Vermont Republican state candidate H. Brooke Paige is no stranger to the party faithful — but he is rather unconventional.
In 2016, the Washington, Vt., politico ran both for governor and state attorney general — as a Democrat. He attempted the same trick in 2014, but lost there as well.
As the Aug. 14 primary nears for this year’s election, Paige’s name is once again on the primary ballot — this time as a Republican.
The jocular, often top-hatted polymath is an attention-getter. He is also a reminder of a GOP-dominated past when commonsense rural values dominated the state’s voting population through the end of the 1960s — at least before urban and suburban demographic shifts, and before the administration of Gov. Philip Hoff (the state’s first Democratic governor since 1853) flipped the state from red to blue.
However, getting his name placed on multiple ballot slots is actually Paige’s way of playing a clever game of “primary chess.” He uses the gambit to thwart what he believes are devious attempts by state Democrats to undermine the minority Republicans.
This year, Paige has decided to run for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Vermont attorney general, Vermont secretary of state, Vermont treasurer and Vermont auditor of accounts.
While Paige had been on the ballot as a primary candidate for the GOP lieutenant governor until last week, he withdrew his name from that race while maintaining his placeholder status for the other slots.
“My primary place-holding strategy is intended to preserve every ballot position for Republican candidates to compete in the November election with a Republican candidate’s name petitioned onto the ballot for each office in the primary,” Paige told True North Reports.
“My strategy will prevent the Democrats from denying the Republican Party the right to ‘nominate by committee’ for the statewide ballot and place candidates on the general election ballot for those offices they failed to recruit candidates for in time for the primary.”
Paige maintains that in recent Vermont primary races, Democrats have attempted “a coordinated crossover write-in campaign” in which they have had party faithful select the Republican primary ballot and then vote a published slate of Democrat candidates as write-ins.
Paige said that the Democrats’ strategy has resulted in their candidates “most frequently being the highest vote getters” and accordingly “being winners of the Republican nomination for offices the Republicans had failed to petition a candidate onto the primary ballot.”
However, as to his decision to pull out of the race for lieutenant governor this week, there is a method to his madness: he decided to endorse Minority Leader Rep. Don Turner, a highly respected Republican who announced his candidacy last week.
“With Rep. Don Turner having successfully petitioned himself onto the Republican primary ballot, there is no longer a need for my name to be published in competition with the respected minority leader of the Vermont House of Representatives,” Paige said.
“I know Rep. Turner to be a knowledgeable and honest legislator – a man of impeccable integrity whose promises can be counted in every situation. [He] will make an outstanding, independent lieutenant governor for the citizens of Vermont. I am pleased to stand aside and allow him to concentrate his efforts on the general election,” he said.
While calling himself a “placeholder” candidate this year, Paige’s current run for the multiple slots nevertheless continues policy themes he expressed during his 2016 run for governor and attorney general. He has stressed a plan to reduce Vermont’s taxes with its top-heavy reliance on federal funds. In 2016, he suggested the establishment of a state bank as well emergency warrants to make up for any future revenue shortfalls.
Paige has repeatedly expressed a need for tort reform (compensation to parties awarded by the courts) and the reduction of frivolous malpractice lawsuits in Vermont.
While a supporter of green energy, Paige has said he would like to see the elimination of industrial-scale wind projects which dot the Vermont landscape and scenic ridgelines. He has also urged greater government transparency, more local control of public schools and “uniform criminal sentences to prevent judicial activism.”
Paige’s shifting party identification — from Democrat in 2016 back to Republican in 2018 — may demonstrate the candidate’s unique, libertarian independence along with a strong dislike of being pigeon holed.
“Political organizations and their media sponsors have been most effective in ‘branding’ their opponents,” Paige said in 2016. … Paraphrasing President Kennedy, ‘it is not important if the solution is a Republican one or a Democratic one; what is important is for it to be the best one.'”
Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.