Republican H. Brooke Paige to withdraw from five races, run for secretary of state

The cunning candidate who won six seats in the primary election has notified the Vermont Republican Party that he is withdrawing from five statewide races but will continue his run for secretary of state.

H. Brooke Paige, a resident of Washington, ran as a mere ballot “placeholder” to prevent Democrats from crossing over to nominate candidates during Vermont’s open primary. In the process, he won the Republican Party nomination for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, state treasurer, attorney general and auditor of accounts — offices he no longer seeks.

Republican candidate H. Brooke Paige: “My withdrawal is conditional on the Nominating Committee selecting well-respected, highly qualified and electable candidates to replace me through the nomination by committee process.”

Paige made his intentions known to party leaders and the public in spring, and now is asking the Vermont Republican Party to form a committee to nominate highly qualified candidates to run for those offices.

TNR has learned that former gubernatorial candidate Dan Feliciano, of Essex, has expressed interest in running for U.S. Senate, if the GOP nominating committee will accept it.

“I have received voluminous emails, calls, texts and IMs asking me if I would seek the Vermont Republican Party U.S. Senate nomination if H. Brooke Paige were to withdraw. … Yes, I will,” Feliciano posted Monday on Facebook.

Even though Paige is withdrawing from two congressional races, he continues to be a strident critic of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat.

“Peter Welch has become a senator in waiting … (and) Bernie is a charlatan, a socialist Pied Piper,” Paige said earlier this month at a candidates forum in Rutland.

In an Aug. 21 letter to Vermont GOP chair Deborah Billado, Paige announced he is withdrawing from five races, but with some conditions.

“My withdrawal is conditional on the (Republican) Nominating Committee selecting well-respected, highly qualified and electable candidates to replace me through the Nomination by Committee process,” Paige stated in the letter.

He told TNR he is running for secretary of state because he believes he can be a serious challenger against Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat.

In various interviews this year, Paige has expressed frustration with GOP leaders for failing to recruit qualified candidates for statewide offices during the primary.

However, according to Vermont law, a nominated candidate who wishes to withdraw must do so within 10 days following the election — in this case, by 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24. The secretary of state has authority to remove candidates all the way up until the deadline for printing ballots ahead of the general election.

“It is my understanding of the statutes that once there has been an ‘election’ as confirmed by Secretary Condos — that the 10 day ‘time clock’ begins,” Paige wrote in his letter. “I think many have confused ‘election day’ which is not cited in the statutes with an ‘election’ which is.”

Paige also told Billado that he suggested an arrangement last week with Will Senning, Vermont’s director of elections, to enable the nominating committee to meet, and to “permit a timely withdrawal … and the submission of agreeable Nomination by Committee affidavits to the state elections division.”

Paige said in another meeting with Senning he was told his request would be on the fast track “once the canvassing committee’s report was completed and the results of the primary election had been certified by Secretary Condos.” The official results of the primary were released by the Secretary of State’s office on Aug. 21.

Vermont Secretary of State's Office

Secretary of State Jim Condos said he has no problem with H. Brooke Paige’s place-holding strategy in the 2018 GOP primary.

Condos told TNR on Thursday that he congratulated Paige on his successful campaigns and has no problem with candidates acting as placeholders.

“Vermont law allows the same individual to submit separate petitions to run for multiple offices within the same major party primary,” Condos said.

“There is no law saying the same person cannot be a candidate for more than one statewide office,” he said.

According to Condos, it is also lawful for voters to write-in any person they want on a primary ballot, although write-in candidates tend to get fewer votes compared to registered candidates whose names appear on a ballot.

When TNR asked if voters can expect any changes to the primary election law in the future after the Paige affair, Condos replied, “That will be up to the legislature.”

Billado said the deadlines are tight if the party is to carry out Paige’s candidate substitution scheme.

“After Friday, the secretary of state won’t permit a candidate to withdraw — so Friday is the drop-dead date,” she said. “As we speak, I am not aware of Mr. Paige submitting anything to the Secretary of State’s office.”

Republican reaction to Paige’s victory in six races has been muted.

“I hope the party can fill those openings on the ballot quite soon. I will say this does create another first,” said Ed Larson, one of three Rutland County GOP candidates nominated for state Senate on Primary Day.

Vermont GOP Chair Deborah Billado: “Well, we can’t predict the future. This scenario could happen in two years, but I don’t imagine it happening again.”

Billado said if Paige gets approval to withdraw, the state party nominating committee will vote on replacement candidates to run in the general election.

“We have several candidates in the wing,” Billado told TNR. “I can’t name them yet.”

Billado said the GOP nominating committee represents all the counties in Vermont and is comprised of 100 members, including several at-large members.

“We’ll convene a nomination meeting and we’ll go one seat at a time — and there’s a voting process involved,” she said.  “We have people interested in senatorial against Senator Sanders and the congressional seat — those are the only two I know for sure. But I hear rumbles of others.”

Regarding the placeholder scenario happening again in 2020, Billado said she hopes it won’t repeat.

“Well, we can’t predict the future,” she said. “This scenario could happen in two years, but I don’t imagine it happening again.”

Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at

Images courtesy of H. Brooke Paige and Vermont Secretary of State's Office

8 thoughts on “Republican H. Brooke Paige to withdraw from five races, run for secretary of state

  1. The VT Republican party has become such a major disappointment to so many of us, becoming the more centrist wing of the Democrat party. It is hard to get excited by any opportunity we have because I’m sure they will continue to fail us in an attempt to keep an office or attempt to capture one.
    Thank you Brooke for doing the yeoman’s work for the people.

  2. When I saw H. Brooke Paige’s name all over the ballot, I thought this man really wants
    a job…..

    Boy, was I wrong this man had a plan and a good at that ……….Kudos to you !!!

    We need a few more Conservative’s to go out on a limb, these progressives we have
    in Montpelier ……………….are ruining our state !!

  3. Great job Mr Paige…you got my vote(s). And good luck in the general – Freudianesque ‘transparency tour’ is tiresome and really just gives Jim something to do whilst adding veneer of respectability despite second-home owners allowed to vote in VT under dubious ‘rules’ based upon the opinion of SoS, and then there’s the motor voter ‘immigrant’ scheme in our defacto sanctuary state…

  4. Brooke, you have my vote. The party had no “juice” to cultivate good statewide candidates since 2012. Hats off to you for at least getting yourself on the primary ballot and leaving an opening for the party to find other folks. You would make a far better Secretary of State than the incumbent Condos who is highly partisan and lazy. The staff at SoS do all the work there. The current officeholder gets a free ride by the majority party because he is the loyal soldier.

  5. What about other races without GOP challengers or full slate such as (2) out of (6) available Senate seats in Chittenden county, or unchallenged State Representative races that will automatically elect a “D” on the ballot?

    • Michael, can you run a race? It will take everyday folks like you and me thinking about running or cultivating others to run in order to fill up a ballot. Also, deciding last minute to run for State Senate or Statewide offices is crazy. These are big races that take time to prepare and fundraise. Last minute candidates seldom work unless they are community superstars in their area or well funded or both. This is perhaps why so many people decide against it.
      I have run for elected office 10 times, including two county races and one statewide, and lost 2 of those races. It’s hard work, but not impossible. I wish more people would at least start at selectboard, school board or a statehouse race to get some experience.

      • Well I agree that experience is valuable for being a candidate like you mentioned, and I have run a few races myself, and been elected on the school board 1 term before to replace an incumbent but also loosing some races too.

        I think when the State, county and local parties throw their candidates under the bus faster than a 10 second sound bite before considering standing by them, that especially rains other good people from even considering a race themselves for a 1st or 2nd time.
        I ran for 6-1 on the ballot in 2016 and along with others, we got screwed as soon as the 1st negatives from anyone were raised, even if not accurate.
        Also, when the party has been fielding RINOs, it is not encouraging when you 2nd or 3rd rate help in running, because it might jeopardize chance of a incumbent chance to win, when they hedge bets against supporting a fresh candidate so it might not cause trouble for chances in a multi district race.
        I was actually asked point blank if I would assure that I wasn’t going to offer any resistance to the other RINO before I could have access to party resources (if you have multiple seats, it is going to take as many votes as possible to overcome say; 2 Democrats and 1 other Republican if you need to place in the top 2 positions and 6 for Chittenden County Senate alone. When we a full slate of 6 years ago, some really good candidates ran, but they didn’t place well and ever since, it seems like the most “moderates or left” you can be, the party thinks that is more electable than someone who might be considered “conservative or even a “Right” leaning one.

        Again, I am currently an elected local official and it seems that I am becoming part of a disenfranchised part of the party as it has been trying to move left thinking it is the future rather than to fight for anything that are our original core positions; just because we are a blue state.

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