With less than two weeks before Vermont’s primary, it may be time the world — or at least the state’s Republicans — got more familiar with the name H. Brooke Paige. They’re going to be seeing it a lot.
Paige is running to become the Republican nominee against US Senator Bernie Sanders. And to take on US Representative Peter Welch. Also for secretary of state, treasurer, AND attorney general. He’s running for state auditor as well.
Add all that together, and Paige may be the only candidate in the United States who is running for six elected offices on the same ballot. And before you dismiss him as a fluke or a footnote, consider this: He is all but guaranteed to be the GOP’s nominee for four of the positions because he is running unopposed in the primary.
Yes, this is legal. The Vermont secretary of state’s office confirmed that his name will appear on the GOP ballot six times in the Aug. 14 primary. What’s more, Paige said he used the same 500 signatures to qualify for the ballot in every race.
It’s unclear what would happen if he were elected to two or more of the offices simultaneously, but Paige, 65, said in an interview that he doesn’t want his efforts to get that far anyway.
“I am trying to make a point about the whole system and our local Republican Party that has become complacent about the very minor role it plays here,” said Paige, a retiree who often shows up at the Montpelier State House in a tuxedo and a straw hat. (The chairwoman of the Vermont Republican Party declined to comment on Paige.)
Paige’s first goal, he said, is to highlight the unwieldy nature of Vermont’s election laws that he says allows him to seek so many offices at once. Second, he doesn’t like that the state has open primaries in which registered voters can pull any party’s ballot on primary day.
In the past, Democrats, who dominate state politics, have pulled GOP ballots to write-in their party’s candidates. (In 2016, Welch, a liberal member of Congress, was the nominee for both Democrats and Republicans following such an effort).
This year, Paige says he wants to ensure Democrats cannot offer up candidates in races where Republicans have not fielded their own prospect. After he wins the primary, he says he will drop out of all of the races within 10 days, except the secretary of state’s contest, as long as the party replaces him with a suitable nominee.
And so far, he’s been somewhat true to his word: Paige collected signatures to run for lieutenant governor but stepped aside after another Republican whom he liked emerged. But Paige still has GOP opponents in a few primaries, and what do they think of his efforts?
“I wouldn’t call it annoying, but it is something of a different election when you are running against somebody who doesn’t actually want to be the nominee or serve if elected,” said Anya Tynio, 25, who is running against Paige for the state’s sole congressional seat. “I find that to be more unfair to the voters than to me.”
Paige has attempted this feat before in 2014 and 2016, when he ran for two positions at the same time — attorney general and governor — in both elections (that’s four contests, for those keeping count). He lost all of them.
But Paige notes he has won every general election he has ever run in: he is the three-term incumbent justice of the peace in his hometown of Washington. And so far, Paige says, he hasn’t taken advantage of the economies of scale when it comes to his campaigns.
“I might run to Staples and get a sign made with my name and all six positions underneath it, but I haven’t done it yet,” said Paige.