By Guy Page
Edward Gilbert of Graniteville has joined Jimmy Rodriguez of Arizona as an announced Republican challenger to incumbent Democratic Congressman Peter Welch.
Welch, first elected in 2006, says he will run again this year. Other candidates for Congress are progressive/independent and marijuana advocate Chris Ericson and Pomfret native and Norwich University graduate Justin Tuthill (party affiliation unstated on his website).
In his announcement, Gilbert notes that 2018 candidate Anya Tynio and others also may run. If so there will be a Republican primary on Aug. 11, regardless of the status of the puzzling candidacy of Rodriguez.
According to Ballotpedia, Rodriguez also announced for a congressional seat in Arizona this year, before withdrawing from the primary. Answers to a candidate survey show him as a married, a small business owner and offroad race car driver, and a pro-life Christian. He is soliciting campaign donations on numerous websites. It is unclear where, or whether, he now lives in Vermont.
According to Opensecrets.org, Welch has raised $465,000 and has $2.2 million cash on hand, and Rodriguez has raised $590,000 and has $566,000 cash on hand.
Gilbert, a 1986 Spaulding High School graduate, served in the U.S. Navy after graduation and earned a UVM degree Bachelor of Science in Information Management Systems in 1996. His campaign announcement calls for:
- An all-county prosperity plan
- Tax code simplification and tax cuts
- Relieving health care cost burden with updated medical technologies
- Policies supporting state colleges
- Reducing number of state employees (500, Gilbert says) earning over $100,000
- A new, more affordable education model including more online and home schooling, younger public school teachers, smaller school districts, and fewer highly paid administrators.
- No carbon taxes
- Shifting environmental focus from carbon reduction to wastewater pollution and Superfund site cleanup
- At least three televised debates involving challengers and incumbents, who have “all the advantages of paid staff, they get full coverage by major TV televised media sources here in Vermont.” The debates would create “a level playing field” for incumbents and challengers to interact, debate and express their vision for 21st century Vermont.”