Paige seeks both gov., AG offices
BRATTLEBORO -- In political terms, H. Brooke Paige is all over the map.
He ran in 2012 as a Republican and now is listed on the Aug. 26 primary ballot as a Democrat. He sought to unseat U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders two years ago; this year, he is running both for governor and attorney general.
And, in spite of all that, many voters may affiliate the Washington man's name with a long-running legal quest to prove that Barack Obama was not eligible to be president.
But in a recent campaign swing through Brattleboro, Paige said he is dedicated to his causes and is steadfast in his principles, no matter the campaign or venue.
"Whether I call myself a Republican or I call myself a Democrat, I have a set core of beliefs, and that doesn't change," he said.
Paige chose to run for two offices that have well-established Democratic incumbents: Gov. Peter Shumlin is seeking a third term, and Attorney General Bill Sorrell wants a 10th term.
There is one other attorney general candidate on the primary ballot -- Bennington resident Rosemarie Jackowski of the Liberty Union Party.
Also on the primary ballot as gubernatorial candidates are Republicans Scott Milne of Pomfret, Emily Peyton of Putney and Steve Berry of Wolcott as well as Liberty Union candidate Pete Diamondstone of Brattleboro.
Paige said he made a career initially in industrial food service and in sales for chemical and paper companies before starting his own business running newsstands and coffee shops in Philadelphia. Paige and his wife bought property in Vermont and, after commuting to Pennsylvania weekly for years, he retired in 2008.
His first serious political foray was as a U.S. Senate candidate in 2012.
"I thought that Sanders and the whole socialist agenda is really going to bankrupt and destroy our country," Paige said, adding that he believes that, the more government expands, "the less people rely on themselves."
"Self-reliance and ingenuity and innovation on the individual level is really what makes this country happen," Paige said.
He lost in the 2012 GOP primary to John MacGovern, who went on to lose to Sanders in the general election.
That same year, Paige decided to enter the legal arena. On the day before the 2012 primary, he filed a complaint saying Obama -- then seeking a second term in the White House -- could not be president because he was not a "natural-born citizen" under the U.S. Constitution.
The issue of Obama's citizenship is considered settled in most quarters: Although the president's father was born in Kenya, Obama has produced documentation showing he is a U.S. citizen via his birth in Hawaii.
Paige said he actually was challenging the validity of several candidates on the Vermont primary ballot that year. Paige also was seeking an answer to what he considers a perplexing political question.
"The natural-born citizen clause of the U.S. Constitution has never been defined anywhere," he said.
Paige had no luck in the courts, though. The Vermont Supreme Court, in a ruling more than a year later, called the complaint "moot," and Paige said he recently heard that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review it.
But he does not mind being identified with the lawsuit.
"I only do things that I think have a chance for success," Paige said. "And once I've adopted them, I own them, and I follow them to the end."
That same may be true of his political aspirations. Though it is an understatement to say Paige is a long shot to steal the Democratic nomination from either Shumlin or Sorrell, he is campaigning -- without the use of political donations -- in an attempt to spread his message:
-- Paige says the state's push toward universal, publicly financed health care -- often called single-payer -- is an "unnecessary intrusion into personal and professional relationships between patient and provider."
"In the end, single-payer has nothing to do with health care. Single-payer will never make you better," Paige said. "All single-payer does is address the financial impacts of the industry."
He fears that, eventually, "the state of Vermont will wind up having to take over the hospitals" due to inadequate reimbursements.
-- On education, Paige wants to "support and protect local control and locally based schools." That is an increasingly popular refrain in a state where the Legislature this year considered -- but did not approve -- a bill that would have forced consolidation of many small school districts.
-- Paige backs energy-efficiency and conservation efforts and says he supports small-scale solar and wind projects. But he does not favor "expensive and unreliable" industrial-sized wind turbines.
-- Paige supports legalization and commercialization of marijuana, writing on his website that such a move would end "the last vestiges of prohibition, removing the profits from the criminal marketplace while assuring that products allowed create no heightened danger to our citizens and allowing law enforcement to concentrate on eliminating ‘hard drugs' and their criminal purveyors."
-- Saying Vermont has become "the land of endless taxes," Paige wants to "bring expenses and expenditures under control to allow us to reduce tax demands."
-- On the law-enforcement front, Paige -- who has no legal degree -- believes the state attorney general should work more closely with state's attorneys and exercise more supervision over county sheriffs. He also thinks the office has been politicized, with Sorrell "running the equivalent of a boutique law firm where they pick and choose their causes."
The campaign is online at www.brookepaige.us.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275. Follow him on Twitter @MikeReformer.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.