House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, turned many heads with his strongly-worded letter to Gov. Maggie Hassan over freeing House Democrats to override her budget veto

Jul 9, 2015 7:29 PM

NH1 News Political Report: July 9, 2015 - The must-read, weekly NH political tip sheet

So what was House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, thinking in making a plea for Gov. Maggie Hassan to "free’’ House Democrats to override Hassan’s state budget veto

Anyone casually following the actions of the House minority this year would have noticed it’s one of the few issues that have consistently united them.

They voted in lockstep against the proposed House budget that included deep cuts to human service spending and higher education.

Then they unanimously opposed the compromise budget that the House passed on to Hassan’s desk.

Despite all that, those close to the House leader insist his in-your-face letter to Hassan wasn’t a stunt.

Jasper genuinely thinks that as time passes under a temporary budget at last year’s spending level, pressure among providers and the benefit community will sufficiently build for some House Democrats to relent and sustain the veto.

Keep in mind; right after House and Senate budget leaders finished with their spending plan, Jasper and Senate GOP higher-ups met with providers to try and pressure them to get some Democrats to buck Hassan’s veto.

If House Democrats have no intention of changing their mind, what could Jasper’s other motivation be.

That’s even easier to explain. For starters, Jasper’s letter to Hassan falls in lockstep with the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee strategy to cast her as an ultra-partisan figure who is sacrificing bipartisan compromise on the budget for her own craven ambition.

What angered House Democrats more than the political overtone was this wasn’t the same Jasper who genuinely did not pressure or try to brow-beat members of the minority party for the most part.

"It didn’t even read like Shawn could have wrote it. The whole thing sounded so out of character,’’ said one longtime House Democrat.

Hassan herself picked up on this theme with her own written response to Jasper in which she says his accusation was "contrary’’ to his claim to be less partisan than predecessor GOP Speaker William O’Brien.

Further these of course are the same House Democrats who made Jasper speaker in the first place, voting for him on the second ballot to deny O’Brien a comeback return to lead the 400-member House.

Finally, some close to Jasper, rightly or wrongly, are singularly focused on who in his own party could try and make the Hudson Republican a one-term speaker.

Here’s some historical advice and you can ask the last Republican speaker who got there with Democratic votes - Stratham’s Doug Scamman - if it’s accurate.

No matter what Jasper does, there will always be a segment of lawmakers devoted to O’Brien who will never forgive him and no amount of sucking up to the right wing is going to make a difference.


Gov. Maggie Hassan hasn’t publicly decided whether to run for re-election or the US Senate in 2016 but Capitol Hill Democrats are doing all they can to keep a seat warm for her.

While Hassan sticks to her "not until the state budget is resolved’’ script, the Senate Majority PAC is tripping over itself trying to keep Hassan viable should she give them a thumbs up.

First, we have the obligatory leaks to Politico that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had made personal calls to Hassan urging her to get in.

Then there’s the Senate Majority PAC launching a five-figure web ad attacking Ayotte as a tool of Big Oil and anything but the "outsider’’ she cast herself as in first seeking the seat back in 2010.

Finally we’ve got the last trick in the usual kit bag, a self-sponsored poll that shows (surprise!) that Hassan is neck and neck with Ayotte (45-44% Hassan).

What was most revealing about the Public Policy Polling numbers here was such a gender gap exists even according to the Democrats’ own definition. They had Hassan whipping Ayotte, 54-35 percent among women.

Although all we got from the Dem PAC was a one-page summary that means Ayotte wipes out Hassan among men by 15 points or more.


State Republicans should not get carried away but three special election House wins in a row - and one over a popular House Democrat for a non-partisan, Nashua aldermanic seat - is a nice little streak.

In fact, the GOP should have won all three House races in Rockingham County yet it’s not the win but the margin that should get the attention of Democratic leaders.

Let’s take the most recent one in which the media-damaged, Rio Tilton, wins with 67 percent of the vote over ex-Democratic Rep. E. Elizabeth Andrews-Ahearn.

The Seabrook-Hampton Falls seat is a plus five Republican district - absolutely GOP leaning but nothing like the outcome.

Now Tilton profited clearly from his stepdad, former Seabrook Fire Chief Jeff Brown who served a decade himself in the New Hampshire House.

In all three races, state Democrats recruited good enough candidates, outspent the GOP and still came up short, well short in two of them.

In 2011 it was clear Democrats were the ones with the momentum when they won six out of seven special elections under then-Speaker Bill O’Brien. Most of those were in swing districts and signaled unrest among voters.

A year later thanks to President Obama and Gov.-Elect Maggie Hassan, Democrats took back the New Hampshire House.

It’s a long time between now and then but at this moment, repeating that feat next year looks like a reach.


What’s unique about the crowded Republican primary field for president is that in order to get noticed several of them are wasting some early bullets.

Of course we are still in the first primary phase which is the candidates desperately trying to land the activist and political class to come aboard.

But even after that phase is over the candidates with the most built-in momentum hold onto those endorsement announcements until a time when they can get the biggest splash.

No such luxury for many in this field. KY Sen. Rand Paul was out early his camp has been determined to take the endorsement list lead and hold onto it.

Then there’s Carly Fiorina who as the only female with no elective experience had little choice but to start name-dropping early on with backing of the likes of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, and Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry.

Finally there’s NJ Gov. Chris Christie. Mired in the middle of the pack in polls, Christie’s group decided they would try to jump start his extended post-announcement visit to the state by releasing his own big names - ex-Nashua Mayor Bernie Streeter and one-time US Attorney, State Senator and Executive Councilor Tom Colantuono.

Take a look higher up the polling pecking order. Notice we’ve got no big names yet from Jeb Bush, Scott Walker or Marco Rubio.

Look for that to continue until or unless any of them fall back.


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