With the caveat that one should "never say never", it seems fairly safe to say that the New Hampshire House will NOT take up Governor John Lynch's veto on a redistricting plan this week. Even should Speaker Bill O'Brien wish to take the matter up (and inside sources reveal that GOP leadership has been lobbying/whipping its members hard), there's a Constitutional provision that would most likely prevent any such action.
The Constitution requires that a governor's veto message be printed prior to a vote being taken, and since the most recent House Calendar does not include such a message (and time restraints would seem to prevent such a printing), one could assume there will be no vote this week.
Meanwhile, nhinsider.com has learned that Congressman Frank Guinta has declined the request by House GOP leadership to intercede with Manchester Representatives. We have verified (through two additional sources) the report here last Friday that Speaker O'Brien and his Chief of Staff, the high paid Greg Moore, had made overtures to Guinta, as far back as weeks ago we're told, but that Guinta has declined the request.
Keep in mind that most of the 21 Republicans in the Manchester delegation have pledged to vote to sustain the veto That means that, depending on attendance when the veto is taken up, as few as five to ten other Republicans would be enough to sustain a veto if in fact all Democrats vote to sustain.
As always, the question revolves around who will be in attendance on a given day.
Word from last Friday was that former Republican gubernatorial and Congressional candidate John Stephen, of Manchester, had also been approached by House leadership to try and twist a few Manchester arms. As of late Wednesday, I had not heard of any calls from Stephen to Manchester Reps, and I have heard that no calls will be forthcoming from Guinta.
Any such calls would put the former Manchester Mayor at odds with current Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and the Board of Aldermen who voted unanimously to ask the delegation not to support the redistricting plan; in other words, to vote to sustain the veto.
For those who come into this story like in the middle of a soap opera, it's really quite simply. Manchester deserves 33 Reps of its own, but the House-approved plan would take two Manchester wards and "float" them with Litchfield, thus potentially denying the city of two representatives.
The plan also denies Pelham of any Reps of its own when the Constitutional provision, pushed by Republicans back in 2007, mandates that Pelham receive four of its own Reps.
Yes, that would be the same Republican Reps who are now in leadership who were pushing for the amendment back in 2007.
Truly, you just can't make this stuff up.
The vote on sustaining the Lynch veto is expected to be close. A plan which would have obviated the need for a veto actually passed the House, but a furious O'Brien, following faulty advice from his high paid legal team, went berserk, demanded a GOP caucus, and convinced enough Republicans to switch their votes and opt for the unconstitutional plan.
Yes, I realize that last paragraph is highly opinionated (hey this is a blog, not a main stream media story), but it also happens to be true.
Governor Lynch has noted many of the reasons noted here in his yet-to-be-printed veto message.
Along with the Manchester/Litchfield (Pelham,/Hudson) problem, there's a huge problem in Concord, and the Republican Senator from Meredith voted against the plan because of a problem in that town.
In fact, even should the House override the veto, four Republican senators voted against the plan, and that would be enough to sustain the veto in the Senate. I'm not naming names, but one of them approached me today asking what he could do to fix the problem.
The only fix involved sustaining the veto, a move which would compel stubborn House leaders to go back and "do the right thing", that is to say, fix the unconstitutional problems.
The House has one other option sitting on the table, a plan to force the Secretary of State to order redistricting without a bill going to the governor. While that plan could certainly get past the Republican-controlled House, word is out that almost all senators from both parties would not by into such a scheme, and approval by the Senate would be required.
O’Brien and his go-along-to-get-along leadership team were so concerned about the veto being sustained that a few weeks ago they coerced all Chairmen and Vice Chairmen into signing a less than diplomatic letter to all Republican members, basically setting the Manchester delegation up as bad guys when in fact the Speaker, his legal aid/lobbyist/gendarme Ed Mosca, and other recalcitrant leaders are in fact the ones wearing black hats on this one (Snidely Whiplash perhaps)!
Stand by till next week to see if Little Nell manages to extricate herself from the railroad tracks as the redistricting train roars toward her.