Seldom has a pundit been so utterly out to lunch as is WMUR’s James Pindell in his contention in an email I received today that if Bill O’Brien is re-elected to his House seat (presumably in the Mt. Vernon/New Boston district), it is hard to see how he (O'Brien) won’t be re-elected Speaker.
Pindell, who either alone or with Channel 9 actually charges for such misdirected "insight", uses the endorsement from former House Speaker Gene Chandler as proof of O’Brien’s untouchability.
In fact, both the Chandler and Lynn Ober endorsement have elicited snickers (if not outright howls of laughter) in the State House corridors.
Here are two Republicans who’ve spent much of their time the past two months quietly building up support for their own candidacies. Now that they have been coerced on to the O’Brien bandwagon, only a naïf would seriously think they are abandoning their own hopes.
This is clearly a cynical inside power maneuver that is far less than meets the eye.
I usually don’t name sources, but in this case, he insists I use his name, so I will comply. Ken Gidge, D-Nashua, tells me that he went up to Chandler when he heard the news about Chandler being on the O’Brien re-elect team. Chandler’s response as he turned to walk away, “That’s a long time away.”
That was probably the perfect response. Just because Gene Chandler and Lynn Ober and three other Republican incumbents seem to be on the O’Brien team now does not mean that they won’t be running against him or supporting someone else running against him come November.
It wasn’t that long ago that another former speaker, Doug Scamman, appeared to be solidly behind the candidacy of the late Mike Whalley for Speaker and then lo and behold, Scamman received the support of all Democrats and 50 or so Republicans to knife Whalley in the back and become Speaker (December, 2004).
So many scenarios could play out that any true insider must be amazed at Pindell’s failing to see them and to note them for his readers.
While long ago, I learned to never say never, I would rate the odds of O’Brien being back in the Speaker’s chair next year as close to zero.
Scenario number one—Democrats take control and elect either Terie Norelli or David Campbell Speaker. I’m still working on my district by district projections, and even though Andy Smith tells me Republicans are likely to maintain some type of control, I would rate the odds of a Democratic takeover at about even right now.
Scenario number two—Democrats pick up 70-80 seats so that the new House is something in the range of 220 Republicans and 180 Democrats. Certainly the 180 Democrats would make a coalition of 40 or 50 Anybody But O’Brien Republicans (some people are already counting them—lets call them ABOBs—we could name them here but then retaliation from a vindictive lame duck Speaker would surely be swift) to place a different Republican (not named O’Brien—maybe even Chandler or Ober) in the Speaker’s chair.
Scenario number three—Let’s say Democrats come within a half dozens seats of taking control. Let’s say it’s 205 Republicans and 195 Democrats. Under that scenario, we could see a minority Speaker. Certainly five or ten Republicans (maybe even those who get elected on both sides of the ballot—again names will be withheld here to protect the innocent) would be willing to join Democrats in electing a Democratic Speaker.
The only scenario in which O’Brien becomes Speaker again is if Republicans should maintain overwhelming control—with more than 250 or 260 seats. Odds of that happening are close to zero!
So no matter what Pindell opines, I say it’s bye bye Lame Duck O’Brien, and let the real race begin.
Rather than focus on the five people who O’Brien named to his re-elect team, perhaps we should focus on who was NOT in the group.
Deputy Speaker Pam Tucker, a Perry for President supporter, was not. Oh yes, that would be the same Pam Tucker who, with Bill O’Brien’s strong endorsement, lost to moderate Republican Julian Bergeron, of Keene, for Republican National Committeewoman this past weekend.
That must certainly be seen as a rejection of O’Brien even among the most faithful of GOP members. My sources say that Tucker might have won had she not taken a walk on the gay marriage vote a few weeks back. I never noted it at the time, but apparently, she left the room on the critical vote, thus angering a handful of conservative Republicans who decided to abandon her for Bergeron. Talk about irony! Right win fanatics turn on their own and get a moderate elected!
You just can’t make this stuff up.
Also conspicuously absent from Team OB were any of the Republican House leaders, D.J. Bettencourt and those who surround him. Maybe they’re part of the ABOB coalition.
Dan Tamburello, first-year Republican from Londonderry, was among the five, but his attendance record has been so spotty (a quick count reveals that he's missed 120 roll call votes so far this year, and if I can find that, you can be sure Ray Buckley can) that Tamburello better concentrate on getting himself re-elected before he ventures too far out on the OB limb. Ah yes, I can see the flyer now, "No Show Reps For OB".
Ways and Means Chair Steve Stapanek (surely there are no skeletons in that closet which Democrats like Raybo and kathythes could rattle are there?) is on Team OB.
Hmmm…I can just see the campaign flyer now...but it would be needlessly cruel to go into it here. I’m sure Raybo has it already in mind. “_W_s for OB!”
The fifth of the five is Salem's Merilinda Garcia whom I happen to both like and respect (she loaned me the book on breaking into Auscwitz), but she's also somewhat tainted by being the Republican who was quickly appointed to Finance when Lee Quandt was removed. (It's always a sign of off-handedness to move onto a committee under such circumstances...we can only wonder who else has so dishonored himself or herself). Rep. Garcia also been known to lose in her own district, but then again, so has O'Brien so they share something in common.
The moral of our fable dear children—If you are paying for a subscription to Pindell’s Inside Scoop, save your money. Spend it on something more certain to pay off…a $47 Columbian hooker perhaps.