cool fall morning in Underhill, the annual Harvest Market parade is about to begin, but Gerald Malloy is already going.

Malloy, wearing a thick red cardigan and tan corduroys, weaves along the side of the road. He tries to hand almost every person a postcard that bears his campaign logo: the face of an eagle and the slogan “Deploy Malloy” — a nod to his more than two decades in the military.

Gerald’s wife Stacey, the de facto campaign manager, tells him to slow down. “There’s no rush,” she says.

The campaign, according to Stacey, has been a blessing.

“We don’t wake up tired,” she says. “We wake up ready just for the next day of journey, every single day’s been a journey.”

“I can tell you different places, I get different receptions, some of them aren’t all that nice sometimes, and that’s OK, I want to hear people’s thoughts.”
Gerald Malloy, GOP nominee for U.S. Senate

As a political newcomer who had few big-name supporters in the primary, Malloy’s campaign is relying heavily on grassroots events. Counting today, he’s been in 18 and a half parades.

Malloy admits that not everyone wants to take a postcard from him.

“They see the R-word on there,” he says. “I can tell you different places, I get different receptions, some of them aren’t all that nice sometimes, and that’s OK, I want to hear people’s thoughts.”

Malloy bills himself as a conservative Republican. The first-time political candidate won an upset victory in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, beating moderate Christina Nolan, who was considered the front runner.

Malloy’s political positions revolve around a few themes: limited government, a conservative reading of the Constitution and free-market capitalism. And even though he faces an uphill battle against Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, the Army veteran says he thinks Vermonters are ready for a change.

More from Vermont Public: Vermont GOP voters ‘deploy Malloy’ as the Republican nominee for U.S Senate

Malloy, who is 60 years old, graduated from West Point and then served 22 years in the Army. He was a commissioned field artillery officer and served at posts around the world, including Germany, Korea and Saudi Arabia. Malloy retired from active duty in 2006 at the rank of Major.

He eventually joined the private sector, taking jobs at several defense contractors, including Raytheon. He currently works at Bowhead — a group of companies that advertise a wide-range of services including avionics and weapons development.

A man in a red sweater and tan pans walks next to a truck with banners.
Liam Elder-Connors
Vermont Public
Gerald Malloy walks in the Underhill Harvest Market Parade in late September. He says he's been in 18.5 parades since he announced his run for office.

If elected, Malloy says he would use his ties to the military and the private sector get more high-paying jobs to come to Vermont.

Malloy moved to Perkinsville a little over two years ago when the pandemic hit. Though he had never run for political office before, Malloy started to entertain the idea of running for U.S. Senate last year, when Sen. Patrick Leahy announced his retirement. Despite being new to the state and a conservative, Malloy dismisses the notion that his campaign is a longshot.

“I’m also not a career politician,” he says. "Career politicians, you know, just aren't willing to make tough choices. They're looking to get reelected, and they're not willing to make tough choices that can actually improve things for Vermonters.”

His political platform based is on what he sees as the problems facing the county. Malloy wants to build a wall at the southern border to limit immigration, increase funding for law enforcement and restart the Keystone XL oil pipeline. And he is critical of President Joe Biden’s recent decision to forgive college loans.

“I'm talking about fiscal responsibility,” Malloy says. “And getting back to what I believe is the intent of the founding fathers with the Constitution — to have less government, less spending, less control, just enough order so that we can all can enjoy the liberty, freedom and rights of the Constitution.”

More from Vermont Edition: Army veteran Gerald Malloy on winning the Republican nomination for U.S Senate

Malloy’s approach has won over supporters like Milton resident Tom Chastenay, who’s volunteered for Malloy since the primary. He says Malloy’s conservative values, like limiting the size of government, appeal to him.

“If you meet Gerald and talk to him for five minutes, you can see he’s a sincere, honest man who’s trying to do good and serve his country, he’s been in service of his country all his life,” Chastenay says.

Another volunteer, Ellie Martin of Underhill, says that Malloy’s stances on social issues are important to her. She points to two: that Malloy is anti-abortion, and that he’s against teaching kids about transgender issues in school.

"He will fight for our freedom, and he won’t cross party lines to please somebody else,” Martin says. “He’ll stick to the Republican line, and that’s important to us. We need to be represented, and he will represent us.”

“I'm talking about fiscal responsibility ... And getting back to what I believe is the intent of the founding fathers with the Constitution — to have less government, less spending, less control, just enough order so that we can all can enjoy the liberty, freedom and rights of the Constitution.”
Gerald Malloy, GOP nominee for U.S. Senate

States around the country, like Florida, Alabama and Montana, have imposed restrictions on what schools can teach kids about gender identity and sexual orientation.

Malloy wouldn’t explicitly say he supported those restrictions, but he indicated he was in favor of them.

“Woke-ism and critical race theory, I don't think — I'm not in favor of other people's ideology of being, you know, being indoctrinated onto our children,” he says.

More from Vermont Public: A guide to voting in Vermont for the 2022 midterm election

Malloy has changed his position on abortion. During a Vermont Public debatein June, when asked if he'd vote to ban abortion across all 50 states, he said yes.

But in an interview in late September, Malloy says he would not support a federal abortion ban, and he denies that he’s switched his stance. He says at the time of the debate, Roe v. Wade hadn’t been overturned.

“It is a state issue now,” he says. "And it's, you know, to be a U.S. senator and support the Constitution, where I believe per the Constitution, it belongs to the states. I'm not going to support it coming out of the states.”

Heading into the general election, Malloy had about $80,000 cash on hand, compared to Welch’s $2.7 million. And while Malloy is introducing himself to Vermonters for the first time, Welch is coming off eight successful Congressional campaigns. A recent poll commissioned by WCAX found Malloy trailing Welch by more than 30 points.

But Malloy is confident that his message is getting to voters.

“What's really encouraging is more and more people starting to recognize me, like, from across the street and stuff like that,” he says.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Liam Elder-Connors @lseconnors

Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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