Barre progressive will challenge Welch

Reply by Peter Diamondstone

Your July 25 statement that Hermann “…is the only major party candidate challenging Welch this year…” is patently and intentionally false. I see why some folks call you Jimmy the “Sleaze” instead of “Leas.”Your reference to “…the five-year-old war in Iraq …” is simply a credit to your ignorance and stupidity(see Alexander Cockburn’s 2003 article pointing out that our current president has merely stepped up a notch a 13 year old war, thus an eighteen year old war as of July ’08, beginning its nineteenth in August ’08.

See the Brattleboro Reformer, 1/11/’91 editorial opening, “When is a blockade not a blockade? When it is defined by the Dept of Defense and Bernard Sanders” Also the Reformer 5/26 ’92 editorial “The War Goes On” ) I guess you didn’t oppose the war until 2003. I guess you missed the as early as Jan 19 and 26, 1991, demonstrations in DC against the War in Iraq and all those after until 2003.On the evening of Aug 12, from 8:30 PM to 10:30 PM you can listen to me and Jane Newton, a candidate in the Liberty Union Party Primary for the US House, and Shabby and Blue spend a few minutes discussing your nonsense. Tune in to http://radio.alienlove.com, on your computers and in Bellows Falls to WOOL
Peter Diamondstone


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July 25, 2008

By Daniel Barlow Vermont Press Bureau

Progressive Thomas Hermann of Barre announced Thursday at the Old Labor Hall in Barre that he plans to run against Rep. Peter Welch for the U.S. House.

Photo: Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur/Times Argus
BARRE – While serving in Iraq several years ago, Thomas James Hermann had what he called an awakening.

Hermann, a Barre farm worker, spent 16 months in the country after signing up for the Army soon after the March 2003 invasion. At the time, it was a war he supported. That perspective quickly changed.

“I began to have a lot of empathy for the people of Iraq and that really opened my eyes,” said the Iraq war veteran on Thursday at the Old Labor Hall in Barre. “I saw that there are more than just two sides to every situation.”

Hermann is now challenging U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, Vermont’s freshman Democrat, who he says has fallen far short of his campaign promises in 2006 to rein in the politics of President Bush’s administration and end the five-year-old war in Iraq.

The 29-year-old is running as a member of the Vermont Progressive Party and is the only major party candidate challenging Welch this year in the general election after the state’s Republican Party failed to put forward a candidate.

“I spent 16 months in Iraq and saw lives destroyed on both sides,” Hermann said. “I saw corporate abuse and profiteering and witnessed the resurrection of a failed policy.”

“So, I’ve laid down my rifle and picked up intellectual arms,” he added, at his campaign announcement Thursday as a small crowd of supporters and media gathered at the 1900-era former meeting house built by members of the Socialist Labor Party.

Hermann faces an uphill battle against Welch, who has nearly $1 million in the bank to spend during the primary and general elections (he will face a primary challenge from Craig Hill of Montpelier, a former member of the Green Party).

Carolyn Dwyer, the campaign manager for Welch, said in a statement Thursday that the congressman has “opposed the war before it began and has been a consistent voice in opposition to the war since becoming a member of Congress.”

“Congressman Welch looks forward to continuing his conversation with Vermonters about the challenges we face and how we can work together to find productive solutions,” she said.

Hermann grew up in Florida and is a recent resident of Vermont – he just moved here earlier this year. As a member of the Army’s infantry, he served in 150 combat missions during his first 12 months in Iraq. He was then “stop-lossed” and served in the country for an additional four months.

Earlier this week, he handed in 837 signatures from voters in 113 towns to be on the Progressive ballot in November for U.S. Congress. The signatures were gathered in less than a week, he said.

“I came to Vermont because I was seeking a sense of community,” he said. “I didn’t find that in Florida. But Vermont has been very welcoming.”

Supporters of Hermann’s campaign may be familiar faces for Welch as he has faced their criticism in the past.

Newfane resident Dan DeWalt, who led last year’s grassroots drive to impeach President Bush, is acting as campaign manager (he joked Thursday that he may be the only campaign manager in recent Vermont history with dial-up Internet and no cell phone).

Other active supporters include Burlington attorney James Leas, who lobbied the Vermont Legislature to pass Bush impeachment resolutions, and Adrian Kinney, another Army veteran who is a prominent local member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War.

“Peter Welch told us that there is no need for impeachment because they will hold the president accountable,” DeWalt said. “But Congress instead funded an escalation of the war and then refunded that escalation.”

Hermann won over one voter during his announcement event Thursday. Sandra Vitzthum, a Montpelier architect, described herself as a lifelong Republican who hasn’t voted for one of the party’s congressional or national candidates in 15 years.

She called Hermann “very brave” for entering the race and said she would support him in November – and will urge other Republicans disappointed in the direction of the party to do so, too.

“I think this is a real opportunity to reverse the corruption in government,” she said.

Contact Daniel Barlow at Daniel.Barlow@timesargus.com.

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Peter Diamondstone