MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A perennial political candidate secured the Republican nomination to run for at least five offices, including the U.S. House, in a strategy to preserve all but one of the slots for other GOP prospects in the largely Democratic state.
In Tuesday's primary, H. Brooke Paige, a semi-retired former newsstand business owner, earned the party's nomination to run for congressman, state treasurer, secretary of state, auditor of accounts and attorney general. According to unofficial state results, he also got the GOP nod to run for U.S. Senate, but The Associated Press found that race too close to call.
Paige was the only Republican candidate in some of the GOP primary races. He said on Thursday his sale pitch has been that he's running "to preserve the positions for the Republican Party to prevent the Democrats from crowding over and taking the opportunity away."
Vermont election law allows candidates to be listed on the ballot under more than one party name, said Middlebury College political science professor emeritus Eric Davis.
"He (Paige) wanted to preclude the possibility of any Democrats getting enough write-in votes on the Republican ballot to also have the Republican nomination," as U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat, once did, Davis said.
Vermont also has no law restricting candidates from running for more than one office as some states do, he said.
If the party finds other candidates, Paige can withdraw from any race 10 days from the primary, by Aug. 24, according to the secretary of state. The party then has seven days to nominate another candidate.
The chairwoman of the state Republican Party said Paige sought to be on the ballot on his own. She said the party is now working to fill several of the slots.
Davis sees the party as having three priorities this year, ranking in this order: re-electing Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who in November's general election will face Democrat Christine Hallquist, the nation's first transgender political candidate to win a major-party gubernatorial nomination; holding onto at least 51 seats in the House so that Scott's vetoes can be sustained; and electing Don Turner lieutenant governor.
Scott is likely to be re-elected, but it's "touch and go" whether the GOP can hold onto 51 seats in the House, and David Zuckerman is the favorite to be re-elected in the lieutenant governor's race, he said.
"Beyond that I think the Republicans don't have the organizational strength to compete for all statewide offices the way they once were able to," Davis said.