This Wasn't Your Typical Candidate Debate
“I am a revolutionary nonviolent socialist and I am a secessionist.” So began a recent debate for the Vermont governorship.
The words were uttered by Peter Diamondstone, one of seven candidates on the stage to speak, a member of the far-left Liberty Union Party who's run multiple times for Vermont political office. (Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent weighing a 2016 presidential bid as a leftist independent or Democrat, was four times the Liberty Union's nominee for governor or senator in the 1970s.)
Cris Ericson, an independent, said she'd oppose F-35 fighter jets and natural gas pipelines in Vermont. Emily Peyton, another independent, noted that it's “the quality of love in a community that gives us spiritual wealth, and we are very spiritually wanting in this country.”
Needless to say, this wasn't your run-of-the-mill debate, with out-of-central-casting professional politicians and carefully rehearsed soundbites.
Independent and third-party candidates are usually excluded from debates and welcome any opportunity to promote their platform. In this case, all seven candidates on the ballot were invited to the Oct. 9 debate and all accepted.
“Some of you are well known to the people of our state; many of you, I dare say, are not,” moderator Stewart Ledbetter said at the beginning of the debate before segueing to Diamondstone.
The major-party candidates are Democratic incumbent Peter Shumlin and Republican challenger Scott Milne. Shumlin is strongly favored to win.
Watch the debate here: