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                  Libertarians Moving to N.H. to Establish 'Free State'
                  Wednesday, October 01, 2003
                  CONCORD, N.H. - A group of libertarians (search) Wednesday announced New Hampshire as the place where it hopes to send 20,000 Americans to create a "free state."

                  New Hampshire, whose motto is "Live Free or Die," beat out nine other finalists for the Free State Project (search). Wyoming was runner-up but 10 percentage points behind New Hampshire in balloting conducted by about 5,000 members of the project around the country, Project Vice President Elizabeth McKinstry said.

                  The 5,000 members have already pledged to relocate to the selected state, Free State Project organizers say. They hope to increase their numbers to 20,000 within two years, move to the chosen state, and start transforming the state into a national model for small government, few laws and individual liberty.

                  "We won. That's fantastic," said New Hampshire Libertarian Party Chairman John Babiarz. "It's like New Hampshire has won a nationwide popularity contest based on its fundamentals."

                  McKinstry of Ann Arbor, Mich., said New Hampshire won because it "boasts the lowest state and local tax burden in the continental U.S., the leanest state government in the country ... a citizen legislature, a healthy job market, and perhaps most important, local support for our movement," she said.

                  Project members also like the state's constitution, which protects the rights to revolution and secession.

                  The prospective new neighbors worry some New Hampshire residents.

                  Kathy Sullivan, state Democratic Party chairwoman, said project members "can best be described as anarchists."

                  Babiarz said critics have it wrong.

                  "We're not here to invade or take over. We're here to restore the American dream," said Babiarz, a database consultant.

                  Some free-staters want to roll back restrictions on gambling, legalize medicinal marijuana (search) and strengthen gun rights. But McKinstry said members also will work for charities and scholarship programs and help citizens take back their government.

                  Doug Hillman, 39, said he is looking forward to leaving Graham, Ala., and moving his wife and four young children somewhere near Littleton or Lancaster.

                  Hillman was most impressed with Republican Gov. Craig Benson's attitude toward the project -- "Come on up, we'd love to have you," he said last summer.

                  "That led me to believe that libertarian thought and libertarianism is more accepted in New Hampshire," Hillman said.

                  Following second-place Wyoming in the voting, in order, were Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Maine, Vermont, Delaware, South Dakota and North Dakota.
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