ESSEX - Riding on the tsunami of Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown's victory in liberal "blue state" Massachusetts, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Len Britton is eyeing Vermont, another solid "blue state," as a possible Massachusetts redux.
The term "blue and red states" appears to date back to a 1988 national election map that was published by USA Today; the color map of the United States displayed Democratic (blue) and Republican (red) states. The term was more widely adopted following the 2000 election.
Pomfret resident Britton, an articulate ninth-generation Vermonter Republican, businessman, writer, and Dartmouth alumnus, welcomed a crowd of about 135 supporters last Wednesday night at an up close town hall-style meeting in Essex. Britton was clearly surprised to see the hall overflowing with visitors. The crowd spilled out of the hall and into the vestibule.
Attendees listened and fielded questions about energy policy, taxes, the anemic "Obama economy", wasteful federal spending, the national debt, healthcare reform, and Islamic terrorism.
"I am an independent voter" said Mary Noakes of Hinesburg, "and, you know, I think it's time for a change. I think Americans need common sense and fiscal responsibility in the U.S. Senate. And I came here to learn more about Mr. Britton."
A Democrat, Damian Wood of Burlington, said he identifies himself as a liberal and would never vote for a Republican for senate.
"I'll vote, again, for Sen. Leahy, but I was curious to see this guy," Wood said.
Britton enjoyed the warm reception in Essex, a liberal community, where some foreign-made cars sport "Buy Local" bumper stickers.
"This was a tremendous outpouring of the people and support. Voters are understandably upset at the state of our nation and our representation in Washington. The message is resonating-the largest round of applause came when I stated we needed to clean out Congress and start fresh. The people of Vermont want real change they can believe in-not false hope. Many want to see term limits enacted, politicians who accept special interest money held accountable, and a return to common sense governing" said Britton in a news statement prepared following the town hall gathering. "Vermonters like a balance of power and right now we don't have a balance of representation in Washington D.C."
Britton is running to fill six-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy's seat. Leahy, a liberal Democrat, first assumed office in 1975.