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3 threads related to New Hampshire politics

I’m going to attempt to tie some thread together in this post.  Bear with me.

Thread 1: Election in the North Country

Next Tuesday is Town Meeting in New Hampshire – and it is also the date set for the special election to fill the Executive Council seat held for 35 years by Ray Burton of Bath.  The front page of last week’s Coos County Democrat included two stories on the candidates’ stumping –  Mike Cryans visiting Santa’s Village in Jefferson, and Joe Kenney speaking to employees in a Lancaster factory.

Kenney won the Republican primary – he lives in Wakefield which is on the western Maine border at the southernmost end of the district.  Kenney is arguably the most conservative of the three candidates (I described them in this previous post).   My guess is Kenney’s margin came from Wakefield and its environs:  roll up Wakefield, Wolfeboro  Laconia and one other town on the lower tier of your choosing, and you almost eclipse the population of 30,000 who live and work in all of Coos County in the North Country.

The family of the late Ray Burton, a “Rockefeller Republican”, endorsed Democrat Mike Cryans. They provide a litany of reasons why in the Coos County Democrat Readers’ Forum on Feb 26:

  • Service above partisan politics
  • Intimate knowledge of North Country needs
  • Experience in the capital
  • And Mike Cryans will make sure Concord remembers to “look north” and address North Country challenges

Back on Page 1 of the Coos County Democrat, Kenney explains his opposition to a four-cent increase in the gas tax (NH has the lowest gas tax in the northeast and one not raised since 1991) despite the poor condition of secondary roads and a red-listed interstate bridge that will not support commercial truck traffic until repaired.  The Great North Woods resource-dependent economy needs these bridges and secondary roads on which to transport forest and wood products …. and maintain local jobs. (Just in: The Republican-controlled Senate Ways and Means Committee approved the increase yesterday in a 4-1 vote).

Thread 2: Running on Issues or Ideology?  Once Joe Kenney beat out his more moderate Republican rivals, the birds in the Democratic and Republican parties wasted no time pecking on their opponents – at least the senselessness was bipartisan.  Brad Cook’s column in the 2-21-14 NH Business Review has painted the best picture by far:

  • GOP Chair Jennifer Horn labeled Cryans “a typical tax-and-spend liberal who is bought and paid for by the union bosses and special interests that are propping up his campaign.”
  • Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley wasted no time to blast Kenney, a respected member of the military who still serves, as an extremist: “His reckless brand of Tea Party ideology would put women’s health care at risk, cost the state millions in taxpayer dollars, and cut investment in critical priorities like education and roads.”

Cook’s column cuts through the b.s. and is a must read. How much will party and ideology matter to District 1 voters on March 11?

Thread 3: Citizens United was Born in the Granite State – and What It Means   

Fun fact: Citizens United was prevented by a lower court from airing “Hillary: The Movie” on Direct TV one month before the New Hampshire 2008 Presidential Primary. The movie placement was considered electioneering because primary day was looming, and this court case was the first step on the road that ultimately lead to the Supreme Court decision that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations, associations, or labor unions.

Fast forward.  An excellent article by David Cantanese in USN&WR peels apart the Tea Party and the GOP in New Hampshire and suggests the former has boasting rights.

  • This month New Hampshire state GOP hosts the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference   – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Ambassador John Bolton, New York Rep. Peter King and NH Senator Kelly Ayotte (the “establishment party leaders”) will appear in Nashua (city’s new slogan: Dare to Begin).
  • Next month Americans for Prosperity in New Hampshire with Citizens United are hosting the inaugural “Freedom Summit”  Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee; Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump are attending in Manchester.

Are conservatives eclipsing the NH GOP?  Yogi Berra said, “If there’s a fork in the road, take it”.

The road from Republic to Oligarchy is paved with billionaire checkbooks.   Nationally, party-controlled SuperPACS seem to be eclipsed by the very donors who supported them in the last election.  From Nicholas Confessore’s Big Money Donors article in the NYT

“The devolution of the two-party system has begun” and a “quiet revolution” is “fracturing the big tents” into “narrow and well-funded wings”.

The road from sensible governance to radical ideology will be littered with candidate yard signs. The 2014 election season will spotlight citizens, candidates and donors who will walk this route and the positions they support.  Tea Party influence has not disappeared. For the nation, Campaign 2014 began yesterday with the TX GOP primary. The Lone Star State results are mixed; Tea Party ideologues won some and lost some.  The GOP fended off more conservative challengers for the party’s gubernatorial nomination.  For New Hampshire, Campaign 2014 began with the January primary won by Joe Kenney.   Stay tuned for Town Meeting, the ultimate in participatory democracy.  In Stratham next week I will be voting to support, or not, a ban on hunting in the Town Forest.

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