State of Democracy

NHPR's reporting initiative focused on the impact of politics and public policy on the residents of New Hampshire and beyond. Learn more here.

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The final weeks of last week’s midterm campaign saw a flurry of partisan activity: Last-minute Facebook ads touting Gov. Chris Sununu’s plan for paid family and medical leave. Fliers criticizing Republican lawmakers “who cozy up to big corporations and special interests.” Phone banks backed by a group called "Families First," encouraging voters to support Democrats on Election Day.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

The midterm elections might seem like a national event. But in reality, the election process is a decidedly local affair. That’s especially true in New Hampshire, where voting is run at the town level.

Britta Greene / NHPR

In politics today, it seems like everyone’s choosing sides. That can be particularly tough in small towns, where personal opinions often enter the public sphere. Now, there’s increasingly hard divisions along party lines, even on local issues that have little to do with national debates.

To get at some of these tensions, NHPR stopped recently in rural communities across the Upper Valley. We talked to voters about how things have changed for them since the last election, and how they’re feeling now, on the eve of the midterms.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Election Day is Tuesday. Here's a primer on what you need to know before heading to the polls. Click here for a Spanish language version of this guide.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

Denise Bowdidge would like it to be known that she is a big fan of President Donald Trump.

 

“He’s not afraid, he’s a man of strength and encouragement and hope for people for the future,” she told an NHPR reporter one August afternoon.

Those same feelings propelled her to drive across the 1st Congressional District, from her home in Bedford, to Portsmouth, where Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was in town to endorse Republican Eddie Edwards.

At the time, Edwards was locked in a heated primary battle with opponent Andy Sanborn, and he was courting Trump supporters hard.

“The president is doing one hell of a job in Washington,” Edwards said. “One hell of a job.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

If you glance up at the balcony in the New Hampshire Senate chamber on the day of any big vote, you’ll see a crowd of lobbyists sitting shoulder to shoulder, carefully watching the outcome on behalf of their clients.

And if you turn to the campaign finance filings for the New Hampshire Senate, you’ll see many of the same names represented in that balcony — both lobbyists and their clients — listed as campaign donors. In fact, lobbying interests are among the most reliable sources of political fundraising for New Hampshire lawmakers. 

NHPR File Photo

Primary Day can simply be the day when voters choose who will represent their parties during the general elections.

But primaries can also shape - or reshape - a party, and sometimes in lasting ways. This year could be one of those times for the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Joining All Things Considered host Peter Biello to talk about these particular primary politics is Josh Rogers.

Note: This transcript has been edited for clarity

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The race for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District has attracted about $1.2 million in outside spending so far, with most of it going to Democrats Maura Sullivan and Chris Pappas.

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.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Voters in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District have less than a week to choose from the pack of candidates running to replace retiring Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

As with any election, candidates are racing around the state to knock on doors and shake as many hands as possible. But this mad dash to the finish is especially frantic for the 11 Democrats running for the seat, as the sheer number of candidates might cause results to split in interesting ways.

NHPR File Photo

Energy has become a focal point in the race to become New Hampshire's next governor.

The region’s high energy rates make it a key economic issue, and climate change make it a crucial environmental one.

Democrats Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand and Republican Governor Chris Sununu are all working to differentiate themselves on those challenges.

Marchand is a self-described energy wonk. He's gone all in on the details of what he calls "generational change."

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

All this week in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, a judge will hear arguments over whether a controversial voting law known as Senate Bill 3 should be allowed to stay in place for this fall’s elections.

Here’s a refresher on what that law does and why this week’s hearing is important.

A new report from the New Hampshire Women's Foundation finds slightly more women are seeking office in the state compared to two years ago. But there are significant differences in the number of women running based on political party and region.

Sara Plourde/NHPR

Item No. 4 on the agenda seemed routine, even dull: a vote on “Cash Control and Security 2-11 Large Volume Sales Policy Revision.”

But within months, that one policy tweak would bring major changes -- and lots of cash -- to one of New Hampshire's most important money makers: state-run liquor stores.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Rep. Dan Eaton of Stoddard, one of the longest-serving Democrats in the New Hampshire Legislature, was reprimanded earlier this year after a State House employee reported that he had engaged in “a long pattern of behavior” that created a “hostile work environment.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Earlier this summer, eight Democratic candidates sat shoulder to shoulder before about 70 voters in the library of Kennett Middle School in Conway.

But before they could even introduce themselves to the voters in the audience, New Hampshire

Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley had a special request: Play nice, please.

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.

JJBers via Flickr/Creative Commons

A major ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last month means that states that impose a sales tax can now require businesses located outside of their borders to collect that tax and turn the money over. It’s a big deal for New Hampshire, one of the few states without a sales tax.

Courtroom One Gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

The juvenile justice system in New Hampshire is built around the idea of rehabilitation. Instead of going to jail, young people who commit crimes gain access to services like counseling and substance abuse treatment to address the underlying causes of their behavior.

But a blind spot in the state’s juvenile justice system can keep some kids from getting the help they need.

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. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

One of Senator Maggie Hassan's interns has become a flashpoint in the national discussion this week over civility in politics, and both of New Hampshire's major political parties are pointing fingers. 

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.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Ask any fourth grader, Statehouse tour guide or civically engaged Granite Stater about the size of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and they’ll likely have one oft-cited number at the ready: 400, the largest of any state in the nation and among the largest in the English-speaking world.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission is making a bet on itself. The state agency is investing heavily in refurbished outlets and supermarket-sized new facilities. It’s part of a long-term strategy to increase sales and ward off competition from other states.

Lawmakers who count on liquor profits to help fund state government are watching closely to see if these expensive projects pay off, with some concerned about the early results.

Sara Plourde

Over the past few months, more than a dozen New Hampshire towns, cities and counties have filed lawsuits against major drug makers, accusing the companies of ignoring signs that their products were fueling an epidemic of addiction.

The lawsuits represent the latest turn in a story that has hit New Hampshire harder than much of the rest of the country. Here’s an overview of where things stand, and where they may be headed.

via LinkedIn

Gov. Chris Sununu’s top drug policy advisor, Marty Boldin, resigned Wednesday following an investigation by the attorney general’s office into an unspecified personnel issue.

State officials with the attorney general’s office and the governor’s office are staying mum on most of the details around his resignation.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The issue of voter fraud in New Hampshire — or a lack thereof — was front and center at a meeting of New Hampshire’s Ballot Law Commission in Concord. The big takeaway?  Top state officials haven’t found any evidence that it’s running rampant in New Hampshire’s elections.

NAMI New Hampshire

When we think about gun deaths in the United States, we usually think about mass shootings, like the one last week in Santa Fe, Texas -- tragedies that have deeply divided the country.

But in New Hampshire, most gun deaths are suicides.

via Twitter

Marty Boldin, Gov. Chris Sununu’s top drug policy advisor, has been on paid administrative leave since the end of April.

But at least one month before that, concerns about Boldin’s behavior came to the attention of the state Department of Health and Human Services, according to interviews and an email obtained by NHPR.

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