• Paige optimistic he can win two races
    By Neal P. Goswami
    VERMONT PRESS BUREAU | August 23,2014
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    Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo ¬ H. Brooke Paige of Washington
    MONTPELIER — With just days to go before the Democratic primaries, and a sitting governor and attorney general who haven’t even acknowledged his presence on the ballot, H. Brooke Paige is undeterred and believes he can win both those races.

    Paige, of Washington, took the unusual step of securing his place on the ballot for governor and attorney general with one petition. State officials, namely Secretary of State James Condos, did not challenge the single petition for two offices. As a result, the 61-year-old is facing both Gov. Peter Shumlin and Attorney General William Sorrell.

    Paige last ran for office in 2012, when he was a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Now, he’s on the ballot in two Democratic primaries. Paige isn’t shy about why — it provided the best chance, in his estimation, to win.

    Also, he says he is “not really the world’s greatest Republican.”

    “These are just labels. Some people take them very seriously,” Paige said.

    He has his own label for himself.

    “I am a classic liberal,” he said. “Post-neoclassic liberal, I’m told, is the proper name.”

    The definition, according to Paige, is a strong belief in small government and liberal rights for individuals. Vermont is leaning more and more toward big government and creating a group of citizens dependent on government, he said.

    “We create situations where people are too disadvantaged to take care of themselves,” Paige said. “We get to a point where we can’t lead people on a pathway to self-sufficiency anymore. We get them stuck in a rut of dependency, and I think that is very sad.”

    The state must “provide people with safety but look out for the common good at the same time,” Paige said.

    He’s running for governor against Shumlin because he believes the incumbent’s policies are hurting the state.

    “I got looking at all of the landscape here in Vermont … and really realized that it would be a public service to save Vermont from another two years of Peter Shumlin,” he said. “I don’t think I’m alone in that consideration.”

    Paige called Shumlin’s proposal for a universal, publicly financed health care system a “steamy pile of crud.” He said the state’s effort under Shumlin to implement an online health insurance marketplace required by the federal Affordable Care Act has been a failure.

    Paige said he favors universal access to health care that is not a financial detriment. But that should have been achieved by expanding the now-defunct Catamount Health plan, he said.

    Additional changes, including tort reform and allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, would help Vermonters more, according to Paige.

    “The sad part is nothing was broken but Shumlin couldn’t hang his name on it,” he said. “Let’s get back on firm footing … and then we can take a look at the landscape and determine if there’s something better to do.”

    Shumlin’s energy policies are also suspect, Paige said. Boosting the state’s renewable energy “may be a laudable goal,” he said, but the state is investing money and subsidizing technology that is not fully developed.

    “What’s wrong here is we’re investing far too much when we’re still in the innovator cycle,” he said. “It’s all touchy-feely, instead of letting good, sound economic decisions drive the market, drive the technology.”

    In his race for attorney general, Paige said he is concerned with the cases and causes that Sorrell chooses to pursue.

    “I think Mr. Sorrell is running his office like a boutique law firm, picking and choosing politically desirable topics. He’s running it more like an extension of Vermont Law School, where every day they’re holding mock trials,” Paige said.

    “The problem is when they lose one down at the AG’s office it costs us another few million dollars,” he said.

    Sorrell, who participated in a public forum with Paige, said he enforces and defends the laws passed by the Legislature.

    “I have no idea what he’s taking about,” Sorrell said. “The reality is I enforce the laws the Legislature enacts and when the state gets sued we defend whether it’s GMOs or Vermont Yankee wanting to avoid shutting down. If that’s what a boutique firm is all about, then I guess I’m guilty.”

    Despite political disagreements, Paige said he holds Sorrell in much higher regard than Shumlin.

    “I like Bill Sorrell. As a person, he’s a nice guy. I can’t say that for Shumlin by any stretch of the imagination,” Paige said. “I can say that I think Mr. Shumlin is morally and ethically challenged.”

    Shumlin has not engaged in any primary campaigning against Paige. In fact, Shumlin is scheduled to be out of state on vacation through the primary, which is Tuesday. His campaign declined to comment.

    neal.goswami @timesargus.com
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