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Sep 4, 2014 3:06 PM

Know Your Candidates

The midterm primary elections are coming up on September 9. In a state where most of the media skews to the right, getting an accurate picture of candidates can be challenging. One must go beyond the conventional (newspaper and TV) sources and dig a little deeper. Candidate research is crucial in order to avoid electing people who will be a huge embarrassment right out of the gate. With a 400 member House, there will be others who will require more time to maximize their embarrassment potential.

The highest profile primary contest is for the GOP nominee for US Senate. The winner will go on to face popular Senator Jeanne Shaheen in November. The three top candidates are Scott Brown, Jim Rubens, and Bob Smith. Brown and Smith are both former US Senators, Smith from NH and Brown from MA. Brown’s campaign has been strange. In Colebrook he knocked on the doors of supporters and called that “campaigning.” In N. Conway he ran away from a reporter and hid in the bathroom. Days ago on the radio in Massachusetts, he urged folks to come to NH and use our same day registration policy to vote for him. He has a lot of money, the party establishment has lined up behind him, and he looks pretty. Will that carry the day?

Rubens is a Dartmouth grad who has made a boatload of money. He once had a public blog called oversuccess.com. When some of the content from that blog went public, the blog went private. No longer can we peons read about the perils of being wealthy: “I have bathed in camera light during press conferences, political opponents skulking in the rear of ballrooms, forced to tolerate my applause lines, sycophants and well-wishers beaming and waiting in line to shake my hand or offer their help.” Rubens also ran afoul on that same blog by suggesting that the increasing number of women in the workplace has resulted in mass shootings. The implication being, of course, that those women are taking men’s jobs away from them. Rubens signed on to the campaign finance reform bandwagon and won the support of Lawrence Lessig and his MayDay PAC. He’s also jumped on the libertea bandwagon, and has attempted to be photographed in every gun store in NH.

Former Senator Bob Smith lost his bad toupee in Florida. He may have updated his hair, but not his ideology. Smith is working overtime to appeal to the farthest right fringe, but they seem more interested in Rubens. He’s unlikely to do well in the primary.

In the GOP primary for governor, the contest comes down to Walt Havenstein and Andrew Hemingway. Havenstein was the CEO at BAE Systems. BAE is a defense contractor. Walt boasts about the jobs he created there. He may have hired people, but those jobs were actually created by US taxpayers. The obscene US military spending is made possible by folks like you and me. Without the public teat to suckle from, Walt wouldn’t have been hiring.

Havenstein also entered the race with some confusion about his residency. He claimed that he’s always lived in NH, but he signed a homestead deduction in Maryland that stipulated he lived there in order to save a few thousand a year. The NH ballot commission ruled that he is a NH resident, and Maryland sent him a bill for the tax money he defrauded them for. He’s “considering” whether or not to pay it, a luxury not available to the rest of us.

Andrew Hemingway is the darling of the libertea crowd. A look at his website reveals he’s promoting the same old “solutions” that have been failing NH for decades. Neither Havenstein nor Hemingway mentions the word “infrastructure” on their campaign websites.

In Congressional District 1, the race comes down to former Congressman Frank Guinta and former Dean of the former Whittemore School of Business at UNH, now renamed the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics.

Frank Guinta slid into Congress during the red tide of 2010. He stayed for one term. Guinta “found” a bank account that provided his campaign with a $350,000 infusion of cash in 2010. That “find” didn’t match up with his income. The FEC investigation appears to be moving at the speed of the tectonic plates. Frank also distinguished himself by campaigning loudly about Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter’s alleged abuses of the Congressional franking system. In 2011, he spent more on franked mail than any other Congressperson. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) rated him one of the most corrupt legislators.

Dan Innis became the Dean of the business school at UNH in 2007. In 2008, the business school received a big wad of cash ($25 million) from alumnus Peter T. Paul. The school built what his now known as the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. Peter T. Paul amassed a fortune selling subprime mortgages, and later devising ways to package and sell mortgage debt to investors – a practice that has been cited as a key factor in the economic meltdown of 2008. In 2013, Innis stepped down from his position as Dean to explore a run for Congress. In 2014, Peter T. Paul created a Super Pac to help his friend Dan Innis beat Guinta in the primary. If Innis gets to Washington what kind of regulatory oversight will he be providing? Will he protect voters or his benefactor?

This is why it’s important to know the candidates. Do they already have a record of corruption? Where do their loyalties lie? Are they bought and paid for?

On the local level, we’ll also be electing House and Senate candidates, and various county positions. Last biennium, the House and Senate were both filled with rabid ideologues and obstructionists who did their best to subvert the process. Anyone who tells you that cutting taxes and eliminating regulations is the key to job growth in NH is lying. NH has failed for decades to invest in our state and the results of that failure are now hobbling our economy. The GOP inability to be honest about that is a shameful and deliberate failure.

In order for the NH legislature to accomplish anything, there has to be some bipartisan cooperation and compromise. Electing people who claim government is bad and broken leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s up to voters to decide whether they want to elect serious people who are interested in working to fix some of NH’s very real problems, or if they want bellicose obstructionists trumpeting the usual slogans.

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This was written as my regular column in the Conway Daily Sun newspaper, in NH's First Congressional District, which is why I didn't include the CD 2 race.

I've been encouraged to add in information about the GOP primary in CD 2, to determine who will run against Congresswoman Ann Kuster.

There are 3 Republicans in the race.

Marilinda Garcia is a former state representative. She was one of former Speaker Bill O'Brien's acolytes. She's also distinguished herself by being heavily funded by the Koch brothers. A young attractive woman with a Latino surname who espouses the beliefs of the far right libertea fringe doesn't come along every day for the GOP. She wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the same GOP plan that has failed us all for decades - the marketplace! She mentions Bowles Simpson which is a coy way of saying she wants to privatize Social Security. She wants to cut gummint spending.

Garcia's inexperience showed at the debate last week when she refused to shake opponent Gary Lambert's hand, because he "lied about her positions." Time to toughen up Buttercup. This isn't the 400 member NH House, this is hardball.

She's also made the classic rookie mistake of airing all this on her campaign blog. Repeating what he's said in his ads is giving him double the advertisement space. Former Rep. Garcia is not ready for prime time.

Gary Lambert wants to force women to serve as involuntary incubators, secure our borders, repeal Obama care, and give us MOAR GUNZ! He has a Wake Up Washington Pledge on his campaign website, full of promises of term limits and not taking a pension or a pay raise! Funny how these guys who claim to hate career politicians are desperate to become career politicians.

Jim Lawrence promises to Win Back NH for NH. He's going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the same old market "solutions." He's going to secure our border! He's going to fix the IRS! He's going to give us a strong foreign policy! He's going to prevent NH from having wind turbines! He's going to eliminate regulations and give everyone MOAR GUNZ!

Three far right fringe candidates with no new ideas. Welcome to today's GOP.

© sbruce 2014
published as an op-ed in the Conway Daily Sun newspaper, Sept. 5, 2014


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