By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
AMHERST – Thomas Quinn with 2,283 votes, and Arnie Rosenblatt with 1,954 beat Jason Sorens’ 1,110 votes for two seats on the Amherst Planning Board in Tuesday’s town meeting vote.
Sorens, the founder of the Free State Project that has invited thousands of libertarian-minded people to move to New Hampshire, ran an aggressive campaign. It included Sorens trying to silence one of his critics who also speaks out against the Free State Project by filing a restraining order against him before the election.
“I ended up with 21% of the vote in a 3-way race, which wasn’t enough to secure one of the two seats on Amherst planning board. I congratulate Tom and Arnie on a well-fought campaign. I really want to thank the 1100+ Amherstians who voted for me,” Sorens said on Twitter, promising to continue to be active in civic and planning issues in Amherst. He didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
“I so want to thank the Coalition of Informed Citizens for supporting me during the campaign. The good news is that if all protest petitions are certified, every single exclusionary measure on the ballot will have been defeated,” Sorens tweeted. “If our planning board decides not to plan & instead to continue down a negative, controlling, reactionary path, the genius of New Hampshire town government is that we the citizens can legislate directly.”
Brian Deshaies, a Wolfeboro selectman and critic of the Free State Project, applauded Amherst voters for rejecting Sorens.
“Most importantly, truth was the true Victor in this Planning Board election,” Deshaies said when asked for comment.
“The Free State Manifesto does not talk about the wants of the majority. It speaks on what one individual Jason Sorens thinks is best for all. When push comes to shove Free Staters hide behind other political tags and back peddle on their true agenda.
“The agenda is to infiltrate and win elections on a local and state level. Only then, will they have the ability to create a Libertarian Utopia that benefits them, and that they truly believe is the only way to be free,” Deshaies said.
Deshaies said he is amazed that the average Granite Stater is not aware of their presence in the state or political system.
“Like any political group, and let’s be honest that is what they are, they have the right to exist. However they need to be truthful and transparent. They need to come out into the light and let the citizens of New Hampshire decide if their ideology, or parts of it, have a place in our State.”
Sorens went to the Hillsborough Superior Court in Manchester this month seeking a restraining order against Deshaies, claiming Deshaies was waging a campaign of harassment and lies against him, which the judge dismissed.
Sorens wanted the judge to order Deshaies to stop contacting him, to stay away from him, and to stop talking about him.
“Restrain (Deshaies) from spreading falsehoods about me to other people,” Sorens wrote.
Deshaies responded that he did nothing wrong, and simply made inquiries about Sorens, and exchanged emails with the Free State founder that contain factual information.
Sorens claimed in his complaint that Deshaies tried to get him fired from his job at Saint Anselm College, then he tried to get him fired from his current job at the libertarian think tank the American Institute for Economic Research, and Deshaies started telling Sorens’ neighbors that he had been fired from Saint Anselm’s.
Deshaies stated in his response that he never tried to get Sorens fired from any job. He contacted Saint Anselm to ask if Sorens was teaching from his Free State Manifesto, which he said advocates for seceding from the United States and calls for abolishing all government. Sorens has said he believes in limited government.