Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Binnie For Governor? Merrill For Governor?

Media pundits are always more interesting to listen to than political hacks.  Thus, it was a special treat when the Manchester Chamber of Commerce served up four media analysts at last week's legislative dinner.

To a man (and woman), they all seemed shocked that Ted Gatsas (who was supposed to hire me as his press secretary--only a joke susanthe!) announced a month or so ago that he will not run, that there's still too much to do in Manchester (like keeping the budget in under the spending cap, hopefully).

The four media pundits didn't seem to think Republicans have really fallen in love with Ovide LaMontagne, the most likely nominee in the absense of Gatsas.

None, however, was willing to speculate just who might step up to the plate.

Since then, two names have surfaced, one in reality; one perhaps only in my mind (or the mind of my sources).

Defeated Senatorial candidate, millionaire Bill Binnie is toying with the idea.  While his moderate stand on abortion seemed to turn off many Republicans in the waning moments of the Senatorial primary (won by Kelly Ayotte) in 2010, Binnie could capture enough moderte Republicans to sneak past the tape if LaMontagne and equally conservative (perhaps even more conservative) Kevin Smith split the red meat vote.

Word is that Smith is raising tons of money, so he will certainly syphon off a large share of the right wing fringe vote, and hey, how many right wing fringe voters can there be in the party?

Wearing my Gatsas For Governor hat (a gift from Senator John Gallus), I headed for City Hall when the House session ended early today.  Please, Ted, please, reconsider, I begged.   Apprantely, no means no, at least with Ted, at least for now.

If not Binnie, then how about a former governor?  Maybe it's my mind playing tricks on me, but a source told me that he or she (lets protect anonymity here) ran into the former Governor at church on Easter Sunday.  When he or she expressed lack of enthursiam with the current GOP field and told Merrill that he or she wished he'd run governor again, he reportedly said, "So do I."

If Steve Merrill wishes he'd run, then why not run?  Once a friend of Union Leader publisher Joe W. McQuaid (read Roger Simon's book Show Time for the blow by blow account of how that friendship ended), Merrill was a popular governor, and people were as stunned when he decided not to run again in 1996 (leading to Jeanne Shaheen's whomping of Ovide) as they are now with Gatsas taking himself out of the race.

Pundits, run Steve Merrill up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes!

I no longer think what I write here just goes into a void.  When I mentioned former Union Leader writer John Clayton as a potential candidate (a great rumor), his former paper picked it up and ran with it.  When I blogged here about Bill O'Brien's "Stalinist" tendencies, a radio reporter today asked me to flesh out the term "Stalinist" (I willingly complied of course).   When I blogged that Republicans had hoped to use a pro gambling vote to haul in campaign contributions, it was picked up by a Valley News columnist.

You can always quote me here, media.  I don't want to scoop myself with interviews in other less esteemed outlets,, but once it's here, it's in the public domain.

Maybe I'm not just whistling in the dark here.  If church talk means anything, Steve Merrill is ready to I won't mention the church...that would be too close to giving away a source, but you can probably google it.

Merrill or Binnie?

My money (were gambling allowed in this state) would be on Merrill...although he certainly is no Ted Gatsas.

G4G12.  That's my bumper sticker (Gallus again), and I'm not giving it up, just yet.

Gatsas?  Merrill?  Binnie?  Republicans are not happy with Ovide and Kevin...or John Clayton, but then he's probaby a Democrat. 



Democrats Tar Tea Party With O'Brien

In a press conference prior to this morning's House session, Democratic leader Terie Norelli made clear that her party's strategy for the coming election is to tar all things Republican and all things Tea Party with House Speaker Bill O'Brien who has become known more and more in recent weeks, even in some Republican circles, as an absolute tyrant.

It's unfortunate since Bill O'Brien, on the three issues closest to the hearts and souls of true Tea Partyer members, is totally out to lunch.  In fact, as those who have watched my TV show the past year know, I consider myself a proud Tea Party member, and I've come to distrust everything about Bill O'Brien.

Here are the principles I have always understood the Tea Party to stand for.

1)  Responsible government spending.

2) The free enterprise system.

3) Strict adherence to constitutional principles.

A fourth tenet would most likely be openness in government.

Bill O'Brien fails on all four counts, but it is clear that Democrats intend to wrap O'Brien around the necks of all Republicans (and Tea Party members) and drag us all down.   Even more alarming is that the vast majority of Republican sheep in the House are only too willing to get in line for the coming slaughter.

When it comes to government spending, O'Brien and his shadowy chief of staff Greg Moore are apparently intent on cutting everybody else's budget except their own.  As a true fiscal conservative, I've always believed that you must put your own House in order before you can expect others to do so.  O'Brien's first task as Speaker was to increase staff in his own office.  Speaker Terie Norelli had a chief of staff; while keeping a chief of staff, O'Brien added a policy advisor (Moore who has since gone on to become chief of staff at $85,000 a year).  Bob Mead, who stepped down from his House seat to become chief of staff 16 months ago, was not relieved from duty when Moore replaced him in December.  Mead stepped down to the $65,000 a year position of Republican House staffer, no savings there.

Not only that, but defying all House traditions (if not in fact breaking the law), Mead has been using his taxpayer-paid positon to recruit Republican candidates for office (I have three emails to prove it in case you choose not to take my word for it).  Both Democratic and Republican staffers have always been careful in the past to build a strict wall separating legislative work from political work.  That's not the case with Bill O'Brien.  He prefers that taxpayers pay for what the Republican Party should be doing.  So much for fiscal conservatism.

Lest we forget, it was O'Brien who, in a urinating contest (a flex of his power for the sake of flexing) late last year over the a non-germane marital masters amendment being attached to a Senate bill, cost the state three million dollars.  Just like taking a match to the money.  O'Brien lost the House contest, but the state lost the millions.   So much for fiscal conservatism.

On the free enterprise front, Tea Partiers want to liberate business from onerous government regulations.  O'Brien, however, has attempted to pass special tax break legislation which would benefit one group of businesses while harming another.  That's hardly a free enterprise principle.

As for the Constitution, rather than defend it, O'Brien has attempted to circumvent it at every turn.  When that doesn't work, he simply tramples on it as in the unconstitutional call for a redistrcting override vote last week prior to the veto message being printed in the House calendar.  Realizing that he can't simply ignore the Constitution at will, O'Brien has been in the forefront of numerous bits of mischief to amend the Constitution, most of which have either failed or will fail.  This is hardly a strategy of the Tea Party which believes in living up to the words of our founders. The  O'Brien strategy is to either shred or alter those sacred words of our founders..

That's strike three on Bill O'Brien as to his adherence with Tea Party principles, and we haven't even gotten to the Tea Party advocacy of open government.   O'Brien will do nothing in the open that he cannot accomplish behind closed doors, whether it be redistricting or budgeting or amending bills his own committees have passed.  He brings forward ideas crafted in secrecy and then bullies his huge Republican majority into mindlessly accepting plans most members know little if anything about.

Sad but true.

Leader Norelli noted this unfortunate O'Brien tactic in her press conference; and she was absolutely right in everything she said--except for one thing.

Bill O'Brien has relinquished any claim he might ever have had on being a child of the Tea Party.  If he is such a child, he was certainly born out of wedded bliss.  The Tea Party stork needs delivered him to the wrong address!

However, those niceties won't stop Democrats from wrapping the Tyrant (and Non-Tea Party) Speaker around the necks of all Republicans.

It's so bad that two important Republicans today told me that they expect Democrats to retake control of the House in November.  I've been running district by district numbers, and you know what?  I agree.  I have my predictions for Democratic gains up to 102 for a 204-196 edge come December (and I'm not even counting changes in GOP strongholds like Bedford, Goffstown, Merrimack, Derry, Londonderry, Weare, and Hooksett!).

But that's a story for another blog.

Suffice it to say here that every House session, O'Brien sullies the reputation of Republicans and of the Tea Party.

Voters aren't stupid; they may not follow each and every intricacy, but with the help of Democrats like Terie Norelli, voters get the sense--and rightly so--that something is rotten in the House of O'Brien.  Every time Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt proves that he is a stragner to the truth (and his remarks are printed verbatim in the Journal to prove his tendency...shall we be kind and tell less than the whole he did again today regarding Congressional redistricting), every time this happens, it's just more ammunition to use against Republicans.  

With the ammunition they already have, Democrats are locked and loaded.

Maybe it's time for another "fish rots from the head down letter."


An Executive Council Plan Off Steroids

My first reaction when I saw the Senate's plan for executive council redistricting was that it looked like my plan on steroids.  Now, an amended plan, which I just learned about from President Peter Bragdon, looks more and more like my plan...without the steroids.

The Senate plan called for major surgery on Councilor Ray Burton's Grafton County territory, much more than what I had done.  The new plan apparently restores the towns around Plymouth to Councilor Burton, but still takes away areas around Lebanon and Hanover.

I anxiously wait to see what the tradeoff means for District 3 (Dan St. Hilaire's district), but I assume that district will remain extremely Democratic.

In fact, Valley News reporter John Gregg quoted me accurately a few days ago when he noted, "State Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Manchester Republican active in redistricting (but no longer active on the Finance Committee...whoops...I added that, not Gregg), said he had proposed a plan similar to the Senate's but never got support from House leaders.  He said the Senate proposal creates more compact districts and makes more sense because the Lebanon-Hanover area is more in line as communities of interest (politically leaning, I meant) with Concord than they are with the North Country.  He also acknowledged that politics were at play in the Republican-dominated Legislature (would I lie?), as they are in almost any redistricting plan."

Here's the kicker with Gregg again quoting me accurately, "Here's the honest truth (is there such a thing as a dishonest truth?)--it creates four Republican districts.  It doesn't just protect Wheeler (David Wheeler, Councilor in the current district which includes Nashua and Keene).  It protects whichever Republican is going to run for the Wieczorek seat," Vaillancourt said who also noted that the reconfigured District 5 seat with such towns as Concord, Lebanon, Hanover, and Keene "creates one district that no Democrat could ever lose."

I should have added the usual Democrat could ever lose unless he were caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl!

Good job, John Gregg!

Just wait till you see the new Senate plan, aka my plan off steroids. 

The House is expected to capitulate tomorrow to the Senate's Congressional redistricting plan, aka the one Bass and Guinta agreed upon.  I will argue against it noting that these Congressional districts belong not to Bass and Guinta but to the people of New Hampshire, just like Scott Brown argued that it wasn't Ted Kennedy's Senate district but rather the district for the people of Massachusetts.  We can only wonder whether the Tyrant in the Chair will rule such logic out of order.  He prefers more boring rhetoric.  Hey, what's O'Brien going to do--remove me from the Finance Committee?  Have me thrown in jail?  Shot dead at the podium?


Words To Live By From The Mother Of Four Congressmen

            Martha Benjamin Washburn, at least until the arrival of David McCullough’s new book “The Greater Journey—Americans In Paris”, is undoubtedly one of the more obscure figures in American history who did something that (I dare say) no one else has ever done.

            This woman from the Livermore area of Maine was the mother of not two or three but of four sons who all served in the United States Congress, three at the same time.

            We learn this in McCullough’s book in regard to Elihu Benjamin Washburne (he added the e to the end of the name; he was born September 23, 1816)) who served most honorably as American ambassador to France during one of the most frightening times of that nation’s history, the Franco-American War in 1870 and the four month siege of Paris followed by the days of the Paris Commune in 1871 (even bloodier than days of the French Revolution in many ways).

            Of the more than a dozen profiles of Americans who lived and learned in Paris, the Washburne one was most fascinating to me, all the more so because of his mother who is quoted in the book by words I try to live by, words which apparently have no meaning to seven Manchester Reps who promised to vote to sustain Governor John Lynch’s House redistricting veto and then went back on their sacred word.

            From page 275 of McCullough’s book, dig this crazy passage.

            “She was an ardent reader of the newspapers that arrived by post rider and, like her husband, took great interest in public affairs.  Her pride in their children and how far they could go had no limits.  The foundation that is layed in youth lasts through life, she wrote to Elihu after he headed west.”

            And here’s the kicker sentence.

            Mrs. Washburn taught young Elihu to remember that “if a man’s word is not good, he is good for nothing”.

            Good for nothing!

            That’s how the Manchester Seven should be remembered.

            However, Elihu Washburne certainly heeded his mother’s words.

            “Because there was not food enough for all the mouth to feed on the farm (11 children were born to the Washburns),” McCullough writes, “Elihu was hired out as a farmhand by the time he was 12.

            He moved to Illinois where he served as Congressman for 16 years before being appointed to the position in Paris by President Ulysses S. Grant.  While all other diplomats left France during the war in 1870, he remained behind to do important work under the most difficult of circumstances. 

            Three of his brothers were elected to Congress, from Maine, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  They all took up the antislavery cause and became early enthusiasts of the Republican Party.

            But it was their mother, the great Martha Benjamin Washburn who uttered those words that too many elected officials (and others) have forgotten today, “If a man’s word is not good, he is good for nothing.”

            And now you know the rest of the story.

            But wait, there’s one more Washburne passage from the McCullough book which will add humor to relieve the tension.

            “It happened at about two in the morning of February 6, 1858.  The House had been in session for hours, arguing over slavery, when two representatives, one from the North and one from the South, suddenly began throwing punches.  Others rushed to join the fray, and as reported, ‘Mr. Washburne of Illinois was conspicuous among the Republicans dealing heavy blows.’  Seeing Representative William Barksdale of Mississippi take a swing at Elihu, brother Cadwallader jumped in and grabbed Barksdale by the hair of his head, which proved to be a wig that came off in Cadwallader’s hand.  The astonishment was enough to stop the fight and set everyone laughing.  When Cadwallader returned the wig and Barksdale put it on backward, the merriment grew still greater.  Among their constituents back in the Midwest, esteem for both brothers rose appreciably.”

            A great story but not as great as that one quote from the mother of Elihu and

Cadwallader, “If a man’s word is not good, he is good for nothing.”

            Thanks David McCullough, it’s a great book.

            Should I name the seven here again...I trust you can find them from prior blogs or my TV show, The Liberty Express which airs at 10 p.m. Mondays, 11 p.m. Tuesdays, 9 p.m. Thursdays, and noon Sundays on ManchesterTV23 (always available at

Elihu Benjamin Washburne


RIP, Rick...Coming Soon...RIP, Bill

Nate Silver writes, "Santorum is himself fairly young at 53, so he will have plenty of time to build up his brand name and evaluate his options. Still, it could easily be that the 2012 nomination campaign will prove to be the high-water mark of his political career".
My response: