Guest Blogs

Friday
Aug092013

Patrick Hynes - Rand Paul vs. Chris Christie: A New Hampshire cage match

 

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/rand-paul-vs-chris-christie-a-new-hampshire-cage-match-95288_Page2.html

Rand Paul vs. Chris Christie: A New Hampshire cage match
Patrick Hynes, Politico
August 8, 2013

It’s never too early to speculate about presidential politics to this Granite Stater’s way of thinking. And the feud between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has given us a sneak preview into what the 2016 Republican presidential primary might look like. How would such a rivalry shake out in the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire?

Paul and Christie lead the field among named candidates in the Granite State according to a recent poll conducted by New England College on behalf of the NH Journal, a news site I co-own and help operate. Senator Paul earned 19 percent of the vote, while Gov. Christie earned 17.5 percent. A huge share of the primary electorate in this July poll — 20 percent — was undecided, however. So, although the field is still wide open, both Paul and Christie start with strong bases of support and should be considered co-front-runners, presuming they both seek the Oval Office in 2016.

What’s more, the friction between the so-called establishment and the grass roots, which the Paul-Christie feud personifies, is especially coarse in New Hampshire these days. The next Republican primary will kick off against a backdrop of legitimate beefs, bruised egos and long-standing grudges between two groups of Granite State Republicans, who actually question whether members of the other side are of the party at all. It’s almost the perfect arena for these two politicians to battle it out.

On the specific cause of the feud, National Security Agency spying, the point would have to go to Sen. Paul. This is just my gut; I don’t have any data to back it up. But New Hampshire never fell under the spell of the “war on terror.” Granite Staters never cottoned to George W. Bush, neither as a candidate nor as president, and the Iraq War was always unpopular here. So while Gov. Christie might have perfectly reasonable arguments for why the government should track our personal communications, he’ll be fighting a built-in New Hampshire distrust of big government. There’s a reason “live free or die” is the state motto.

Now, onto the nuts and bolts of the coming campaign.

Issues: It neither begins nor ends with NSA snooping. Senator Paul’s issue profile is likely to be a considerable strength for him. As a purist, he’s free from the usual catalogue of votes that scuff up a candidate’s image. He’s very much the real deal. That’s not to say Gov. Christie is some typical politician who will be easily smeared. But running a big, diverse state like New Jersey requires compromise, and those compromises make devastating TV ads. Advantage: Paul.

Grass roots: It’s extremely likely that Paul’s grass-roots strength will overwhelm a Christie field operation, as well as those of all other probable contenders. In addition to inheriting his father’s grass-roots legacy, Paul will also benefit from the Free State movement in New Hampshire, which has blended with, though is not completely synonymous with, a very vocal tea party movement. The resulting amalgamation refers to itself loosely as “liberty Republicans” and they are very active, highly motivated and belligerently anti-establishment. They can also be extremely difficult to get along with and their belligerence will turn off some Republican voters. Nevertheless, expect that grass-roots strength in New Hampshire to give Paul a significant leg up. Advantage: Paul.

Mass appeal: But which candidate will have broader appeal? This appears to be an area of strength for Christie — by a lot. This Republican governor is likely to win reelection in bright blue New Jersey in a walk, a feat that is achievable only if he is comfortable reaching out to a broad array of voters and straying from the base. Christie’s willingness to hit the trail and hash it out with voters, even those who disagree with him, will also be a tremendous asset in New Hampshire, a state that prides itself on getting to know, and I mean really know, the candidates. This is important because former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will have a nearly uncontested primary, provided she runs, which means that undeclared voters, who can vote in either primary in New Hampshire, are likely to pull a Republican ballot. Advantage: Christie.

Multicandidate field: Let’s be honest: Paul and Christie will not be the only candidates in the mix. How are the other prospective candidates likely to affect the outcome of this rivalry? In virtually every primary I have experienced, there has been a secondary contest between conservatives to be the consensus insurgent candidate against the establishment choice (in 2012, it was Rick Santorum vs. Newt Gingrich; in 2008, it was Mitt Romney, who was running to the right of John McCain/Rudy Giuliani vs. Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson). But rarely has a consensus emerged. More often, this play-within-the-play prohibits any one insurgent from emerging. An insurgent by instinct, Paul is more likely going to have to deal with this dynamic than Christie, who may find himself vying for the establishment throne with more mainstream candidates like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Bobby Jindal. That could pose problems for Paul, as each of the 2016 prospects will be showcasing his right-wing bona fides and self-consciously endeavoring to eat into the Kentucky senator’s base of support. Advantage: Christie.

Intangibles: There’s something about Chris Christie, isn’t there? He’s larger than life and often very entertaining. But George W. Bush’s Texas swagger annoyed reserved Granite Staters, and it’s possible that Christie’s boisterous New Jersey attitude will irritate just enough New Hampshire voters to cost him at the ballot box. Meanwhile, Paul is surprisingly unassuming and soft-spoken — two traits that seem at odds with his passion and principles, but might well mirror the personality traits of regular folks here. Advantage: Paul.

So who would win the New Hampshire presidential primary if both Paul and Christie were to run in 2016? With all the obligatory caveats (we don’t know who else would be running, issues change, scandals can erupt, etc.), I would give a slight advantage to Rand Paul.

Patrick Hynes is president of Hynes Communications. He was an adviser to the two past Republican presidential nominees, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mitt Romney.

Monday
May202013

John F.J. Sullivan - Casino gambling slightly favored, but NH is hardly ‘all in’

By John F.J. Sullivan, Live Free or Die Alliance (http://nhlfda.org)

On May 15, a New Hampshire House joint Fiscal and Ways & Means Committee voted 23-22 against Senate Bill 152, which seeks to clear the way for a single casino in the Granite State’s southern tier. An assessment of the Live Free or Die Alliance’s 13,500 Facebook followers who responded to a related question showed strong support for casino gambling in New Hampshire, though a significant level of opposition was also evident.

In the wake of the House “supercommittee’s” vote, we asked our followers: “Do you support or oppose casino gambling in New Hampshire?” Within 24 hours the question received 126 responses, including “likes,” “shares” and comments, from 115 individuals.

Most (56 percent) expressed support for casino gambling, while 32 percent opposed it and 12 percent of the comments were either judged unresponsive to the question or too ambivalent to tally.

Those who supported casino gambling pointed to its potential for revenue (and the hopes that slot machines and legalized, for-profit table games would serve as a hedge against future tax increases). What’s more, supporters said, other states have already figured this out.

“I wholeheartedly support casino gambling in NH, and really wish we could get this going sooner rather than later,” said one woman whose comment was echoed by many. “We are losing huge amounts of revenue to other states. We need to keep NH money in NH, and get other people to come here to gamble.”

Others said that, in a free society, the state shouldn’t attempt to “legislate morality” and ridiculed arguments tying gambling to vice and more serious crime. “The arguments against it are weak. People that oppose it lead sheltered silver spoon lives,” one man said. “The problems they say it will create already exist and have for a while.”

But opponents insisted that a casino promises nothing more than profits to gambling moguls and would present a dangerous distraction to New Hampshire’s fiscal problems.

“This will victimize the weakest in our society, increase crime, and siphon off business from legitimate enterprises,” one man said. “Most of the money goes out of state. This scheme simply points out the need to implement real reform.”

In addition to the pros and cons, just over 7 percent of respondents criticized the “one casino” model, regardless of whether they supported or opposed gambling in general. One respondent who said gambling wouldn’t pay off as a panacea for the state’s fiscal woes suggested that, were New Hampshire to expand gambling, it should allow small casinos or video poker at numerous established businesses, rather than looking to a single casino. Another, a man who supports expanded gambling, objected to state-sanctioned “gambling monopolies.”

The Live Free or Die Alliance presents this report not as any sort of scientific poll or survey, but rather a digest of citizen testimony. As New Hampshire's Town Hall, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Live Free or Die Alliance is free and open to all, offering a unique and important mechanism for nearly 16,000 community members to express their views.

As legislation to allow casino gambling makes its way to the House floor this week, lawmakers – already equipped with their own research, judgment and conscience – would be wise to recognize the views of the citizens. Judging from our response, support for Senate Bill 152 is significant, though hardly absolute and not without reservation.

John F.J. Sullivan is editor-in-chief of the Live Free or Die Alliance (http://nhlfda.org).

Saturday
May042013

Andrew Manuse - Here's what I would have said to apologize

Here's what I would have said to apologize if I was Stella (Thank God I am not, currently. I would never say the things that she did.). I send this response, "From Stella's Shoes," to you as commentary on the whole episode.

Andrew Manuse

To those people offended by the insensitivity of my comments regarding the Boston Marathon Bombing: please accept my sincere apology. I understand that some folks are not ready for bold questions meant to provoke thought, particularly when human life and limb are involved so close to home.

At the same time, I would like to retract and then refocus my commentary regarding the tragic event that touched many of us here in New England. The bombing was horrific, whatever the cause. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones. I’m grateful for the quick response of regular citizens with medical experience acting as good Samaritans, as well as the quick and professional aid of those hired to respond.

In light of these thoughts, which I failed to acknowledge in previous commentary, I think it is critically important for Americans to seek a true and full understanding of the tragic event that occurred; not just to give meaning to the lives lost or forever changed, but also to search for truth and a better way of life in the future for our countrymen. Part of that search for truth requires a measured inquiry of our government and accountability from law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Following the bombing, many of New Hampshire’s neighbors to the south in Massachusetts had their homes violently invaded by swarms of police officers dressed and outfitted in military gear. There were no required warrants. There was no respect for human dignity. Police pointed rifles at the homes and heads of innocent citizens, whom were told to comply--or else. Capturing a suspected terrorist who was seen bombing and shooting at police is critically important, but shouldn’t all resources be directed toward that end, and not toward unnecessary and unproductive home searches? There was blood. A bloodhound would have made a beeline for the guy. Why the army?

The point of the comments I tried to make earlier, and the point I hope to make now is that each tragedy (each “crisis”) under both Presidents Bush and Obama has been used (not gone “to waste”) to expand the power of government. Our founding fathers warned about standing armies, blanket searches and the criminalization of the free acts of a free people, and they tried to protect us from such a government. Our Constitution still represents those protections, but only the people, by changing their minds--by asking questions--, can revitalize the culture of freedom that America once represented.

At the time that President Richard Nixon resigned, the media did their job to uncover his corruption by asking the tough questions. Inquisitiveness is essential in a free society, and it is only natural when our press is no longer free to do their jobs as in our present situation. Media standards among an independent press should apply consistently to each story, which should never be slanted or manipulated for a specific outcome. The government’s talking points are always only one side of the story. The Law and the Constitution are always the most important side, but there are many angles we should use to approach a true understanding of reality.

What would be even more tragic than the Boston Marathon Bombing, 9/11 or any horrible event like them is an all-encroaching federal government that controls our every move and watches our every breath. As Americans, we need to pull ourselves up from terror, face our enemies, both within and outside our nation’s borders, and peacefully reclaim our rights to life, liberty, property and justice that God himself gave each one of us upon our creation. If we do not reclaim our birthright, consider the terrorists the victors. Our future could be quite bleak.

Tuesday
Apr232013

NH Sen Jeff Woodburn - Increase rural speed limit to 70 mph

The idea of increasing the speed limit on a northern portion of Interstate 93 from 65-mph to 70 breezed through the Democratic House and Republican Senate and now awaits Governor Maggie Hassan’s action. Hopefully, she signs it into law and the state adopts a common sense approach to this rural stretch of road.

As the North Country’s Senator, I represent 27-percent of the state’s landmass and much of the road that would see a change. I spend many hours on I-93 driving the 100- lonely miles from my home in Dalton to the State Capitol.  My old truck shakes and begs for mercy when I get much higher than 75-mph, so I try to stick to 70. At this speed, I’m more apt to be passed than pass another vehicle – and only rarely is it crowded. Occasionally, my fellow travelers and I pass a police cruiser unnoticed.

It makes perfect sense that this quiet, country highway would operate differently than other areas.  If we know anything in rural areas, it is that a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work.  But it’s more than that. I support raising the speed limits because I believe laws need to be credible, legitimate and live in the hearts and minds of our people, not on a sign on the road.  When the vast majority of the people disobey a law in plain view of the police -- something is wrong. Eventually, it weakens the authority and credibility of the state.  We can make driving 70-mph illegal, but not unpopular.

I was moved by the democratic logic behind the 85-percentile rule, which is used to set many speed limits.  It is based upon the idea of establishing a maximum speed by judging where the vast majority of the drivers drive.  So, most speed limits reflect established behaviors, rather than change existing behaviors.  It’s a rule that could easily apply to the increasing popularity of gay marriage, gambling and opposition to broad base taxes. 

I believe that if the speed limit signs were removed, most people would behave as they presently do – operating their vehicle in a manner that is safe for themselves and other motorists -- which also happens to be 5-miles over the current speed limit.  

(Jeff Woodburn, of Dalton, is a Democratic State Senator, teacher, writer and child advocate)

Thursday
Mar212013

Todd Selig - Opposing An Increase in the Road Toll is a Hard Road to Travel for NH Legislators

The Importance of HB 617 to New Hampshire

 

by Todd I. Selig

After lengthy debate on March 6th, the NH House passed HB 617, a bill that increases the road toll, commonly referred to by opponents as the “Gas Tax,” by 4 cents per gallon of gasoline in each of the next three years (fiscal years 2014 – 2016) and then 3 cents in fiscal year 2017, for a total 15-cent increase over the current road toll of 18 cents per gallon.  It is referred to as the 4-4-4-3 plan with Rep. David Campbell of Nashua as the prime sponsor.

This additional revenue would be placed in a separate fund within the constitutionally protected highway fund to be used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of state and municipal roads and bridges – investment that will equate to good jobs across New Hampshire, particularly within the construction, engineering, paving, and aggregate industries.

Projections show the modest change in the road toll would result in increased highway block grant funding for municipalities of $3.6 million in 2014 to over $13 million in 2017 and beyond, for a total increase of $117 million over the next ten years. For communities working diligently to stabilize local tax rates across the granite state, this increase is significant.  To put it into concrete terms, the 4-4-4-3 plan would mean an additional $250,962 for Bath; $2,982,522 for Concord; $949,347 for Durham; $980,731 for Exeter; $573,305 for Henniker; $1,656,408 for Keene; $1,140,890 for Laconia; $6,851,848 for Manchester; $5,364,972 for Nashua; $2,079,901 for Rochester; $2,195,307 for Salem; and $112,771 for Woodstock.  Local taxpayers in every town and city across NH benefit from the 4-4-4-3 plan.

But much needed additional revenue for municipalities targeted to roadway repairs is not all that this bill provides. The increase would also fund an additional $8.5 million per year for municipal bridge and highway aid programs, fully fund the I-93 widening project, fully fund the state’s grossly underfunded ten year transportation plan, and provide resources to address the 1600+ miles of state roads currently rated in “poor” condition.

The road toll is a true user fee that has not been increased in over 20 years.  If the citizens of New Hampshire want decent roads, someone will have to pay for them, and it is only appropriate that the cost be borne by the users.  Those who drive less would pay less; those who drive more would pay more.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted on March 20th to recommend reducing the road toll increases from four cents/four cents/four cents/three cents over the next four years, to simply four/four/four.  This is a mistake.  Full implementation of the 4-4-4-3 plan is reasonable and necessary to meet the state’s transportation needs. Here is why.

At 18 cents per gallon, New Hampshire’s road toll is currently the lowest in New England.   

An important aspect of the road toll is that it does not translate penny for penny at the pump.  Drive into Maine with a higher gas tax than NH and you can find lower gas prices there.  This is because supply and demand is the primary driver of gas prices, not the road toll.  When the average driver drives 12,000 miles per year, getting an average of 22.6 mpg, it will cost an additional $79.65 per year after the 15 cents increase is fully implemented.  This cost is based on the assumption that the 15 cent increase passes through penny for penny at the pump, which is unlikely.   

Even assuming that every penny is passed onto the driver at the pump, the cost of $79.65 is less than what the average NH driver is currently spending on vehicle maintenance and repairs due to poor NH road conditions ($323/year), as reported by TRIP, a national transportation group. And in some areas of the state it is worse.  The average driver in the Southern New Hampshire area, including Manchester and Nashua, loses $503 annually due to driving on deteriorated roads, while rough roads cost the average Dover-Rochester-Portsmouth driver $400 annually.

New Hampshire faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $74 million, more than one third of the state’s major roads are deteriorated, nearly a third of Granite State bridges are in need of repair or replacement, and the state’s rural traffic fatality rate is disproportionately higher than that of other roads in the state.  Unless NH can increase transportation investment, conditions are projected to worsen significantly in the future.  This serves none of us well and works against the NH advantage.

HB 617, at the 4-4-4-3 level, is a good plan and deserves the support of the NH Legislature.  Opposing it is a hard road to travel for our representatives and senators in Concord.

---

Information about Todd I. SeligOriginally from Laconia, Todd Selig resides with his wife and two daughters in Durham, New Hampshire.  He has served as Durham Town Administrator since 2001.  After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Syracuse University, Mr. Selig went on to complete a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of New Hampshire.  He has served in a variety of New Hampshire administrative positions within both the municipal and school sectors including positions in Raymond, Laconia, New Boston, Hopkinton, and now Durham.  In 2003, Todd Selig was awarded the Caroline Gross Fellowship allowing him to attend the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  He was named as one of New Hampshire’s “40 Under Forty” by The Union Leader in 2005.  Mr. Selig has previously served as chairman of the board of directors for the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies and as a trustee and vice-chairman of the board of PRIMEX (N.H. Public Risk Management Exchange).  He is a member of the International City/County Management Association, a member of the Municipal Management Association of NH, a Trustee Emeritus of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, and a member of the Durham Historical Society. 

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 140 Next 5 Entries »