Guest Blogs

Entries in Party Politics (23)

Thursday
Oct022014

ICYMI: Gov. Maggie Hassan's toxic partisanship poisons Concord

Published in the Union Leader, October 1, 2014

 

Gov. Maggie Hassan's toxic partisanship poisons Concord

 

By Sen. Jeanie Forrester

 

LATELY GOV. Maggie Hassan has been taking credit for the bipartisan budget we passed last year. She wants you to forget the scathing rhetoric she unleashed on the Senate Republicans before she reversed course and signed that budget into law.

 

After submitting an irresponsible budget proposal that relied on fatally flawed revenue estimates that included a significant reliance on unproven gambling revenues, Hassan spent the rest of the budget debate taking shots at Republicans, without actually participating in the process. She accused Senate Republicans of choosing “the fiscally irresponsible approach of sweeping, across-the-board cuts,” and claimed that the modest increases in social service spending would be “nothing short of devastating.” She warned of “hundreds of layoffs” that never happened.

 

Sitting on the Senate Finance Committee at the time, I didn’t hear once from the governor about the budget. She didn’t take part in the budget negotiations, except by news release. Republicans passed our balanced budget without a single Democratic vote.

 

Two weeks later, when the Senate budget bill came out of the Conference Committee with few changes, Hassan reversed her position and starting patting herself on the back for a budget she spent months bashing. It was a shocking reversal, given the venom she had unleashed on us so recently. But we were happy to have the governor’s belated support, and we passed the budget with a unanimous Senate vote.

 

We shouldn’t forget Hassan’s track record of budget disasters. As Senate Majority Leader, she watched as two consecutive Democratic budgets fell apart. She supported more than 100 increases in state taxes and fees, and that still wasn’t enough to pay for the massive increase in state spending.

 

New Hampshire was forced to borrow more money to pay its bills, to cut state aid to cities and towns, and to employ gimmicks like booking phantom revenues that never materialized.

 

The 2009 budget was such a mess that the Legislature was forced to come back into special session to fill a $295 million deficit. This required dramatic cuts to senior citizen programs, juvenile placement programs, and catastrophic aid to hospitals. And even this was only a stop-gap measure.

 

The 2011 Legislature inherited an $800 million hole in the budget. Republicans reversed some of Hassan’s massive spending increase, and to this day she still blames all of the state’s problems on the budget that cleaned up her mess.

 

Hassan refuses to take responsibility for the recent downgrade of our state’s bond rating outlook. She again tried to blame the Republican Legislature, even though the S&P decision specifically cited the Medicaid lawsuit spurred by cuts she supported, the growing liability in the New Hampshire Retirement System, and our state’s inadequate Rainy Day Fund. Hassan has consistently opposed Republican efforts to address these looming fiscal challenges.

 

Time and again, Maggie Hassan has ignored problems under her watch. Unlike her claims of working in a bipartisan way, she doesn’t work with the Legislature to solve these problems. She prefers to step in once the Legislature reaches a bipartisan solution, and then claim credit for it. She is not leading. She is not solving problems.

 

I respect my Democratic colleagues in the Senate, and our counterparts in the House. We share a common dedication to making New Hampshire a better place to live, even as we disagree on how to do it. But the partisan bitterness coming from the governor’s office is toxic. It poisons the political atmosphere at the State House, making it harder for Republicans and Democrats to reach across the aisle.

 

New Hampshire citizens expect more and deserve better.

 

Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Monday
Jan142013

Ed Mosca - MYTH OF THE MACHINE

It seems to be an article of faith among some in the New Hampshire GOP that the down-ticket losses suffered by the NH GOP in the 2012 elections were primarily or even exclusively due to the Obama “ground game” or “machine.”  The numbers, however, do not support that explanation.

 

            Let’s begin with US House races in other states commonly labeled as “swing” or “battleground” states:

 

US House


GOP seats 2010

GOP seats 2012

% Change


Colorado

Obama +4%

4

4

0.0%


Florida

Obama +1%

19

17

-10.5%


Iowa

Obama +5%

2

2

0.0%


Nevada

Obama +6%

2

2

0.0%


New Hampshire

Obama +6%

2

0

-100.0%


North Carolina

Romney +2%

6

9

+50.0%


Ohio

Obama +2%

13

12

-7.7%


Virginia

Obama +3%

8

8

0.0%


Wisconsin

Obama +7%

5

5

0.0%


 

The NH GOP clearly underperformed other battleground states.  For example, although Obama won Wisconsin and Nevada by similar margins as New Hampshire, the GOP lost no seats in those states.

 

            The only other battleground state where there was a gubernatorial election was North Carolina, where the Republican candidate won by 55 to 43 percent, ten points better than Romney’s margin of victory.  In New Hampshire, Democrat Maggie Hassan also won by a twelve-point margin, which was double Obama’s.

 

            State legislative elections also fail to show a correlation between Obama’s performance and down-ticket results:

 


President

GOP state senate seats ’10-‘12


% Change

GOP state house seats ’10-‘12


% Change

Colorado

Obama +4%

15

16

+6.67%

33

28

-15.15%

 

Florida

Obama +1%

28

26

-7.14%

81

74

-8.64%

 

Iowa

Obama +5%

24

23

-4.17%

59

53

-10.17%

 

Nevada

Obama +6%

9

10

+11.11%

16

15

-6.25%

 

New Hampshire

Obama +6%

19

13

-31.58%

288

179

-37.85%

 

North Carolina

Romney +2%

31

32

+3.23%

67

77

+14.93%

 

Ohio

Obama +2%

23

23

0.00%

59

60

+1.69%

 

Virginia

Obama +3%

No State Elections in ‘12




 

Wisconsin

Obama +7%

15

18

+20.00%

58

60

+3.45%

 























            While the state senate races are not pure apple-to-apple comparisons because only Florida and North Carolina do not hold staggered elections, there clearly is no correlation between Obama’s performance and down-ticket races.  For example, in Nevada and Wisconsin, which Obama won by similar margins as NewHampshire, the GOP actually picked up senate seats.  The house races tell a similar story.  In Wisconsin, the GOP picked up house seats. And while the GOP lost house seats in Nevada, the degree of loss was insignificant compared to New Hampshire.     

 

            The next tables compare the GOP as a percentage of battleground state legislatures from 2010 to 2012, to take into account that the NH GOP held supermajorities in 2010. 

 


Total # Senate Seats

GOP seats 2010

% of Senate

GOP seats 2012

% of Senate

Change

Colorado

35

15

42.9%

16

45.7%

+2.9%

Florida

40

28

70.0%

26

65.0%

-5.0%

Iowa

50

24

48.0%

23

46.0%

-2.0%

Nevada

21

9

42.9%

10

47.6%

+4.8%

New Hampshire

24

19

79.2%

13

54.2%

-25.0%

North Carolina

50

31

62.0%

32

64.0%

+2.0%

Ohio

33

23

69.7%

23

69.7%

0.0%

Virginia


No State Elections



Wisconsin

33

15

45.5%

18

54.5%

+9.1%

Average without NH


54.4%


56.1%










Total # House Seats

GOP 2010

% of House

GOP 2012

% of House

Change

Colorado

65

33

50.8%

28

43.1%

-7.7%

Florida

120

81

67.5%

74

61.7%

-5.8%

Iowa

100

59

59.0%

53

53.0%

-6.0%

Nevada

42

16

38.1%

15

35.7%

-2.4%

New Hampshire

400

288

72.0%

179

44.8%

-27.3%

North Carolina

120

67

55.8%

77

64.2%

8.3%

Ohio

99

59

59.6%

60

60.6%

1.0%

Virginia


No State Elections



Wisconsin

99

58

58.6%

60

60.6%

2.0%

Average without NH


55.6%


54.1%


 

            While no battleground state went into the 2012 election with as high a GOP majority in the state senate as New Hampshire, three states had majorities near or above 60 percent and in only one of these states did the GOP lose seats.  And while the Florida state senate declined from 70 to 65 percent Republican that was nowhere near the 79 to 54 percent drop in New Hampshire. 

 

            House results were similar.  The Florida house declined from 67.5 to 61.7 percent Republican, in comparison to the precipitous 72 to 44.8 percent decline in New Hampshire, while the GOP extended its sizable majorities in Ohio andWisconsin.

 

            In sum, the data indicates that it would be a mistake to primarily attribute the down-ticket losses suffered by the NH GOP in 2012 to the Obama “machine.”  This is not to suggest that the NH GOP should not improve its “GOTV.”  Rather, what I am suggesting is that it would be a mistake not to also consider why the gubernatorial nominee substantially underperformed Romney and why the New Hampshire House, at 44.8 percent GOP, is well below the 54.1 percent average in battleground states.

 




Edward C. Mosca

Thursday
Nov222012

Ed Mosca - SOME THOUGHTS ON THE 2012 ELECTIONS AND THE FUTURE FOR THE NH GOP 

The 2012 elections confirm that New Hampshire is a blue state, but a unique shade of blue.

            You have togo back to 2000 for the last time the Republican presidential candidate got more votes than the Democrat, but that only tells part of the story because George W. Bush only got 48 percent of the vote while Al Gore (47 percent) and Ralph Nader (4 percent) combined for 51 percent.  You have to go back all the way to 1988 for the last time the Republican presidential candidate got more than 50 percent.  And the trend has been in the wrong direction.  While George W. improved to 49 percent of the vote in 2004, McCain garnered only 45 percent in 2008 and Romney essentially matched that with 46 percent in 2012.

            The elections for Governor have been almost as barren for Republicans.  With the exception of the 2002 election, Democrats have won all of the gubernatorial elections since 1996.  A good number of these victories were landslides.  The only really close race was in 2004, when Lynch knocked off Benson 51 percent to 49 percent.  Even in the tsunami year of 2010, Lynch won by a comfortable margin of 7.5 percent.

            Clearly, the Democrat success in electing governors is based on “taking the pledge.”  From 1988 through 1994, Republicans didn’t just beat pro-tax Democrats in the gubernatorial races; they demolished them.  In 1994, Steve Merrill won an incredible 70 percent of the vote.  But that changed in 1996, when Merrill decided not to seek a third term and Jeanne Shaheen took the pledge.   She easily defeated Ovide 57 percent to 40 percent, and with the exception of the single Benson term, Democrats have held the governor’s office ever since.

            No Democrat, with the exception of Jeanne Shaheen in 2000, has been elected Governor without taking the pledge.  Mark Fernald ran explicitly on an income tax in 2002 and didn’t even crack 40 percent.  And in 2000 Shaheen did not crack 50 percent, although it should be pointed out that she might have had not Mary Brown (6 percent) run as an independent on a pro income tax platform.   Mark Fernald’s blowout loss to Benson only two years later in an election that was a referendum on an income tax suggests that Shaheen’s victory in 2000 was despite of, not because of, her abandonment of the pledge.

            And that is what makes New Hampshire a unique shade of blue.  While the Democrat mantra in this past national election was that income tax rates on the “rich” need to go up, in New Hampshire Maggie Hassan repeatedly pledged to veto an income tax.  A good call on her part when you consider the constitutional amendment to ban the income tax, while it did not get the necessary two-thirds, did get 57 percent of the vote.   

            And while the ban-the-income-tax amendment came up short, the 57 percent of the vote it garnered is especially impressive considering that a significant percentage of the voters may have been voters who were inclined to vote a straight Democrat line.

            There were over 99,000 same-day registrations in 2012, which is 14 percent of total voters.  Some of these undoubtedly were new voters turned out by the vaunted Obama machine, while others were voters who had to re-register because they had moved or because of redistricting.   Let’s assume that only one-half of same-day registrants were new voters turned out by Obama.

            That is still a swing of 7 percent, which suggests that absent this turnout effort the state would have gone to Romney and, assuming the voters turned out by Obama voted straight Democrat and an even split between districts, Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass would have won as well, which is what one would have expected given the sorry condition of the economy.  However, Hassan still would have handily defeated Ovide.

            Clearly the New Hampshire GOP, and the GOP in general, has to do a much, much better job of identifying persuadable voters and getting these voters to vote.  But just as clearly that will not be enough to win gubernatorial elections or, it is probably safe to assume, down-ballot state elections in anti-tax districts where the Democrat takes the pledge.  

            The major problem that the New Hampshire GOP has in state elections is that it still has not figured out how to run against candidates that take the pledge.  Here are some suggestions.

            Update the pledge:  Instead of pledging just to veto an income and sales tax, pledge to veto any new tax.  Or any new tax or any increase in existing taxes.  Or expand the pledge to veto any budget that increases state spending more than the rate of inflation. 

            Pick your battles wisely:  I cannot understand the position that civil unions are ok, but civil same-sex marriages are not.  What’s the point in fighting that battle?  

            Draw clear and meaningful distinctions with the Democrats:  Any Republican who advocates gambling on the ground that the state needs more revenue should be flogged with a cat o’ nine tails and then be made to walk the plank.  Saying the state needs more revenue is just a lovely euphemism for saying we need to grow government.  To the extent that Republicans support gambling, it should be as a tax relief measure.  The condition antecedent for Republican support of any casino-gambling bill is a statutory guarantee that every penny in taxes collected from casino-gambling reduces existing taxes.

            Run better candidates:  In many respects, New Hampshire has changed dramatically since the halcyon days of Sununu/Gregg/Merrill.  Understand how it has changed and run candidates who can make Republican principles relevant to today’s New Hampshire.  

Wednesday
Oct242012

Bob Burns - Of Course I have a Litmus Test

Feel-good political buzz words such as “compromise” really have no place in an Executive Council race, which is why it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’ve said the constitution and the law are straightforward and I’d strictly uphold them upon election to the District 4 Executive Council seat.

My opponent for the seat shows his lack of knowledge of the position he’s running for—or perhaps his lack of faith in voters’ understanding—by trying to play around with the word and somehow insinuate that he’d be the great compromiser on the Executive Council. I think he should explain to voters exactly how he intends to do that.

Compromise is something that the legislative branch does when interested parties get together and try to work out their differences on a bill before they pass it into law. Executive Councilors are nothing like state representatives and they’re not like senators, either. In fact, they don’t even really deal much with the Legislature or legislation for that matter—that’s the governor’s job.

And further, the council is not some round table of five noble men sitting around making deals or trades with each other all day. If this describes my opponent’s vision for the Executive Council, then electing him would initiate a new era of some pretty dangerous corruption in our state’s executive branch. To be clear: our Executive Council doesn’t come close to that description.

On the contrary, the Executive Council’s work is clear-cut. Is it a good contract or a bad contract? Is it a good lease or a bad lease? Most of an executive councilor’s work is reading over state contracts and leases and then answering those questions. The result is an up or down vote and it’s often bi-partisan.

When it comes to judicial appointments, I’ve been quite clear: I will only support the governor’s judicial, department head or agency appointments if I know the candidate understands and respects the U.S. Constitution, the N.H. Constitution and state and federal law. For anyone under consideration for these positions, his or her record in this regard will be apparent, and I will vote accordingly.

Is there room for compromise in my opponent’s Executive Council in this area? If so, we’ll get more executive officials who believe there’s “precedent” to divert gas tax or toll revenue into general expenses, even though the N.H. Constitution in Part 2, Article 6-a says that such a diversion is specifically prohibited. The executive officials I confirm will never make this argument. They’d never even consider a contract that used gas tax or toll revenue unconstitutionally.

In the case of department head or agency appointments, I’d also want to verify that they’re qualified to do their job. Again, it won’t take much effort to determine whether a person is just a friend of the governor or someone truly qualified to do the appointed job, but that effort is the job of an executive councilor. I will be committed to making sure we only approve a nominee from the governor if it’s clear the person will perform to the best of his or her ability within the confines of the law and constitution.

What would my opponent do? Would he advise the governor to pick his friends to do the work of the people, even if they completely lacked the skillset required for the job? What will our roads and bridges look like under the leadership of one of my opponent’s friends? Will they be safe to drive on?

It’s not that someone we know shouldn’t get a government job, because sometimes the people we know to be the best, are simply the best in their field. But when confirming such appointments, the people need an executive councilor who will not compromise on the competency of the appointees. The people need to know that their government is doing the best job they can at the lowest cost. Voters should know that they deserve no less than this, without compromise.

Bob Burns of Bedford, who is currently serving as Hillsborough County Treasurer, is running for the District 4 Executive Council seat.

Tuesday
Apr242012

NH Rep Jordan Ulery - Truth About Alec

Recently there has been a spat of hate letters regarding the nation’s oldest and largest public-private discussion group, American Legislative Exchange Council.  This organization allows members of Legislatures from across the nation to gather to discuss common problems and developing issues.  Joining the legislators are various advocacy groups including Amnesty International and various prison ministry groups.  Yes, there are those “evil” business interests present.  You know them, they are the ones that employ you, pay your wages, provide access to group health insurance, pay your vacation, pay for workers’ compensation.  Businesses, the heartbeat of America without which this nation would fold.  As that rather taciturn New England President “Silent Cal” once said; “the business of America is business.”

It is interesting that separate authors in separate newspapers penned exactly the same letter to the editor.  It is almost as if the authors did not do any research, do any analysis and just sent in the letter they were told to send.  Interesting indeed that separate people could present the same mischaracterizations, “less than accurate” statements and plain old lies.  Yet, if you ask any of them they will likely say, ‘oh no, I did it all by myself.’

Let us be absolutely clear.  Bills for introduction in New Hampshire come from New Hampshire, but may be similar to those in other states.  That is the result of open and frank discussion between legislators without partisan bickering.  The ALEC “model” legislation is debated in committee (called a Task Force) and often takes several years to reach a resolution that is acceptable to the broad majority, not an elite select few.  A similar process is used by NCSL which former Speaker Terri Norelli will soon head.  (aside: I wonder if Granite State Progress will attack former Speaker Norelli for proposing model legislation?)

After the idea is vetted by a Task Force it is presented to the Board of Directors and presented as a reference for members.  It is not mandated, the model legislation is just that, a proposal vetted by legislators across the nation to address a common problem.  It is available for any member legislator to modify to her or his state’s needs.  Gee, efficiency, responsiveness and responsibility in the legislative branch to benefit each of us – what an idea!

As for not protecting individual taxpayer rights – that is a complete and total falsehood.  Consider CACR 6 introduced to the House, passed the House, modified by the Senate and awaiting a Committee of Conference.  That bill would modify the New Hampshire Constitution to require modification on spending (the exact wording varies by chamber).  That bill was based upon a distillation of ideas presented at various ALEC conferences.  Seems to me that protects taxpayers.  HCR40 is a US Constitutional Balanced Budget petition to Congress.  That ALEC inspired legislation had strong bi-partisan support in the House and is now before the Senate.  The number of pro-taxpayer ALEC inspired bills is too long for a letter-to-the-editor.  One need only go to www.alec.org and read the press releases on “Obamacare,” tax policy,  over-regulation, energy efficiency (including green jobs) to see the broad scope of ALEC initiatives.  Of course, that would presume the robot letter writers actually were interested in the truth, rather than the pre-fabricated political agenda of their commissars.  

In case the next attack is that I have a vested interest in ALEC, let it be known that all legislators pay a membership fee to join.  All legislators pay registration and room fees to attend conferences.  No legislator member of ALEC receives “pay” or benefits from ALEC or from a corporation as a result of their membership in ALEC or as a result of bills brought forward or supported.  These attacks are simply politically motivated ad hominem attacks designed to deflect attention from the real issues facing New Hampshire.  The business loss because of many factors, including among the highest business taxes in the country, the resolution of a massive budget deficits (NH: est $ 900,000,000.00 – US: est $777,000,000,000.00), the lack of adequate funding because of over taxation and increased fees, the looming transfer of Medicaid costs to the State because of ObamaCare and the continual erosion of personal liberties and freedoms as the result of regulations, rules and federal laws.

 

Jordan Ulery

Hillsborough-27

NH State Representative

162nd General Court