SHELBURNE, Vt. – Peter Garritano thinks it's time for Vermont to call it quits with America.
The way the 54-year-old automobile salesman sees it, the "empire" is about to implode and tiny Vermont can lead the way by becoming its own independent republic. So he's running for lieutenant governor, topping a slate of secession-minded candidates seeking statewide offices this year.
Their name: Vermont Independence Day.
"The only hope is to just say, 'Look, this isn't working for us. We want to start fresh again, with a real democracy,'" Garritano said. "I think that's the answer. Hopefully, it won't take another horrible economic breakdown to realize that the people running things don't look out for the little guy, or us, or the soldiers. It's all about profit and getting the last drops of oil on Earth and trampling people's rights."
Garritano, gubernatorial candidate Dennis P. Steele and seven candidates for state Senate seats plan to declare their candidacies Friday.
Their cause isn't new: It's the latest incarnation of a movement that's bubbled in Vermont and elsewhere for years. Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Texas all have made noise about seceding, to no avail.
Their method is: Organizers say it's the first time since the Civil War that a secession movement has fielded a slate of candidates for statewide office, although individual pro-secession candidates have run before.
Few political observers give them much hope of winning, even in a left-leaning state where the popular Republican governor's decision not to seek re-election has touched off a scramble among would-be successors, with five Democrats and a Republican in a wide-open race for the seat headed to the Nov. 2 election.