While pundits and political watchers were waiting to see whether Republican Scott Milne would run for governor, a stealth candidate snuck in Thursday.
Steve Berry, 72, of Wolcott has stepped into the fray as a third Republican gubernatorial candidate, though he has never held public office.
Berry said he stepped up for challenge when other GOP candidates failed to materialize. He will join Milne and another unapproved GOP candidate, Emily Peyton, on the August primary ballot.
“I was kind of waiting for the Vermont Republican Party to bring somebody forward,” he said. “They were flirting with Randy Brock but then he decided not to run. And so I decided to jump in myself.”
The Maine native is the first to admit that his chances of a successful run are improbable.
“I’m a David-and-Goliath story. The primary reason (for running) is that I am a grandfather and I am a senior citizen,” Berry said, explaining his fierce opposition to the Common Core and single payer health care. “I’m coming out and I’m going to scream kick and holler till I die to get this message out. I got 19 grandchildren and I see a very dismal future for them.”
He said he will advocate for increased competition within the state’s education system, a health care system run on “free market principles,” improved roads, and support for Vermont’s small businesses, the “bread and butter, the meat and potatoes, of our economy.”
Berry worked in sales and marketing for close to 50 years, he said, going door-to-door for aerial photograph companies in Ohio and Florida. After moving to Vermont in 1977, Berry worked as a marketing manager for Green Mountain Cable, was a part-owner of Vercap Security Systems in Burlington, and organized arm wrestling tournaments all over the state with Monster Arm Wrestling. Berry also serves as the financial chair of the Lamoille County Republican Party Committee.
As to his qualifications for statewide politics?
“I can run a company, I know how to handle people, and I know how to find the right person for the right job,” he said.
Lucien Gravel, assistant secretary on the Lamoille County Republican Party Committee, said he wasn’t aware of Berry’s gubernatorial bid until he read about it in the local paper earlier this week. “He did it independently,” Gravel said.
According to Gravel, the committee had not discussed whether it will support Berry’s campaign.
“I know very little about him except for the few emails he’s sent out,” said GOP Chairman David Sunderland. “He certainly has very colorful emails. But where he stands on the issues that matter most to Vermonters, I don’t really know. I’ll be learning about him with the rest of the Vermont Republicans.”
From a platform published in the Lamoille County News and Citizen on June 10, Berry doesn’t appear optimistic about his reception from the party.
“I do not expect even recognition from the Vermont Republican Party because of my so-called extreme views,” Berry wrote.