With the GOP gubernatorial primary neck and neck, failed CEO Walt Havenstein and conservative activist Andrew Hemingway are tripping over each other to move farther right, touting their pledge of allegiance to Bill O’Brien/Koch Brothers agenda.
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GOP gubernatorial candidates spar over commitment to oppose higher state spending
CONCORD - The two leading Republican candidates for governor and more than 200 running for legislative and state offices signed a fiscally conservative group’s pledge Wednesday to oppose higher spending, taxes, Medicaid expansion and to support right-to-work legislation.
Gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Hemingway of Bristol criticized primary rival Walt Havenstein of Alton for not showing up at a ceremonial signing at the Legislative Office Building.
Havenstein was in Washington, D.C. for a fundraiser with two-time, New Hampshire presidential primary winner John McCain.
Both Hemingway and Havenstein signed the pledge as did GOP gubernatorial hopeful Jonathan Smolin of Alton.
“Maybe my opponent finds these core principles puffery, or maybe he feels he had something better to do, but with no candidate and no representative from his campaign present, it tells me these promises aren’t a priority for Mr. Havenstein,” Hemingway said.
When he announced in April, Havenstein referred to the pledge to veto a sales or income tax as “puffery” and said it had to be backed up by executive and legislative actions that control state spending.
Hemingway’s campaign maintains Havenstein’s comments during a radio talk show in April raised doubts about his opposition to expanding Medicaid coverage for low-income adults.
“If he says tax pledges are puffery and some Medicaid expansion may be needed, who can trust he’ll keep this pledge,” Preston said.
Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the Medicaid expansion into law last month.
During the WKXL interview, Havenstein said the state can’t afford to pick up costs for Medicaid expansion once the federal government reduces its support.
“There is some form of expansion that may be needed. The best way to help those people is to give them jobs that take them out of the poverty range that these programs are designed for in the first place,” Havenstein began.
“I am not for taking things away from people. What I am concerned about is when we make those expansions, those large financial commitments that are going to be with us for a long time, frankly I don’t see how we can fulfill that obligation in the future financially.”
Former House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, said the AFP pledge embodied the same issues GOP candidates rallied around when they took super-majority control of the Legislature in the 2006 election.
A spokesman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party said AFP’s pledge was for the principles of the opposition party’s extreme right-wing.
“We know now that failed CEO Walt Havenstein and conservative activist Andrew Hemingway are not just taking policy positions from the Bill O’Brien/Koch Brothers playbook, they are fully pledging allegiance to the Tea Party platform,” said spokesman Bryan Lesswing.
“Havenstein and Hemingway may think that touting their loyalty to the Koch Brothers will earn them support, but Granite Staters know better than to accept their Bill O’Brien/anti-middle class agenda that would take our state in the wrong direction.”
State Democrats later pointed to a Huffington Post report that while Havenstein was CEO of Scientific Applications International Corp, the firm got a $2.4 million grant in 2011 to help the Internal Revenue implement the Affordable Care Act.
In response, Havenstein’s campaign said he opposed Obamacare since its inception, but the company is a major government contractor that pursued work among many federal programs.
“Walt has always been opposed to the ACA, so all this illustrates is that the business responsibilities and personal political beliefs of the chief executive of a large company are not one and the same,” said Goodwin, Havenstein’s campaign spokesman.