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CT 5th District Green Party Candidate Wages Campaign Of Principle


5th District Green Party Candidate Wages Campaign Of Principle
By Daniela Altimari | The Hartford Courant

"I was taught at a very young age to be independent." Harold H. Burbank II

He was a teenager working at a golf course in his hometown of Kennebunkport, Maine, when a well-heeled patron came in with a question: Who among all of these caddies could run a lawn mower without running over their feet?

Harold H. Burbank II could, and thus began his long and complicated relationship with the Bush family.

Burbank worked as a groundskeeper at Walker's Point, the Bush family's compound on the Maine coast, all through high school. He forged a connection with George H.W. Bush that continues in the form of sporadic correspondence about world affairs.

And now he's running for Congress on a Green Party platform that calls for the impeachment of Bush's son.

This year, for the first time, the Green Party of Connecticut is fielding a full slate of congressional candidates: Stephen Fournier in the 1st Congressional District, Scott Deshefy in the 2nd, Ralph Ferrucci in the 3rd and Richard Duffee in the 4th.

Burbank, 51, a lawyer from Canton, is seeking to oust 5th District Rep. Christopher Murphy. Burbank voted for the freshman Democrat two years ago. But a 2007 forum at New Britain High School changed Burbank's mind.

The subject was Iraq, and Burbank wanted to know why Murphy didn't support an effort by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, to impeach President George W. Bush.

"I went down and took the microphone, and I said, 'Mr. Murphy, you and I seem to agree that Mr. Bush has lied to the American people regarding weapons of mass destruction,'" Burbank recalled. "Why are you not joining your colleagues who are [drafting] articles of impeachment?"

Murphy "didn't offer a direct answer," Burbank said. (In an interview Friday, Murphy said he appreciates Burbank's activism but believes that an impeachment attempt would "only produce more partisan rancor and gridlock.")

To Burbank, there is little difference between Republicans and Democrats. "They both depend on the same sources of funding," he said.

While Murphy and 5th District GOP candidate David Cappiello have each raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, Burbank's campaign treasury is pretty much nonexistent. But that's OK. "I was taught at a very young age to be independent and self-reliant," he said.

Burbank grew up in Maine; his mother came from a family of Wall Street lawyers who summered in Camden, and his father's relatives were working-class farmers and loggers. He holds a master's degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree from the Franklin Pierce Law Center.

Tonight, Burbank and independent candidate Thomas Winn will have a chance to pitch their messages directly to the voters in a debate at 6 p.m. at Farmington High School sponsored by the Farmington Chamber of Commerce. This is the first — and only — debate featuring all 5th District candidates.

Burbank has no illusions about the magnitude of the task ahead. But, he added, "somebody has to make these statements."

For more coverage of Connecticut's congressional races, visit courant.com/ctraces.

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