Nov 6, 2014 10:43 AM

Paul Steinhauser: Walt Havenstein won't rule out a second run for office

Source: NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD - Walt Havenstein isn't ruling out another run for elective office, saying "we haven't made any determination yet."

And the Republican gubernatorial nominee and first time candidate says campaign politics can be "somewhat ethically challenged from time to time."

First-term Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan narrowly beat Havenstein 53%-47% in Tuesday's election, with the Republican challenger exceeding many political pundits' expectations.

But Havenstein told NH1 that "I don't think of myself as having over performed when you don't reach the objective. I think we surprised some people taking on, first of all, a first-term incumbent. And being a first time candidate, our performance did surprise people. I was very very fortunate. I had a great team, a great group of supporters and volunteers. And I think the message that we saw play out across our country is still a message that resonates here in New Hampshire."

Asked if there was anything he would have done differently that could have put him over the top in his race against Hassan, Havenstein said "we'll do a post-mortem in the next week or so to look at if there were things we should have done a little differently, but we pretty much stayed to the strategy we set out in April, and I think that was the right strategy for us. It may not have been successful in the context of this election, but I think If you look at how that strategy played out, I think we did very very well."

A take two for Havenstein?

The big question now is whether Havenstein will run again for governor or another elective office in 2016. He says it's far too soon to tell, with this year's election "still a little fresh."

But he added that "Judy (his wife) and I are engaged in the political process here in our state and we'll contribute in some fashion as we go forward. We believe in the values of the Republican Party. I think we saw those values play out on Election Day here in the state, where in the legislature, both adding to our majority in the Senate, taking the majority in the House, now having a majority on the Executive Council. I think we'll have a role in that regard in some fashion."

But Havenstein was a bit vague on what that role will be, saying "we'll determine that with the other Republicans in the state, with Sen. Ayotte, and now soon to be Rep. Frank Guinta, and the leaders of the House and Senate. We'll figure out what role is appropriate for Walt and Judy."

Politics "ethically challenged"

Havenstein, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, served a dozen years on active duty in the Marines. He later steered BAE Systems, a major defense contractor which is based in Nashua. He also served as CEO of Science Applications International Corporation. The Hassan campaign and allied Democratic groups criticized Havenstein over his record at the two companies, labeling him a "failed CEO."

Asked about what he liked least about running for public office, Havenstein said "I come from a background being in the military and the private sector, at least the aerospace industry, where we see things pretty much black and white. And I think if there's an area that makes it difficult like me, you know the political process can be somewhat ethically challenged from time to time, and that part is difficult for me. I tend to be pretty straight forward. I tend to see things as up or down and there's so much, I would just characterized it as ethically challenged in the process and that's difficult for me."

But he added that "I think we ran a very straight forward campaign, maintained courtesy, respect and dignity, as characteristic of at least my view of leadership and I'm very proud of the team that was willing to support me and execute the strategy."

As for what he liked best about campaigning, Havenstein said the people.

"The most is just getting about meeting people. We did 20 different parades. We must have done 50 different craft shows and craft fairs, and getting out and just chatting with people. We probably done 20 town halls. And having those conversations with our citizens and our fellow Granite Staters, I think that's the most gratifying part of it. I think what's really cool about our state is to see how many people are really engaged and enthusiastic about moving our state forward. That's inspiring in of itself."

Havenstein was wearing his trademark yellow V-neck sweater during his interview with NH1, as well as a Marines cap. He was looking forward to a big celebration in a few days.

"We have an anniversary on Monday. November 10th is the Marine Corps birthday and so we'll be doing our annual flag raising here in Concord at the State House and then later in the day down in Manchester, celebrating our traditional birthday celebration with all the Marines in the state and all friends of Marines, so this is a good weekend coming up for us here in the Marine Corps family."


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