Long-time state Rep. Paul Poirier of Barre is running for Speaker of the Vermont House.
The former Democrat, now an independent, says he's challenging incumbent Democratic Speaker Shap Smith because he believes Smith is too conservative and runs the House in too autocratic a fashion.
Poirier says he'd try to encourage more free-wheeling debate in the House than Smith has allowed. He says he thinks he can pick up enough votes in the150-member House to unseat Smith.
Smith says he thinks he has been fair to minority parties in the House, and that he welcomes the challenge.
The election comes on the first day of the 2013 legislative session, which is January 9.
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