A former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox wants to be Vermont's next governor.
"Socrates said if you don't run, you're going to get someone of lesser value," said "Spaceman" Bill Lee, who recently announced his campaign for governor.
Lee was with the Boston Red Sox from 1969 to 1978. He was a lefty on the mound, and his politics are to the left, too.
"I'm so far left, I'm right, because the earth is round," Lee told necn.
He's running under the banner of Vermont's small Liberty Union Party, which is self-defined as a "nonviolent socialist party."
"Money's like manure. It's only good when it's spread around," Lee said. "The suppression of the '98 percent' really bothers me. I believe the rich should make $110,000 a year and the poor should make $103,000."
At 69, Lee is still active in baseball around Vermont and the northeast.
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Come November, he'll face the political version of a full count, with the bases loaded, at the bottom of the ninth. With Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, not seeking re-election in November, several prominent Democrats and Republicans are seeking their parties’ nominations.
Whichever candidates emerge from those major parties' primaries will just surely be better funded, Lee knows, likely with broader coalitions of support.
Republican Phil Scott, currently Vermont's lieutenant governor, Democrat Matt Dunne, a former state senator who ran for statewide office before, Democrat Peter Galbraith, a former state senator and U.S. diplomat, and Democrat Sue Minter, a former state representative and secretary of the Agency of Transportation, all likely have more name recognition with average voters.
Republican businessman Bruce Lisman and Democrats Cris Ericson, an attorney, and H. Brooke Paige, a historian, are also listed on the Vermont Secretary of State’s office as qualified candidates for the state’s August 9 primary.
"I don't know," Lee said in response to an necn question if he believes he can win the election. "I don't really care. I'm the best person for the job. I'm the best person to be president of the United States right now."
Lee said he would encourage legalizing recreational marijuana and instituting more supports for paid family leave and sick time. He noted he is a gun owner who supports other legal gun owners' rights.
The candidate, who also played for the Montreal Expos from 1979-1982, told necn he would use the office of governor to advocate for a major league team to return to Montreal, a close drive from his home in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.
"When the Expos come back, the Red Sox will come [to Montreal], and we can go up for 75 cents on the dollar, get some good beer and watch the Red Sox play," Lee envisioned.
While Lee said he doesn't expect to wage a splashy campaign, preferring instead to talk to Vermonters about his candidacy in low-key, casual ways, you can likely expect more baseball talk from the "Spaceman."
"Because I throw strikes," Lee said, answering a question about why Vermonters should support him. "I keep the ball in play; I keep things moving."