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Apr 16, 2016 3:53 PM

NH Political Report: Conservatives going after GOP supporters of Medicaid Expansion


CONCORD - You didn’t really think fiscally-conservative groups would overlook the votes of New Hampshire Republican lawmakers for the law that keeps the Medicaid expansion plan in place two more years, did you?

Nope that’s why field organizers for the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity started going door to door this week in the districts of Republican State Senators Nancy Stiles of Hampton and David Boutin of Hooksett to spread the word and "hold them accountable."

What will be interesting over the coming weeks is whether this activism and outrage from other right-wing organizations will lead to primary opponents for these two and other GOP lawmakers when the 2016 candidate filing period opens in June.

NH1 News brought you the views of the four Republican candidates who want to replace exiting Gov. Maggie Hassan on Medicaid expansion. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas proved to be its strongest supporter while Wilton GOP Rep. Frank Edelblut was its most vocal opponent.

What of the three Democrats - Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, former Securities Regulation Director Mark Connolly and ex-Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand? They all back the program, of course, but can they set themselves apart?

Well they could on this and many other like fronts if they demonstrate specifically how they would pay for the state share of Medicaid expansion going forward after the next two years.

The federal reimbursement rate under Obamacare for this expansion steadily goes down in the coming years and keeping it intact will be one of the many challenges for the next elected governor who must present a 2018-2019 budget less than 10 months from now.


It doesn’t look like State Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham, will be getting a key to the town of Farmington any time soon.

Horrigan touched off a mini-firestorm on Facebook this week posting a picture of a campaign sign for Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump in that town he referred to as the "not particularly prosperous" community.

The owner of the sign posted it on the Farmington News Community Forum page on Facebook and after several angry responses, Horrigan changed his post though he later made it part of his profile picture.

"This comment and actions are not fair to the Town of Farmington their residents or the home owner. All because of who the family is showing support for," one viewer told us.

This liberal Democrat is no stranger to shock talk that’s gotten him in hot water before. He once jokingly advocated the assassination of 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.


Democratic candidate for governor Colin Van Ostern has been ramping up staffing of his 2016 campaign.

Managing it will be Pat Devney who ran Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s re-election victory in 2014. Van Ostern happened to be the chief architect of Kuster’s first run for the seat in 2010 that led to a paydirt victory two years later in a friendlier presidential year.

We had first reported Anna Moffett as Van Ostern’s finance director who not only worked for Kuster in 2012 but raised nearly $3 million to help Connecticut Democrat Elizabeth Esty break through and win a House seat in 2014.

Other key hires include:
- Communications Director Matt Trojan: A veteran of Jeanne Shaheen’s first bid for Senate in 2002 and John Lynch’s campaigns for governor, he’s been most recently involved in working for several progressive Democrats in national races.
- Event Coordinator Shannon MacLeod: She first interned for ex-Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and has since done DC canvassing for the American Civil Liberties Union. Now, she’s not related to Van Ostern’s wife, Kristyn McLeod.

Meanwhile, Democratic rival Mark Connolly picked up the endorsements of former State Reps. Eileen Ehlers of Hooksett and Elaine Andrews-Ahearn of Hampton Falls.

Leave it to The New York Times on Friday to do the authoritative piece on Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, a Windham resident and former regional director of Americans for Prosperity.

The story goes into Lewandowski’s crusade against what he viewed as wasteful spending and unethical practices.

Lewandowski’s big local victory was getting a county prosecutor, Ross McLeod, turned out of his job after he uncovered that McLeod had run a small fantasy football league in town.

Not all of Lewandowski’s own local crusades, he tried and failed badly to defeat Windham’s town treasurer, an 80-year-old incumbent who until that point had always run unopposed.

"Corey is willing to try things and has no fear," said David Tille, a friend and colleague who worked with him on issue advocacy on the state level.

The story did describe Lewandowski as "a family man who attends father-daughter dances and is, to many, a good neighbor."

They saved the most bizarre for the final anecdote in the piece about a residential building Lewandowski owned in the hard-scrabble, North County city of Berlin.

After a fire in 2007, the fire chief deemed it “hazardous to the public’s safety” and ordered it razed, according to court records. For 18 months, Berlin tried to track down Mr. Lewandowski in an effort to get him to take care of the situation, including sending him court orders.

The newspaper claims Lewandowski never responded. The city tore down the building, billing him about $25,000 for the demolition and related expenses. The bill was never paid, and eventually, using a lien, the city took over the property.


You just knew Tax Filing Day Friday would be a touchstone for bitter battle between the campaigns of Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Gov. Maggie Hassan who seeks to replace her.

"Governor Maggie Hassan has consistently fought to help expand opportunity for hard-working families. In the Senate, Maggie will focus on helping the middle class by pushing to eliminate tax breaks for Big Oil and outsourcers so we can provide tax credits for small businesses that create jobs here and cut taxes for middle class families," said Maggie for NH Press Secretary Meira Bernstein.

"Unfortunately, Kelly Ayotte is more concerned with protecting tax breaks for her special interest backers such as Big Oil than supporting hard-working Granite Staters. New Hampshire's families deserve better."

Ayotte’s campaign said Hassan’s record as a tax and spend liberal makes her the enemy of the middle class, not its champion.

"Whether it’s her support for 82 tax and fee hikes, her proposal for $100 million in tax increases, or her opposition to reforms to make our tax climate more competitive, Governor Hassan has failed to make life more affordable for New Hampshire families," says Ayotte Campaign Manager John Kohan.
"Kelly puts taxpayers first by being a leader on fighting the Internet sales tax, suspending the medical device tax to protect New Hampshire jobs, and supporting tax reform that lowers rates for families and businesses."


On Friday, the New Hampshire Motor Transport Association ended the suspense endorsing Ayotte’s re-election.

"I am honored by this endorsement, and so grateful to the NH Motor Transport Association for our many years of work together as we fight against overreaching federal regulations that threaten small businesses," Ayotte said.

"I look forward to continuing our partnership and working for New Hampshire's truckers and consumers."

Motor Transport President Bob Sculley says Ayotte deserves the trucking group’s support.

"Kelly is a champion not only for truck owners and operators, but also for the New Hampshire residents and consumers who every day utilize goods and services delivered by truck. It is incredibly clear that Kelly is the strongest candidate to fight for us in the Senate," Sculley said.

Why was this such a no-brainer for the trucking lobby? This one is easy to find since they vigorously opposed Hassan’s successful bid to raise the state’s gasoline tax in 2014 for the first time in more than two decades.

Sculley tried without success to get some relief for truckers in the infrastructure spending bill but to no avail.


The League of Conservation Voters hosts a roundtable talk Monday on the signing of the Paris climate agreement on Earth Day.

The New Hampshire Climate Action Coalition and the Environmental Business Council of New England are co-sponsoring the event to include speakers from the Conservation Law Foundation and environmental leaders with Dartmouth College and Harvard University.


We saw a bipartisan move against the Department of Veteran Affairs from the state’s congressional delegation this week.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, pressed for her bill to take back bonuses paid to employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) who commit serious misconduct or felonies.

"America was horrified two years ago as the scandal at the VA unfolded, hearing about veterans dying while they were waiting for care. Meanwhile, VA employees – we found – manipulated appointment waitlists to hide the fact that the VA couldn't get the care to our veterans that they needed in a timely fashion," Ayotte said.

"The denial of earned care is always tragic, but it's inexcusable when the denial is driven by bureaucratic tampering and falsifications. Cooking the books was one bureaucratic offense, but not holding accountable those responsible is an additional bureaucratic failure, and one that continues to haunt our system."

Then there’s Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH, taking the VA to task for its scheduling practices.

"For far too long, the VA has been telling us they have plans to modernize its scheduling system. However, veterans across the country still continue to face difficulties scheduling their appointments, and the new scheduling programs are only in development stages," Kuster said.

"This is simply unacceptable. Our veterans made extreme sacrifices to serve and protect us, and now it’s our turn to make sure they can easily access the care they need. The VA needs to get this done now."


The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council gave New Hampshire a middling grade on economic competitiveness, 23rd among the top 50 states.

The state lead New England (Massachusetts was next at 26th) but low scores on property tax burden (49th), marginal corporate tax rate (38th), workers’ compensation costs (38th), public employees per capita (31st) and the lack of a right-to-work law (50th).

On the plus side this week for Hassan and Co. to celebrate was the unemployment rate, dropping to 2.6 percent last month, the lowest since 2000.


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