Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Hippo Op-Ed Writer Assails House Leadership

In this week's edition of The Hippo (Manchester's popular arts and entertainment weekly which also dabbles into politics), former NH Department of Administrative Services Commissioner (he served under Republican Steve Merrill back in the 90s) weighs in with a scathing attack on New Hampshire House leadership in what has become the talk of the state, powers of the grievance panel.

Never to be confused with a liberal or a Democrat, Duffy states, "The motivation of our elected officials comes into question when we witness the over-reach on matters that, of necessity, are properly handled by our state agencies and/or courts.  The Legislature should not interfere with the welfare of our children under the guises of accountable government."

Duffy, one of the most respected of Manchester elders, previously served as Chairman of the Airport Authority and on the most recent Charter Commission.

He pens on op-ed piece for The Hippo once a month or so. 

He points out that his past experience also includes more than ten years as a CASA/guardian ad litem.

"A particularly serious legislative matter concerns the House Redress of Grievances Committed, formed by the Speaker shortly after taking office, which as recently demanded that the Division of Children, Youth, and Families respond to questions on cases regarding child custody and guardian issues.  When objections were raised by the Attorney General, the committee chair took the initiative to expand the committee's authority to issue subpoenas to the DCYF staff so that they can be interrogated by the committee.  What, you ask is behind all of this?  You need to make that inquiry of your duly elected official representing you in Concord."

In other words, here we have yet another well respected Republican castigating (albeit not be name) Speaker Bill O'Brien.

Duffy does not detail how O'Brien recently coerced a majority of House Republicans to allow the Rules Committee (stacked with O'Brien favorites) to approve subpoena power without a full vote of the House.  Along with less than two dozen other Republicans, I joined Democrats in opposing this blatant increase of power, never before seen in more than 250 years of New Hampshire history.

What we have basically, and these are my words not Patrick Duffy, is legislative tyranny, a committee which belongs back in the days of Salem witch hunts, not 21st century New England (again my words, not Duffy's). This is a committee which should never have come into existence and which most likely will be gone with O'Brien come November.

Quoting Patrick Duffy again, "I can assure you that children are never removed from their homes by DCYF without cause, and in fact it is done only as a last resort.  I can also assure you that confidentiality for children in neglect and abuse case is paramount."

For a legislative committee to serve as judge and jury is clearly stretching the separation of powers doctrine, but such a stretch or grasp for power has never stopped Bill O'Brien, and Patrick Duffy's words (or mine) are certainly not about to stop him now.

Think how angry the legislature gets when the court dares weigh in on legislative matters (such as redistricting), yet the legislature with this committee, as Patrick Duffy points out, is interfering in judicial and executive matters

Hypocrisy, thy name is O'Brien.

Duffy again:  "It appears that the committee is attempting to absurdly interject itself into situations on behalf of parents whose children have been removed from the home for abuse or neglect, an area in which committee members have no knowledge, no expertise, nor any legitimate business.  The matters are routinely adjudicated through the courts where all parties have an opportunity to address their positions."

As we've learned this year in the House, rarely is there a case when all parties are allowed to address issues fairly.  Rather, Republicans as in the sorry case of this committee (poorly attended by the way!) are simply expected to do as O'Brien tells them to.

Patrick Duffy has hit a nail on the head in The Hippo (Chill Out photo on the cover).


Speaker Wannabes Endorse Lame Duck 

            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.


Ovide's Magnificent Catastrophe--Part II

            The Bruins were not involved in another overtime last night, but soon after they scored the fourth and deciding goal, I found myself in possession of this sheet I had prepared Saturday and The Red Book to record further results from the 1996 election. 

            The 22 towns here are selected more or less at random (with the idea to get at least one from every county).  The totals are for the three statewide races (President, U.S, Senate, and Governor) and the Congressional races (either John Sununu or Charlie Bass for Republicans depending on the district).  Totals for Republicans are always listed first.  Note that numbers for President are not quite as large because there was a rather “major” third party candidate (Ross Perot for the second time) on the ballot.  Thus, it's more valid to consider the margins than the actual vote totals in each instance.

            As we learned in Ovide’s Magnificent Catastrophe Part I, we will learn here that in almost every town, the Republican candidate for governor ran rather significantly behind the other candidates in his 18 point loss to the (at the time) rather unknown Jeanne Shaheen.

            The numbers speak for themselves. Of course, you could run the numbers for your own town or ward, but my guess is the result would be about the same.  Since my proofing is fallible, a mistake or two might appear.  Any corrections would be welcome.

            The moral of our fable, dear Republicans, is Caveat Emptor when it comes to Ovide for Governor lest "Ovide's Magnificent Catastrophe Part II" become more than a heading for this entry!

         ‘Nuff said.

Town                           Pres Dole        Senator Smith            Congress        Gov. Ovide

Amherst                       2517-2131       2871-1997                   3025-1817       2235-2703

Ashland                        328-429           473-340                       458-347           343-505

Barrington                    1059-1379       1337-1301                   1287-1370       965-1767

Bedford                        4467-3064       5246-2632                   5177-2771       4472-3516

Bow                             1637-1626       1721-1636                   2061-1313      1377-2075

Bristol                          528-532           647-468                       687-407           521-628

Conway                       1350-1832       1711-1787                   2026-1512       1526-2041

Goffstown                    2920-2858       3744-2453                   3503-2777       3220-3083

Hollis                            1652-1530       1924-1415                   1899-1340       1610-1783

Hooksett                      1945-1986       2543-1609                   2289-1898       2107-2145

Hudson                        3167-3841       3964-3449                   4231-3139       3446-4223

Litchfield                      1074-1263       1442-1130                   1494-940         1118-1471

Londonderry                4076-3666       4841-3401                   4835-3444       3909-4458

Merrimack                   4499-4934       5630-4320                   5480-4501       4614-5541

New London                1247-856         1315-824                     1390-786         1056-1114

Pelham                         1709-1881       2059-1876                   2164-1643       1798-2215

Raymond                      1249-1464       1723-1204                   1621-1355       1410-1629

Rindge                          807-800           917-814                       986-733           833-907

Salem                           4257-5164       5042-5152                   5146-4597       4237-5916

Sandown                      751-869           1008-755                     1000-784         788-997

Weare                          1238-1278       1577-1098                   1655-993         1245-1495

Whitefield                     327-363           374-405                       422-297           413-360


This exercise was not paid for nor was it solicited by Kevin Smith for Governor, Bill Binnie (?) for Governor, or Ted Gatsas (please!) for Governor.


Flashback To 1996--Ovide's Magnificent Catastrophe

            When the Bruins headed for double overtime Saturday, I was struck with a compelling urge to dig out the Red Book from 1996.  That would be the book of election results, and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with hockey, but I was thinking that not many Republicans can--or should-- be very happy with the prospect of Ovide LaMontagne leading them into the 2012 campaign.

            I wanted to see if it was as much of a bloodbath as I remembered.  Maybe I was missing something; maybe Ovide won’t be such an albatross after all.

            An hour later (and a Bruins loss later), I determined that it was even worse than I had remembered.

The numbers speak for themselves, my fellow Republicans.

            Keep in mind, 1996 was before Jeanne Shaheen became the darling of Granite Staters, before she was a three term governor and one term U.S. Senator.  She was in fact a little known state senator from Strafford County (kind of like Jackie Cilley except for the Cilley loss in 2010).

            Also keep in mind that although Bill Clinton won New Hampshire rather easily in 1996 (by just about ten points), it was a very good year for most other Republicans—except for Ovide LaMontagne.

            Here’s what I came up with.  So we can readily compare how poorly Ovide did to other Republicans on the ballot, I’m eliminating minor party candidates.  Thus, percentages add up to 100 with just the Republican and Democratic candidates.

 President—Bob Dole—44.8 percent

U.S. Senate—Bob Smith—51.6 percent

First District Congress—John Sununu—51.8 percent

Second District Congress—Charlie Bass—53.7 percent

Governor—Ovide LaMontagne—40.9 percent.

Executive Council Republican Candidates—65.6 percent/58.2 percent (Republicans won four of five seats with the only Jim Normand, the only Democrat winner beating Rinker 43,234-42,599.)  Since Democrats failed to field a candidate in District 5 against Bernie Streeter, we should remove that from the totals.  Republicans got 58.2 percent of the vote in the four contested races.

In other words, Ovide fared 21 points less well than Bob Smith, eight points less well than the great (saracasm is always in style here) Bob Dole, 34 points less well than the Republican executive council candidates--they won by 16 points on average while Ovide was losing by 18! 

Republicans also controlled the State Senate 15-9 that year, and correct me if I’m wrong here, I believe it was 256-144 in the House.  Thus, we can most assuredly say that Ovide lost on his own, that not even the rest of the ticket could bring him up.

 Ovide not merely lost to the then-unknown entity Jeanne Shaheen, he got clobbered.  He lost every county.  Here are his percentages.






Hillsborough—45.0 (He only got 46.0 percent in his home city of Manchester and 40.0 percent in Nashua)





Statewide—40.9 percent (39.5 percent if you throw in minor candidate totals)


Ovide lost every ward in all the state’s cities except one (what a great trivia question—name the one he won).  He didn’t carry a single town in three counties (Cheshire, Merrimack, and Strafford).  He lost almost all the big towns (and most of the middle-sized towns) you would expect Republicans to mop up in.  He lost Amherst, Derry, Londonderry, Salem, Hooksett, Hollis, Hudson, Pelham, Merrimack, Auburn, Weare, Plaistow, Litchfield, but this is too much work to go on, so let’s look at where he won. 

Ovide did in fact win Bedford and Goffstown, but if we discount the teeny towns (where less than 200 votes went to Ovide), he carried only 20 other towns.  He didn’t even win Windham (it was tied 2119-2119).


Alphabetically by county, here are the towns he won and note the close margins in some.  (These probably remain the most Republican towns in the state, where virtually no Democrat could win).

Alton 1018-937

Effingham 283-241

Moultonborough 1180-987

Tuftonboro 1537-1533

Colebrook 475-311

Jefferson 277-179

Lancaster 709-629

Pittsburg 254-123

Haverhill 835-767 (the most Republican town in the state in the 90s)

Lisbon 258-252

Littleton 1149-1110
Monroe 260-176

Rumney 336-282

Bedford 4472-3516

Goffstown 3220-3083

Milford 1649-1582

New Ipswich 831-595 (the most Republican town in the state now)

Atkinson 1438-1406

Candia 973-852

Chester 795-638

Hampton Falls 517-499 (but not Hampton, North Hampton or South Hampton!)

Lempster 210-201


Ovide lost every city ward (John Stephen even managed to win three wards in 2010) except the West side Manchester Ward 12.


Consider this.  Ovide was a very nice man back in 1996 (great smile, great family warm handshake) just like he remains a very nice man today, but after beating Bill Zeliff by four points in the GOP primary, Ovide got clobbered by Shaheen, and the state has trended (without an argument) more Democratic since 1996.  For example, Ovide most likely would not carry Lancaster today.

Does anyone think that Ovide LaMontagne, the man most responsible for giving us Democratic rule in the corner office for 14 of the past 16 years, will be a boon to Republicans as their gubernatorial candidate this year?  The numbers from 1996 shout at us across all the years.  NO! Any Republican leader thinking of putting his money on Ovide LaMontagne this year should put it to a better use, like forwarding $47 to some Secret Service agent in Columbia.  (It was $47, wasn’t it?).

 If the Bruins wind up in double overtime again tonight, I’ll dig out some other Red Book and report back.

No, this blog was NOT paid for by either Kevin Smith for Governor or Bill Binnie for Governor and certainly not by Ted Gatsas for Governor.

Run, Ted, Run; my cap and bumper sticker are both ready for us.


The Reading Room--A Sick President, A Cover-Up, A Game Here

The Reading Room is a regular feature of this blog and The Liberty Express which airs on Manchestertv23 Monday at 10 p.m., Tuesday at 11 p.m., Thursday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at noon (always available at


            And now for something completely different.  Rather than offering a book review here this week, let’s play this as a game.  I’ll give you facts from a book, and ring in when you think you can name the President. 

            The name of the book itself is the first clue.


  1. The President Is A Sick Man, just out by Matthew Algeo (a quick and fun read).
  2. Although we know him by his middle name, family members and friends called him by his first name, Steve, most of his life.
  3. Big Steve since he weighed in close to 300 pounds.
  4. As a young man, he was fond of beer, bratwurst (and even street brawling).  The author tells us that in the opinion of his straitlaced uncle, Lewis Allen, he spent too much time with “queer folk”.  (No, not that kind of queer folk).
  5. He told his sisters he thought of getting married many times, “and the more I think of it, the more I think I’ll not do it.”
  6. Another time, he told his sisters rather cryptically, “I’m only waiting for my wife to grow up.”  As it turned out, that was true.  His wife, one of the most dashing first ladies ever, was 23 years younger than he was.
  7. He became a Democrat because—now get this remark from his old age—Democrats represented “greater solidity and conservatism”.
  8. Conservative?  You better believe it.  No nanny stater this Democrat.  Here’s a quote from his inauguration.  “The lessons of paternalism ought to be unlearned and the better lesson taught that, while the people should patriotically and cheerfully support their government, its functions do not include the support of its people.”
  9. As an elected sheriff, he was known to pull the hangman’s lever himself because he said he could no man such a “hateful task”.

10.  In the midst of the presidential campaign, he admitted to having fathered a bastard child (although these were the days prior to DNA testing, and his best friend may in fact have been the father).  Whichever it was, he paid to have the “son” brought up.  “Ma, ma, where’s my Pa?  He’s gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha?”

11.  A reputation of honesty (“public office is a public trust” was his theme) carried him quickly up the political ladder, from lawyer to mayor to governor to president all in a three year time frame, freely exercising vetoes along the way.

12.  That would be mayor of Buffalo and governor of New York of course.

13.  In fact, as President, he vetoed more bills (584) than anyone except FDR (635).

14.  The candy bar Baby Ruth, at least according to this book, was probably not named for his daughter. 

15.  His honesty didn’t prevent him from concealing his operation (removal of cancer in the mouth, thus the title of this book) aboard a yacht and from involving others in a massive cover-up.  After all, the country was in terrible financial trouble in 1893; there were enough panics without the illness of a President causing further turmoil.


You must know by now, but of course, we’re talking about the only President ever to serve two non-consecutive terms, Stephen Grover Cleveland.

It’s a fun book, a mini-bio of Big Steve, and a great story of how one reporter in particular broke the story of the president’s sickness.