“It’s unbelievable, this liberal agenda up here.”
Democrat State Rep. Mark Preston (Seabrook) On The Democrat Leadership’s Radical Agenda
New Hampshire House Takes A Hard Turn Left
Gloucester Daily Times
April 27, 2009
In a landmark session, the New Hampshire House of Representatives appears to many to be having an identity crisis.
The 400-member House — the second largest legislative body in the nation — has never before been known as a bunch of social liberals. Dominated by Republicans for more than a century, the body has held strong to the state's historic conservative roots, voting down bills with liberal leanings that have sailed through on Massachusetts' Beacon Hill.
But since January, House members have passed bills to abolish the death penalty, legalize gay marriage, allow the medical use of marijuana and force adults to wear seat belts, something the Granite State has resisted forever.
And then there was the passage of a bill to protect transgender individuals from discrimination, which Republicans dubbed "the bathroom bill."
Although the 2007 elections put Democrats in control of the New Hampshire House, Senate, Executive Council and the Governor's corner office, even some New Hampshire Democrats are wondering what's going on in Concord, and if things are swinging too far left.
"It's unbelievable, this liberal agenda up here," said state Rep. Mark Preston, D-Seabrook, appalled that his colleagues in the House had approved the elimination of the death penalty. "I never thought I'd see the day in New Hampshire when a repeal of the death penalty would pass."
Neither was Preston, a police sergeant in Seabrook, happy about the House's decision to legalize marijuana for medical reasons, another bill he said he thought would never pass.
Life-long Seabrook Democrat Bette Thibodeau said New Hampshire Democrats have never before been as liberal as their counterparts to the south, but that appears to be changing.
Husband and wife state Representatives Amy and Koko Perkins, R-Seabrook, made a simple statement recently that summed up their freshman year in the House.
"It's no place for conservatives, I can tell you that," Koko Perkins said not long ago.
Twelve-year veteran state Rep. Al Weare chuckled when asked his impression of this session in the House.
"Being a very conservative individual, for these issues, it's kind of unbelievable to see this happening in the state of New Hampshire. But, I think ultimately this could backfire. They could end up with problems they aren't expecting. I think it can have an adverse effect for some in the next election."
New Hampshire Republican pundit and Seabrook fire Chief Jeff Brown believes New Hampshire Legislature's stray to the left on social issues is the result of years of suppression by Republicans. Members of New Hampshire's Grand Old Party had a hold on the legislative majority and kept their members in lock-step with conservative party lines for decades.
In control for the first time in anyone's living memory, Democrats are grabbing all they can while they can, Brown said.
"Democrats are saying, 'Wow, lets get everything we can while we're in the majority,'" said Brown, who served in the House for years in the past. "But, they're also eating their young. They've forgotten who brought them to power."