• Democratic primary is far from ordinary
     | September 11,2006

    MONTPELIER — One candidate was cutting wood six days before the primary election.

    Another is basing his campaign on his belief that Democrats and Republicans are fighting wars for oil.

    A third is opposed to aircraft-produced contrails in the sky.

    As for the most well-known name on the ballot, he plans to decline the nomination if he wins it.

    Welcome to the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

    On Tuesday, state Democrats — facing their first U.S. Senate vacancy in nearly 20 years — will choose from among five candidates who want the Democratic tag in the Nov. 7 general election.

    It's a big race.

    But neither the race or four of the five candidates have been getting much public attention. The marquee name belongs to U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, who didn't seek the Democratic nomination and plans to run in November as an independent.

    Even though he's not a Democrat, Sanders has the support of the party. In January, the state committee of the Vermont Democratic Party voted 48-0 to back Sanders, who is still occasionally referred to as a socialist.

    "He is the only person who approached the state committee for an endorsement," said Party Executive Director Jon Copans.

    Public attention in the U.S. Senate campaign is focused on the race between Sanders and Republican Richard Tarrant of Colchester, the retired computer software magnate who's pumping millions of dollars of his own money into the campaign.

    It was Democratic party activists who circulated the petitions needed to get Sanders' name on the primary ballot. If he wins Tuesday, he will decline the nomination, said Sanders chief of staff Jeff Weaver.

    "While he is the Democratically endorsed candidate, he continues to be an independent and will appear on the general election ballot as an independent," Weaver said. "We are certainly grateful for this demonstration of continued support from Vermont Democrats."

    But Republican Party Chairman Jim Barnett called that a cynical move by the party to deny Vermont Democrats a real candidate."The Democrat Party establishment is doing all it can to nominate someone who doesn't want their nomination," said Barnett referring to Sanders. "He's called their party morally corrupt. It's a case of schizophrenia on the part of the Democrats."

    Still, in addition to Sanders there are four other candidates on the Democratic ballot:

  • Larry Drown, a retired plumber from Northfield, is a perennial candidate for statewide office who has run over the years in a number of parties for a number of offices. On Wednesday he was out cutting wood. This year his Web site says he's running to give middle-of-the-road Democrats a choice.

    "I believe that two of the greatest issues facing America today are, the way we relate to the international community and the unchecked poor ethics, influence of money and downright corruption in Congress," Drown said on his Web site.

  • Craig Hill, 56, of Montpelier, an electronics marketer, says he's running because politicians on both sides of the aisle in Congress are protecting and encouraging wars for oil.

    "The Democratic party is still in the mind-set, in which it agrees the oil economy must be hewed to," Hill said. "They control their people in Congress to protect the Bush war-for-oil extravaganza."

  • Peter Moss, of Fairfax, is promising to introduce legislation to create what he calls a U.S. "Department of Un-Do," which would reverse "all the grievous deeds of the Bushist regime: tax cuts for the rich, abolition of the inheritance tax, privatization of Social Security, use of religion as a political weapon, senseless wars, and every other anti-social act and action."

  • Louis Thabault, 53, of South Burlington, a former postal worker, said he quit his job to run for the Senate because of his concerns about contrails, the tracks left by aircraft as they fly through the sky.

    "They are deliberately trying to make people sick," Thabault said.

    Other than Sanders, none of the candidates have raised enough money to require filing financial disclosure forms. People in different parts of the state can expect to hear radio ads or see small newspaper ads touting their candidacies.

    On the Web:

    Vermont Democratic Party


    Larry Drown


    Craig Hill


    Peter Moss


    Bernie Sanders for U.S. Senate

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