Rep Steve Vaillancourt


PREDICTION UPDATE--Democratic Senators? Let's Try 11

President Pierce?  Why is it that sounds vaguely familiar?

With the announcement that Democrat Matthew Houde (from District 5, the Lebanon-Hanover area) is not seeking re-election, no less than one-fourth of New Hampshire Senate incumbents, that's six of 24, have gone public with their intentions to step aside.

Houde is the first Democrat, but then, there are only five of them.

The Houde district, extremely Democratic leaning now, becomes vastly more so when the new redistricting plan kicks in (the Governor signed the plan).   You could almost say no Democrat (even one caught with a...stop...I have a joke here but I'm censoring myself...self censorship is after all the only valid form of censorship) could ever lose this new district.

Thus the question--who will be anointed as Houde's replacement?  Not counting two former senators who still presumably reside in the district, the very good Cliff Below and the very bad, extraordinarily bad Ho Ho Ho Burling, two names come to mind immediately, Lebanon Rep Susan Almy, who knows as much about taxes as anybody in the state (she told me so herself...that's true, but it's also true), and Hanover Rep David Pierce.

Susan Almy led me to believe she's won't be running for the Senate seat.  I'm careful not to say she definitely said she won't be running.  That's not quite what she said, and one never knows.   David Pierce, who is not nearly as fiscally conservative as I am (but then nobody is), is every bit my kind of social libertarian.  He'd be a vote against repeal of gay marriage in the Senate and against the other election law mischief Homosexual Hunter David Bates might try to pass next year--assuming Bates can get re-elected himself.  Bates finished fifth among Windham Republicans in the Salem-Windham district in 2010, and with the new redistricting plan, Windham only gets four Reps--yes that part of the plan is constitutional...but I digress. 

David Pierce would be in the perfect position to fight for his causes in the Senate, and as I look more and more at the Senate to be, it just could be President Pierce.  Yes, I'm now in the process of upping my prediction of Democrat gains in the Senate from three to six.  That means I had them going from five to eight seats, but now see them going from five to11 seats (and I still have the Prescott seat staying Republican--Prescott better be more prepared for the race than he was when he fumbled the Congressional redistricting plan presentation before the House committee, a shameful performance as even Bates admits) or it'll be a 12-12 split and bring on President Pierce.

Where have we heard that before--President Pierce?

Never mind.

Until I hear differently, let's welcome David Pierce to the Senate even if not as President.

Let's also welcome Donna Soucy aboard.  She will win the swing district 18 which consists of Manchester wards 5, 6, 7, 8 (my ward--no I will not run...unless some Pac comes forward with a $100,000 check...then count me in), 9, and Litchfield.  Tom DeBlois is leaving to run for an Executive Council seat which looks far less Republican-oriented if the Senate plan passes.

I had thought that former Alderman and Senator Betsi DeVries would be back, but apparently Party Chair Ray Buckley wants his former beard Soucy, and whatever Raybo wants, Raybo least in Democratic Party circles.  It'll be quite a step down for Soucy, from the $100,000 a year Senate chief of staff position (people are already questioning whether she resigned or was fired) to a $100 a year senator, but then Soucy doesn't really need the money.  At last check, she was still living a home with daddy C. Arthur.  A 40 year old live at home senator...get used to just can't make this stuff up. 

Maybe DeVries will run against RINO Toni Pappas for Hillsborough County Commissioner--DeVries is far more conservative than Pappas and would get my vote!

Litchfield Rep George Lambert says he's running for the District 18 seat, but with Manchester having 85 percent of the votes in the district, Lambert's chances are not good.  There's former Republican senator Andy Martel, but then he didn't exactly brighten Senate halls when he was there before (sorry Andy, but it's true) and there's still that thing about his son's address...I'm not one to pass the sins of the son on to the father, but you can be sure those running Soucy's campaign would never let us forget the young Martel's address.  Am I being diplomatic enough? 

Three of the Slimy Seven Snakes (those Republicans who broke their word and sided with the Speaker ahead of the city and Mayor Gatsas over redistricting...including former delegation Chair Will Infantine) do in fact reside in that Senate district, but does anyone think any of them would stand a chance against Soucy?  Not only is there the redistricting issue, but has anyone checked out Rep. Infantine's attendance record lately?  Hint--it's pretty bad, and if I know it, you can be sure Soucy's people know it.

So let's give District 18 to Donna "Did I Really Quit the $100,000 A Year Job?" Soucy.

DeBlois and Houde are joined by four others not running--Gary Lambert in District 13 (Nashua); James Forsythe (District 4) in the reconfigured area which now centers on Dover; Andy Sanborn (District 7, which no longer exists in recognizable form but is mostly the old district four centering on Laconia); and Raymond White (District 9), Bedford.

Start out by giving District 13 to Democrats; Betty Lasky will most likely be back.

Democrats think they have a chance with Nyquist in District 9.  True, it's somewhat less Republican, but Bedford still dominates population-wise and it's simply too Republican to call the seat in danger.  (I've done a rating system for all towns and city wards in the state; with 100 being all Republicans in voting in the past ten years and 0 being all Democratic, Bedford’s number is 64.86, about as high as it gets).  The question here is who will win the Republican primary.  Sanborn says he's moving to Bedford and running; long time Bedford Rep Ken Hawkins says he's running; and Peterborough is now in the district meaning Andy (some dare call him RINO) Peterson could win should the others split the Republican vote.  I'm keeping the seat in the Republican column but have no idea which Republican it'll be.

Nor do I have a clue who'll win the seats Sanborn and Forsythe are vacating.  In a normal year, new District 7 would tilt slightly Republican, but this may not be a normal year.  Let's give it to Democrats. 

I also see Democrats winning the second Nashua seat (District 12, incumbent Republican Jim Luther but recently held by either Democrats or...gasp...RINOs).  Although redistricting makes thre district more Republican overall, Obama coattails could be enough to bring a Democrat in here.

Certainly Democrats (either Watters or Sprague) will win the new Dover seat.

Having voted against Meredith's interests in the redistricting battle, District 2 Senator Jeanne Forrester becomes extremely vulnerable all of a sudden.  Let's put that seat in Democratic with the five they already have (assuming D'Allesandro hangs on in District 16--Manchester, Goffstown) and a pick-up of six, Democrats are suddenly up to 11...without even thinking about the Prescott (23) and Groen (6).  They both would have lost were it not for gerrymandered efforts to save them.

A 12-12 Senate with President David Pierce seems entirely possible.

For you keeping score, all it 2-4-5-7-10-12-13-15-18-20-21 for Democrats for a total of 11.  And that’s with the Prescott, Groen, and Bedford seats all remaining in Republican hands. 

The tide has turned, not in favor of Democrats necessarily but back in the direction a 50/50 House and Senate split.


The Week In Polls--April 5--Good News, Bad News For Romney

            Even as all polls indicate and nearly every credible pundit acknowledges that Mitt Romney has wrapped up the Republican Presidential nomination, polling danger signs for the general election seem to be arrayed against Romney this week.

            First the good news.  After winning Wisconsin, Maryland, and DC by about the expected margin and collecting 84 delegates to six for Santorum, Romney has pulled ahead of the former senator by five points (42-37) in a PPP Pennsylvania poll today; Rasmussen still has Santorum up, but by only four points (42-38).

            Quinnipiac has Romney 33 points ahead of Santorum in New York (54-21), and Survey USA had him up 21 points in California (44-23).  Romney is even ahead in one of the southern/border states which Santorum should be favored it—it’s Romney 31 and Santorum 25 in North Carolina according to High Point.

            There’s no need to go on.  Nate Silver at is pointing to Michigan as the pivotal state, but using 538’s own data, I would argue that Wisconsin sealed the deal.  Back on March 9, 538 listed the remaining states with projections for each one, both in percentage totals and expected delegates. According to that road map, Romney would surpass the 1144 delegates by 18.        

            I’ve been following the projections each week, and most have gone about according to play—except that 538 back then had Santorum winning Wisconsin 45-40 and collecting 33 delegates to only 9 for Romney.  The fact that Romney won the state 44-37 and won the delegates 30-6 spells doom for Santorum who was, according to 538, supposed to win North Carolina by eight points.

            The only question is whether Santorum even hangs around till Pennsylvania.  Gallup has Romney up 13 points (39-26) in nationwide tracking today.

            However, as noted, the road beyond the nomination doesn’t look nearly as smooth for Romney.

            Gallup has him trailing in 12 Battleground States by nine points (51-42).  Those states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.  Don’t think it’s the Republican base which is failing Romney.  While Obama is winning Democrats 87-10 in those states, Romney carries Republicans 90-6, so the problem is clearly with independents.

  Romney trails by nine points (48-39) among independents in those states after being tied or ahead until January.  Santorum loses independents by an even greater margin in those states, 53-32.

            Even more troubling, the birth control issue seems to be harming the Republican brand not just among women but among all voters (except older men).  Gallup/USA Today asked which candidate voters agreed with on the issue.  Obama gets a plus five with males under 50 while Romney comes in at minus 15.  Obama scores plus six with women under 50 while Romney gets minus 14 (Santorum, not surprisingly, is minus 21 and minus 17 with the two groups).  Assuming that New Hampshire is very much like the nation as a whole, these numbers could prove devastating in this state where Bill O’Brien seems to leading his party over the cliff.

            New is not all bad for Republicans however.  Nationwide, Rasmussen has the GOP advantage back up to plus 6 in the generic Congressional ballot (45-39), and for the second day in a row, Rasmussen actually has Romney beating Obama (47-45 today; it was 47-44 yesterday).

            Most other polls have Obama ahead, and the Real Clear Politics average is plus 4.1 points for Obama (47.7-43.1).

            Obama’s favorability seems locked in the even range.  RCP has him at plus 1.2 today (48.2-47.0), but the Huffington Post average has him at minus 0.9 (47.2-48.1).  As we await a breakout in one direction or another for the President, Romney’s break is clearly to the down side with women voters, but there’s plenty of time for damage control.

            News on the U.S. Senate front is mostly good news for Republicans.  Rasmussen has Republican Rehberg beating incumbent Tester 47-44 in Montana, and Republican incumbent Heller hanging on by three points (46-43) against Berkley in Nevada.  Scott Brown continues to lead Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, but the Democratic Brown incumbent (Sherrod) leads in Ohio.  In the open New Mexico seat, Rasmussen has Democrat Heinrich leading by four points over Wilson (46-42).

            It still looks like a gain of six or seven seats for Republicans from where I sit, but most experts are expecting it to be closer than that. 

            Top of the ticket matters, and Romney has a lot of work to do there.    

            As for the Supreme Court striking down Obamacare, some Democrats are silly enough to think that would actually help Obama.  Polls don’t bear that out.  Pew finds that 23 percent look less favorably upon Obamacare in the wake of the Supreme Court hearings.  Only seven percent view it more favorable, hardly numbers which will help Obama unless you are spinning like mad.

            We don’t spin here, just let the numbers fall where they may.

             We anxiously await UNH or ARG or some polling outfit providing numbers on the temperature of the New Hamsphire electorate.  I sense a big swing to Democrats thanks to Bill O'Brien's policies, but I'd like verification before I go too far out on a limb with new second quarter predictions.



Monitor Turns Up Heat On O'Brien

The Concord Monitor hits the jackpot with today's editorial about how Speaker Bill O'Brien is setting a new low standard for leadership.  I have made several of the points which the Monitor notes in the editorial which I reproduce here.

O'Brien has no conception of the proud rules and traditions of the New Hampshire House.  He flaunts them on a daily basis; he sullies our reputation and has made us the laughingstock of the nation.

The tragedy is not that O'Brien will be voted out of office (oh happy day!), but that fiscal conservatives by the score will go down with him.  In fact, don't be surprised to see Democrats reclaim each and every of the 123 seats they lost in 2010 and then some. 

Democrats overreached passing more than a hundred new taxes and fees when they were in control, and voters responded by throwing them out of office in 2010.

O'Brien's tyranny is a hundred times worse than anything Democrats ever did, and it would be hard not to imagine voters not taking note. 

Here's just one example. A new poll shows all voters nationwide, not just women, turning against Republicans for their stand on contraception (see my The Week In Polls blog).  O'Brien has made that very stand more an issue here than elsewhere, so we should expect the blowback to be greater here. 

Wrath of voters is about to be unleashed on Republicans this fall; and Bill O'Brien will be the biggest catalyst.  In fact, if New Hampshire comes down to being the deciding state in the Electoral College (I showed just how it could happen a few weeks ago), Bill O'Brien could be the reason for Barack Obama's re-election. 

Obama currently leads Romney by seven points in New Hampshire.  Every antic from Obama drives down the standing of the Republican Party and redounds to Obama's benefit.  It would be hard to see how Republicans avoid losing an astounding 100-150 seats with Obama carrying the state by such a margin and with O'Brien continuing to disgrace the Republican Party at every turn.

As if to prove the Monitor editorial, O'Brien has offered further proof that he will not tolerate criticism.  As I was pulling out of my driveway today, the mailman delivered a letter from the Speaker notifying me that, for lack of “collegiality”, I had been removed from the Finance Committee.  My first reaction was, "Hey, Mr. Tyrant, what took you so long?  I’ve been expecting this for weeks because my honor is more important than a spot on any committee." 

I consider this a red bad of honor.  Anyone who manages to stay on such a committee, in the O'Brien climate of hate and retaliation, is not doing his or her job.  I will offer a more complete response later, but suffice it to say here that being called less than collegial by Bill O'Brien is like being called ugly by a pig. 

Thankfully, the session is nearly over.  Between the Senate and the Governor, the damage done by O'Brien and Company will be minimal, and he won't be in any position to appoint any committee members next year.

This man knows no shame.


Here's the Monitor editorial:

"'Nearly all men can stand adversity," Abraham Lincoln wisely said, "but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." The person elected to serve as speaker of the New Hampshire House wields more power in state government than anyone save for the governor. For at least a generation, most holders of that office passed the test. By and large they led fairly and showed respect for political opponents. The current speaker of the House, Bill O'Brien, has failed the test, failed miserably and continuously.

O'Brien's portrait as speaker is a self-drawn caricature of vindictiveness and power run amuck. On Tuesday, Monitor State House reporter Matthew Spolar outlined the grievances that may soon lead to the speaker becoming the target of a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Two of O'Brien's fellow Republican representatives, Tony Soltani of Epsom and Tim Copeland of Strafford, have disabilities that make it exceedingly difficult for them to crabwalk across the long rows of seats in Representatives Hall. But O'Brien has denied both men seats on the aisle.

Soltani requested an aisle seat because of his disabilities. But assigning seats is one of the powers accorded the House speaker, and O'Brien and Soltani rarely see eye-to-eye. O'Brien assigned him a seat in the middle of a row, a location that guaranteed that the outspoken Soltani would face the maximum possible struggle when coming to the front of the hall to discuss legislation. Representatives from both parties - 11 according to Soltani - offered to switch seats with him, but O'Brien won't permit it.

Copeland, a former law-enforcement officer injured in the line of duty, was assigned an aisle seat. He kept it until he disagreed with O'Brien on several key votes, among them the adoption a state Right-to-Work law. He was assigned a seat in the center of an aisle by O'Brien.

O'Brien's merciless treatment of those who dare to disagree with him is emblematic of his tenure as speaker. He faces another possible lawsuit for holding a vote to overturn Gov. John Lynch's veto of a flawed redistricting plan. O'Brien called the vote before Lynch's veto message was printed, as required by the Constitution, where it could be read by lawmakers and members of the public alike before the vote.

The speaker routinely replaces absent committee members with allies before key committee votes. In his haste to push through his agenda, an agenda provided in part by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, O'Brien has limited debate on legislation to 10 minutes on each side.

O'Brien has been accused of loudly berating lawmakers who disagree with him and stripping those who offend him of committee assignments and leadership positions. He has given prominent positions, including that of House counsel and chairman of the redistricting committee, to officers of the New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation, a conservative group that O'Brien presides over that's headquartered in his house.

O'Brien has run New Hampshire's House of Representatives in a notoriously autocratic way and made, to the extent he could, the agenda of a small group that of the state. He has succeeded because too many in his party have bleatingly gone along. It's long past time for them to speak out. A man with a leadership style similar to O'Brien's, former governor Craig Benson, was ousted after one term. That deserves to be O'Brien's fate as well."


Senate Begins Its "Veto" Process

            A month ago when the New Hampshire House began passing a series of questionable bills (Bill O’Brien’s right wing social agenda which is certain to alienate voters from the Republican Party this fall), I decided to keep a running score of how many were passing by the necessary two-thirds to override what would most assuredly be vetoes by governor John Lynch.

            The number was way into double digits when someone wiser than I told me not to worry, that the Senate would prevent most of this litany of state interference in our lives from ever reaching the governor’s desk.

            Perhaps, I thought, perhaps.

             Manchester/Hooksett Senator David Boutin this week provided us with the first indication that would in fact be the case.  Regarding House Bill 1301, regarding challenges to voters, Boutin was quoted by Nashua Telegraph reporter Kevin Landrigan as saying, “We can’t move fast enough in my view to toss this into the wastebasket.”

            The comment is all the more significant because this is the misguided bill which caused me to start keeping the scorecard of how many bills the Governor would veto (and his veto would be sustained).

            This bill passed the House, I noted at the time, by a less than veto proof margin of 212-129 (62.2 percent).  I even went so far as to note the number of Republicans who voted against it in the roll call. 

            There were 42 such Republicans, clearly enough to prevent an override no matter how far Bill O’Brien would go with his bullying tactics to force Republicans into line.

            Yes, I was one of the 42.  The Manchester delegation was split 12-12 (with an astonishing ten absent including delegation Chair Will Infantine).  All nine Democrats voted against the bill; Win Hutchinson (a ward moderator, significantly) and Gail Barry joined me in opposition (that was the day Irene Messier was in the hospital--she would have voted against it had she been present; she's ok now).

            As Senator Boutin noted, this was a terrible bill.  Even the Union Leader agrees.  It weighed in with an editorial against the bill, and when right wing Republicans lose the Union Leader, they’ve lost all hope.

            The bill would have allowed anyone to challenge the right of a citizen to vote.  No reason would have to be given, and the challenger would be allowed to remain anonymous. 

            Nashua Deputy City Clerk Tricia Piecuch (I used to work with her in Manchester; she’s one the best civil servants you’ll ever find at any level of government) is quoted, according to Landrigan, “said this bill would empower critics to indiscriminately challenge young or minority votes with impunity and clog lines at the polls.”

            Tricia was right.

            Senator Boutin is right.

            The 42 House Republicans who voted against this bill were right (only one Democrat voted for it in the House—yes, that would be Roger Berube).

            This bit of nonsense typifies the mischief O’Brien’s House has been passing along to the Senate, and it’s the first indication that, even with a 19-5 Republican majority, the Senate cannot be bullied by O’Brien, that perhaps Lynch will be spared some of that ink in the veto pen.

            The scenario is fascinating.

            House Democrats sit back unable to stop bad legislation from being passed.  They appear confident that Lynch will veto the legislation, but the Senate shoots the bills down before they reach the Governor’s desk.

            HB 1301 is the first example of a new paradigm.  It was championed by Election Law Chair David Bates in his spare time when he wasn’t formulating unconstitutional redistricting plans or chasing homosexuals (he asked me to make sure I worked that into my next blog—you don’t need to thank me, David).

            It will not be the last.  In fact, it now seems there will likely be more than a dozen which I had placed on the veto list, bills that will never get a chance to be vetoed.

            Thank you, New Hampshire Senate. 

            Three cheers for bicameralism.

            By county, here are the 42 Republicans who voted against this bad piece of legislation, having the courage to defy leadership. Special praise goes to Election Law Republican Kathleen Hoelzel (R-Raymond) who displayed special courage in defying the Speaker and her party’s attempt to do the wrong thing.

            Belknap—Bolster, St. Cyr, Millham, Pilliod.

            Carroll—Babson, McConkey, Merrow.

            Cheshire—Jane Johnson.



            Hillsborough—Brownrigg, Chris Christensen, Drisko, Gargasz, Graham, Gail Barry, Belanger (who testified against the bill in the Senate), James Coffey, Joseph Thomas, Peterson, Richard Barry, Pellegrino, Russ Ober (but not “leader” Lynn!), Hutchinson, Vaillancourt.

            Merrimack—Kidder, Lauer-Rago, Lockwood, Winter.

            Rockingham—Allen, Brian Murphy, Hoelzel, Amy Perkins, James Garrity, Ferrante, Major, James Sullivan, Manuse, Waddell, Paul Brown,


            Sullivan—Steven Smith.

            Note well.

            Apparently, no override on this one will be needed.



Courts Should Strike Down Obamacare And NH House Redistricting

            He never used the disparaging phrase “black robed oligarchs”, but other than that, President Barack Obama sounded very much like right wing New Hampshire Republicans who a decade ago, in response to the Claremont decision, were arguing that the court has no power to interfere with the legislative process.

            In fact, some Republicans (albeit not those at the pinnacle of power) are still arguing about non-elected judges (the same words Obama used) daring to intrude in the legislative domain.

            An axiom comes to mind.

            It all depends on whose ox is being gored.

            It also provides us with delicious grounds for charges of hypocrisy.  The same left wing Democrats who for years have argued an expansionist view of the Constitution have no right to argue the court must not strike down Obamacare now.  In fact, Harvard scholar Lawrence Tribe seems to be maintaining his purity by criticizing Obama.

            But the hypocrisy charge goes both ways.  Republicans who have argued about meddling justices hardly stand on solid ground now when they insist the court must strike down Obamacare.

            I plead innocent of any charge of hypocrisy.  I firmly believe that Obamacare should be struck down.  The commerce clause, which was inserted to prevent states from establishing tariffs on the flow of goods across state lines, has been stretched beyond anything the founders had in mind.  For Obama and Democrats to use the clause to intrude into the lives of every American is beyond absurd.

            Courts exist to stop overzealous and ill-conceived legislation which robs people of their liberties.

            Obama is dead wrong just as New Hampshire right wingers were wrong when they vilified the black robed oligarchs for the Claremont decision.

            You may not agree with a court’s decision, but to argue that courts have no right to decide on constitutionality is un-American.

            Two options are available if you disagree with decicions.  Amend the Constitution.  That’s what some (not I) have been trying unsuccessfully to do for the past decade here in New Hampshire.

            Or change the justices.  When they die or retire, try to replace them with justices who agree with your point of view.  Admittedly this is not an easy procedure (FDR never succeeded in stacking the court), but the founders never intended it to be easy.

              It’s  nothing less than delicious that some root for the court to strike down legislation they don’t agree with and then assail the court for going against their pet projects.

            Mmm, mmm, good is what this hypocrisy is.

            The problem lies less with the courts than with over-reaching legislatures.

            We need only look to the current New Hampshire House redistricting plan for evidence of that.  The court should strike down the plan passed by Republican leaders who fashioned a totally unconstitutional plan and then hoodwinked their members (through coercion, intimidation, and out and out bullying) into falling into line like sheep.

            Our democracy survives only because while despots like Bill O’Brien can coerce weak minded legislators, they cannot bully the courts.        

            Gott sei dank (that’s German for thanks to God).  May it always be so.

            We should be thankful that judges are appointed for life and are not forced to fall in line with fallacious arguments like those Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt offered on the House floor last week.

            Somehow managing to keep a straight face, Bettencourt asserted that the House redistricting plan satisfies both the federal and state constitutions (don't take my word for it--check out streaming audio).  Even House counsel/lobbyist/gendarme Ed Mosca had admitted that the plan, in complying with federal one man one vote principles, was afoul of the New Hampshire Constitutional Amendment passed in 2006.  Even redistricting Chair Paul Mirski, who fought o pass the amendment, knew the plan he was putting forward does not comply with the Constitution.  Yet here was the Majority Leader simply making things up in hopes of influencing legislators who didn’t have a clue about the intricacies of what they were voting on.

            Yes, we need justices who have enough time and expertise to see through the lies of legislators and to follow the laws.

            Yes, we need justices who will strike down Obamacare at the federal level and the House redistricting plan here in New Hampshire.

            Only justices prevent a tyranny of the elected majority from dismantling the ideas of freedom our forefathers fought so hard for.  Only justices stand in the way of elected tyrants whether they be tyrants from the left  like Nancy Pelosi or tyrants from the right like Bill O'Brien, aided and abetted most shamefully by complicit legislators too fearful to stand up against him, who continues to author one of the darkest chapters in New Hampshire history.

            Long live judicial review!

            Three cheers for Marbury v. Madison!