Rep Steve Vaillancourt


It's The Party's Turn To File; O'Brien Forced To Run Locally

            The filing period for state offices didn’t really end Friday at 5 p.m.

            For the next three days, the parties are authorized to find (“dig up” might be more appropriate phrasing) candidates to fill vacant spots on the ballot.

            In other words, no new primary contests can be created now, but the parties have this extra time to try to fill spots which no one (in that party) chose to file for individually.

            If it sounds confusing, it’s even more so because while candidates for office at the top of the ticket must file in person at the Secretary of State’s office in Concord, State Rep candidates file in their local cities and towns which then use snail mail (not the Internet) to forward applications on to Concord.

            As of 5 p.m. Monday, the Secretary of State’s office was adding in names which arrived in Monday’s mail, but it’s not usual to see mail drifting in from more remote tows as late a Wednesday.

            The best suggestion is to just wait a few days until the dust settles.  That’s why I had no problem avoiding web sites over the weekend and reveled in taking my brother and sister-in-law to Weirs and Hampton Beaches instead.

            A quick glance reveals that Republicans have a challenger for every State Senate seat (of course, there are only three incumbent Democrats seeking re-election—Molly Kelly in Keene; Sylvia Larsen in Concord; and Lou D’Allesandro in Manchester-Goffstown).

            At this time, three Republican Senators appear to have a free ride in November—Bob O’Dell in District 8, James Rausch in the Derry area, and President Peter Bragdon in District 11 (although he faces a primary challenge).

            I would be surprised if Democrats did not find three “warm bodies” to fill these spots in the next three days—not that the Republicans are vulnerable, but bragging rights seem to matter these days.  “We filled all the slots,” doesn’t really mean much, but the parties seem to take pride in saying it.

            Since parties cannot create any primaries now, we definitely know what the lay of the land will be in that regard.  As I reported last week, it seems we are destined to have primaries in underlying districts (wards in Manchester for example) even while floterial seats go unfilled.

            For example, both parties now have three candidates for the two Ward 2 seats in Manchester.   Democrats also have an excess of people in Wards 5 and 7, but could come up with only one candidate for two Ward 6 seats (Ben Baroody is running in the float).

            Let’s not go into any more details here until later this week, except to look at Speaker Bill O’Brien’s district.

            Wrong were the rumors Republicans would clear the way for O’Brien to run in the floterial which includes highly Republican terrain of Milford and Hollis along with the underlying towns of Mt. Vernon and New Boston.

            The reason is simple.  More people than ever before are running in Milford, so many in fact that there’s a spillover from that town into the float.

            Milford (Hillsborough District 23) deserves four seats of its own, but even as of last Thursday, five Republicans had filed there.  The single seat float already had two Milford candidates running (Labor Chair Gary Daniels and Benjamin Linn).

            Had O’Brien decided to run for the float, he most likely would have been the underdog since Milford’s population is five times that of Mt. Vernon.  Thus, he…and his fired (or resigned?) Chief of Staff Bob Mead, also from Mt. Vernon…are running for of the two District 5 seats; Democrats Kary Jencks and David Woodbury, both of New Boston, have filed.  Although New Boston’s population is twice that of tiny Mt. Vernon, my rating has both towns rather Republican, enough to make the Speaker a slight favorite at the starting gate.

            With 50.00 meaning absolute equality between the parties, my rating is 52.61 for Mt. Vernon, down from 54.46 ten years ago, and 57.17 for New Boston, up from 56.24 ten years ago.  (I have Amherst at 53.12, down from 55.95 ten years ago; and Milford at 52.92, down from 53.57 ten years ago).

            Of course, candidates and issues and effort put forth all matter, but these numbers as a basis of strength certainly matter as we hit the starting gate.

            Sooner of later, I’ll post numbers for all cities and wards and towns in the state along with an explanation of how they were arrived at.  For now, just consider the higher the better for Republicans; the lower the better for Democrats.  For example, I have New Ipswich at 67.38 (up from 63.67 ten years ago) and Hanover at 22.98 (down from 31.54 ten years ago).  As is often the case, the rich get richer.  In other words, areas are often becoming even more Democratic or Republican than they were when I ran a similar exercise in the wake of 2002 redistricting.



The Reading Room--A Kinder, Gentler Aaron Burr

The Heartbreak of Aaron Burr












Decades ago having waded through Gore Vidal's lengthy--make that extremely lengthy--novel "Burr" and having also navigated Nancy Isenberg's more recent biography "Fallen Founder", I thought I was done with Aaron Burr, perhaps American history's most complicated and least understood persona.  Then along came author H.W. Brands with a bravura performance on CSPAN's Book Notes, and I thought, "Oh why not?  Maybe another look at Burr would is warranted."

It certainly is.  Brands has portrayed Burr in a kinder, gentler form without bending over backwards to do so (my main quibble with Isenberg's more detailed biography).  "The Heartbreak of Aaron Burr" is not a traditional biography.  Sure, the three great moments of Burr's life are covered (the controversial election of 1800; the duel with Hamilton; and the treason trial).  However, this book is really the story of a great relationship between a man (Burr) and his beloved daughter (Theodosia).

With the Isenberg book, we learned that Burr was without a doubt the first great American feminist.  He believed in equal opportunity for women and insisted that his daughter be educated to the fullest extent which most men, even the enlightened founders, would have provided to only their sons.

Letters between the two of them form the basis of this short book (only 175 small pages with big type--you can easily read it in a day; perhaps even one sitting).  In choosing this means of telling the story of Burr, Brands gives us an all-too human being.  It's hard not to like this Aaron Burr, even if you had been led to believe he tried to steal the 1800 election from Jefferson (he's most likely not guilty of that charge) and even if you thought he engaged in treasonous behaviors in his subsequent adventuring in Western lands (he was indeed found not guilty of that charge, thanks in no small part to the instruction of Chief Justice John Marshall in a trial Jefferson was way too intimately involved in).

Brands introduces us to the Burr who, after being set free, was still rather despised in this country and sets off for Europe.  He becomes fast friends with the great utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, but winds up virtually destitute in Paris when he decided to return home in 1812.

Then comes the heartbreak.  He quickly discovers that his grandson has died (death often came without notice to young people back then), and Theodosia herself is lost at sea as she attempts a voyage from South Carolina (her husband is governor of the state) to visit her father in New York.

If you want to know the details of Burr's life, this book is not for you, but if you want to acquire a more vivid picture of a man history has come (probably wrongly so) to view as a scoundrel, "The Heartbreak of Aaron Burr" is worth a read.

CSPAN's session with Brands not only prompted me to pick up this book, but I'm also going back to read other things he's written (a biography of Ben Franklin and the rather famous "A Traitor To His Class" on the life of FDR).

Two asides from this book.

In this age of instant communication and the headaches of being delayed a few hours at an airport, it's a real eye opener to once again discover how dangerous getting from point A to point B could be as recently as 200 years ago.

Then there's Burr the charmer.  Here's what he said upon his departure from the Senate where he presided as Vice President even after the death of Hamilton.

"I am sensible that I must at times have wounded the feelings of individual members.  I avoided entering into explanations at the time, because a moment of irritation is not a moment for explanation.  If any have been...My errors, whatever they may have been, were those of rule and principle, not of caprice.  If, in the opinion of any, the discipline which has been established approached to rigor, you will at least admit that it was uniform and indiscriminate."

"This house is a sanctuary, a citadel of law, of order and of liberty.  It is here, it is here in this exalted refuge, here if anywhere that resistance will be made to the storms of political corruption and the silent arts of corruption...Though we separate, we will be engaged in the common cause of disseminating the principles of freedom and social order."

Words as important today as when Burr uttered them (as captured by Brands) in 1804.

Mark this down as a good quick read.


Filing From A Hospital Bed

File this one under the "You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up" category, and just to be totally fair, I'll offer it totally without editorial comment.

In checking out the latest filings at Manchester City Hall today, I just happened to be present when Ward 4 Republican State, the venerable Rep Leo Pepino, called the mayor's office from his hospital bed, complaining that he couldn't make it down to City Hall to file for office (the deadline is Friday).

Could the City Clerk possibly send someone up to the hospital to file Leo?

The answer.

Yes.  In fact, you don't need to file in person at all (as long as your form is notarized).

I didn't hang around to see whether he planned to file for one of two seats in Ward 4 (thus creating a Republican primary) or for one of the three seats in the Ward 4-5-6-7 floterial (rather Democratric territory).  I'll guess the former.

Oh by the way, at last check, Leo's rating with the House Republican Alliance was 63 percent (mine is 73 for comparison purposes); he was present for 49 percent of the votes (100 percent for me).

Just the facts m'aam, just the facts!

Expect strange things to transpire on the filing front in the next few days, but it does apper, at least if Manchester is any example, that Democrats have a filing edge, especially in sorting out who is running in wards versus the floats.

For example, the three ward 1 Democrats have split it up this way--Jeff Goley (90 percent attendance) and Peter Ramsey (46 percent attendance) will run in the ward; Dan Sullivan (88 percent attendance attendance) will join Pat Long (of Ward 3--66 percent attendance) for the float which covers Wards 1, 2, and 3.

Just the facts m'aam, just the facts!


The Week In Polls--June 14--A Romney Landslide?

            Some right wing extremists in the media (yes, Sean Hannity would be among them) are now contending that, based on Wisconsin results last week and continuing bad news on the economic front,  Mitt Romney is not only going to beat Barack Obama, but he’s going to win in a landslide.

            Thus, your assignment this week, should you choose to accept it, is to polling proof (if any actually exists) that this could in fact come to pass.

            Take your time, but while you’re looking, I have of course already completed the task.  While the landslide claim is still rather far-fetched, considering that Romney still trails in nationwide averages, there is in fact some evidence that Obama could be in trouble.

            Two weeks ago, for example, pollster (as in Huffington Post) had Obama beyond the magic 270 number for the Electoral College.  Today, with both Wisconsin and Michigan having moved to the toss-up category, Obama’s lead is down to 244-191, but it could be worse than that for Obama.

            Pollster still has New Hampshire as dark blue (very likely Obama) while Real Clear Politics (which has Obama ahead only 221-170 on the electoral front) lists New Hampshire as a true toss-up.

            Pollster also has Virginia as light blue (leans to Obama) while most other outfits have it as a toss-up.

            Pollster has Obama’s lead nationwide at 1.8 points (45.9-44.1) while RCP has it down to a precarious 0.8 points (45.7-44.9).

            They both have Obama’s popularity slipping into negative territory, -0.7 (47.7-48.4) with RCP and -1.3 (46.9-48.2) with pollster.

            Of course, state polls are what really matter most at this time, and there are certainly disquieting signs for Obama.  A new Michigan poll (Baydoun/Foster which is in fact a Democratic polling outfit) has Obama up only one in the state, 47-46.  Without Michigan, Obama could in fact lose by an electoral landslide, so there’s some proof.

            Rasmussen actually has Romney up three in Wisconsin (47-44); so much for those exit polls last week which showed Obama up by close to double digits.  Without Wisconsin, Obama could in fact lose by an electoral landslide, so there’s more proof.

            Rasmussen also has Republican Tommy Thompson way ahead of Baldwin—16 points (52-36) for the Wisconsin Senate seat.

            Some pundits are saying that, despite having his nominating convention in North Carolina, Obama will have to write that state off by Labor Day.  I can see why.  PPP, the polling firm with a deep Democratic bias, actually has Obama trailing by two (48-46) in the Tar Heel State.  If PPP says two, he’s probably really down five or six points.  PPP also has Obama up only six (48-42) in Nevada, so that’s probably tied.  (My new way of looking at PPP polls is to take four to six points away from Obama in each).

            We are blessed with a wealth of polls from states which really don’t matter—they are not in play, but we can look at the margins to get an idea of trends.  In Pennsylvania, for example, Quinnipiac has Obama up only six points (46-40) at the same time it has Democratic incumbent Senator Casey up 19 (51-32).  Thus, we can put Pennsylvania in the danger zone for Obama, more evidence that, horror of horrors, Sean Hannity could be right.

            There is indeed some evidence that Romney could win big.  (In my New Years predictions, I had Romney winning 53-47 with about 300 electoral votes; not exactly a landslide but not all that close either).

            I’ve been searching without success for new data out of New Hampshire.  American Research Group seems more interested in rating the pollsters rather than conducting its own new polls these days, so we’ll just have to wait.

   still has Obama as a 69-31 favorite to win New Hampshire, with a vote in the range of 52.2-47.8, but that will change rapidly if new polling data shows Romney improving here.  I expect that may well be the case.

            Siena has Obama up 24 points (59-35), but that’s in New York State, and that’s about what we would expect.  Democratic Senator Gillibrand is up 38 points (63-25) in her race, so Obama is actually running somewhat worse than down ballot races. 

            The lack of coattails could prove devastating for Democrats in Senate and Congressional races.

            Rasmussen has Romney up seven (49-42) in Missouri (I think we should color that state light red) and up one (47-46) in Iowa which I had as leaning toward Obama.

            Yes indeed that’s another sign that a landslide, albeit by close margins (an oxymoronic landslide), could be in the offing.

            Just to think, when I began this assignment, I didn’t think a landslide was possible.

            I just might have changed my own mind.

            If you go to pollster, you might want to do something I have NOT done.  Read Mark Blumenthal’s article “Why Did Democratic Polls Get Wisconsin Wrong?”  I’m satisfied that they were wrong and thus can’t be trusted as much in the future.  I don’t need to know why, especially since my brother and sister-in-law are coming for the weekend, and I’ve got to clean the house.

            Rasmussen has Republicans up comfortably, six points (45-39) in the generic Congressional ballot this week—that sounds about right, but will it be enough to carry Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass back into office?

            Wir warden sehen.

            They’re outdoor types (no museums please; no politics either—I trust they have never voted for Bernie Sanders, but we don’t talk about it).  Any suggestion as to where I should take them (last year we tried the Ogunquit walk; we usually end up at Hampton Beach) would be welcome.


Is Picking Up Hitchhikers A Good Thing?

Most of my life I've attempted to avoid both hithch-hikng and picking up hitch-hickers, but a couple weeks ago after I drove past somebody thumbing for a ride, I felt a pang of remorse.   "It wouldn't have done you any harm to have given that person a ride," I told myself, vowing the pick up the next person seeking help.

An hour or so, I nearly did it again, but at the last minute, I stopped and offered a young lady a ride.  Unfortunately, she was going from Concord to Claremont, and I was heading south to Manchester, but I gave her a ride to the I-89 exchance.  She was a young mother trying to get home to take care of her daughter; darkness was two hours away; and she seemed worried.

Not only did I give her a ride, but I gave her some money--not a lot, but enough for a soda.

Had I been heading up to my brother's in Vermont, I would have gone out of my way and taken her into Claremont, but it was not to be.

But you know what, I felt better for having stopped and helped her...albeit it just a little.  I felt about as good as I did when I helped Rep. Peter Leishman pass the amendment to increase funding for those on the developmentally disabled list (another thing I wouldn't normally do--increase spending).


Thus, the answer to whether picking up hich-hickers is a good thing is yes, decidedly...because I felt better for having done it.  I know, I know, it can be dangerous; it could get one in trouble, but then I say things all the time that can (and do) get me in trouble.  Picking up hitch-hikers is safe in comparison to what I usually do.

I'm getting old, but I think I'll stop for more hitch-hikers as I get older.

If it feels good, do it.  Words to live by.  Stop and smell the roses; stop and pick up a hitch-hiker. 

Gee, I sure hope she make it to Claremont.