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Havenstein Says He's Ready (And Eligible) To Run For Governor

Josh Rogers / NHPR

N.H. Republicans have a new candidate for Governor, former defense contractor Walt Havenstein, of Alton.

Havenstein launched his campaign in Concord.

He offered a forceful denial to claims that he is ineligible to run due to a time he listed Maryland as his primary residence on tax documents.

"This is my home and has been for 15 years. This is my domicile, which it the criteria to run and serve as Governor."

Havenstein also argued his business experience can help the state reclaim the prosperity he says it’s lost over the last decade, when democrats occupied the corner office.

Walt Havenstein smiled a lot during his campaign roll out in Concord. And so did the establishment republicans who turned out to support him.

The  64-year-old former CEO of BAE systems brings years of executive experience and the ability to help fund his own campaign.  

Havenstein is an engineer by training and former marine colonel. He was blunt as he spoke before a crowd that included former governors Steve Merrill and Craig Benson.

"I know we can do better."

He says he’s running because N.H. faces problems – including slow economic growth and outmigration by the young – that its current leader can’t handle.

"Ladies and gentleman, Governor Hassan is good person, but she doesn’t know what to do end the stagnation and get the economy moving forward again."

Havenstein's said his is to make N.H. the best place in the northeast to do business, but to do that he says the state needs to lower its energy costs, ease regulations, hold the line on taxes, and resist rather than embrace Obamacare, as NH did when it expanded Medicaid.

"I don’t trust the federal government to fulfill its obligations into perpetuity when it comes to paying for it."

Havenstein’s comments drew cheers, but his critique of policies favored by Hassan – and these ranged from Medicaid expansion and support for a Casino, to a higher gas tax – did make for an awkward moment or two for some of the Republicans standing at Havenstein’s side.

Senate President, Chuck Morse, for instance, favors expanded gambling; and Morse and Senate Majority leader Jeb Bradley both worked hard to pass Medicaid expansion.  

Bradley says in an election year, Republicans need to focus on the big picture.

"Are people in the republican side going to agree with him or agree with me on every single issue? No. But in terms of the overall direction of leadership and capability, I think he’s very capable."

History suggest Havenstein will need to be to unseat Hassan this year.

Just two governors in the last 100 years have been denied a second term.  

Havenstein says that’s immaterial, but did give some indication he knows what he’s up against.

"I can’t make an argument in the context of one term Governors, because I am only talking about the context of right now and what the future of this state holds."

Havenstein’s immediate future order of is the Republican primary, where he faces Bristol GOP activist Andrew Hemingway.

In a statement, Hemingway said he expected their race to be one of "ideas."

Governor Hassan’s campaign manager, meanwhile, noted that N.H.’s jobless rate dipped to 4.5 percent in March and said Hassan plans to continue to work toward “bipartisan solutions” to keep the economy moving forward.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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