Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Auf Wiedersehen To A Libertarian Trio

            Sad to say since I consider myself a Libertarian first and foremost, the spirit of less government intrusion into our lives may have peaked and be on the decline.

            That appears to be the case based on some Libertarian Reps and Senators not seeking re-election to the New Hampshire House.   Seth Cohn, of Canterbury; Cameron DeJong, of Manchester, and Andy Manuse, of Derry—all Republicans--share two things in common.  They are among my favorite Reps, and they all have decided not to run again.  So too with young Kyle Jones, of Rochester, although Laura may well be back.

            So too with the three most Libertarian State Senators, James Forsythe, of Strafford, Ray White, of Bedford, and Andy Sanborn, who moved from Henniker and now faces an uphill battle in a new district (which includes Bedford).

            Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Libertarians, who are least fond of government, decide not to labor all that long in government vineyards.

            Perhaps, a new crop of Libertarians will take their place, but I certainly will miss these six individuals most of all, and I suspect they just might be irreplaceable.

            For sure, Mark Warden, of Goffstown, will most likely be back.  J.R. Hoell, of Bow, has a much better chance of getting re-elected now that two other incumbents from his district have decided not to run; and I’m encouraged that a new hero of mine, Tammy Simmons, of Ward 10 Manchester, will survive since Democrats have put up a chronic No Show Katsiantonis to run against her come November.

            Sadness, of course, is always tempered with joy, and as I look at the list of people not choosing not to run again, I am absolutely ecstatic in a handful of cases, but I think I choose to simply let them fade off into the sunset without even naming names.  Suffice it to say that anti-gay marriage forces have lost their biggest supporter.

            Among the Democrats I will most miss are Christine Hamm, gnadige Frau from Hopkinton—what fun we had on Ways and Means and Local and Regulated Revenues over the years—and Steve DeStefano, of Bow, a real gentleman.  Oh yes, Kathy Taylor, of Franconia, as well…not to mention David Pierce who most likely will be moving on to the Senate.

            Most Democrats, it seems, are in fact running again, and they are joined by many who lost two years ago but stand a good chance of getting back this November—Joel Winters certainly tops that list.

            On the non-Libertarian Republican side, I won’t be the only one missing Division I Finance Chair Bill Belvin, of Amherst.  His dedication to duty was phenomenal; he did his homework and will be missed by the institution as well as by me personally (although maybe we’ll have a better chance of trimming the Arts budget without him here; we can only hope).

            In all honesty, for every person I will miss, there are probably two people I…well, let’s be kind and end it right there.  Official numbers may come from the clerk’s office later, but my guess is that fewer people than usual are not seeking re-election this time around. 

            Seth Cohn, Cam DeJong, and Andy Manuse—you will be missed most of all.  So many people pretend to be in favor of less government intrusion in our lives, but it's only talk.  You three walked the walk and will be missed by someone who continues to fight to get government "out of our wallets, out of our beds, and off our backs."  (Well, Andy, you missed one of those, but you are forgiven).

            Auf wiedersehen.



Expect Independent Cynthia Dokmo To Win In Amherst

            Regular readers of this blog will note that I tend to discount the possibility of anyone winning as an Independent, that is to say without the endorsement (and the “straight ticket” votes which go with it) of either the Republican or Democratic Party.

            You will also recall the rule that the bigger the district, the less chance of an Independent pulling off a victory.  That’s why I noted that Independent Art Beaudry, a lifelong Democrat, is much more likely to pull votes away from Democrat Donna Soucy in Senate District 18 (approximately 55,000 people) than to actually win.

            Having reiterated all that, I am ready to make a prediction that former Republican Represenative Cynthia Dokmo, running as an Independent for one of three seats in Amherst (Hillsborough District 22), will pull a Murkowski and win.  She only needs 150 signatures to get on the ballot, an easy task, and I suspect she will find Democrats, Republicans, and Undeclared voters more than happy to “bullet” her come November.

            The population of Amherst is only 11,201.  Until redistricting, Amherst was paired with Milford in a megadistrict which would have made it much more difficult to prevail as an independent.

            For much of the past decade, Dokmo topped the entire ticket in the Amherst-Milford area.  Two years ago, she was narrowly defeated in a Republican primary (yes, they were out to get her for her more moderate stance on some issues).  The eighth and final finisher in the primary received 1293 votes; Dokmo had 1283.

            Let’s just look at 2008, a fairly bad year for Democrats.  She topped the ticket with 7123 votes to 6630 for the second place finisher and 5612 for the eighth place (and final) winner.

            She then mounted a write-in campaign (virtually impossible) and managed to pull 2012 votes (far short of the 4665 for the eighth place finisher in November, but impressive nevertheless).

            This is not an “out on a limb” prediction.

            I am very confident that Independent Dokmo will deny Republicans a sweep of the three Amherst seats (in fact, I think Democrat Shannon Chandley, a former Rep, could win as well, but that’s another story). 

            The advantage for being on the party line is very real, but Dokmo is the ideal candidate to pull off this feat.  (The last time I recall anyone doing it was 2000 when a certain Libertarian—on neither the Republican nor Democratic ballot—managed to take the third and final seat in Manchester Ward 8.  Ah yes, I remember it well).

            I’m not predicting Cynthia Dokmo will come in first, but I do think she’ll be among the top three finishers, and thus a winner.

            As you look at the filings on the Secretary of State’s web site, don’t ignore the link for those filing with signature (in other words, to run as Independents).  I nearly missed it and began to wonder about Cynthia. Then, lo and behold, I found her.  I like her a great deal (of course, she’s less financially conservative than I am, but then so is everybody).  So apparently did former Republican House leadership; she was placed on the Finance Committee.

            I congratulate her for choosing this course of action.

            In this district, Republicans already have a primary.  One of the four (Judiciary Chair Robert Rowe, Ways and Means Chair Steve Stepanek, Peter Hansen, and Reed Panasiti) will be eliminated in the primary. 

            Stephen Morgan and John Shonle join Chandley to round out the Democratic field.

            Don’t confuse the three-seat Amherst district with the single seat floterial (District 41) which combines Bedford and Amherst (it appears to be Democrat Len Gerzon versus new Bedford Republican Laurie Sanborn, wife of former Senator Andy Sanborn, in that one).

            It would not out of the question for another Independent to pull off a November win (former Democrat Betty Hall of Brookline--Hills. 26--comes to mind--it's only a two-member district), but that would be a long shot.

            Cynthia Dokmo is no long shot; bank on it.

            Her vote could really matter as well.  I started last night to run my new predictions based on current filings, and I have Republicans just barely holding on to the majority in Hillsborough County, either 61-60-1 or 62-59-1 (the one being gnadige Frau Dokmo).

             But that's a story for another seems stories for other days are piling up.


Filing Period Reveals Redistricting Flaws!

            File this one under the category, “You just can’t make this stuff up.”

            Better yet, let’s create a new category.  Let’s file this one under the category of “calling a tail a leg won’t make a horse have five legs because calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.”

            Even as House legal counsel/lobbyist/spinmeister Ed Mosca rushed to the media to claim that yesterday’s State Supreme Court decision on redistricting was a total vindication for the House, the filing facts prove just the opposite is true.

            Remember how part of the debate focused around Pelham which deserves four Representatives of its own, but might in fact wind up with zero according to the plan Mosca so desperately wants to defend.

            With filing period completed for individuals, Republicans have filled the 11 seats for Hillsborough District 37 (the Hudson-Pelham grouping), and more than 11 candidates have filed.  In fact, 12 have thus necessitating a Republican primary, but guess what?

            Of the 12 candidates who filed, only three are from Pelham.  One will be eliminated in the primary.  Thus, if this district comes out the way Mosca and Republicans undoubtedly hope it will, Pelham will be deprived (some would say “cheated”) out of at least one Rep it deserves, most likely two.

            So much for total vindication!

            So much for attempting to call a tail a leg!

            On the Democratic side, only six individuals filed for the 11 seats (the party has until 5 p.m. today to fill the five vacancies). 

           Guess what?

           Slow down; don't get too far ahead of me.

           Yes indeed, only one of the six is from Pelham.  Had Pelham been separted from Hudson, as it should have been, chances are that four individuals would have come forth from each party.  As it is now, Pelham is dominated nearly two to one by Hudson, so those thinking of running from Pelham most likely are discouraged by the odds.  To right that wrong was the purpose of the amendment in 2006.

           The arguments made by those of us against this House plan are coming true very quickly.

           Pelham, it very much appears, will be denied the four Reps it deserves as expressed by more than two-thirds of voters in the state who approved the Constitutional Amendment in 2006.

           But Pelham is not the only example.

           As everyone in the Manchester delegation knows very well (remember how they all "promised" to vote to sustain John Lynch's veto) Manchester deserves 33.2 Reps, but it was potentially dropped to 31 Reps by the House plan, and if Republicans have anything to do with it, the potentiality will become a reality, at least for one of the seats.

          Only two Republicans filed for the two-member float (Hillsborough District 44) which includes Manchester Wards 8 and 9 and Litchfield.  One is from Manchester, Andy Martel; the other is from Litchfield, George “Forget About That Senate Race” Lambert.  Thus, the only way for Manchester to retain these two seats will be for a Democrat to beat Lambert.  Only one Democrat has filed so far; that would be Gary Haworth from my own ward 8; I seem to recall talking with him from door-to-door travels in the past. 

         Welcome aboard, Democrat Gary Haworth.

         No, you just can’t make this stuff up.  Even as some would try to convince us total vindication was delivered by the courts, the truth is the filing period has proven the very worst of expectations about this redistricting scheme have come to pass.

         And that’s just the first two examples I’ve looked at.

        Quite clearly, the will of the people as expressed in 2006 is not being followed, the Court notwithstanding.

        Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not about to blame the court.  I’m not like Rep. Paul Mirski who from the House floor two weeks ago called the judges “unethical”.  I respect the judges.

       The judges didn’t create this redistricting mess.  The House did, and now we all have to live with a mess which could have been very easily fixed.  What we don't have to do AND MUST NEVER DO is pretend that there’s any such thing as vindication here…just like we don’t have to pretend that calling a tail a leg will give a horse (or a cow) five legs!


Hillsborough County Property Taxes Remain Stable

If the entire Hillsborough County legislative delegation tomorrow night follows the lead of the Executive Committee, there will be no property tax increase for county towns for the third consecutive year.

            By a 15-3 vote Wednesday noon, the Executive Committee recommending holding the overall tax rate steady by using $3.5 million of the county’s surplus and directing department heads to trim $919,000 (about two percent) from their salary lines. 

            Only Democrats Barbara Shaw from Manchester, Ken Gidge from Nashua, and Republican Win Hutchinson from Manchester Ward 2 voted against the final motion after more than two hours of discussion.

            The amount to be raised by taxes would remain steady at $44,109,421; the total county budget would be in excess of $84 million.

            During this morning’s discussions, raising taxes this year never seemed to be an issue.  The question was how much of the surplus should be used.  Chairman Carl Seidel, R-Nashua, not for the first time this year, abandoned his fellow Republicans and pushed for using more of the surplus, $4 million worth.

            That motion failed by an 7-11 vote with the majority agreeing with Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, that if the county draws down too much of the surplus, substantial increases will be the result for outlying years.

            Seidel’s motion not only would have used an extra half million from the surface, but it also fudged where the other $400,000 would come from.  Seidel seemed to want the commissioners to find it from lapses, but that of course, is simply another way of drawing down a future surplus.

            By an 8-10 vote, a motion (from Reps. Kurk and John Cebrowski, R-Bedford and very much favored by me personally) to eliminate $361,000 for funding the county cooperative extension program failed.

            The entire delegation (122 members) is scheduled to meet Thursday night at the county complex in Goffstown to act on the proposal.

            The executive committee Wednesday also approved a contract for 15 paralegal workers in the county attorney’s office.  In exchange for a one percent performance increase (which will amount to approximately $6000 a year), the workers will accept change in health care which should save the county twice that amount.

            The committee had been hoping that other more populous unions would accept similar terms, but they have not.


76 Primary Contests In The NH House; 9 In The Senate

This is unofficial, but barring any more filings which arrive at the Secretary of State’s office with a Friday postmark, we now know exactly how many primary contests there will be come September, and the number appears to be higher than usual.

            The parties still have another 24 hours to fill seats which individuals failed to file for; the Deputy Secretary and I are in accord that this is the excess number:

            For State Representative, Republicans will have 59 primary contests in the 203 districts; Democrats will have 17 contests in the 203 districts.  You would have to check on the number of Reps in each district to get a better breakdown, but it appears that Republicans have an excess of 83 candidates for State Rep; that’s how many will lose in the primary.

            Among those with a primary challenge will be House Speaker Bill O’Brien.  Both he and his former Chief of Staff Bob Mead have filed for the two member Hillsborough 5 seats including Mt. Vernon and New Boston.  However, a third filing came in at the same time, John Quinlan, also of Mt. Vernon.  One of the three will be eliminated in the primary.  The other two will advance to face two New Boston Democrats, Kary Jencks and David Woodbury.

            Are people talking about these races?  Well, as most of you know, I usually stay in and read over the weekend, but with my brother here this weekend, I was engaged in a major outdoor project (it’s called mowing and trimming), and as neighbors walked by, the topic of politics seemed to be on the mind of at least one man whose number one priority is to get rid of O’Brien.  Of course, this is in highly Republican Ward 8 (south Manchester), not Mt. Vernon, so as they say in German, “Wir warden sehen.”

            Of the 24 State Senate districts, Democrats have only on primary, in the “can’t lose” Democratic district 5 (Hanover, Lebanon, and Claremont) where Matt Houde is stepping down.  Hanover Rep David Pierce would have to be considered a favorite over former Claremont Rep Sandy Harris in that one.  I happen to like both of them; and during some quite time, remind me to tell you a story of how Rep. Harris put me in my place (rightly so) on the House floor one time.  Hint—How I can count the ways.

            For the thankless task of advancing in District 5, Republican Represenative Joe Osgood is being challenged by Cynthia Howard, both of Claremont.  Claremont is about the same size as Lebanon, but even with fewer people, Hanover is likely to drive this district since its turnout is so much heavier.

            Prediction—Senator—if not President—Pierce.

            Just like O’Brien in the House, Senate President Peter Bragdon gets a primary challenge.  In District 11 (Milford, Merrimack, Amherst), the Milford President will face Daniel Dwyer from Merrimack (which has about twice as many people).  Democrats were unable to file any candidate in this district.

            The other six Republican primaries are mostly in districts in which incumbents are stepping down including a three way race to replace John Gallus in District 1 (the North Country) and a three way race to replace Senator White in District 9 (Bedford).  I would favor Littleton psychologist Debi Warner over Mark Evans of Berlin and Frank Dumaine of Colebrook.

            Representative Ken Hawkins faces former District 7 Senator Andy Sanborn (who has moved) and Michael Kenney in this one.  All three are from Bedford which dominates this district even as it has moved westward giving Democrat Lee Nyquist an outside shot come November.  Prediction—Senator Hawkins.

            Former Senator and Rochester Mayor Dick Green has entered the District 6 race (Groen is retiring).  In fact, his entry has driven State Rep Peter Bolster, of Alton, out of the race back into a State Rep race.  Green would have to be considered a heavy favorite against Representative Sam Cataldo of Farmington.

            Also dropping his bid for a Senate race and returning to a crowded House race is Goffstown Rep. John Hikel in District 20 (polegate, and I don’t mean pole as in the ballot box, most likely had a great deal to do with this decision).  That leaves Manchester Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo uncontested to face long-time incumbent Lou D’Allesandro in what should be rated a toss-up.

            For the newly created District 7 seat, William Grimm, of Franklin, faces Joshua Youssef, of Laconia, for the right to meet Democrat Andrew Hosmer, of Laconia, in November in what should be another toss-up.

            To replace Jack Barnes in District 17, House Human Service Chair John Reagan, of Deerfield, is being challenged by Howard Pearl, of Loudon.  Reagan should become the next senator here.

            Finally, in District 23, which has become much more Republican due to redistricting, incumbent Russell Prescott is challenged by Dennis Acton whom I’ve got to like.  He reads this blog on a regular basis…or so I’m told.

            There are two Republican races for the five Executive Council seats and one on the Democratic side.  The venerable Ray Burton, of Bath, has drawn a challenge from Gerard Thibodeau, of Rumney, in district one.  No odds maker would even take bets on that one.  That’s how far off the charts it is.  (Is this the same Thibodeau who was Manchester City GOP chair in a former life?  I believe it is…That name recognition won’t help much against King of the North Country Burton).

            Three Democrats from different parts of the new and highly Democratic District 2 have stepped forward—insider (not a compliment by the way) Colin Van Ostern from Concord, former Councilor John Shea, of Nelson (remember he didn’t even know he’d won a few years back), and Shawn Mickelonis, of Rochester.  The Concord area should dominate this, so give the edge to the insider.

            To replace Ray Wieczorek, a retiring venerable one, it’s State Senator Tom DeBlois against Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns and Gatsas-backed businessman Chuck Rolecek.  As much as I like and admire Ted, his endorsements have more often turned out like the kiss of death, so I’ll go with DeBlois here to face former Rep Chris (he of the Back Room Pappi) in November.

            The only surprise at the top of the ticket was Ward 5 School Board primary loser Robert Tarr’s quixotic run for Governor on the GOP side (don’t expect him to be invited to any debates).

            Frank Guinta faces two opponents and Charlie Bass for in GOP Congressional primaries.  Democrat Carol Shea Porter has drawn one opponent (name him or her for extra points); only Ann McLane Kuster gets a pass in the primary.


            Tomorrow, a look at who’s not running in the House.

            The answer is Diane Soracco, of Manchester.  Next question—Anybody know her?  Not I said the cat.