May Campaign Update

May 24, 2010

Summer weather seems to have finally arrived in the Green Mountain State, and the gubernatorial race has likewise heated up. For Dennis Steele, this has translated into a string of real successes throughout the month of May. After months of hard work, we’re finally gaining real traction, and are looking forward to spreading the vision of a free Vermont throughout the state as the summer progresses.

The month started on a bit of a down note when, after taping a full interview with Dennis, WPTZ edited a few seconds of it into a segment that was, for all intents and purposes, a hit piece. It showed him briefly talking, never mentioned that he was running for Governor, and then subtly equated him with the registered sex-offender whose interview they subsequently showed.

Fortunately, we experienced a radical reversal of fortunes the very next day, which was the date on which the court hearing for Dennis’ disruption of the Barre debate was scheduled. That morning, we found out that the charges had been dropped, but proceeded to the courthouse anyway to determine why. Upon our arrival, we discovered that the press was there and eager to hear Dennis’ side of the story. As a result, a fair, positive article ran the next day in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. As if that weren’t enough, that day also saw Dennis’ first gubernatorial candidates forum.

This was a big milestone because, since the beginning of our campaign, forum organizers had, for one reason or another, refused to include Dennis in the discussion. We responded to this exclusionary tactic by having Dennis and supporters pose questions from the floor, but as the weeks progressed, the Democrats attempted to stop even that level of participation. The Barre forum was by invitation only, and when Dennis asked the candidates to address the fact that our current budget crisis must be viewed in the light of Vermont’s $1.5 billion pro-rata share of the Federal “Defense” budget, he was led out in handcuffs. So, when, at the prompting of numerous Steele supporters, the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger extended an invitation to Dennis to participate in their forum, it signaled that we’d entered a new phase of the campaign. You can check out the video below (and check out Racine’s expression when Dennis mentions the Barre debate):

Dennis Addresses the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger

Building off of those successes, last weekend we headed down to Barnaby’s Backroad Bluegrass Bash in Rockingham. Dennis had bartered promotion of the festival on Radio Free Vermont for a space in the vendors area, and we spent much of the weekend having conversations, handing out campaign literature, and and collecting signatures for lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Pete Garritano.

Matt and Dennis at the Bluegrass Festival Booth

However, on Saturday morning we found ourselves on the road at 5:30 headed to Franklin to show support for the Rainville family of Morses Line.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Rainville’s predicament, they’re a dairy farming family whose property lies on the US-Canadian border. The Federal stimulus bill set aside money to upgrade the border crossing station near their property, but the new $7 million facility requires substantially more land than the one it is replacing, and the Feds initially demanded that the Rainvilles sell them more than 10 acres of their farm. When the Rainville’s refused, the Feds threatened to take it from them by eminent domain, and redesigned the facility to take up less than five acres. When the Rainvilles again refused to sell out, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to hold a community forum to discuss the issue and issue a new proposal.

We arrived at the forum about 45 minutes before it started, and were able to have conversations with a good many people who were upset with the Federal Government. About two hundred people packed into the Franklin City Hall, and when the time to comment came around, the message was unanimous: Feds go home. The Rainvilles refused the further compromised 2.2 acre land-grab, and their community stood solidly behind their decision. After the hearing concluded, Dennis briefly chatted with Mr. Rainville to confirm his support for their cause before hopping in the car and driving the three hours back to Rockingham, where we finished up the festival and departed for home on Sunday.

Dennis meets Mr. Rainville

Dennis meeting Mr. Rainville in Franklin.

At every turn for the past few weeks, we’ve been getting the sense that interest in the campaign for a free Vermont is growing, and that our efforts are putting the issue of independence truly and legitimately on the table. This summer we’re hoping to hit the road and visit as many of Vermont’s towns as possible; though many Vermonters are not yet ready to agree with the message of secession, our experience thus far has powerfully shown that there are many who are, if only someone reaches out to them. That’s our goal, but our effectiveness is limited by the resources at hand. We’ll do the best we can no matter what, but any help our supporters can provide will multiply our effectiveness. So far we’ve raised close to a thousand dollars, and have spent nearly as much on literature, gas, and signs. If you believe that what we’re doing is right and necessary, we could truly use and appreciate your support. The more money we raise, the more Vermonters we we’ll be able to reach with the vision of a second Republic of Vermont. To donate, visit, or send a check to P.O. Box 28, East St. Johnsbury, VT 05838. Thanks, and…

Imagine … Free Vermont!

Matt Cropp

Campaign Manager

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