Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Putting Rumors Of Primary "Interference" To Rest

Rumors are rife about Democrats trying to influence results in last week's Republican primaries.

While I don't doubt that Democrats may have preferred that certain Republican candidates prevail, the ones who would be easier to defeat in November, we should beware before we put much credence in the success of these efforts.

Saturday at the GOP convention (a day that will live in infamy), one Republican told me that Democratic State Senator Donna Soucy was going around asking Undeclared voters to take a Republican ballot in the primary and vote for George Lambert over Robyn Dunphy who would have been a greater threat in the general election.

I don't for a minute doubt that Soucy would rather face Lambert (who wouldn't), but one needs only to look at the numbers to realize that it was not Soucy's "interference" which cost Dunphy the race. Lambert won by about 400 votes, and even if 90 percent of Undeclared voters had taken a Republican ballot to vote for Lambert (not at all likely), he still would have won.

My theory is and was that many voted for George Lambert thinking they were voting for Gary Lambert, the candidate for Congress in the first Congressional district. After all, his ads (and ads attacking him) had been inundating the TV air waves.

I was going to let this bizarre rumor pass. In a razor thin close race, it is conceivable that dirty tricks by the other party could influence a primary outcome, but this wasn't razor thin.

However, today I heard another rumor, that Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley was trying to convince Undeclared voters to grab a Republican ballot soas to vote for Robert Burns for Executive Councilor. For sure, Burns will be far easier for Democrat Chris Pappas to defeat come November; Jennifer "The First" Horn may choose to malign me for saying it again, but there can be no doubt that Pappas is a much better candidate than Burns. However, Burns defeated Jim Adams by such a huge margin, in the 60-40 percent range (10,787-7720), in the GOP primary that no reasonable person could blame it on Buckley's dirty tricks.  Even if you subtract the vote of every Undeclared voter, who "might have" voted for Burns due to Buckley's alleged ploy, Burns would have won comfortably.

Sad but true.

How Burns won is beyond me. As a State Representative serving on the Hillsborough County delegation for many years, I had occasion to work with both Burns and Pappas when they served as county treasurer. Pappas was head and shoulders above Burns, but Jennifer, you needn’t take my word for it. In 2011-2012, Republicans dominated the 21-member Executive Committee, and Burns was so bad that toward the end of the second year, some Republican Reps began to openly snicker when he would come before us with a presentation of how to use county "excess" monies.

Apparently that message didn't get out to primary voters, but even Drew Cline of the Union Leader opined after the election that Burns is not in the same league with Pappas.

Buckley and Pappas certainly got to run against the candidate they most want to, but me thinks their gamesmanship had very little to do with it.

Rumors of successful interference in another party's primary, going back to Rush Limbaugh's open campaign to help Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama in 2008, are always more hype than reality.

Sorry Jennifer, but just seeing Robert Burns, shown here at the Channel 9 studio, I feel a snicker coming on.
In a Republican sweep year, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas could conceibably lose, but he lucked out by drawing Burns as an opponent.  There can be no doubt whom I will vote for.

The Race For Speaker--Moore Targeted 40 Republicans

Now is that a face you would trust, yes or no?


Since I posted an in depth story on the race for New Hampshire Speaker yesterday, a fifth Republican Representative has come forward to tell me that he was "targeted" by Greg Moore, former chief of staff under Speaker Bill O'Brien and current Koch Brothers point man in New Hamsphire.  Like in other cases, the targeted Republican won rather easily and will not be voting for Bill O'Brien for Speaker.

However, there's even more dramatic news on that front.  While I've been reporting only personal revelations to me, I have just learned that in fact Moore and his Koch-funded Citizens for Prosperity targeted no less than 40 Republican candidates; no word on how many of them won, but I assume most of them did.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

Talk about what goes around comes around!

If this is true (and I have no reason to believe it isn't), it could well be game, set, and match against O'Brien.

In my report yesterday, I neglected to note two races, one a win for team O'Brien, one for team Chandler.  Steve Stepanek, Ways and Means Chair under O'Brien and rumored to be Majority Leader should O'Brien return to power, finished second of three winners in Amherst and is almost certain to win in November; expect Stepanek to knock out popular Democrat Shannon Chandley who just barely won two years ago (indeed, it's not a good year to be a Democrat in highly Reublican Amherst).

However, as I did the Bedford recount, I noted that O'Brien's people were on hand for Emily O'Neill who lost the sixth seat to Ken Peterson, most likely a Chandler supporter (if not originally, then certainly by now) by a handful of votes.

If you'd like to share input on what should become a regular feature here, "The Race for Speaker", let me know privately at or post it under my blog at  If I trust what you say, I'll pass it along.

 Bill O'Brien prepares to shake hands with his former Chief of Staff and current Kock operative Greg Moore.  The question now becomes--how hard will O'Brien try to distance himself from Moore's attacks of 40 fellow Republicans, only one of whom (Stroud, Merrimack) lost her primary?

Texas Paper Weighs In Against Gambling Expansion Ploy

Remember how in the week prior to Labor Day, I reported how Texas Governor Rick Perry was pulling an end-run around the State Legislature to bring expanded gambling to his state.  At the time, I stressed that this was a decision only a legislature should make (and that Perry's treachery should hurt him should he decide to enter the New Hampshire primary). Apparently, at least one Texas newspaper agrees with me. Here's an editorial from the Ft. Woth Star-Telegram this past week.  

Take note, New Hampshire; these phony slots could be back before us again next session (it was sponsored by Senator Andrew Hosmer, D-Laconia, and Senator Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, here).  These people never give up.

My sources indicate that Texas courts are likely to overturn the executive action decision on expanded gambling.  Time will tell.


Ft. Worth Star-Telegram Editorial Board, September 19, 2014

If it looks like a slot machine, and works like a slot machine, it’s a slot machine.

It’s not a horse race, state District Judge David L. Evans wrote in his ruling this week.

At the same time, Evans wrote that a state representative alone can’t block the Texas Racing Commission from allowing racetracks to install “historical racing” video terminals, which essentially replay past races and produce a winning or losing result.

A majority of commissioners voted to accept applications for the terminals, arguing that they fall within the agency’s legal authority over pari-mutuel wagering.

Basically, Evans called that beating a dead horse.

“The Legislature’s definition of pari-mutuel wagering is limited to wagers on an animal or animals,” he wrote in dismissing a lawsuit by state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth.

“An animal is ‘a living thing’ … This language is consistent with live or simulcast racing and inconsistent with videos of animals in past races and who may not even be alive.”

Still, Evans dismissed Krause’s lawsuit for lack of standing, but rarely has a plaintiff ever won so much by losing.

The judge left the door open for other lawsuits. One was filed this week by an attorney and lobbyist representing bingo halls, which donate a marginal amount of proceeds to charity.

Bingo operators also view the historical racing terminals as “casino gambling,” attorney Steve Bresnen said.

They’re right.

Advocates of historical racing say the technology is a new way for Texas’ slumping horse racing industry to raise revenue and pay larger purses that would help tracks compete with those in other states.

But the video interface is similar to slot machines, which are only legal in Texas as small-stakes amusement games paying $5 or less.

The racing-replay terminals will work and function like slot machines and attract some of the same concerns that have kept casino gambling out of Texas.

When Texas voters approved horse racing, the goal was to support the state’s horse ranchers and breeders, not to open the door for another form of multimedia gaming.

Gambling is an issue that should be decided by lawmakers and voters, not by appointees.


Will GOP Convention Cost Scott Brown The Senate Seat?

Apparently I wasn't the only Republican to disagree with right wing zealots who dominated Saturday's New Hampshire party convention.  Remember this.

NH Republicans Push Freedom...Except For Gay People
 2 days ago - As expected, New Hampshire Republicans, at their state conventionearlier ... Republicans believe in freedom for everyone except their gay 
  • Now, Politico is reporting how the abortion plank is already coming back to haunt U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown.   A little ol' state Rep from Ward 8 Manchester (that would be I) means very little, but this story going national could well cost Republicans an important pick-up in the United States Senate.  Time will tell, but it's going to be a losing week for Brown thanks to this, and every week you spend on defense is a week you can't spend pointing out how Jeanne Shaheen votes with Barack Obama 99 percent of the time and how she was the decisive vote for the ever unpopular Obamacare.  No wonder N.H. state party officials declined to offer a comment on the story; clearly, they'd like it to just go away.  

    This should be especially troubling for Party Chair Jennifer "the First" Horn who spent much of last week threatening Republicans who even considered supporting a Democrat (Chris Pappas, a far better candidate than Bob Burns for Executive Council in the Manchester area).  What's she going to do now?  Say that Scott Brown isn't a proper Republican?


    Talk about wishing your dirty laundry in public!  

    Talk about the lunatics running the asylum!  (But guess what; they're undoubtedly too ignorant to realize--or even care about--the harm they've done),

    Democratic Chair Ray Buckley, he of the nasty one liner and ever-present smirk, couldn't have done more to hurt Reublicans than these overzealous Republican delegates (only you can decide if the word neanderthal truly applies). Just wait till the media gets a hold of the anti-gay language.


    An A.P. reporter was asking me for the exact language today. I don't have it.  Does anyone?  Certainly Jen can't keep it hidden forever, and as we should have learned long ago with Richard Nixon, a cover-up only makes things much worse).

    In the immortal words of the great J.D. Clampett (of the Beverly Hills Clampetts), "Pitiful...pitiful."


    Scott Brown splits with New Hampshire GOP on abortion

    Republican Scott Brown speaks. | AP Photo

    New Hampshire Republican officials declined to respond to Brown's break from platform. | AP Photo

    Republican Scott Brown has something to run against besides Democrat Jeanne Shaheen: His state GOP’s abortion stance.

    The New Hampshire Republican Party adopted Saturday a socially conservative party platform that supports “the pre-born child’s fundamental right to life and person-hood under the Fourteenth Amendment” as well as the “Life at Conception Act.” Those policies are at odds with the New Hampshire GOP’s Senate nominee’s stances on abortion, and Brown’s Democratic opponent Shaheen attacked him on Monday for the “disturbing” message sent by the New Hampshire Republicans.

    In an emailed statement, a Brown aide made clear that the former Massachusetts senator does not agree with the personhood language, which defines life as starting at conception and grants fetuses the same rights as human beings.

    “Scott Brown is pro-choice and will protect a woman’s right to choose,” Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton said.

    In a highly critical statement, Shaheen said she saw little daylight between the party’s activist base in New Hampshire and Brown’s position.

    “They are dangerously wrong, and by signing on with Tea Party extremists, they’re showing just how irresponsibly out of touch they are with the needs and rights of women,” Shaheen said.

    The race between Brown and Shaheen has tightened in the polls recently — and become increasingly nasty as Brown lobs attacks at Shaheen’s immigration position. The two agreed Monday to three televised debates in late October, though Brown is pushing for more.

    New Hampshire Republican officials declined to respond to messages about the party platform throughout the day on Monday. New Hampshire reporter James Pindell tweeted that the media was booted out of the bylaws portion of the party convention Saturday — and the 2014 party platform is still not publicly available, though it has been discussed extensively by GOP activists in social media shared with POLITICO. The party platform currently posted on the website is from 2012.

    The personhood issue is affecting several close Senate races like Colorado, where Republican Rep. Cory Gardner has disavowed his earlier support for the language and is now aggressively backing over-the-counter contraceptive availability. And Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) has attacked Republican opponent Joni Ernst for supporting the language as a state lawmaker; Ernst has also emphasized her support for birth control.

    Read more:


    The Race For Speaker--Greg Moore Wounds O'Brien

    Once and most likely future (?) NH House Speaker, either Gene Chandler (above) or Bill O'Brien.
    The talk around the hallways of the State House last Wednesday was not at all about Governor Maggie Hassan's vetoes; there was very little chance that any of them would be over-ridden.

    Quite to the contrary, everyone was asking me to weigh in on the race for New Hampshire Speaker.  While I'd actually prefer to write about the U.S. Senate, I realize the main stream media is handling that quite well thank you; Fox News seems to be wheeling our Karl Rove on a daily basis to push the Republican line.

    While the race for Speaker is more an "inside baseball" story, I fully realize I probably have some "dope" here that few others have, so I'll share it here, and you can decide how much you want to know.

    My answer when asked to rate the chances of Gene Chandler vs. Bill O'Brien (and let's face it, Republicans will have such firm control that no Democrat need apply; sorry Steve Shurtleff, but that's the truth) is the same as it was lat summer.  If Republicans take less than 250 seats, the odds will favor Chandler.  If the sweep goes beyond what several of us are expecting, then O'Brien could well win.  Keep in mind that he won the Republican caucus in 2010 only because 298 Republicans had been elected that November.  Had the number been in the 250-280 range, there's no doubt in my mind that Chandler would have prevailed.  Even with the 298, O'Brien won by less than ten votes on a second ballot.

    Thus, the number one factor in predicting who the Speaker will be is guessing how many seats Republicans will control.  As I reported last week, I upped my number from 239 to 250 in the wake of the primary, and truth be told, it could go much higher; once these dominoes start to fall, there's no telling how many of them will topple.

    Thus, from that point of view, I'd give O'Brien a real shot.

    However, ultimately we get down to counting individuals, and as I reviewed primary results, I'd say the primary was much better for Chandler than for O'Brien who in fact can "thank" Greg Moore, his chief of staff when he was Speaker, for problems he faces today.  Remember that Moore, who is very popular with tea party elements of the party but truly despised by some of the old guard (no names please) parachuted out of his office with the Speaker to a cushy position with the Koch brothers and their Americans for Prosperity organization.

    Remember too that I reported the day before the primary how I had received two mailers from Moore and Company attacking Mark Proulx, an anti-right to work Republican running for the float in my district.  I also wondered how many other Republicans were similarly targeted, and I'm beginning to get an answer.  Three other Republicans have come forward to tell me they were so targeted.  In fact, one actually showed me the mailing which was exactly like the one I had received against Proulx.

    Guess what?  All four of these targeted Republicans won.  Proulx and two others even topped the ticket handily, and you can be sure, they'll never vote for O'Brien not matter how much he might try to distance himself from the slimy tactics of his former chief of staff.  I should probably name names since my guess is these Reps would not have told me unless they wanted it made public--okay, I'll name two of them, James Webb in Derry and James Devine of Sanborn.

    Don't get me wrong; Moore and the Koch Brothers had every right to target Republicans, but these Republicans also have every right to remember it when it comes to voting for Speaker.  I can only assume there were many more than the four who have become known to me.

    Thus, O'Brien's former chief of staff may well have fatally wounded him in the race for Speaker.

    However, it goes much deeper than that.  While O'Brien acolyte David Bates, of Windham, won his primary (finishing fourth out of four winners), O'Brien lost at least five supporters.  Both Garcia sisters are out in Salem, victims of their anti-gambling stance in a town that voted 80 percent for expanded gambling last winter.  Salem in fact was one of the few towns Marilinda lost in her Congressional race, and sister Bianca lost by one or two votes (after the recount).

    Not only was O'Brien supporter Tim Comerford beaten in the Fremont area, but he lost to an anti right to work candidate.  How do I know?   Because a labor leader (no names please) began talking to me at my own polling place on election day, relating how they were out to "get" Comerford; they did.   They also got O'Brien supporter Calvin Pratt in Goffstown.

    I warned you that we'd need to get into the weeds here, considering individuals, not just some nebulous group.

    Long time Chandler supporter David Welch, former respected Criminal Justice Chair, returned after being ousted by the far right in 2012.  So did Chandler supporter John Tholl in the north country.  Of course, we need to await general election results, but trust me here, I wouldn't be naming names unless I was relatively sure they would win in November.

    The only Chandler supporter who lost, according to my calculations, was John Graham, of Bedford, no surprise really since he championed the gas tax increase in the second most conservative town in the state (New Ipswich is number one in my rankings).  I would also rank Peter Silva, O'Brien supporter, a favorite in Nashua now that the party has added his name to the ballot, but on balance, my quick tally is that Chandler benefits by about a 15-5 margin as a result of the primary.

    I know those numbers are not large, but in a close race, every Republican counts.  No, I don't expect Democrats will be able to play games with this like they did in 2004 in electing Republican Doug Scamman over the now departed Mike Whalley.

    After wandering around at Saturday's Republican convention (after all, I couldn't stand the pablum coming from most of the speakers), I am convinced this race will be close indeed.  Many, many delegates were wearing O'Brien stickers. I didn't recognize most of the faces, so they may not all have been State Rep candidates and they may not win in November; that's precisely why I say the more Republicans elected, the better O'Brien's chances.

    However, after observing more than a few Sanborn (Laurie, of Bedford, husband of Senator Andy Sanborn) For Speaker stickers (including one on my own lapel, as I recall), I'm beginning to think that neither Chandler nor O'Brien will have a sufficient number of first ballot votes for victory (50 percent plus one is needed).

    That's my very long and convoluted answer to who the next speaker will be.
    Bottom line--I'd give Chandler an edge but not that big an edge.  Some Democrats are telling me that voters will turn out in droves to reject O'Brien. To that, I would respond, "Dream on."

    A truth in blogging caveat is in order.  Some people assume that I would be in Chandler's camp since I have supported him in the past and had a rather famous run-in with O'Brien.  You would be wrong to think that.  First, I would have to get elected (were I an analyst rather than a candidate, I would make me a favorite).
    While I like Chandler, I do not like (the word loathe would in fact apply) the people he would most likely choose as part of his leadership team.  Yes, I will name names--Shawn HV Jasper, David Hess, Sherm Packard, and Norm Major.  None of them can be trusted.  They all oppose three issues I hold close--retaining gay marriage; liberalizing our outmoded marijuana laws; and raising interstate speed limits (Packard has always fought again this...although he always admits to speeding himself, an especially loathsome confession).
    On the other hand, O'Brien is surrounded by some of my favorite Representatives including Dan and Carol McGuire and Pam Tucker. Whenever I start thinking about this choice, I remind myself that issues matter most, and I'm most likely closer to O'Brien than Chandler on issues.  If I'm elected, I'll pledge first  ballot support for Laurie Sanborn and see where we go from there.

    Whew!  At last, I can get back to looking at U.S. Senate races.  You know Democrats are in trouble when the best news of the past week is that a judge in Kansas allowed their Senate candidate to get off the ballot to allow a flawed independent a free shot at Pat Roberts (although slightly down in the RCP averge, Roberts has pulled ahead in the two most recent polls and will hold on to the seat).

    But that's another story....