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Campaign Countdown: Vt. attorney general & sec. of state

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 7:04 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Three candidates -- two seats. Channel 3′s Christina Guessferd digs into the races for Vermont’s attorney general and secretary of state.

On a recent sunny, fall afternoon, Brooke Paige sat outside the WCAX studio following a honk and wave event in Hinesburg. The long-time Washington, Vermont, resident admits his four-piece suit gives him an uncanny resemblance to the Monopoly man. After running for multiple state government offices over the years -- and often in the same year -- to Vermonters, he’s nearly as recognizable.

Paige is on the general election ballot for both the attorney general and secretary of state seats as the Republican candidate. Attorney General TJ Donovan and Secretary of State Jim Condos are his Democratic opponents. Though Paige also ran for state auditor and treasurer, he withdrew before the August primary.

Paige has run in a laundry list of races, including a 2012 Senate battle against Sen. Bernie Sanders, and his current bid for president of the United States under the “Grumpy Old Patriot” ticket. In 2018, Paige won the Republican primary for six statewide offices, though only continued in the secretary of state race. He was eventually defeated by Condos.

He says the focus of his one-man 2020 campaign offers voters something -- and someone -- different. “A little fresh perspective, a little bit of sunshine that can be brought into the offices to improve their function and make things better for the citizens of Vermont,” Paige said. If elected to both positions, Paige says he intends to serve as both the attorney general and secretary of state. And legally, he can.

In his campaign for attorney general, Paige takes aim at Donovan’s priorities, claiming too many of the AG’s lawsuits raise money for the state rather than help the people.

Donovan argues that in the four years he’s served as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, protecting the most vulnerable Vermonters is his top priority. He points to his prosecution of Pillsbury Manor, the Catholic Diocese, and on a smaller scale, scam artists and domestic abusers. “It doesn’t matter who you are. I’m always willing to listen and to solve a problem collaboratively, not just by suing people, but by working together, being creative, coming up with a solution that works for everybody,” Donovan said.

As secretary of state, Paige says he’ll change vote-by-mail, reduce the Office of Professional Regulation’s oversight responsibilities, and be more involved in schools' civic education. Paige claims Condos’ biggest downfall is the flawed mail-in voting system that he claims welcomes opportunities for fraud opportunities.

Condos argues that over the past nine years, besides transforming the office from a paper to an almost completely digital service that pushes businesses' paperwork faster than ever, the election system is one of his office’s greatest accomplishments. “We have got a tremendous system in place. Other states are copying our system, working with the same vendor we use, and it provides more accuracy, more integrity, and is easy to use,” Condos said.

Paige goes head-to-head with the incumbents on November 3.

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