NH LP Chair pleased with Free State vote
|Title:||New Hampshire LP Chair pleased with Free State vote|
New Hampshire LP Chair pleased with Free State vote11/01/03
New Hampshire LP State Chair John Babiarz: "We won. That's fantastic. We worked long and hard."
The New Hampshire LP State Chair says he is delighted that members of the Free State Project have chosen his state as the target of a planned mass migration of 20,000 liberty-lovers.
New Hampshire -- whose state motto is "Live Free or Die" -- finished first in the voting among approximately 5,000 Free State members. The result was announced on October 1.
"We won. That's fantastic," said New Hampshire LP State Chair John Babiarz. "We worked long and hard because we believe more people committed to the cause of liberty would be good not only for the LPNH but, most importantly, for New Hampshire."
Coming in second place was Wyoming, which finished 10 percentage points behind New Hampshire.
The voting, which took place via mail ballot, employed a preference voting method that allowed voters to rank all states, and selected the state that received a higher ranking than each other state from a majority of voters.
"New Hampshire is clearly the consensus choice of Free Staters," said Free State Project (FSP) President Jason Sorens. "New Hampshire won a plurality of first-preference votes from every region of the country except the West."
The runner-up states were, in order of voting preference, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Maine, Vermont, Delaware, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
The FSP seeks to get 20,000 small-government supporters to move to one state, where they will work within the political system to create "a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of citizens' rights to life, liberty, and property."
FSP members have pledged to move to the selected state once the group's membership reaches 20,000. FSP leaders say they hope to cross that threshold by 2006.
The Free State Project is not affiliated with the Libertarian Party. However, Libertarian state parties in New Jersey, Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, Delaware, Vermont, and New Hampshire have passed resolutions endorsing the project.
Free State Project Vice President Elizabeth McKinstry said it was "not difficult to see the reasons" why New Hampshire won.
"The state boasts the lowest state and local tax burden in the continental U.S., the leanest state government in the country in terms of government spending and employment, a citizen legislature, a healthy job market, and perhaps most important, local support for our movement," she said.
Earlier this year, New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson (R) had invited Free State Project members to "come on up. We'd love to have you."
In a later written statement, Benson said he welcomed an influx of liberty-minded citizens.
"As with all new citizens, I expect they will be positive contributors to New Hampshire, and I welcome them," he said.
However, some New Hampshire politicians said Free State Project members were "anarchists" who planned to take over the state's government.
LP State Chair Babiarz rejected that charge.
"We're not here to invade or take over," he told the Associated Press. "We're here to restore the American dream."
New Hampshire resident, FSP member, and state Libertarian Party activist Rich Tomasso said he expects the project to increase in popularity now that a target state has been selected.
"The project will now go full steam ahead," he told the Nashua Telegraph. "Some people have been waiting to see what was going to happen once we reached this milestone. This isn't a pipe dream. We're serious about it. We'll see where it goes from here."
Babiarz said the New Hampshire LP is already working to welcome Free Staters who are ready to move.
"We are helping to find information for those who want to move to NH," he said. "We are in the process of setting up courses for our new neighbors so that they can become familiar with retail politics in New Hampshire."
The party may try to steer incoming Free Staters to Grafton County and Coos County, two mid-state counties with low populations and plenty of space, said Babiarz.
Also, he said, the town of Claremont (population: 13,000) has been selected to be a center of Free State activity. The town, on the state's western border with Vermont, is about 60 miles northwest of Concord, the state capital.
"We think Claremont has an undervalued economy, and we like to look at things in the long term," Babiarz told the Associated Press. "Cities like Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth might be too big for us to really make a difference. But Claremont is smaller, so we would not be drowned out."
New Hampshire has about 1.2 million residents, so 20,000 Free State Project members would represent about 1.6% of the population.
The Free State Project currently has 5,454 members, including some from outside the United States: According to the British newspaper The Guardian, 24-year-old Brighton resident Matthew Hurry is planning to immigrate to the United States and settle in New Hampshire.
"[The FSP is] one of the few good ideas I've seen actually put into practice with a good chance of success," Hurry told The Guardian. "Freedom is important for people, and the Western world is severely lacking in it."
Creating a potential wrinkle in the plan, Wyoming LP State Chair Dave Dawson encouraged FSP members unwilling to move to the East Coast to consider the runner-up state instead.
"I doubt there are 20,000 libertarians in the whole U.S. with that kind of dedication [to move to New Hampshire]," he told Stateline.org. "I think 20,000 is a fantasy, but we don't need nearly that many" to influence the government in Wyoming.
For more information about the Free State Project, visit: www.freestateproject.org.
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