As the polls narrow dramatically for governor in New Hampshire—the latest New England College Polls actually out yesterday had a 47-47 tie—Governor Maggie Hassan clearly wishes she were running against former House Speaker Bill O’Brien.
But she’s not.
Hassan misses few opportunities, whether it be in a debate, on the stump, or on the set of Channel 9, to point out how New Hampshire cannot afford to return the Bill O’Brien days of leading New Hampshire.
Of course, Hassan isn’t running against Bill O’Brien.
She’s running against the avuncular Walt Havenstein (with a friendly demeanor not unlikely another famous Walter, “Uncle” Walt Cronkite).
Havenstein, while still down 6.6 points in the Real Clear Politics averages, is coming on like gangbusters. The fact that Barack Obama is 15.6 points under water in approval in New Hampshire (see below) is certainly part of it, but Havenstein seems to have hit his stride as well.
President Obama Job Approval in New Hampshire
|RCP Average||10/4 - 10/26||--||40.3||55.9||-15.6|
|New England College||10/24 - 10/24||1132 LV||46||51||-5|
|WMUR/UNH||10/22 - 10/26||555 LV||41||56||-15|
|CNN/Opinion Research||10/18 - 10/21||645 LV||39||57||-18|
|UMass Lowell/7News||10/15 - 10/21||643 LV||37||60||-23|
|Suffolk/Boston Herald||10/16 - 10/19||500 LV||40||56||-16|
|UMass Amherst/WBZ||10/10 - 10/15||322 LV||38||57||-19|
|High Point/SurveyUSA||10/4 - 10/8||824 LV||41||54||-13|
Personally I’ve gone from leaning toward writing in Andy Hemingway to most likely voting for Havenstein now. His position, seemingly in support of marijuana decriminalization, is a major reason. While Hassan remains tied to her Reefer Madness past, Havenstein seems to have evolved considerably on this important issue.
Faced with running against the highly likable Havenstein, Hassan seems to be confused.
She thinks she’s running against O’Brien, and while that play might well have led to a touchdown in 2011, it’s more likely to lead to a pick six this year.
Hassan should fire whichever advisor keeps whispering in her ear, “Just attack O’Brien”.
One of the immutable laws of politics, one which Hassan seems intent on violating, is that people have short memories.
My guess is that 80 to 90 percent of New Hampshire voters don’t even remember who Bill O’Brien is. Among those who do, he will be re-elected easily in his home district of Mt. Vernon, and by making him such a lightning rod, Hassan is merely setting O’Brien up as a force to be reckoned with when (not if) Republicans take control of the New Hampshire House.
I’m not saying he will return to the Speaker’s chair (that truly depends on which Republicans get elected next week), but he’ll certainly have bragging rights. He’ll be able to say that despite being vilified by Maggie Hassan, he and Republicans scored major gains.
Actually when you get right down to it—and this is something only honest insiders will acknowledge—the budget passed in 2013-14 (and signed by Hassan) was closer to the O’Brien budget of 201-2012 than she will ever admit. She couldn’t restore all the spending she wanted to because…well because the revenues just weren’t there…especially after the House, including many of her own Democrats, shot down here $90 million revenue source, a single and highly regulated casino. (While New Hampshire may have netted $90 million, billions would have flown out of state, indeed out of the country, to Millennium, the company which has been trying to sell the Salem casino for almost as long as Manchester Senator Lou D’Allesandro has been pushing it).
But I digress.
This bog was supposed to include a print example of Hassan attacking O’Brien rather than Havenstein.
Here’s paragraph three of a Valley News story dated October 22—
They can re-elect her for a second term or “we can allow my opponent to really pull us backward to the Bill O’Brien era that really devastated our small businesses, our working families, and our economy,” Hassan said.
Oh really…and I thought that O’Brien’s policies were much more friendly for small businesses than those of Hassan.
What a strange line of attack by our first term governor…the ball is just hanging out there ready for a pick six.
Poor Maggie…at the same time she can’t lay a glove on Havenstein, the Concord Monitor, best friend of big tax and spenders everywhere, brings back to life the man who single-handedly nearly destroyed the Democratic party in 2002. Yes that would be pro income taxer Mark Fernald who lost big to Craig Benson that year, causing Democrats everywhere to hot foot it away as from an income tax plan as a vampire moves away from a cross.
Fernald has penned on op-ed piece, “Does the state have a revenue problem? Havenstein says no, but he’s wrong” for the Monitor.
Being called wrong by income tax advocate Mark Fernald is probably the best gift Havenstein could get as he attempts to pull a stunning upset, the best gift that is unless Hassan insists on lobbing up more pick sixes in the coming week.
Before the week is out, I’ll write in detail and how all but seven Democrats, unable to deal with strong arm tactics of House leader Peter Burling, voted for an income tax.
Hassan says she would veto an income tax today—don’t they all?—but with Fernald attacking Havenstein, maybe he’s hitting the right chord with new commercials putting the dreaded broad-base tax back in play.
Stay tuned for the story behind the story of the day Democrats were thrilled by the 194-190 income tax passage.
As for now, watch out Maggie. As drivers are warned, objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear. That’s Uncle Walt Havenstein, not Bill O’Brien, in your rear view mirror.
Just keep the ever increasingly loathsome Chris Christie out of the state for the final seven days, Uncle Walt, and you’ve got my vote (only a joke).
Tomorrow night's debate may be worth watching after all, and please Madame Governor, don't try telling us again that your favorite web site is from the Nashua Telegraph. Since the bean counters there released Kevin Landrigan, the best reproter in the state, to save a few sheckels, there's been very little in that paper worth paying attention to. Really, Maggie, really, try the Real Clear Politics site. You too, Uncle Walt (and that's no joke).
|Poll||Date||Sample||MoE||Hassan (D)||Havenstein (R)||Spread|
|RCP Average||10/15 - 10/24||--||--||49.3||42.8||Hassan +6.5|
|New England College||10/24 - 10/24||1132 LV||2.9||47||47||Tie|
|ARG||10/19 - 10/22||600 LV||4.0||53||43||Hassan +10|
|CBS News/NYT/YouGov||10/16 - 10/23||1042 LV||4.0||47||38||Hassan +9|
|CNN/Opinion Research||10/18 - 10/21||645 LV||4.0||51||45||Hassan +6|
|UMass Lowell/7News||10/15 - 10/21||643 LV||4.5||49||45||Hassan +4|
|Suffolk/Boston Herald||10/16 - 10/19||500 LV||4.4||49||39||Hassan +10|