The spotlight shined on the New Hampshire Executive Council's District 1 with Republican Joe Kenney defeating Democrat Mike Cryans on March 11, 2014. It's a district that covers the northern half of the state, though each of the five councilors represents a fifth of the state's population.
As this EC district map shows, District 2 also takes the geographic cake, stretching as it does from the borders with Massachusetts and Vermont in the southwest, and Maine to the east.
After a disappointing third place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has quit the race for the Republican nomination for president. Here are a few story links:
Pawlenty's decision comes as Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race.
Gov. John Lynch has again delivered a sales pitch to Bay Staters that NH has no sales tax ... 365 days a year.
Said Lynch, "In New Hampshire, we believe you should be able to shop on your own time, not on the schedule of state government. Because in New Hampshire, every day is a sales tax holiday."
Ron Paul is again targeting Mitt Romney. This time by name. And Michele Bachmann. Again, by name.
In a letter to likely New Hampshire voters this week, the congressman begins: "They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
Paul then goes on to write that what the Republican presidential candidates are saying in 2012 is similar to what he was saying in 2008. Some snippets of his letter:
"Governor Romney provided the model for ObamaCare when he passed state-run health care in Massachusetts, including an individual mandate just like the one being challenged in federal court right now."
And then, the next graph,
"Michele Bachmann is a friend of mine in Congress, but she's keeping an important item in her resume from you: She was a cosponsor of a bill to forcibly unionize government workers across the country by federal mandate."
And then, a graph later,
"Other candidates have little or no record."
Before signing off, Ron Paul writes: "It's time to take our country back. And it begins in New Hampshire."
Ron Paul has a new letter to New Hampshire independents today professing he is "the one candidate who is a lifelong constitutional conservative." In it, the congressman takes aim at his rivals, singling out Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann - by name.
Dear Patriot, begins the six-page letter from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, as the Kentucky Republican reaches out to conservatives in New Hampshire.
"Either get behind an establishment politician who isn't always with them - or stand with Ron Paul in truly taking back Washington." The letter sent to New Hampshire mailboxes last week from Paul, on behalf of his father's presidential campaign, takes a big swipe at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the poll front-runner for the GOP nomination. After a shout-out to the Tea Party, Rand Paul sharpens focus:
"It also isn't time to elect people who wake up every day wondering what they believe. And it surely isn't time to elect someone who passed the blueprint for ObamaCare while Governor of Massachusetts."
It will be interesting if the Romney campaign has any response, as he and his campaign have ignored other criticis so far. They say they've a laser focus on President Obama. In other words, it's part of being a front-runner.
The campaign mailer includes a sheet on which people can pledge support for Ron Paul for President or make a generous donation ... $5,000, $2,500, $500, and so on.
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., made a surprise return to the House yesterday to cast a vote for the plan to raise the debt ceiling and avert a possible economic crisis. It is just seven months since she survived a shooting attack in her home district.
Colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, cheered her and hugged her as she entered the House floor. Her office tweeted:
@Rep_Giffords: Gabrielle has returned to Washington to support bipartisan bill to prevent economic crisis. Turn on C-SPAN now to see this historic moment.
@Rep_Giffords: The #Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight.
Interesting event tomorrow at the Statehouse: Governor Lynch is to accept a New Hampshire state flag flown at the North Pole by the crew of the USS New Hampshire, a Virginia-class submarine named for the state in 2009.
I saw Bill Morrissey perform maybe 10 times over the past 15 years, which is to say, in no small way, that I'm new to his scene. In New Hampshire and New England, there are those who have appreciated his art for two or three decades. If Bill and his guitar and that voice of his showed up within two or three hours driving time, you could find these people waiting patiently for the first chord. I'd count my wife, the hula-hooping journalist J.L. Stevens, in this camp.
The Grammy-nominated musician was a colorful character. Friendly. Witty. Deep. Dark. Funny. And sad. Sad, as in taking "a borrowed .22" out back of the bar to relieve a sick dog's suffering (and more, from "These Cold Fingers"):
Everything slips through these cold fingers /like trying to hold water /trying to hold sand /close your eyes and make a wish/ and listen to the singer/one more round bartender, pour a double if you can.
His discography is really something. It has range. It has meat to it.
And still, Bill Morrissey's music is -- much like the man was -- immediately approachable. Tributes have already noted that he wrote of the human condition (and his own: he battled the drink, with a few losing seasons). He conveyed life's trials and her little victories that people everywhere can appreciate. But it definitely plucks away at the heart strings of anyone who has ever spent a winter in New Hampshire. He wrote and sang of small towns, mill work, generous bartenders (hopefully), variable love affairs, loss and redemption, fishing and ice fishing, a musician's dream heaven, and the wicked, beautiful nature of snow storms ("When it snows in Pantherville the road just disappears").
I could go on. But we've a dozen or more Bill Morrissey discs here that need spinning. Bill Morrissey's gone. His music? It remains essential. Time for another long listen. Time, as it were, for one more round, bartender.
Primary Leapfrog, redux. Everyone's looking at a New Hampshire Primary date of Feb. 14, 2012, but does anyone really think Cupid's Day would be the first presidential primary? No, and certainly not New Hampshire Secretary of State William M. Gardner, who is statutorily charged with making sure the state's primary election comes at least seven days before a similar contest.
Enter the Republican Party, which wants a reasonable schedule so that the eventual nominee will be ideally positioned to challenge President Obama. Jeff Zeleny writes in today's Times that the calendar is creating some anxiety for the GOP. An excerpt from his story:
"At the same time, the rush toward the front of the calendar by Florida, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and Missouri is accompanied by another trend: several states are pushing back their presidential primaries — or canceling them entirely — because of tight state budgets."
States rights ... to pay up?
The debt ceiling debate include this story in The New York Times on how the debt limit, if it's not adjusted by the Aug. 2 deadline, could impact federal spending for states.
Before President Obama's 50th birthday on Aug. 4, his campaign people are trying to get supporters to muster 50 donors or convince 50 people to attend campaign events. No doubt, there'll be many more "50" themes over the next three weeks.
Rudy Giuliani returns to New Hampshire on Thursday. The Seacoast Republican Women's group has invited him to speak at One Liberty Lane in Hampton.
The friendly rivalry between Massachusetts and New Hampshire is not always so friendly. Here's another story on how the states work to lure companies across the border.
Another UNH poll. Another UNH poll showing Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney with a commanding lead in the first-in-the-nation state.
Democrats are calling him a flip-flopper, claiming rampant inconsistency in his comments. But, as the Times reports today, the candidate thinks the debate (on the economy) plays to his strengths.
Cheers to you, Thomas Jefferson.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
A New Hampshire man has died from injuries suffered in Afghanistan, two days after the president outlined his plan to withdraw 10,000 troops from the war-torn country by the end of the year.
Spc. Nicholas Bernier of East Kingston died Saturday in Germany, Gov. John Lynch said. Here's Lynch's statement:
"My wife Susan and I wish to offer our deepest sympathies to the Bernier family. We will be thinking and praying for the Bernier family during this difficult time. We, and all of New Hampshire, are saddened by the loss of Spc. Nicholas Bernier. His sacrifice, and the sacrifice of his family, was his service to all of us. Spc. Bernier gave his life serving our nation and protecting the freedoms we hold dear. He was a hero, and we are all grateful for his service."
Governor Lynch vetoed Senate Bill 129, which would require a voter to present photo ID to cast a ballot in any municipal, state or federal election in New Hampshire. Here's what he had to say in this veto message yesterday:
"Voter turnout in New Hampshire is among the highest in the nation, election after election. There is no voter fraud problem in New Hampshire. We already have strong elections laws that are effective in regulating our elections."
Republican lawmakers disagree, obviously. Speaker William L. O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, contends that if a citizen must have a photo ID to drive a car, for example, it is no stretch to require them to flash a similar ID to pick up a ballot. Here's O'Brien's remarks on what he calls a bill to ensure clean elections.
Here's a link to the full 16-page ruling.
Some of the largest signs in New Hampshire are going up on Interstate 93 as part of the $800 million widening of the interstate from Massachusetts to Manchester, a stretch of about 20 miles.
A total of six "dynamic message signs" will be along the corridor as part of a $3.8 million project. They are 8 feet high, 26 feet wide, and weigh 3,500 pounds. Here's the state DOT information on the signs.
"I'll be back," Jon M. Huntsman Jr. said after cruising on the M/S Mount Washington. The Republican former governor, seen here on the cruise and shaking hands with another former governor, Gary Johnson, returns today to launch his presidential campaign.
One whole week after skipping the first major debate, Huntsman looks to promote his message before going head-to-head with his rivals.
Former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador Jon M. Huntsman Jr. officially enters the presidential race with a speech at Exeter Town Hall on Tuesday. The press is already scouring his record, including his family's chemical firm's business in Iran. But it remains to be seen what kind of a campaign he will run in New Hampshire.
Will he out-Romney Mitt Romney, his fellow Mormon? During his most recent trip, Huntsman showed he's no stranger to retail politics. Will plaid be his secondary business suit?
Newt and the Historic Handshake.
This week in 1995, Newt Gingrich was in New Hampshire. Then Speaker of the House, Gingrich was in Claremont with President Clinton at the invite of the Claremont Senior Citizens. They pledged to create a bi-partisan commission to study limits on lobbying and campaign financing. There's even a historical marker on it over in Claremont. Gingrich was back this week in New Hampshire, this time as a presidential candidate, and this time the center of press reports questioning his personal finances and his non-profit paying $220,000 to one of his for-profit organizations.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner? Not exactly, but Mitt Romney has got to be feeling lucky this morning, after his rivals handled him with kid gloves (not mittens) in the New Hampshire Republican presidential debate last night at Saint Anselm College.
Two hours worth of exchange, mostly collegial among the seven candidates. As the leader in most polls, including a hypothetical matchup with President Obama, Romney walked away unscathed and grinning. The press afterward immediately cast him as the winner, if, for nothing else, because he did not stumble and not one of his adversaries was going to kick him in the shins. But "winner" is a decidedly subjective term here. Stories are still rolling out about who scored points. Some said Michele Bachmann was a winner. The stories, and and viewers I bumped into -- the so-called real people, the voters -- said Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and Tim Pawlenty did well, too.
But were they winners? Check their Facebook pages. Bet they think so.
Here's Mitt Romney's new video, "Believe in America," which coincided today with a major lit drop across New Hampshire with a similar theme. He is taking it to the president, while his likely GOP presidential hopefuls take aim at him in tonight's debate at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.
The heat is on.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives meets is in session, and labor groups from around the state are rallying again on the Statehouse grounds on the so-called "right-to-work" bill. House GOP Leaders are trying to muster the votes to override Gov. John Lynch's veto of the bill. Lobbying on both sides of the issue is in overdrive.
Good thing the Legislature doesn't have anything else to do...oh, wait, there's the $10.4 billion biennial budget yet to finalize.
A study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University found:
"We find that the overall freest states in the country are New Hampshire and South Dakota, which together achieve a virtual tie for first place, while New York is the least free by a considerable margin."
OK, so it's a virtual tie, No. 1.
Jason Sorens is one of the authors. He was a force behind the Free State Party choosing New Hampshire in 2003 as a place for Liberty-minded people to relocate and be ... free. Free Staters want to limit government's role to protection of life, liberty and property.
No more Ward Birds?
The House has now passed a Senate bill allowing a person to brandish a firearm (or other) as a means of self defense. Here's some snippets culled from House calendar:
Rep. Kenneth Kreis for the Majority of Criminal Justice and Public Safety: "This bill allows a person, who is anywhere he or she has a right to be, to use deadly force to protect oneself or a third person. It provides that a person, unless prohibited by statute who is anywhere they have a right to be and permits persons who meet the requirement established in RSA 159:4 to carry a firearm openly or concealed, loaded or not in a vehicle. Includes a civil immunity provision.
In the House minority report on the bill, Rep. Philip E Ginsburg:
"This bill expands this exemption from the obligation to retreat to “anywhere [a person] has a right to be,” treating every place, public or private, as if it were equal to the sacred precincts of one’s home. We are concerned that in expanding this special privilege beyond the rightly sacrosanct boundaries of the home, the bill unnecessarily endangers public safety."
Primary Money Ball. The Countdown to the Billion Dollar Presidential Campaign long ago began. The money question keeps coming up, like in this story in The New Republic on Tim Pawlenty's ideal war chest, compared to someone like Mitt Romney, who tapped his millions in 2008, and who appears to be having little trouble raising money so far in the 2012 cycle.
Which got me thinking about the New Hampshire Primary, of course.
It still costs just $1,000 to be a candidate, after meeting eligibility. The funny thing - there is a state law that covers filing by petition if an ambitious leader happens to be ... indigent. That's right. RSA 655:48 carves out an opportunity for anyone qualified to run but who cannot pony up with the filing fee.
Luck with that candidate narrative...
Vice President Joe Biden jetted into the First In The Nation state yesterday to trumpet the record of the Obama Administration, touching on familiar themes in regards to the economy and in response to Republicans who say the country is on the wrong track.
Biden stoked the partisan fire a bit while in Nashua, according to the Union Leader coverage. The dinner was a Democratic Party fund-raiser. The AP story leads with Biden saying the killing of Osama Bin Laden will help Obama's re-election chances. The Nashua Telegraph reports Biden boasting that the president has a "backbone of a ramrod."
Elsewhere, around the New Hampshire news horn, the Foster's online leads with the new UNH Survey Center poll that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a clear lead in the race for the Republican nomination.
The so-called "right to work" legislation that Gov. John Lynch vetoed is up for a big week, as the House speaker, William O'Brien, musters conservative forces to try to override it. Tom Fahey, in his State House Dome column, writes that it's the battle of the week.
The Nashua Telegraph's Kevin Landrigan, like Fahey, also pegs the magic number at 15. That's the number of state representatives O'Brien must convinced to change their vote. Or "take a walk," endorsing lawmakers to sidestep their voting duty if they cannot toe the line with GOP leadership.
There's also that little bit of business, the $10 billion two-year budget. There's a month and a week until the next fiscal year begins. ...
The Donald said we'd all be very happy with his decision, released yesterday, announcing he would not be a candidate for president.
Presumably, that is as a Republican, Democrat, or independent candidate.
As so many people remarked online, the media may not be so happy with the decision. But "nothing gold can stay," as Frost wrote.
Except, maybe, The Donald's golden hair.
(Pictured here on Dover Point, with restaurateur and fisherman Jack Newick, during his visit late last month. ~2e photo)
Raimond Bowles, a long-time public figure and civic leader in New Hampshire, died Saturday. He was 87.
Peers and friends recall the contribution of the Portsmouth man.
There are so many great stories out there about Bowles, a World War II veteran and family man who grew up fishing beneath the Old Man of the Mountain, and whose mother, author Ella Shannon Bowles, wrote "Let Me Show You New Hampshire." (Said book remains timeless, and the state's tourism office in the past decade used some of it to promote the Granite State.) He was charitable with his friendship and his expertise. Many a Seacoast-area journalist received his advice, often unsolicited, and a playful scolding when a story was missed.
Today's stories mention what a gentleman Raimond Bowles was. And he was. But he was a fighter, too, and stubborn as hell.
One of my favorite stories, from covering the Legislature: Bowles, a Republican, was elected a decade ago to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, one of his priorities being to find an "equitable" way of funding public education in the state. As the House went about handing out those special license plates, there was the perennial jockeying for the plum committee assignments. Only Representative Bowles didn't want a committee -- he felt he could get more accomplished without sitting on a few committees, which do the heavy lifting when it comes to New Hampshire legislation.
So there was Raimond Bowles, Man Without a Committee.
I recall people saying at the time that it was unheard of -- unprecedented perhaps -- for a member outside of Leadership to take such a stand. That was Raimond Bowles: Occasionally dogged, always an original.
Ron Paul kicks off his 2012 presidential campaign this morning in Exeter, NH, the "birthplace of the Republican Party" in 1853 (hey, it's got to be true, Ripon, Wis., it's in the NHGOP platform).
It is unlikely that Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, has changed his libertarian gusto from 2008. It will be interesting to see how the press treats him this time. Will the narrative be the same?
Doctor Paul was Tea Party before today's Tea Party activists donned their party clothes. Paul showed last go 'round that he has a deal of appeal in the Base. But in a crowded New Hampshire Primary field, will he be just another spoiler? Will he be the conscience of the Republican Party?The Bernie Sanders of the Right?