Politics

Political news from New Hampshire Public Radio, from the State House to the First in the Nation Primary.

NHPR Staff

Democracts in charge of the state legislature have made key legislative appointments.

House speaker Steve Shurtleff has tapped Karen Ebel of New London to serve as deputy speaker, and made Doug Ley of Jaffrey house majority leader.

Senate President Donna Soucy has, meanwhile, made her committee assignments.

Lou D'Allesandro, the Senate's longest serving member, will again lead the powerful Finance Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, will run the Ways and Means Committee, which is in charge of tax policy.

As President Trump continues to threaten to potentially shut down the government over his border wall, Americans would prefer to see him compromise to prevent gridlock, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll.

By a 21-point margin — 57 percent to 36 percent — Americans think the president should compromise on the wall to avoid a government shutdown, rather than stand firm. About two-thirds of Republicans say the opposite, and the president has been focused on maintaining his base.

Updated at 5:37 p.m. ET

In a testy Oval Office exchange with the two top congressional Democrats, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, President Trump made clear he would be "proud" to shut down the government in less than two weeks if he doesn't get funding for his border wall.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Today Governor Chris Sununu and Executive Councilors heard testimony in a rare pardon hearing. 

The request for a pardon came from Joe Barton, who was convicted of resisting arrest during an incident at a Newmarket polling place during the 2014 general election.

Barton says he didn’t know that the person trying to arrest him was a police officer.

Barton was chairman of the Newmarket Republican Committee at the time. During his hearing Monday, he accused the arresting officer of having political motivations.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker may not yet be ready to commit to a 2020 presidential bid – even after spending the weekend taking selfies, holding meetings, and otherwise testing the waters in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

But at a rally celebrating New Hampshire Democrats’ midterm victories Saturday, state party Chairman Ray Buckley gave Booker the kind of introduction most presidential hopefuls can only dream of.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Bill Gardner, the longest serving secretary of state in the nation, was elected to his 22nd term today, besting challenger Colin Van Ostern by just four votes.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The new legislature will be sworn in and pick a Secretary of State on Wednesday. Bill Gardner has been Secretary of State for 42 years, and for most of that time his re-election has been inevitable.

Not this year. 

On one side, there’s an ambitious young politician pitching himself as the man to bring overdue reforms to the New Hampshire’s election system; on the other, there’s an elder statesman drawing on deep institutional ties and a long resume in Concord to win over votes.

This might sound a lot like this year’s race for Secretary of State, which pits former gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern against 42-year incumbent Bill Gardner. But it also describes Gardner’s first campaign for Secretary of Stateback in 1976.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The humble offices of the Rockingham County Democrats were packed with New Hampshire voters hoping for an early look at Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Sunday. The 37-year old congresswoman from Hawaii, who still serves in the National Guard, is reportedly one of many Democrats considering a presidential run in 2020.

George Herbert Walker Bush died late Friday. For many in the community surrounding Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, Maine, the former president was much more than the leader of the free world — he was their beloved friend and neighbor.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

The domestic violence case against Jeff Woodburn, the former Democratic leader of the state Senate, is moving to Superior Court.

The latest order indicates the investigation into Woodburn may have started after a tip from a fellow lawmaker.

The lawyer for Jeff Woodburn's alleged victim says Woodburn's defense has pushed the idea that her client went to the police out of revenge over the failure of their relationship.

Attorney Patricia LaFrance says she'd argued that's not the case in court and in pleadings.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The woman poised to become the next New Hampshire Senate President has no plans to say who she'll vote for in the race for Secretary of State.

The race pitting 42-year incumbent Bill Gardner against former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern is a topic she'd prefer to avoid.

Donna Soucy had just finished inspecting the renovations to the Senate Chamber where which she'll soon preside. As leader of the Senate, her endorsement in the secretary of state race could be pivotal. I flagged her down and asked if she had a minute to talk.

josh rogers / nhpr

Five former New Hampshire governors  -- Republicans John Sununu, Judd Gregg, Steve Merrill Craig Benson, and Democrat John Lynch -- want lawmakers to give Secretary of State Bill Gardner another term. The ex-governors say putting Colin Van Ostern in the job would place the independence of the office and the state’s presidential primary at risk.

Former Governor John Lynch already spoke of Gardner’s behalf before the House Democratic Caucus voted 179 to 23  to back Van Ostern over Gardner.

Josh Rogers for NHPR

Lawmakers new and old new swarmed the New Hampshire State House Tuesday for orientation.

For those new to the State House, orientation week is a time to get one's bearings.

"I want a day up here when there are no committees so I can walk around, and say, 'Oh this is here, and that's there.'"

For those not so new to Concord, this week is a time to adjust to new realities.

josh rogers / nhpr

 

A recount last week affirmed that Democrat Jon Morgan of Brentwood beat incumbent Republican Bill Gannon of Sandown by 105 votes out of the almost 26,000 cast in the race for New Hampshire Senate District 23.

Gannon and other Republicans had questioned  whether the Democrat met the seven-year residency requirement laid out in the state constitution.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The newly elected class of New Hampshire legislators barely had time to take a victory lap in their own races earlier this month before they started fielding messages about another campaign — this time, for the Secretary of State. 

josh rogers / nhpr

The final 2018 recount confirmed Democrat Jon Morgan’s win over GOP incumbent Bill Gannon. But the disputes over this race aren’t over.

josh rogers / nhpr

The former New Hampshire co-chair of Donald Trump's presidential campaign wants to lead the state Republican Party. 

josh rogers / nhpr

Republicans in the New Hampshire House met today ahead of selecting their leaders. Several members are vying to lead Republicans as they move from majority to minority status, but the caucus seems united behind Secretary of State Bill Gardner. 

Casey McDermott, NHPR

Former Manchester lawmaker Peter Sullivan appeared disappointed but undeterred after losing Thursday's House Democratic Caucus nomination for Secretary of State, despite receiving just 3 percent of the vote.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

New Hampshire House Democrats have put Secretary of State Bill Gardner — a 42-year incumbent and a longtime Democrat himself — on notice that he could be out of a job soon.

josh rogers / nhpr

Steve Shurtleff has been House Democratic leader for six years and Democrats gave him an easy win over Hampton progressive Renny Cushing. After the 182-43 vote, Shurtleff said earning the confidence of his caucus, which, pending recounts, will hold a 34-seat majority in the House, means a lot.

"I'm very touched, as someone who grew up here in Concord, seeing the State House so many times, to be the nominee for speaker is a great honor."

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

When there is national news about recounts—ahem, Florida—New Hampshire tends to see an increase in such requests. In 2000, the year of Florida's hanging chads, the Granite State had 28. This year, there are 20.

And Secretary of State Bill Gardner says that’s a typical number after an election, and

the state’s paper ballots are recounted by hand.

File photo

Governor Chris Sununu has tapped a Republican former colleague on the Executive Council to join New Hampshire's Superior Court. St. Hilaire of Concord is now a top manager at the state Liquor Commission.

Apart from serving as general counsel to the commission, St. Hilaire has been a city prosecutor, won election as Merrimack county attorney, and worked in private practice and as a state hearings officer.

From 2011-2013, he served alongside Governor Sununu on the Executive Council.

Facebook Ad Archive

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.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Pending recounts, Democrats will hold a 66-seat majority next year in the New Hampshire House. That makes electing a Democratic speaker all but certain.

Steve Shurtleff (D-Concord) has led his party in the House for three terms, but Renny Cushing (D-Hampton), who's pushed to end the death penalty and legalize marijuana, says there ought to be a choice.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

State attorneys fielded 185 calls to their Election Day hotline this week — ranging from traffic complaints to registration questions to problems with voting equipment — but most complaints were resolved without the need for any formal investigation.

Bethlehem Reimagined on Facebook

In about half of New Hampshire polling places, votes are still tallied up by hand. And that was the case in Bethlehem until Tuesday night — when a new ballot counting device made its debut, thanks to a community fundraising campaign.

Tom Roy / Union Leader

While voters chose to reelect Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday, they also voted to put both chambers of the state Legislature and the Executive Council in the hands of Democrats, reversing the State House's current balance of power.  These changes will test the governor, which he acknowledged during his victory speech.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Tuesday's election results handed Democrats control of both chambers of the New Hampshire Legislature for the first time in nearly a decade. With Republican Gov. Chris Sununu winning a second term, the stage is set for divided government in Concord for the next two years.

In the Senate, Democrats overcame an unfavorable map to flip several Republican-held seats and take a 14-10 majority.

Pages