Rep Steve Vaillancourt


It's Officials; It's 221-179 D And 13-11R

After a seemingly unending series of recounts, it's official.

Republicans hold their 13-11 advantage in the New Hampshire Senate, and Democrats lost a seat in recounts to go down to a 221-179 advantage in the NH House (not at all a close margin as GOP Chair Wayne MacDonald tried to portray it at the GOP caucus--beware of party spinmeisters on both sides!).

As sort of a joke, I've told at least three Republican Senators, "You're the most important person in the state these days."

Actually one GOP senator could bolt on a given issue (a bill passed in the House, for example), and the matter would fail because a 12-12 tie would mean defeat, so as long as Senate President Peter Bragdon holds his 13-member caucus together, Governor Maggie Hassan and the Democrats in the House can neither inflate revenue estimates (remember they were off by $300 million one year when they were in control last time) nor go on a spending binge nor repeal "stuff" passed the past two years.

Of the 23 recounts, two results changed, but only one involved a switch in party control.  One Littleton Republican Rep (up by two after the first count) ended up losing by two to another Republican in the recount.

The only part change involved a Republican winning the recount in the Newmarket-Newfields area; a 12-15 vote deficit turned into a 12-15 vote lead; don't ask me how since I believe the change was in Newmarket, a machine-count town.

In working on some recounts the past week, I was not surprised to see few votes changed; the machines are really extremely accurate and anyone who suggests going back to the hand count days just doesn't know what he or she is talking about.

I was rather amazed at just how neat people were in marking their ballots.  The number of questionable calls (in other words, votes in which intent was in doubt) was very low; I'd say the intent was clear in more than 99.99 percent of the cases.

For the first time ever, I was involved in a recount; although I was ahead by only 15 votes out of 5000 cast, I was never worried; I ended up winning by 18.  It was a machine-count ward, with no need for humans to add columns together, as were many of the recounts.

You can check out the official recount totals on the Secretary of State's web site.  One cannot help but have nearly unbounded confidence in our election processes after witnessing one or more of these recounts.  Everyone has a right to a recount in a close race, but don't expect a change in results...except in a very close race...or peculiar situation (such as Newmarket).


A Big Thumbs Up To Red State Blue State (This American Life #478) And Sarah Koenig 

At last, I had the chance to listen to Sarah Koenig's NPR report on the New Hampshire political scene.  Entitled Red State, Blue State, it runs about 35 minutes and is well worth the listen.

As someone deeply involved in the happenings of the past two years, I didn't expect to learn much new, but in fact I did.  For example, little did I know that during the "Sieg Heil" moment on the House floor, a press conference was being held in the lobby of the legislative office building.  The goal was to introduce a new organization of Republican and Democratic moderates coming together.  Apparently right in the middle of remarks from a former state senator, reporters left the press conference to witness the high drama on the House floor.

I never realized that.

Sarah Koenig allows me time to tell the "Sieg Heil" story although she doesn't seem to believe my contention that it was never meant as a reference to Hitler (IT WAS NOT!).  She does mention that I lived in Berlin, Germany for a year.  She doesn't get into what Sieg means most to me...the Siegesaulle which is the Victory (Sieg) column (Saulle) in the middle of the vast park, the Tiergarten in Berlin, the area by the way where candidate Obama gave his speech to hundreds of thousands of Berliners in the summer of 2008.

Sieg Heil.

The great thing about Sarah's story is its structure. It builds momentum like a drama.  Thus, it's more than a simple report on New Hampshire politics.

Another thing I didn't know was how Speaker Bill O'Brien, not liking the Criminal Justice Committee's vote to kill the bill terming TSA screeners sex offenders, actually came across the road and coerced Republicans into changing their votes.  Former Representative and highly respected David Welch admits that he was rather ashamed at what he did.

In retrospect, it's really not surprising.  The criminal justice committee was rather dysfunctional for most of the session, but it's clear now that it wasn't really the fault of committee members and chair former Rep Elaine Swinford, but rather Billy the Bully who time and again came between what the committee thought was right and what he wanted it to do. 

Sarah's show runs the gamut from the ridiculously funny (Rep Tasker dropping his gun on the floor during a committee hearing) to the truly sad and near tragic (the treatment of Rep Susan Emerson and Concord Monitor reporters).

A bit of music carries the story along, and oh yes, O'Brien is given plenty of time to tell his side of the story.

Despite hours of taped interviews, Sarah mostly uses her own narrative, but you get the feeling that what she learned in the interviews allowed the story to proceed so well.

My only quibble is that in recounting some public opinion polls at the end, she contends the legislature was against the majority of the public on gay marriage.  In fact, it was only the O'Brien faction of the legislature that went against public opinion.  Let us never forget that a large majority of the Legislature (including a small majority of House Republicans) voted not to repeal gay marriage.

For that to be the only quibble with such a monumental undertaking, here's a big thumbs up to Sarah Koenig (Concord Monitor reporter back in the late nineties) and This American Life (number 478).

Here's some information I downloaded from google.

Nothing in Moderation.

A portrait of what it looks like when politics gets polarized, and how hard it is for people in the middle to hang on. Producer Sarah Koenig explains what happened when a wave of Republican politicians swept to power with a three-to-one majority in 2010. New Hampshire’s a small state, and the shift to a more divisive in-your-face kind of politics happened very quickly, so it’s possible to see exactly what’s gained and lost when that happens. (30 1/2 minutes)

Update 11/7/12: Our story ended with a question: Is this an aberration, or is this the new New Hampshire? Yesterday we got an answer — and it demonstrates how the state's huge House of Representatives is so very representative, so responsive to shifts in public mood. After giving Republicans a three-to-one majority in the House and Senate in 2010, voters have swung the other way. Here's what we know so far: Early numbers have the Democrats taking 217 seats to the Republicans' 177, with six seats still undetermined. Speaker Bill O'Brien won his House seat, but he won't be speaker again, because Republicans not only lost their majority, they lost the House entirely. Reporters in New Hampshire are saying that Bill O'Brien won't be seeking any leadership position at all.Politics

Song: "This Land Is Your Land", Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings


Both Party Chairs Should Just...Well...SHUT UP!

For the sake of returning civility to the New Hampshire House now that Billy the Bully has bitten the dust, chairmen of both parties ought to consider sticking a sock in it.

That means both Republican Chair Wayne McDonald and Democratic Chair Raymond Charles Buckley.

The dust had barely settled from the races in the two party caucuses last week when both chairs decided that they had to weigh in with an injection of venom into the body politic (Hey, Raybo; he Wayne, leave it to those of us in the blogosphere for venom!).

Buckley, in trying to denigrate Republicans, tried to label Gene Chandler as a Tea Party Republican.

Get real, Raybo.  Gene Chandler is about the farthest thing from a Tea Party Republican you can find.  I might be termed a Tea Partier.  In fact, I am proud of that label especially since the Tea Party stands for three things and three things only.  The right wing social crap is nothing the Tea Party espoused; merely those who tried to usurp the Tea Party movement and bastardize it (people like O'Brien, Baldassaro, Tamburello, etc ad infinitum). I firmly believe in all three Tea Party platform planks (following the Constitution; controlling spending instead of adding more trillions of deficits; and free enterprise capitalism).  Most Americans do.

However, Raybo clearly was attempting to smear Gene Chandler with the social crap, something Chandler was never a party to.

McDonald, as if to one up Raybo (one can never one up such a zealot) immediately came out with a charge that Terri Norelli, the Democratic choice for Speaker, was linked to Dan Eaton's corruption.  While it's true that Norelli never removed Eaton from a leadership position while she was Speaker, it is unfair to link her to the Eaton scandal.  Now, if she chooses to place Eaton back in a leadership position now, that's another matter, but both party chairs would do us all a favor by calling off the dogs...if only for a few months.

With partisan hacks like Buckley and McDonald at the helm, no wonder people at large are turned off by the political process.  Raybo and Wayne had a chance to start anew with a modicum of graciousness. 

They both failed miserably and really ought to apoligize for their boorish behavior.



Tucker Rather Ungracious In Defeat

This blog (that would be I, your humble correspondent) has learned that Republican Represenative Pam Tucker was less than gracious after her loss to Gene Chandler in the race for minority leader last Thursday.

Sources say that Tucker stormed out of the caucus.

Normally, the loser in such instances will stand up to offer a motion to make the vote unanimous.

Tucker failed to do that, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of many who were there.

You may recall that earlier this year, Tucker lost a race for New Hampshire national committeewoman.  Was she as petulant after that setback?

In my private conversations over the weekend, the gist was, "She's trying to move up too fast."

After serving only one term, Tucker became Billy O'Brien's Deputy Speaker.

Apparently she thought she was a shoe-in Thursday.

I never thought so, just as I thought Terri Norelli was never in danger in the race with David Campbell on the Democratic side.  Sources say that Campbell was the perfect gentleman...unlike Tucker not being the perfect lady in her loss.


This Week's Trivia--Presidential Skinny Dip

As part of his daily fitness regimen while in office, which President was known to skinny dip in the Potomac River on a regular basis?

Hint--While there's no record that he did it, his intinery could lead us to believe that he had also swum in the Amstel in Amsterdam, the River Spree (or the Havel) in Berlin, and the Neva in St. Petersburg.

All right, let's make it multiple choice.

A--John Quincy Adams

B--James Polk

C--Franklin Pierce

D--Millard Fillmore

E--James Buchanan

The only one who served diplomatic stints in the Netherlands, Prussia, and Russia would be John Quincy Adams so the answer to the Potomac swimmer is A, JQA.  If any other Presidents did so, I haven't heard.  JQA, of course, served 20 years or so in Congress after he failed to get re-elected President in 1828 (beaten by whom?  Andrew Jackson of course).

Ain't history fun?

I'm nearly finished the fantastic new Ulysses Grant biography by W. H. Brands (The Man Who Saved The Union).  There's a new Jeffereson bio just out, not to mention a new book of Kurt Vonnegut letters, and a new Mitch Rapp thriller (cotton candy for the mind) by Vince Flynn.

Now that the election is over, I'm weaning myself off the news, allowing more time in the reading room.

Here's the proof (from Google).

  • President Adams regularly swam nude in the Potomac River. Anne Royall, the first American professional journalist, knew of Adams' 5 A.M. swims. After being refused interviews with the president time after time, she went to the river, gathered his clothes and sat on them until she had her interview. Before this, no female had interviewed a president.