Cilley Tells Supporters: 'Fight Worth Having'

Jackie Cilley concedes the Democratic gubernatorial race to Maggie Hassan, and says the primary debate was worth it for the party.

Dan Gorenstein (DG): Former Democratic state Senator Jackie Cilley did call Maggie Hassan congratulating her rival on last night’s primary victory.

But minutes after the concession, Cilley - the candidate frequently described as a ‘bulldog’ displayed her characteristic tenacity.

Cilley: “This fight was worth having. The issues we brought to the forefront were worth doing. Conversation is not over.”

DG: Cilley, of course, is talking about her campaign promise to not take the pledge.

Even in defeat, the former state Senator issued a warning to the state.

Cilley: “We have serious, serious challenges that face our state. Challenges that, if not handled properly, will determine the fate of this state in ways that are very disturbing to me.”

DG: Cilley predicts a New Hampshire where widows lose their homes due to rising property taxes, and young adults are stuck in their parents’ basements, unable to find work.

Her willingness to embrace a new tax structure is what drew many of her core supporters; public employee unions.

The question facing that group now – is how hard will it be to get excited for a candidate who doesn’t share that vision.

Lang: “Not hard at all.”

DG: That’s the head of the firefighters union Dave Lang.

Lang: “Firefighters understand what’s at stake here. Our members have just watched the last two years of, in our estimation, some pretty incredibly crazy things being done in the Legislature. When it comes time for this election in November, we can guarantee one thing. The Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire will have an opinion and they will be involved.”

DG: Hassan still has work cut out for her among this slice of the Democratic base.

DG and Ford: “What do you think about Maggie Hassan?....Umm, she’s our candidate now.”

DG: That’s state employee union official Ana Ford.

Ford’s ambivalence is only heightened by the fact that Cilley and Bill Kennedy – who advocated an income tax – grabbed more than 40% of the vote.

She says this primary has resurrected a conversation among Democrats that’s gone dormant for a decade.

Ford: “Maggie did not have a mandate on this, ok? So I think the party has to look at, is pledge politics the way to go.”

DG: Cilley herself, stopped short of offering Hassan any advice moving into the general election.

But she did have an appeal.

Cilley: “I would ask, to please put every effort into reforming the way we do business in the state of New Hampshire. Because it is not working, it can not work. And it will not work. As long as we defer that conversation about how we can do things differently, we are losing.”

DG: Throughout the campaign Hassan has repeated she believes the state can manage within its existing tax structure.

A message that Cilley knows may chase many of her supporters away.