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CONCORD, N.H. - A group of libertarians planning to bring 20,000 liberty-minded Americans to a "free state" has selected New Hampshire for its revolution, a supporter said Wednesday.
New Hampshire, whose motto is "Live Free or Die," beat out nine other finalists as the battleground for what members of the Free State Project call the biggest experiment in democracy since the Revolutionary War.
John Babiarz, chairman of the state Libertarian Party, said he got advance word of the selection by e-mail early Wednesday.
"I think it's fantastic," he said.
The project already has more than 5,000 members committed to relocating to the "free state." They hope to have 20,000 by 2005.
New Hampshire was ranked first in votes from every region in the country except the West. Wyoming was runner-up, but still 10 percentage points behind New Hampshire, The Associated Press learned.
Following Wyoming, in order, were Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Maine, Vermont, Delaware, South Dakota and North Dakota.
Project Vice President Elizabeth 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."
Project members also have noted the state's constitution, which protects citizens' rights to revolution and secession.
But the prospect of 20,000 libertarian-minded neighbors worries Democratic leaders and others who view them as a fringe group that wants to overthrow the government.
Kathy Sullivan, state Democratic Party chairwoman, said project members "can best be described as anarchists."
The project says critics have the wrong idea.
"We're not here to invade or take over. We're here to restore the American dream," said Babiarz, a database consultant from Grafton.