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Vermont U.S. House Republican candidate Liam Madden talks about his primary win and GOP reaction

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Liam Madden
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Liam Madden

Liam Madden won the three-way race in last week’s Republican primary for Vermont’s at-large U.S. House seat. Madden ran in the GOP primary despite being a critic of the two-party system. He had planned to decline the nomination and run as an independent. But that idea went awry when he failed to register as an independent candidate by the August 4th deadline. Over the weekend Vermont Republican Party officials met to formally accept primary nominations and decided the party will not support his campaign. And Ericka Bundy Redic, who came in second in the GOP primary, now intends to run for the House seat as a Libertarian. Reached just after his primary victory, Madden told WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley he believes voters expressed a deep-seated desire for political reform.

I think that there's just a deep hunger in the people of Vermont, whether that's left or right, for some deep reform to the two party system. Because left and right both realize that it's corrupt, it's dysfunctional, it's warlike and it's not representing us well. And so if someone can speak honestly and substantively to this issue and how to have a path forward to have a government that actually works and solves problems, then people are open minded. And I think the Vermont audience, Republicans and Democrats alike, are open minded down-to-earth people and if you can connect on that level then you're going to do well.

You're going to now face Becca Balint in the general election. Some of the pundits, both in-state and out-of-state, have prognosticated that whoever won the Democratic primary is going to go into the November general election and be the next U.S. House member. What do you make of that and how hard do you expect this campaign to be especially with people having that sort of anticipation regarding the outcome?

That's a good question. I think that the idea that it is a foregone conclusion that the Democrat wins is pretty obviously betrayed by the fact that the Vermont Statehouse occupies a Republican governor right now and has for many of the terms over the last 20 years. So it is certainly not a state where you can just count on whoever wins the Democratic primary winning in the general election. I am not just appealing as as an independent to Republicans and Conservatives. I am a Iraq War veteran. I'm an MIT award winning renewable energy professional. So on traditional left issues like skepticism about the war mentality that dominates Washington and being very strongly in favor of protecting our planet and protecting free speech and civil liberties and constitutional rights, I have a lot of credibility on those grounds.

Did you get concession calls from your primary opponents?

No. The real issue is I would like to decline the nomination of the Republican Party and run as an independent. But I learned in the process of this election that if I did that, that would leave an open seat that the Republican Party could fill with a third candidate in the race. And that is obviously something I want to avoid. That defeats the whole purpose of winning the primary. So I will run as a Republican and I would prefer to run as an independent.

So why did you decide to opt for the Republican line in the Republican primary?

Well, I do share values with Republicans. I'm pretty strongly in favor of the Second Amendment and public safety and supporting police to do the work that they need to do. And very supportive of free speech, constitutional rights and a small business focused economy. But the main strategic reason I chose to run in the Republican primary is because there was hundreds of thousands of dollars of out-of-state money coming in to back whoever the democratic ideologues in Washington wanted to anoint. So I just thought it was a much easier pathway to get to the general election where I will have an advantage in terms of my message.

If you win in November, you do want to reform the two party system, do you think you'll be able to do that when you get to Congress?

You know, I'm not naive. I'm there to deliver this message and to build the alliances and collaboration I need from across the parties to get as much substantive change to this really broken antiquated system as we can possibly get. And I think there's a good place to start with term limits.

Progressive Barbara Nolfi and Democrat Becca Balint are also running for Vermont’s U.S. House seat. There is a rare opening for the seat because Democratic Congressman Peter Welch is running to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy.

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