Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Like Senate Races, Governorships Are Trending Republican


This Week's Trivia--Peter Burling And The 140 Pro Income Tax Democrats (And The 7 Opposed)

Ho! Ho! Ho!  It's long-time income tax champion Peter Ho Burling


I've been promising (threatening might be a better word) to pose this question for weeks now. Actually it's more than a question; consider it a brief history of Democratic support of an income tax in New Hampshire with a question at the end. 

The time seems right in lieu of Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein airing a commercial accusing Governor Maggie Hassan of promoting policies which could lead us to an income tax. 

Actually, I disagree with Havenstein. While many Democrats actually continue to support an income tax, that position has hurt their party so badly in the past that few will admit their support today. 

Maureen Raiche Manning, running against Senator David Boutin in District 16, was forced by the Concord Monitor to admit that she once voted for an income tax, but swears that her position has changed today. 

Of course it's changed or at least, she feels compelled to say it has changed, just like Bob Backus, when he was running for State Senate in the same district the first time against Senator (and current Manchester Mayor) Ted Gatsas, didn't want to admit he favored an income tax. I'll never forget that I was hosting an interview show on Manchester Community TV back then, and Backus was the guest. Before we went on the air, he confessed that he supports an income tax but literally begged me not to ask it since the support would cost him.

I kid you not. 

In the wake of pro income taxer Mark Fernald's lopsided gubernatorial loss to Craig Benson in 2002 (the margin was 21 points--259,663-169,277), Democrats have followed the lead of then Chair Kathy Sullivan and simply won't admit to favoring a broad-base tax. Fernald was pro income tax and proud of it. In 2001, Governor Jeanne Shaheen had actually tried to push a 2.5 percent sales tax through the New Hampshire House (her own Democrats rose up against her), a major reason for her 2002 Senate loss to John Sununu.

 A decade earlier, proud pro income taxer Deborah Arnie Arnesen suffered a lopsided loss to Steve Merrill. The same year, 1992, Bill Clinton was carrying New Hampshire, Arnesen and her income tax plans went down to a 56-40 percent defeat (280,170-206,232) with Libertarian Miriam Luce taking four percent of the vote, 20,663, votes which most likely would never have gone to Arnesen; few if any Libertarians would support an income, then or now. 

In the past, Democrats flirted with an income tax about once a decade, and in fact, House Democratic Leader strong-armed his caucus into voting for one during Shaheen's second term in office. Truth be told, he didn't have to strong-arm most Democrats; they were true believers, something few of today's Democrats will admit to being (although I suspect many still are true believers). 

Hold on...we're getting to the question. 

I'll never forget March 4, 1999, a day that will live in infamy in New Hampshire history. That's the day the income tax passed the New Hampshire House 194-190 with 95 percent of Democrats supporting the tax. Only seven of 147 Democrats voted against the income tax (and yes, I was one of the seven). 54 Republicans voted for the tax (183 against). Yes, indeed that adds up to 194-190.

Of course, the tax never became law because the Senate changed the bill and when it came back to the House, it was defeated by the rather wide margin of 211-168 on March 30, 1999. Republicans opposed the tax 185-47 then, and the number of Democrats in opposition was up to 26 (26-121). Democrats were so devoted to the tax that even with Shaheen threatening a veto, 82 percent of them stuck with Burling for what was known as Below-Fernald-Hager income tax. 

Someday, I'll tell you the story of how the Democrats in opposition increased from seven to 26. (Working behind the scenes with Shaheen legal counsel Judy Reardon, I was an intimate part of it). 

As for now, let's focus on the seven Democrats who voted against the income tax in 1999 when most of their party was following like lemmings over the Burling cliff. Five of the seven were from Manchester; two from Nashua. Not a single Democrat any place else in the state voted against the tax. 

I've already noted I was one of the seven (I changed parties, in large part because of the Democratic devotion to the tax, in 2001). 

Two of the seven have now passed away, Lionel Johnson and Roland Turgeon of Manchester. 

The two from Nashua were David Cote (still a Rep today) and Mary Martin who actually sat next to me and my good friend Stretch Kennedy in the back row. 

That leaves only two other anti-income tax Democrats for you to identify, and that in fact--at last is the question.

Who were the two? 

I'll list ten elected Manchester Democrats from back then, and your assignment is simply to pick the two.

Hint--I actually ran into one of them just an hour ago at the Manchester Community TV studios. 

Ray Buckley (Ward 8, current Democratic party chair) 

Linda Garrish (Ward 1, one of the very first community TV hosts) 

Ben Baroody (Ward 6, defeated in 2012, he's running for State Rep again today)

Jim McDonald (Ward 5, a moderator in the ward for a while) 

Bill McCarthy (Ward 5 and a state senator way back in the 70s) 

Jeff Goley (still a Ward 1 State Rep today) 

Jim Craig (Ward 2, future House Democratic leader and loser to Carol Shea Porter in a Democratic Congressional primary--yes, they actually had primaries back then)

James Burkush (Ward 9, current Manchester fire chief) 

Carol Williams (Ward 3 and later Ward 7; she just resigned as State Rep earlier this year) 

Frank Reidy (Ward 10) 

Of those ten Reps present and voting, only two joined me, Turgeon, Johnson, Cote, and Martin in voting against the income tax.

How do I know all this, you might ask. Remember I hosted a weekly TV show myself back then and I've kept most of my "screens" I used. Plus a while back, I took off with camera in hand to film fall foliage and relate the story of that day of infamy in a two hour special. I traveled through the back roads of Vermont filming foliage and ended up on a bike ride along the Lachine Canal in Montreal. I stopped at every lock to tell more of the story. 

The special was entitled "Falling Leaves, Raising Taxes". I was actually so proud of it that when contacted by an old high school friend (currently living in Washington D.C.), I sent it to him to show him the kind of filming I've done. 

The answer is NOT Ray Buckley. He in fact told me that he wanted to vote against the income tax, but Peter Burling had threatened to throw him out of the leadership team if he dared vote against the tax. (Buckley was one of the 26 to vote against it the second time around). 

Burkush, Craig, McDonald, and Reidy joined Buckley in voting against the income tax the second time around, but the answer to the question, the only two other Democrats to vote against the income tax on March 4, 1999, were:

BEN BAROODY (he's the one I just saw at the TV station)



Williams, McCarthy, and Garrish were (and I assume remain) diehard income tax proponents. Bill McCarthy, whom I consider a friend, will even admit it--unlike most of today's Democrats.

Maybe I'll get that two hour film back from D.C. and post it somewhere; it's a real hoot--"Falling Leaves, Raising Taxes"). 

Burling, of course, went on to become a state senator; he had dropped out of the scene (at least from my observation point) until last week when he emailed me a stern response to my trivia question of the week; stern, but he failed to challenge any of the facts I presented.  The answer to that question, lest we forget, was that Missouri-native Jeanne Shaheen taught high school in the great state, not New Hampshire...but Mississippi.


Gallup--GOP Holds Advantage On 5 Of Top 6 Issues

Before we go ahead and make final predictions for next Tuesday's election, I thought it would be important to try and assess how voters feel about major issues. This data ultimately might prove far more significant than the slew of polls on individual races with which we are now inundated.

Gallup Polling comes to the rescue. It recently identified the top six issues people care about and then determined which party has an advantage on each. Gallup then created a chart which I could reproduce here, and in fact it's part of the link provided below (but it's rather confusing to follow).

Thus, I'll restate the issues without using the chart. The headline is that Republicans enjoy an advantage in five of the six issues people care most about; one is essentially a tie (Republicans have a one point lead); Democrats, on the other hand, lead in just one major issues and in the four issues people care least about.

This is hardly good news for Democrats, but you can decide for yourself how it will play.

Beware of spinmeisters who single out lesser important issues and try to tell you how these issues will help Democrats. That indeed would be devious tactic, but certainly luminaries such as New York Senator Chuck Schumer are already engaged in (I saw him doing just that Sunday; I believe it was on Meet The Press Sunday, and no--Chuck Todd never challenged him on his selective use of polling data).

The economy ranks number one in the Gallup survey. The Republican advantage has moved from five points in April to 11 points in late September. On the number four issue, handling Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, Republicans enjoy a 19 point advantage.

Gallup provides some detail on the question of the economy.

Trend: Party Advantage on the Economy Ahead of Midterms


For the other issues, I'm going to type out the results beginning with the ones deemed most important. If you don't want to take my word for it, here's a link to the Gallup story (which I've been carrying around with me for the past three weeks; at last I can get rid of it). Save yourself the effort; trust me.

1) The economy--88% consider important issue--Republican edge +11 (it was +12 just prior to the 2010 election

2) Good jobs--86% consider issue important--Republican edge +1

3) Federal government functioning--81% consider important--Republican edge +8

4) Islamic militant situation in Syria and Iraq--78% consider important--+19 Republican edge

5) Equal pay for women--75% consider important--Democratic edge +38

6) Handing federal deficit--73% consider important--Republican edge +20

The parties basically split on how they would handle two issues in the middle, taxes and foreign policy, in terms of importance.

Among the issues considered less important (in other words, issues which will not drive voter turnout nearly as much):

Immigration--Republicans +5

Obamacare (Affordable Care Act)--Democrats +2

Income differential--Democrats +12

Abortion and contraception--Democrats +13

Climate change--Democrats +20

U.S. Voters Give GOP Edge vs. Dems on Handling Top Issues

These results are from a Sept. 25-30 poll in which Gallup asked ... and all three rank well below the top issues. Bottom Line. Republicans lead Democrats ...


Pollster Andy Smith Joins Me In The NH House Ballpark


When it comes to predictions, it's nice to have company.

My most recent number for the 400 seat New Hampshire House, as recalibrated after the September primary, was 250 Republicans and 150 Republicans.

A Republican numbers crunching friend of mine went one better. She has it at 263R-137D, but the big news is that the highly respected Andy Smith of UNH and the WMUR Granite State Survey, as reported by Kathleen Ronayne of the Associated Press Monday, is now in with a number of 247R-153D. That's down slightly from a month and a half ago when Smith told the Monitor that Republicans would have an advantage in the 264-136 range.

Close enough.

While I've changed my U.S. Senate prediction, adding two more Republican seats to make it 54-46 come January, I'm sticking with my 250-150 New Hampshire House number.

Here's how Ronayne explains it--

"Nationally it's likely to be a strong for Republicans who could be swept to office in a wave of opposition to Democratic President Obama. Data from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows the state Legislature is poised to ride that wave. Analysis of past results paired with generic ballot polling for the House--using parties but no candidate names--suggest the Republicans could end up with 247 seats to 153 for Democrats--roughly a 60 seat swing, said Andy Smith, director of the center. The same generic ballot shows Republicans could pick up seats in the Senate as well."

My only quibble would be that if you use 181 (the number of seats Republicans captured in November, 2012), the move up to 147 would actually be a 66 seat gain. I always feel it's more valid to use the last election as a starting point, rather than the current House make-up which includes numerous vacant seats.

I'm actually taking a final look at the New Hampshire Senate and just might be lowering the Republican number from 15 down to 14 seats. More details by Friday.

My methodology is different than that of pollster Smith. I've actually looked at individual House and Senate races. The complete list of the 50 House seats I expect to change hands is still available in a blog at posted back on October 1.

Here's a link to that.


New Hampshire House Projections--+71 R (250R-150D)


Shaheen's Boorish Behavior Continues

As if here peevish and petulant behavior during last Thursday's debate on NH1 and CNN weren't bad enough, Sunday morning New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen picked up right where she left off at a religious institution in fact. Recall last week how I reported that Shaheen during the debate was often caught smirking, grimacing, frowning, and sneering, and generally acting like Al Gore circa 2000.

While I didn't make it to Temple Adath Yeshrun in Manchester for Sunday morning's candidate forum, I've seen two media accounts and will share them with you...if for no other reason than to add to the body of evidence that Shaheen seems to be becoming unhinged.

Here's how Union Leader reporter Doug Alden described Shaheen's conduct--

"Shaheen more than once shook her head in disagreement during the comments by Brown, then took it further by speaking up to dispute part of Brown's closing statements. The interruption drew shouts of 'rude!' from members of the audience and overshadowed whatever point Shaheen hoped to make."

As you'll discover in another account below, Shaheen apparently felt the need to claim the Chamber of Commerce is a Koch-backed organization. To interrupt a closing statement just might rank as a new low in politics, and for someone with Shaheen's experience to sink so low says something about the pressure she's under.

What she doesn't want the public to know, of course, is that she's received plenty of special interest money, similar to Koch money. Apparently what's good for the goose only angers the least when the Missouri native is involved.

Here's another report, with a video link so you can watch the episode and judge for yourself.

Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was jeered with cries of “Rude!” Sunday ...


U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) speaks to reporters at a campaign stop at the Firefly American Bistro in Manchester, New Hampshire September 29, 2014. Senator Shaheen received the endorsement of the NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire PAC.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR488BH  

‘RUDE!’: Shaheen Jeered At Debate After Interrupting Scott Brown [VIDEO]

Photo of Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

      Patrick Howley is an investigative reporter for The Daily Caller.

Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was jeered with cries of “Rude!” Sunday after she interrupted her Republican opponent Scott Brown’s closing debate remarks to make a statement about the Koch Brothers.

After Brown asserted that he was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Shaheen butted in to call the Chamber a “Koch-funded organization.” Members in the crowd yelled “rude” at her. Brown received a round of applause moments later for criticizing Shaheen’s lack of decorum.