Ron Paul Supporters Aiming for an Electoral Coup in Vermont

Rutland, Vt.—“You know what sucks about this winter? There’s been little snow and the ground is hard making it really difficult to put yard signs in the ground,” says Steven Howard.

Howard and a group of Ron Paul supporters are taking a break from canvasing Rutland neighborhoods to put up a massive Paul sign on a vacant house owned by a local supporter. As soon as Howard detaches the two-part sign big fluffy snowflakes start falling from the sky at a pretty rapid clip. I put my Red Sox winter cap on to cover my head.

“How do you think we’ll do this year?” one of the volunteers asks.

“I’ll be happy if we make the playoffs, get a wild card spot. The divison is out of the question,” I answer.

The Paul effort in Vermont has a similar attitude. Paul supporters recognize that it's unlikely they will win the state but they still believe they have a chance to be competitive. In order for Paul to get any delegates in the Green Mountain State on Super Tuesday, he needs to crack 20 percent statewide according to Vermont Republican Party rules. Howard, an attorney and one of the main Paul organizers in the state, is taking every step he can to make sure that happens and to improve on Paul's dismal third-place Vermont finish in 2008.  

After setting up the massive sign, Howard and his wife, Maria, head back to the parking lot outside the Godnick Adult Center to meet up with other volunteers Howard organized to walk neighborhoods earlier in the day. Most had positive responses to share and were done for the day but Howard and Vietenam veteran John Kennedy, 66, decided to go one more street before the day was over. They split the street and conducted what they called “knock and run” canvassing, an abbreviated form of door-to-door campaigning. “I think we’ve hit probably two-thirds of Rutland already,” says Howard after briefly talking to a voter and handing her a flyer.

Paul supporters have divided the state into northern and southern regions, with Jessica Bernier taking the northern half of the state and Howard taking the southern portion of the state. While these grassroots efforts have been aided by the formal Paul campaign’s recent ad buys in the state, for the most part Howard and Bernier have handled all of this on their own.

“They started giving us lists last Thursday and we were into Voter Tracker by the end of the week. It's good to have because it gives you a starting point when you are canvasing but we don't have any ID'd Ron Paul voters in this state right now, so we have no way to run a true Get Out The Vote effort,” Bernier says.

“I did way more canvasing in New Hampshire than I have in Vermont because we had more lists there. It’s a totally different animal, a totally different demographic here. We’re much more liberal and much more libertarian here,” she added.

The Paul campaign's official coordinators from New Hampshire, Jordan Brown and Jared Chaicoine, have been active in Vermont since the end of efforts in New Hampshire, much to the surprise of Howard and Bernier. Both Vermont activists said that they did not expect the official Paul campaign to get involved in Vermont at all, but are certainly happy with the campaign's contributions.

“It’s been a total surprise, we were thinking about this back in October. We were not counting on them coming in and helping us,” says Howard.

In 2008, soon-to-be Republican nominee John McCain won the state with 71 percent of the vote. Mike Huckabee and Paul finished far behind with 14 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The only current polling data available on Vermont shows Mitt Romney with 34 percent, Rick Santorum with 27 percent, Paul with 14 percent, and Newt Gingrich with 10 percent.

Howard is optimistc about Paul's chances on Super Tuesday and thinks he will definitely hit 20 percent. 

"I think there's a chance he could take the state," he says.

Correction: This post has been updated with a quote from Bernier on Paul's GOTV efforts in Vermont.

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  • Zombie Jimbo||

    Quote from Maria Howard,

    "It’s a totally different animal, a totally different demographic here. We’re much more liberal and much more libertarian here,” she added."

    I'm not sure I'm buying that. Vermont seems to be liberal, but more than willing to make everyone else pay for their liberal whims.

  • Sparky||

    This guy is an elected senator from Vermont.

    Liberal doesn't begin to cover his beliefs. I believe at one point he straight up admitted to being a socialist.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    It's a weird state. There is a gigantic disconnect between Chittendon County and everyone else.

  • Isaac Bartram||

    Bernie Sanders has "admitted" that he's a socialist more than once, he runs as one.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Thankfully, Sanders will never be president. We would be treble-fucked if someone like him ever gains that high an office.

  • shrike||

    Only a Christ-fag Reich-winger would have a problem with socialist politicians.

  • ||

    Only someone who does not read history and pays no attention to current events would not.

  • ||

    One extreme is bad but the other extreme is good? In my experience, balance is usually the best policy.

  • ||

    We’re much more liberal and much more libertarian here

    Unless she's talking about two separate groups of people, she doesn't know what either "liberal" or "libertarian" mean. In current American politics, you can't be both.

  • ||

    I believe she is talking about the population, which obviously does not adhere to one viewpoint. Both liberalism and Libertarianism are represented in Vermont, though, clearly, Liberalism is the more popular of the two. We're working on that, though.

  • ||

    Only someone who does not read history and pays no attention to current events would not.

  • ||

    Of course you can. Libertarians believe in freedom - do what you want, love who you want, believe what you want... as long as you cause no harm to others. Very socially liberal. The conservative part is government specific - don't use much government as in 'conserve government'.

  • ret||

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  • sarcasmic||

    "I think there's a chance he could take the state," he says.

    What the heck is he smoking?

    Oh, wait a minute. He's a Ron Paul supporter.

    Never mind.

  • ||

    Maybe they should take this energy and put it into state government. Maybe make things a little harder for the communists who took over the state in the last 40 years.

  • sarcasmic||

    Government is a one-way ratchet.

    It is only wishful thinking to believe libertarians will ever make a difference on any level of government.

  • ||

    LOL yeah totally. I can't think of a single example of a bloated, authoritarian government being replaced by something smaller and more free.

  • Ring||

    What next, articles about putting on a Ron Paul 2012 bumper sticker?

  • Almanian||

    They ran that last summer

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    While reading this, I was thinking it was kind of interesting to know what goes on with these grassroots Paul supporters.

  • Almanian||

    You know who else was elected in a coup of sorts...

  • Sparky||

    Napoleon Bonaparte?

  • affenkopf||

    Washington?

  • ||

    Chimpy McBushiburton?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I think these articles are starting to verge on parody now. "Paul set to do great in x!" followed by the inevitable disappointment article the day after the election.

  • Sparky||

    I'm with you. I understand Ron Paul is a libertarian standard bearer, but to have an article every time he ties his shoes is getting to be a bit much.

  • invisible furry hand||

    And it still doesn't stop someone whinging in the comments about how Reason keeps ignoring him

  • RBS||

    Right. Between Quinn and Doherty there are numerous, generally positive, articles about Paul almost everyday. Yet some people will swing by to let everyone know how much Reason hates Paul and how they ignore him. I can't wait for this election to end.

  • Apatheist ಠ_ರೃ||

    Love the Paul, hate the paultard.

  • Ted S.||

    On the bright side, at least Quinn isn't trying to get us to buy some shitty book.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What is it about yard signs, anyway? Do the more yards whose owners dedicated to advertising for a particular someone make passersby think that candidate more attractive as "the guy with the huge following"?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    It wouldn't affect me at all, but it's pretty clear that most voters choose their candidate for stupid reasons.

  • Sparky||

    Granted, a lot of lawn signs are not anywhere near as good as MOMENTUM!

  • RBS||

    There were a lot of Santorum signs in my part of SC. It made me think about how fucked up Horry County is.

  • ||

    If you live in Vermont you are aware of how dominant the statist viewpoint is here. It is in our newspapers, our schools and, God knows, our legislature. People who believe otherwise are very nastily attacked and have been pretty much cowed into silence. Lawn signs might not sway anyone, but they might. Perhaps their most important function is to let people who support Ron Paul know they are not alone, give them courage and help them believe their vote might actually make a difference.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I voted for Paul in the last Vermont primary. It was a very unusual vote, since pretty much everyone was voting in the Democratic primary which was still up in the air. I haven't heard anything from these guys this year.

  • Richard||

    The only way Ron Paul is going to get 20% of the vote in Vermont is if a lot of Democrats take Republican ballots and vote for what they see as the weirdest choice available.

  • smz||

    what really gets me with the Paul campaign is that they have the match up they want - Paul vs Romney - in VA, but the campaign could seem to care less about it. That really proves to me that they could give a shit about really winning (I know, I know - they didn't care about it in the first place). But rather than fight like hell in the state to get a win and be considered the alternative to Romney, they're sticking to their rural, caucus-focused loser strategy. I get it, but it still pisses me off that they've given up VA. It has turned this previous (2006) delegate into a passive observer this time around. I'll put in my vote for him tomorrow, but that's about it, because I just don't see the seriousness.

  • CE||

    Unfortunately, no Ron Paul state victories yet, but he's doing much better than last time, and much better than the media apparently predicted, given how little they covered him and with how little seriousness.

    In 13 states so far, he has hit double digits in 11, and topped 20 percent in 6 of those, with a high of 35 percent in Maine. He's finished second 4 times, and third place another 5 times.

  • ||

    Voting for Paul is valid for one reason only...he is the ONLY candidate not busily whoring for the neocon, warmongering, industrial-military types that are determined to kill more Americans in yet another exercise of imperialism. Want a war? Send your own kids...want peace...vote for Paul.

  • ||

    Ron has over performed the polls in many states. They had him at 16% in Washington State and he got 25%. He could get 20% in Vermont if he is polling @ 14% now. Ron could also win in AK & ND, which will get him on the board.

  • Max||

    “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self-defense. For the animals are coming.” --Ron Paul

  • ||

    RON PAUL 2012!

  • Hunter||

    Love the Castleton poll that put him at 14%, and he pulls 25%. Duh.

    Don't miss this article BTW: "Ron Paul's Biggest Success":

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/03.....uper-tuesd

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