Rep Steve Vaillancourt


22 Incumbent State Reps Ousted In NH Primary

People have been emailing me with the question about losing incumbents in last week's primary, and I wanted to wait until I was sure to release the data.
It appears that 19 incumbent Republicans, for various reasons including attacks by the more conservative elements in their own party, and three Democratic incumbents were ousted, a number which I would deem in the normal range.
Two Democrats (Helen DeLoge of Concord and Chris Serlin of Portsmouth) lost because they had to face other incumbents due to redistricting.  The third, Jenna Roberts of Durham lost when five incumbents were running for five seats and were joined by former Representative and Finance Chair Marjorie Smith.
Thus, Democrats were not eating their own.7
Of the six Republicans most targeted for extinction, three survived and three were defeated, a .500 percentage which is good if you're shooting three pointers but pretty pathetic if you're shooting free throws.
With as much money as right wing organizations were able to pour into their venomous attacks, including money from the Koch brothers group, free throws might be a more appropriate analogy yet Priscilla Lockwood, of Canterbury, Susan Emerson, of Rindge, and Tim Copeland, of Stratham all held on to win albeit by only eight votes in the case of Copeland, one of the anti-right to workers targeted by his own party.
Here's what I've done.  I've looked up the HRA score for the 22 losers.  This is the House Republican Alliance, the conservative organization which rates all Reps on nearly every important vote.
Look at these and you are sure to agree that it wasn't just those with low HRA scores (some dare call them RINOs) who were defeated, but just as many with high HRA scores.  Thus, it would NOT be accurate to say the more moderate Republicans were the only ones eliminated.
But don't take my word for it.  Here are the numbers for ousted Republicans.
Elaine Swinford, Barnstead (Criminal Justice Chair!)--86
Peter Boster, Alton (targeted)--56
Richard Dwinell, Cheshire 11 (three incumbents running for only two seats)--70
Bill Remick, Lancaster (targeted)--45
Russell Day, Goffstown--64
Laura Gandia, Litchfield (a true conservative but not for right to work; she lost by only eight votes, a real shocker, and she told me at the Unity Breakfast that she is devastated)--82
Barry Palmer, Nashua--79
Jonathan Maltz, Hudson--95 (much higher than His Vileness who survived!)
Randy Brownrigg, Hudson--82 (also higher than the surviving Vileness)
Jerry Bergevin, Manchester--86 (the only Manchester incumbent to lose--it was misreported on the Secretary of State's web site earlier; Jerry is a rabid social conservative but I found him to be a man of honor unlike some who won!  He lost to current Rep Swank and former Rep Hirschmann)
Tony Soltani, Merrimack 21--75 (anti right to work and anti-O'Brien)
Joanne Ward, Stratham--78
David Welch, Rockingham 13--78 (a real stunner; former Criminal Justice Chair, word is that pro gun people targeted him since he had the audacity to oppose them once or twice after being with them for years on most issues!)
Marie Sapienza, Rockingham 34--93
Glenn Ritter, Rockingham 16--96!
Karen Hutchinson, Londonderry--80 (however, her attendance was very bad due to an illness)
Donna Mauro, Rockingham 7--90
Kirsten Schultz, Strafford 21--78
Julie Brown, Rochester--33 (heavily target, she had the lowest HRA score among Republicans and lost by more than a two to one margin to fellow incumbent Cliff Newton)
Susan Emerson was the most targeted.  She showed me eight mailings "they" did against here, including one which pictures her as part of the Obama-Pelosi-Barney Frank! team!   Fortunately for Susan, as Priscilla Lockwood noted in a media report, it's not as easy to knock someone out with vile tactics in a small town as in a big city where candidates are not as well known.
In at least one instance (Remick), I am moving the seat from likely Republican to likely Democrat since the strongest Republican was beaten in the primary.  I'm calling this the "I Am Not A Witch" syndrome.  Remick could have beaten Evlyn Merrick in the general, but now she will win (good; I like her a lot; but then I liked Remick as well).

Holy Slur Batman! Is This Bobby Burns' Idea Of Unity?

The recount is over and as expected, Incompetent Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns has held on to win the Republican nod in a close three way race for Executive Councilor in District 4.  He was ahead of Senator Tom DeBlois by 99 votes and businessman Chuck Rolecek by a few hundred when the recount was called.
But that's tantamount to burying the lead.
Here's the real story.
As I was driving from my home in South Manchester to the party's Unity Breakfast in Bedford last Thursday morning, I happened to tune in Rich Girard's morning chat show (the station is so weak, I have problems picking up the city north of th city, but it was coming in loudly and clearly on Brown Ave).
Girard's guest was the presumptive Republican winner Burns.  Even as Republicans were pulling into the Unity breakfast parking lot, there was Bob Burns slurring both the Republican opponents he had beaten two days before.  He tried to avoid the subject, but Girard lured him right into it.
Burns took a shot at Rolececk as being part of the Millenium company trying to bring expanded gambling (slots) to Rockingham Park.  That was just after he blasted Tom DeBlois for overcharging the state on rental properties.
I'm not saying either of those charges is either accurate.  One with an ounce of political sense, however, would think that even if Burns leveled those charges to help win the primary, he would be smart enough to shut up about them in the wake of a close election.  Certainly, the word will get back to DeBlois and Rolecek if it hasn't already.  After all, I couldn't have been the only one listening to the broadcast.
The district 4 seat, currently held by Ray Wieczorek, is now very much in play, and I wouldn't be surprised if Democrat Chris Pappas pulls it out.  The district is less Republican due to redistricting, and although a Republican candidate should still be favored, a Republican candidate who continues to attack his primary opponents can hardly be favored. 
Pappas, who was defeated by Burns for country treasurer in the GOP sweep year of 2010, has signs up all over south Manchester.
As a member of the Hillsborough County Executive Committee, I worked with both treasurers in recent years.  There can be no doubt that Pappas was vastly superior to the incompetent Burns.
No, that's not an endorsement.  Just a non-partisan statement of fact, and if you don't believe me, just ask any other Rep, either Republican or Democrat on the Executive Committee.
But that would be another story, and this one was supposed to be about the lack of unity Burns seems to be engendering.  If DeBlois or Rolecek endorses him after hearing those comments, it will certainly be no more than a lukewarm nod done for party unity. 
He doesn't even deserve that.



O'Brien "Bullits" Kill His Own Endorsee

Let's talk about "bullets".
No, I don't mean those deadly substances fired from guns.  I'm referring to political "bullets", and New Hampshire is perhaps the best place to broach the subject because we have so many races in which more than one candidate wins.
Let's take a State Rep race with two winners for example.  A "bullet" would be a vote for only one of the two candidates.  Thus, a voter is wasting his or her second vote.  Why?  Because he or she is so enamored with one particular candidate that he or she wants to guarantee that person wins.  Voting for a second choice might, the bulleters surmise, cause their favorite to lose.
In other words, a candidate can ask his supporters, "Can you give me a bullet?"
This is what the late Leo Pepino used to do in Manchester Ward 4.  Many is the time that other Republicans came out on the losing end because of Pepino bullits in November.  Bullets can cost a party the second or third seats in certain districts.
However, they can also come into play in primary races as was apparent in the State Rep race last Tuesday in Speaker Bill O'Brien's two member district of Mt. Vernor and New Boston.  Three Republicans were running for the two seats, and any salient analysis of the race can lead to only one conclusion--Bill O'Brien was so concerned that he might be knocked out that he asked his supporters for "bullets"...this despite the fact that he had endorsed Mt. Vernon Selectman John Quinlan for the second seat.
It doesn't take a political genius to figure this out.  O'Brien wound up with 700 votes; his former chief of staff Bob Mead (not endorsed by O'Brien) came in a distant second but by a large margin over the third place finisher and loser Quinlan, 478-326.
In other words, by asking supporters only to vote for him, O'Brien ensured the death (politically speaking of course) of the very person he chose to knock Mead out.
Truly, you just can't make this stuff up.
Now, let's say that O'Brien and Mead are both concerned that one of the Democrats will get enough votes to capture one of the two seats in November.  Then, both O'Brien and Mead may well be concerned that he will come out on the losing end, and both might ask for "bullets".
Guess what could happen?
You're way ahead of me.  This strategy, born out of hubris and the quest for bragging rights, could cause them both to lose; it could cause both Democrats, who most likely won't be asking for "bullets", to win.
Compare the huge gaps between O'Brien, Mead, and Quinlan in the Republican primary to the totals for the unopposed Democrats--538 votes for Woodbury, 483 for Jencks.  Rest assured, they won't be asking for "bullets" come November 6.
The problem with bullets is that they can always backfire, a

Republicans Ignore Gay Marriage; Push Right To Work At Unity Breakfast

With the decision by anti-gay marriage Rep David Bates of Windham and the death of Leo Pepino, the other leading opponent of the issue, many were surprised when Speaker Bill O'Brien revealed on public radio earlier this summer that he remains intent on pushing for repeal.
Apparently, Mister Speaker got the message from other Republican leaders to put the lid on such talk.  After all, in an expected close race, Mitt Romney and Ovide LaMontagne cannot afford to lose each and every vote of gay New Hampshire citizens and their ardent supporters.
With the latest polls showing opposition to repeal of gay marriage running at more than two to one, neither O'Brien nor LaMontagne broached the subject at this morning's unity breakfast at the Manchester Country Club.  Gay people know quite well that LaMontagne is very much against gay marrige.  In fact, many noticed how the aforementioned gay hunter Bates was standing next to him during Tuesday night's victory ceremonies.
The thought of Bates in a LaMontagne administration is abhorrent to those who fought to pass gay marriage in the first place.
Most likely it will not be enough for Ovide to silence himself on O'Brien on this issue in the coming weeks.  He and GOP leadership will need to assure the public that they will neither push for repeal nor place Bates in a cushy high paid job.
Talk at the unity breakfast was of jobs, taxes, and the economy.
Oh yes, Ovide mentioned that he will attempt to get right to work legislation onto his desk for something John Lynch refused to deliver, a signature.
It was a Kafkaesque moment for me personally since Republicans attacked me in my primary and left alone my Republican opponent former firefighter Mark Proulx who was a leader in the anti-right to work movement (I favored right to work and a veto override)
Go figure.  If Republicans want to focus on jobs and right to work, why would they attack me for my pro gay marriage stance and leave anti right to worker Proulx, the kind of person they would need to get rid of in a close call situation (which it is sure to be)?
It makes no sense, but then lots of things make no sense these days.
Several right to work opponents (including Tony Soltani, Bill Remick, Peter Bolster, and former Criminal Justice Chair David Welch) were targeted and defeated by their Republican brethren Tuesday, but apparently in their haste to oust me (an unsuccessful effort), they left Proulx alone.
Even with a 298-102 advantage in the House this past year, Republicans could not muster two-thirds to override the veto.  Most likely (with Proulx and the Quandts and their ilk most likely to be back), Republicans would need 240 or so House members to get the measure to LaMontagne's desk.
Even with the huge advantage, Republicans could not pass gay marriage repeal.  In fact, at the end of the day, a few more Republicans opposed repeal than voted for it.  That's why O'Brien's earlier comments were especially troubling.  If you couldn't get it passed with a 298-102 majority, what sane person would make it a priority with assuredly lesser numbers next year? 
It makes no sense.

Next NH Governor Will Oppose The Death Penalty

Twice within the last 14 years, the New Hampshire House has voted to repeal the death penalty only to have the issue fail further down the line, once through the veto pen of Governor Jeanne Shaheen (who, along with then Rep Ray Buckley was about the only elected Democrats in the state to support capital punishment), once in the Senate.
Come next year, anti-death penalty advocates in New Hampshire (and a considerable number of Replicans, albeit not a majority are in this group) will have their best chance ever to enact the repeal.
For different reasons, both Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide LaMontagne are on record as opposing the death penalty, so it would most likely become law if votes can be mustered in the House and Senate.
Ovide, along with no small number of pro life Republicans (like Rep. Kathy Souza from Manchester Ward 4) oppose the death penalty in an admirable quest for consistency--if you oppose killing with an abortion, they believe we should not be killing with capital punishment either.
This puts Ovide clearly at odds with Republican Speaker Bill O'Brien who actually rammed through an extension of the death penalty this past session.  However, if Democrats make major gains as expected, enough Republicans would join them to form a majority,  For example, Judiciary Chair Robert Rowe, a former judge, has always opposed the death penalty; he told me this morning at the Republican unity breakfast.
Filing begins Monday for incumbents who won their primary contests; expect a death penalty repeal to be filed sooner rather than later.
Former Hampton Rep Rennie Cushing, whose father was murdered, has spoken out eloquenty against the death penalty in the past.  With Rennie not present this past session, I noted on the floor how my father was also murdered; back in the mid-50s (I have no recollection of him), but I have always opposed the death penalty which is banned in every civilized country in the world.  My friends in Europe never could figure out how we still resorted to it--the wild west mentality, I always tried to tell them.
With nearly every Democrat against the death penalty (and Raybo no longer has a vote), I would expect repeal to pass the House.  Would either Governor Hassan or LaMontagne expend political capital to get it through the Senate?
That's an interesting question, one we very well could see answered next year.