Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Wednesday
Jun132012

Return Of "Floats" Could Produce Filing Turmoil

            If Manchester is any indication—and I suspect it might well be—as we head toward the finish line in filing for State Rep races, there could be more than a little confusion.

            Since the state was without “floats” for the past decade, many, probably most, people have forgotten about them, but they are back, and while they are certainly necessary, they may be largely ignored.

            Every candidate in a district which is capped with a float has to decide whether to run in the underlying district or to file for the floterial instead.  Since floats cover a larger geographic area, most people tend to think it’s easier to win in the underlying district. 

            That may not necessarily be true, and what seems to be happening, at least in Manchester, is that an excess of candidates are filing in ward races (each Manchester ward gets two Reps as opposed to three currently), thus creating party primaries while seats in the floats seem to be going unfilled.

            I had assumed that the two parties would coordinate these efforts, but that does not appear to be the case in at least some instances.

             A Long Example--      Let’s take Pat Long for example.  The Ward 3 Alderman and incumbent Representative filed earlier this week to run in Ward 3, thus creating a primary for the two seats (incumbents Jean Jeudy and Peter Sullivan had also filed).  As I was noting this in my mind, I went back to check the next day and noted that Long had refilled, getting out of Ward 3 (and the need for a primary) and running for one of the two seats in the float covering wards 1, 2, and 3.

            This was smart strategy, and similar maneuvering may well be required a great deal in the next few days.

             Run, Steve, Run!  In my own Ward 8 for example, Republicans couldn’t even fill the ticket (three seats) two years ago and would most likely have won all three seats had they had the candidates.  This year, however, three people are running for two seats (yes, having convinced Gail Barry to run for Senate, I expect to file Friday for the House again—there really was a great deal of doubt for a long time).  James Webb, who has never won before—I recall he lost in a primary for alderman a while back and tried to run for State Rep two years ago but wasn’t registered properly, probably thinks he has a better chance of winning in Ward 8, but in fact, he most likely won’t make it out of the primary, and he would have a much better chance of winning in the two member float which also includes ward 9 and Litchfield.  That float is so strongly Republican that the party should carry the two seats in November (if they are from Manchester which dominates the district, albeit not by as much as I talked about yesterday for Senate District 18).

            I’m not bragging, just offering the kind of advice the parties need to heed.

             Parochial Indeed!  Speaking of that Senate District, Litchfield Rep George Lambert has apparently dropped out of the race and endorsed Gail Barry, and it seems he has convinced his wife to drop out of the 8-9-Litchfield float, so he can run there.  It still isn’t a good bet for him; two Manchester Republicans should win in the float (former Senator Andy Martel has already filed and is pretty much a sure thing); I doubt if Lambert, either Mr. or Mrs., will survive a primary; either or both should run for the underlying Litchfield seats.

            Someone responded to my blog yesterday by noting sarcastically that Manchester must be rather parochial.  It sure is, but it’s not just Manchester which is rather parochial.  In fact, that’s why we passed the Constitutional Amendment in 2006, so a bigger town (Hudson for example) could not dominate and “steal” the four seats which Pelham deserves.

            That’s why it’s such a tragedy that the House passed a plan which in fact steals from Pelham and which most assuredly means that Manchester will dominate Litchfield in that float.  Like it or not, it’s a fact of life, one which party “sachems” should be considering as they line up candidates these final few days.

            Of course, I realize that parties can’t control everybody—me for example—but they should be looking at the big picture as apparently someone is doing with Pat Long.  He’s sacrificing a sure seat in Ward 3 (the only Republican to win a State Rep seat there that I can remember was Frank Guinta) to run for a float which will most likely be controlled by Democrats, but not necessarily so.

            Let’s look at the West Side of Manchester for example.  Currently, the three wards are grouped together for eight seats (Ward 11 has no Reps).  With redistricting, each ward will get two seats (Democrat Joel Winters is almost certain to win in Ward 11—Gott sei Dank) and the three wards together comprise a two member float.

            I’ve said all along that the venerable and wonderful Irene Messier is nearly certain to win; she’s decided to run in Ward 10.  There can also be little doubt that former Democratic Rep Jane Bieulieau (also in Ward 10) will win; I’ve heard she’s running in the float.

            If it all sounds complicated, that’s because it is, but this is more than a game of inside baseball.  Surviving the primary and lining up forces for the November election is more critical than ever now, and the party which plays its cards right these next few days, not just in Manchester but statewide, will have a decided advantage in what could be a year when we’re headed close to 200-200.

            I say this not as a partisan, but as an analyst.

            It really does matter.

             Bring Back Marjorie--Biggest news on the filing front today is that Durham Democrat Marjorie Smith, first elected the same year as was—1996, is hoping to come back after a two year absence (touring the world, Marjorie?).  This could mean a Democratic primary—how Democrats hate to have primaries!—in Durham where no Republican need apply.  Marjorie could be back as Chair of Finance next year.  Whether she knows it or not, she’s one of my favorite people, even when we disagree (which is most of the time on fiscal—but certainly not on social—issues).  She recommended a great bio of Ataturk; I need more ideas…although this is the summer of baseball.

            Thanks to David Campbell, Nashua Democrat and candidate for Speaker, for loaning me the baseball book…great stories on Leroy Paige and Connie Mack… that would be Satchel and the most venerable of all the lords of the diamond. 

            Here's a trivia question, just a tad tricky.  Which TV sitcom star had the same name as Mack?

            But I digress…

             Any Feathers With That Tarr?--Anybody know anything about Manchester Ward 5 Republican who came in with a hundred dollars in cash to file to run for governor yesterday?  I know a great deal, mostly what I read in the now defunct NH Tribune…but do we really want to go to the Valley Street jail…not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Someone else can relate the story; I pass and only will note that you too can run for Governor…if you’re willing to part with a hundred.

Yes, that would be Lucille Ball.  Her maiden name on "I Love Lucy" was MacGillicuddy, and that of course was Connie Mack's real last name, too long for newspaper headlines so an enterprising reporter shorted it to Mack.  One of his offspring (grandson or great?) will probably lose the Florida Senate race to Democrat Nelson this fall...alhtough he has an outside shot.  His wife, the former Mrs. Sonny Bono, isn't helping any with a California address!  We kew Connie's address for decade after decade...Philadelphia.

Remember Lucille MacGillicuddy as the grape stomper and with the doube-headed (Ethel and Fred) dragon?   They don't make shows like that any more.  But then we have Frasier!  

True baseball fans know that his A's finished dead last much more than in first!
Tuesday
Jun122012

Monitor Questions New Censorship Policy...Of Course, I Respond

From: Annmarie Timmins [atimmins@cmonitor.com]
To: Vaillancourt, Steve
Subject: email policy for lawmakers

Hi Rep. Vaillancourt,

I'm doing a story about Spk. O'Brien's decision to circulate the state email policy to House members yesterday. Although it's a policy written for state employees or people who use state computers, he says it applies to elected officials too.

Any thoughts on that you'd be willing to share?

Shannon Bettencourt, who answered my questions to Greg Moore on this, said all representatives were told about this policy during their orientation. Do you recall hearing about it then?

Thanks,
Annmarie

--
Steve responds—

Orientation applies only to freshmen reps.  I don't believe we had computers back when I was a freshman rep!  Well, we had them but I don't think many people used them here in 1996.

I suspect you are partially responsible for this policy, thanks to your recent reporting...especially when you conflated the f word into a personal communication I had with Rep Commerford.  It was not an email to all--I send my blogs to all, but that email was a personal response to him when he said something rather loathsome to me...something like I have no life.  The type of response I once made to the vile Joe Levasseur when he said he hoped I went to Montreal and dropped dead friendless.  That's the type of remark that Commerford made and deserves a Fuck you.  It was Commerford who sent that to all, or His Vileness, I never did it.  Thus I was surprised when I saw it in your column, but I never pointed in out to you.  I suspect O'Brien was not happy with Jon (not John) Richardson's email either, but can anyone doubt that this policy is aimed squarely at me?  Or am I paranoid?
I really don't understand it because don't most reps have their own non-legislative accounts?  I have one (which I haven't used for years) but could easily go back to it or open up a new one. 


If you really want a quote though, allow me to take us back to Germany.  Sieg Heil!  Erich Honnecher, who was responsible for building the Wall in 1961 although he became dictator on his own later in the decade, was also minister of East German youth.  He was responsible for sending kids out to pull TV antennas off houses of East German citizens trying to get news of the world.  When I lived in Berlin in 1992 (even three years after the wall came down), there were virtually no phones in East Berlin.  In fact, Easterners still had chalkboards outside their apartment doors so people, unable to call them, could leave them messages.  The moral of our fable, dear children, is that totalitarian governments fear a free exchange of ideas, always have, always will (note Egypt last year).  This is yet further proof that Bill O'Brien aspires to be an absolute dictator, totalitarian, or fascist, you choose the description.  I am beyond being shocked at anything he does, but this is clearly another step down the road to fascism.  Dare I repeat, Sieg Heil?

Once again, I share everything I write (except personal responses like the one to Timmy C—I note that you failed to mention him and his slur to me) with all and will continue to do so, whether it means doing it from my own account rather than a legislative account. While I remain somewhat of a Luddite, I believe I know enough people with the technical savvy to circumvent this bit of fascism.
Long Live Lady Liberty.
Death To O'Brien's Tyranny

Dare I post this?  Need you ask?

By the way, I'm hoping to do a Media Watch of CACR 12 coverage (dig that crazy Telegraph headline!).  You mention in your reporting “two” pro CACR Democrats.  All I can find is Ramsey.  Do you mean Lynch (with not vote on this) as the second?
Peace.

Tuesday
Jun122012

Gail Barry (Not I) Could Save District 18 Senate Seat For GOP

Little more than a week ago, I had the District 18 Senate seat, my own district in fact, the one Tom DeBlois is leaving to run for Executive Council, written off to Democrat Donna Soucy...despite the fact that my ranking system, due to Litchfield, has the district as leans Republican--see below.

Then came the announcement last week that lifelong Democrat and labor leader and Ward 9 School Board member Arthur Beaudry was going to enter the fray as an Independent.

Hmm, I thought.  This is sure to pull votes away from Soucy, and this seat is now ripe for a Manchester Republican to win especially if Romney runs well in South Manchester.

I spent much of the past week thinking of the ideal Republican, and two names came to mind--me (that's why I was rather coy over the weekend about announcing my own plans) and Gail Barry from Ward 9.

Don't get me wrong.  I have nothing against George Lambert, the Litchfield Republican who has filed to run as a Republican, but look at the numbers.  Litchfield's population is 8271.  The average Manchester ward is in excess of 9100 people.  Five wards times 9100 equals approximately 46,000.  Last time I checked, 46,000 is a lot greater than 8271.

Plus, Lambert hasn't even finished his first term as State Rep, and he only finished eighth in the field of 13 winners (all Republicans) in Litchfield, Hudson, and Pelham last time.

At least two or three times, I tried to talk him out of filing for this Senate seat.

Gail Barry has run before.  She lost a Republican primary in 2000 to Will Infantine, ironically the same time I was losing a Democratic primary to Dan O'Neil (ah yes, we all remember 2000 well, I'm sure).

Gail is nearly as fiscally conservative as I am (nobody is quite that conservative, but she's close).  She has served as Chairman of the Hillsborough legislative delegation in the past and is currently the clerk.  She is one of county taxpayer's best friends when it comes to keeping the budget under control.  I wish we had a dozen more like her on the Executive Committee.  Gail's HRA score is less than mine, so she must be a tad less conservative than I am fiscally. 

Like me, Gail is no social right winger.  I would call her a social moderate. 

She's also former chair of the Manchester Concerned Taxpayers (whatever happened to them?) and I believe she's involved with Republican women groups as well.

She is most definitely pro right to work. So she should be able to reap that windfall of votes and Soucy splits it with Beaudry.

My first reaction to Beaudry's entry was not to discount him.  I recall well how he accomplished the near impossible--he won the School Board seat the first time as a write-in candidate.

However, that was in a low turnout city election; with the Presidential race at the top of the ticket, expect a very high turnout this year, and although we no longer officially have straight ticket voting, mark my words--many, many people will go on down the line and vote the full party slate.  That means that Beaudy's role will be reduced to spoiler (let's hope he doesn't figure this out and decide not to run--you can be sure Democrats are trying to talk him out of running, but I don't think he's overly fond of the establishment of either party).

Gail would make an outstanding State Senator; and here's the truth.  Had she decided not to run, I was going to run for the Senate seat.  I didn't want to run because I know I would be a lightning rod for attacks, and I have no interest in raising the type of money required for a Senate run.  Also, as I've noted here before, if I decide to do anything, I do it 100 percent, and while I have the time to serve as senator, I really would prefer to spend chunks of that time in other pursuits (like reading late into the night rather than studying bills and financial statements).

When I went to sleep last night, I was prepared to run, but I was overjoyed to hear that Gail is willing to do it.  I will hold signs for her and help all that I can.

There is a rumor today that a third Republican candidate might come forward.  Remember conservative Ward 9 Alderman Mike Garrity whose identical twin brother Pat is a very liberal Democratic Representative?  He's rumored to be interested.  As I recall, he lost the 2002 primary to Andy Martel (also Ward 9) who went on to serve two terms. 

In fact, I thought Andy might be interested in pursuing the Senate seat again, but he filed to run last week for the Manchester Ward 8-9-Litchfield floterial Rep seat.  There might have been some question about time spent in Florida.  As we recall when Fergus Cullen was struck from the Senate ballot, you have to have lived here five consecutive years to run for State Senate, but not for State Rep.

Gail is certainly more than qualified.

My ranking of Senate District 18 comes with a caveat.  These numbers are based on top of the ticket races, and I suspect that a Democrat is stronger the farther down the ticket one goes in Manchester, so it's not as good as it seems for Republicans.  On the other hand, if Ovide LaMontagne is the Republican gubernatorial nominee, he should run especially strongly in South Manchester, to Gail Barry's advantage.

Other than highly Democratic Ward 5 (a low turnout ward), the district is not that bad for a Manchester Republican, and that could leave it up to Litchfield to make the difference.  Riddle me this.  How many votes did Tom DeBlois beat Betsi DeVries by in Litchfield in 2010?  No, not just a few hundred.  Not just several hundred.  Try 1269 votes (2066-797).  DeVries won Ward 5 by only three votes (661-658—note the low turnout), but don’t look for a repeat of that this year.

There were no changes here due to redistricting, so the comparison to ten years ago is especially valid.

District            2012 Rating    2002 Rating

Ward 5           46.36               46.66

Ward 6          53.70               51.16

Ward 7           51.57               49.29  

Ward 8           56.07               54.15

Ward 9           51.55               51.84

Litchfield         59.38               54.14

 

Total              53.70               52.05

 

Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Beaudry!

Tuesday
Jun122012

Barnes Retirement Puts Senate District 17 In Play

            When I saw yesterday that Representative John Reagan, R-Deerfield, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, had filed to run for the District 7 Senate seat, an alarm went off.  This must mean that the venerable Jack Barnes (Red Sox fan extraordinaire—I hear he’s in Miami even as I write this) has decided not the run.

            Bingo.

            You may recall that Barnes “retired” once before and Republican Mary Brown held that seat in his two year absence.  Yes, that would be the same Mary Brown who gravitated from conservatism to a pro income tax stance to run for Governor.

            However, that was a decade ago when virtually any Republican could win in District 17. 

            Here’s the dirty little secret about redistricting.  Probably thinking that Jack Barnes was a shoe-in for re-election, Republican Senate redistricters moved quite a bit of solidly Republican territory and left it almost as a toss-up in a normal year.  Gone, for example, are Sandown, Freemont, Chester, Brentwood, and Danville, all but one rated above 55 on my scale (and three make into the rarefied air of above 60).

            In fact, I have just completed updating all 24 Senate district numbers, and I may as well go through District 17 town by town here.  According to my analysis of how towns in this district shape up versus towns statewide in the five closest elections in the past decade, this district comes out at 52.14-47.86 (50 meaning absolute equality between the parties; anything greater than 50 tilting Republican, anything less tilting Democratic).

            In other words, there’s only a 4.28 percent Republican edge here according to my numbers, certainly good enough to make Jack Barnes a sure thing, but with an open seat, I’m moving this seat from the sure Republican category to slight edge for Republican Reagan (assuming no primary develops).

            In a similar analysis in 2002, I had the Republican edge at 5.34 percent.  If the district had remained unchanged, however, the Republican edge would have gone to 12.72 percent this year.  (As I’ve noted here in the past, Rockingham County is becoming more Republican as the North Country becomes more Democratic).

            In 2010, for example, all five Republicans won in Reagan’s State Rep district (Rockingham 1).  Reagan finished second nearly 400 votes behind top vote getter Frank Case, and only a few votes ahead of the third and fourth place finishers.  Similarly in 2008, Reagan finished second to Case (who has been ill most of the past year).

            Thus, while Reagan could be considered a fairly strong candidate to hold the seat for Republicans, he’s no Jack Barnes.  Another bonus for the GOP is that the Democrat challenger (R.B. Fraher of Chichester) may be well known in party circles, but it’s not a name I recognize.  Do you? If not, then we conceivably could see an even stronger candidate step forward now that the apple cart has been upset.    

            Here’s my chart for District 17.  In a coming blog, I’ll reveal exactly how I arrive at percentage for each district and town.  Pembroke, Allenstown, and Strafford tilt slightly Democratic.  Raymond and Deerfield are the only two strong Republican towns; the remainder is rather neutral.

 

Town               2012  Rating   2002 Rating

Pembroke        47.33               47.54

Chichester        50.27               50.35

Epsom              52.87               53.15

Pittsfield           53.78               50.35

Allenstown        48.43               44.46

Strafford           49.10               46.38

Northwood        51.00               51.76

Raymond          57.53               55.46

Loudon             51.28               51.23

Deerfield           56.37               55.32

 

Total                52.14               ----

 

Now look at the towns removed from the district, all moved to District 23 to shore up the Russ Prescott seat.  With the exception of Epping and Brentwood, these are among the most Republican towns in the entire state, but they are gone from District 17!

 

Chester            64.32               63.36

Sandown           61.13               53.95

Danville            59.08               55.13

Freemont          60.20               57.11

Epping              51.09               49.82

Brentwood         55.45               53.66

 

            Good luck, John Reagan.  Just a few moments ago, I decided to endorse Gail Barry for Senate District 18.  Had Gail decided not to run, I would have been forced to run for that Senate seat, and we could have been seatmates once again, albeit on the other side of the wall.  You and Gail will get along very well!

            There had been a rumor that Reagan was going to run for Rockingham County Commissioner, but Donald Stritch is already being challenged by Phyllis Katsakiores in the Republican primary there.  Who is to say which carries more power, senator or commissioner?  We know which has the bigger salary, commissioner by far!

Monday
Jun112012

Lynch Signs Executive Council Plan

Governor John Lynch has signed into law the House and Senate passed plan for redistricting the five Executive Council seats.

The plan came just shy of a veto-proof majority in the House and it seems to create four Republican districts and one certain Democrat district.  However, Lynch has decided not to draw a line in the sand over this plan.

Word is out that the Republican St. Hillarie will not seek re-election in the Democratic-controlled district which runs from Keene to Concord to Durham (albeit not to Portsmouth as the original House plan had attempted to do).

However, a Democratic primary is shaping up as former Councilor John Shea and Democratic activist Colin Van Osten have both filed for the seat.  The primary will be tantamount to capturing the seat.

Ray Burton isn't expected to face a serious challenge in District 1 which meanders ever farther southward.  Republican incumbents Chris Sununu in the Seacoast (as well as Salem area) and David Wheeler in the Nashua area should be favored (especially since Keene is gone from the Wheeler district).

District 4, in which Ray Wieczorek is not seeking re-election, is slightly more Democratic as it loses Derry and now extends all the way over to Barrington.  However with Goffstown, Bedford, Londonderry (as well as Manchester) in the district, Republican Senator Tom DeBlois should be favored over Democrat Chris Pappas, assuming DeBlois wins his primary against Hillsborough County Treasurer Bob Burns.

Prediction (with a high degree of certainty)--Republicans go from 5-0 control of the Council to 4-1.   

The filing period has proceeded as scheduled here under the assumption that the plan would become law.