Blog: Politics & Policy

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

With Primary Day upon us and new state voting rules on the books, here's a primer on what you need to know before heading out to the polls Tuesday.

What's this election all about?

Tomorrow's election is a primary, in which voters will choose nominees of their respective parties - Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian - to run for office in the general election, which takes place in November.

Logan Shannon/NHPR

A hearing that could decide the fate of the voter registration law known as Senate Bill 3 began Aug. 27 in Manchester and continued for nearly two full weeks, concluding Sept. 7.

With six weeks to go until the primary, Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s campaign account is six times the size of the three Republicans who’ve lining up to challenge her — combined.

The fundraising narrative in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District has been consistent from the start of the race: There’s Democrat Maura Sullivan way out in the front of the pack, thanks largely to out-of-state donors and other powerful political allies, and then there’s everyone else.

Jason Moon for NHPR

This week’s Supreme Court ruling limiting the ability of public sector unions to collect "agency fees" from non-members has landed along predictably partisan lines in New Hampshire. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

You’ll hear a lot this campaign season about who’s raising the most money — but the most telling parts of a candidate’s fundraising report aren't the details about how much a candidate raked in, but where that money came from.

That’s especially true in the race for New Hampshire governor, where we have a Republican incumbent who can draw on plenty of political and corporate connections, one Democratic challenger who is similarly well-connected to her party’s establishment and another Democrat who says he wants to get big money out of New Hampshire politics.

Given the deep field of candidates and its reputation as "the swingiest congressional district in the nation," New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District has attracted most of the spotlight this year, when it comes to campaign fundraising or otherwise. But there’s also plenty of money flowing into the 2nd Congressional District race — most of it going through the campaign bank account of incumbent Congresswoman Annie Kuster.

Democrat Maura Sullivan continues to blitz past all other candidates running in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional district when it comes to fundraising — and, as was the case during her inaugural months in the race, most of her campaign money continues to come from outside New Hampshire.

The campaign in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District is among the most crowded and most buzzed-about midterm races in the country. With all that attention comes plenty of money, from both inside and outside the state.

Democratic candidate Kari Lerner of Chester won a special New Hampshire House election in Rockingham County on Tuesday.

Lerner defeated Republican former state Representative James Headd of Auburn by 39 votes.

Headd has requested a recount. It will be Tuesday, 10 a.m., at the State Archives building in Concord. 

The election took place in District 4, which has 20 percent more registered Republicans than Democrats, according to the New Hampshire Democratic Party. President Donald Trump won the district by 23 points.

NHPR File

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky says he will not run for governor in 2018.

He plans to run for re-election to council District 2, which stretches from Charlestown on the Vermont border to Dublin and Keene and over to Dover, Durham, Rochester, and Somersworth.

The Democrat from Concord tells NHPR it's humbling to have friends and supporters encourage him to run. In the end, 2018 was not meant to be.


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ political donations are not all tethered to one party. This holds true in New Hampshire, which plans to submit an underdog bid for the online retailer’s second headquarters.

The Amazon PAC has contributed to a Sununu -- former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, the governor’s brother. The PAC gave $2,000 to the former Senator in the 2008 campaign. It donated $1,000 in 2004 to the Daniel Webster PAC, the senator's leadership PAC at the time.

Other Amazon PAC donations, according to Federal Election Commission finance reports, include:

New Hampshire is considering adding its name to the list of states making a pitch for Amazon's proposed second company headquarters.  

 Taylor Caswell, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, says the "Live Free Or Die" state's quality of life and tax advantages -- including no state income tax -- could be one of the incentives.

Allegra Boverman/NHPR

Senate Bill 3, the controversial new bill that changes some of the requirements for newly registered voters, gets its first test Tuesday in a special election in Laconia and Belmont. Gov. Chris Sununu says it will protect the integrity of New Hampshire elections.  State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley says it’s voter suppression.

Here are some basic questions on the new law that is being challenged in court.

What is it?

NH DOT

With damage caused by Hurricane Harvey still being tallied and Hurricane Irma set to make landfall, New Hampshire officials are taking stock of the state's preparedness in what could prove to be a record-breaking year for major weather events in the United States.

Several costly natural disasters have hit New Hampshire in recent years, such as the “Mother’s Day Flood,” which caused more than $25 million in damage.

Gov. Chris Sununu says turning over the state’s voter information (or, at least, what’s included in public voter checklists) to a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is a step toward restoring confidence in the nation’s elections.

Senator Kevin Avard

The New Hampshire State House has an open-door policy. The building is part museum – and visitors are welcome to take in the living history. But some of the most interesting places are kept under lock and key.

How many retirees represent Merrimack County in the Legislature? What percentage of state reps are under the age of 35? And how does the State House's male/female ratio vary by political party?

The makeup of the New Hampshire House of Representatives has a major impact on daily life in the state. After all, these are the people who make the laws that govern us.

@GovChrisSununu

When does a tweet cross the line on government ethics?

That’s the question at the center of a complaint filed this week by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, alleging Gov. Chris Sununu’s recent tweet about his day skiing at Waterville Valley Resort — which is owned by his family and, until recently, was managed by Sununu himself — violates state ethics rules.

Alex Proimos via Flickr CC

During his speech to Congress Tuesday night, President Donald Trump reiterated his criticism of the Affordable Care Act, calling the health care law a “disaster.”  

"Obamacare is collapsing, and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice, it is a necessity," said Trump.

Plenty of Granite Staters, including the governor, are cheering after New Hampshire scored the No. 2 spot on a new U.S. News and World Report “Best States” index. But the details behind that new ranking paint a more complex picture than that "second-in-the-nation" title suggests.

With Republicans in full control of New Hampshire’s State House for the first time in more than a decade, Republicans have been moving quickly to enact policies that have long been on their wish list.

That’s been particularly true in public education.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

While President Trump and some of his allies perpetuated the (unverified and unsubstantiated) idea that out-of-state voters are being sent across the border en masse to throw New Hampshire elections, we were wondering: What can we actually know about the people who are showing up to register for the first time on Election Day?

Hannah McCarthy for NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu delivered his budget address Thursday, outlining his priorities as the state Legislature kicks off its biannual budget writing cycle.

NHPR's newsroom has been reporting on what to expect this budget season — you can find a rundown on that right here — and now, we're offering more context on the things Sununu mentioned in the budget address itself.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

It's a rite of passage in New Hampshire -- every year, hundreds of fourth graders make a pilgrimage to Concord for a State House tour. In this audio postcard, students from Woodland Heights Elementary School in Laconia learn the basics of law making -- and how to make their voices heard.

Scroll down for a 360 degree photo of the students in the N.H. Senate chamber.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

At the New Hampshire State House, lawmakers don’t limit debate to bills and the budget. Control of square footage in the building itself can be as controversial as any partisan policy. I took a tour with a man who has a set of keys to the shared rental.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The job of New Hampshire lawmaker isn’t terribly rewarding—at least if you’re talking about sheer salary. A spot in the state Legislature offers annual compensation of just $100, one of the lowest in the nation.

But though they don’t earn much in their Statehouse paychecks, some lawmakers regularly bring home extra cash just driving to and from Concord.

profilestrategygroup.com

Michael Sununu, brother to Gov. Chris Sununu, is criticizing the science behind a recent bipartisan state report on the impact of climate change on the Seacoast.

In a 25 page critique, Michael Sununu calls the Coastal Risks and Hazard Report “alarmist hand wringing” that would lead to wasteful spending of public money.

Current Population Survey, © 2016 by Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson

New Hampshire lawmakers are again debating Right-to-Work laws, with bills currently moving through both the House and Senate. With Republican majorities in both chambers, and a newly-elected governor who favors Right-to-Work, the policy stands its best chance of passing in more than a decade.

But Right-to-Work isn’t exactly a kitchen-table kind of issue. If you aren’t in a union, or a large business owner, you may not know much about its history, what Right-to-Work does, or why it matters.

Over the new few months, NHPR is bringing you a new way to experience Granite State stories from a whole new angle — literally. With 360-degree videos like this one, we're hoping you'll be able to more closely explore the places, and meet the people, we reporting on.

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