Liberty Union Candidates Register as Progressives for Statewide Races

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(Host) Leaders of Vermont’s Progressive Party say they are disappointed that some long time members of the Liberty Union Party have filed petitions to run for statewide office as Progressives.

As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the Progressive Party hopes to thwart the plans of these Liberty Union candidates.

(Kinzel) When the Progressive Party qualified as a major political party in Vermont after the 2000 elections, it changed the way their candidates are chosen for statewide office. As a minor party, the Progressives could select their candidates at a caucus, a procedure that ensures that a candidate has support within the party. However under state law, all major political parties must hold primaries and that means that anyone can enter a party’s primary for statewide office.

This year the Progressives decided to run just one candidate for statewide office: Burlington Representative Steve Hingtgen is running for lieutenant governor. They chose not to run a candidate for governor because many Progressives support Democratic candidate Peter Clavelle.

That decision to run only one statewide candidate created an opportunity for several members of the Liberty Union Party. Long time Liberty Union member Peter Diamondstone filed petitions to run in the Progressive primary for governor; Jane Newton is running for U.S. Congress; and Boots Wardinski has entered the race for attorney general.

The chair of the Progressive Party, Martha Abbott, is dismayed about this turn of events. She says a write-in effort will be launched to defeat these Liberty Union candidates:

(Abbott) “We really do not like the idea of being represented by people who claim to be Progressives and they go to the debates and enter into the dialogue and claim that they’re Progressives and they’re not. My contention here is that we should rethink the strategy of not putting up our own slate of candidates because it leaves us wide open for having another party put up their slate of candidates. They’ve done it twice now.”

(Kinzel) Peter Diamondstone says he’s just visiting in the Progressive primary and it’s the issues of the campaign that really matter:

(Diamondstone) “It’s a non-issue. It’s like all these kind of religious issues that people raise. It’s a freak show issue – don’t bother with it. I’m not going to bother with it. The important issues are about human beings and their needs, not about political parties and theirs.”

(Kinzel) Progressive Party Chair Martha Abbott says it’s difficult to win a write-in campaign but she says the effort is needed this year to help maintain the identity of her party.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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