#NHPolitics Weekly Ins and Outs

A throwback kind of style of weekly column keeping score of the winners and losers in New Hampshire politics — who’s in and who’s out —and a dash of gossip between the lines.

By Colin Booth

February 17, 2024

Welcome to #NHPolitics Ins and Outs, a throwback kind of style of weekly column keeping score of the winners and losers in New Hampshire politics — who’s in and who’s out —and a dash of gossip between the lines.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Who’s In?

Congresswoman Annie Kuster — The senior-most congresswoman from New Hampshire is on a roll.

This week, Kuster introduced the Early Childhood Workforce Advancement Act, a bipartisan bill focused on bolstering the availability of childcare workers, a critical concern for New Hampshire working families.

And while Granite Staters are certainly grateful to Jim Clyburn for his words in support of keeping the DNC’s delegates following the South Carolina primary, word is that it was in fact Congresswoman Annie Kuster who maneuvered behind the scenes to encourage the Congressman to pressure the DNC to accept New Hampshire’s delegates.

Congresswoman Kuster then proceeded to get a shout out from President Joe Biden at House Democrats’ Annual Policy retreat last week. Biden thanked and credited her for his performance in the New Hampshire primary, despite his not being on the ballot.

Tom Suozzi’s Campaign Manager, Jon Gonin — Eagle-eyed New Hampshire politicos cheered this week at one of their own scoring a high-profile win in an out of state election. Jon Gonin, former campaign manager for Congresswoman Kuster, was the winning campaign manager for Tom Suozzi’s big special election win in New York’s 3rd congressional district, flipping the seat from Republican to Democrat and cutting Republican control of the US Congress to a razor’s edge.

The DGA — The Democratic Governors Association this week released a rollicking dating-game style spoof hitting Republican candidates for governor, Kelly Ayotte and Chuck Morse, for their long record on anti-abortion legislation both in New Hampshire and nationally.

The move even prompted an outcry from Morse campaign manager, Maya Harvey.

This in turn prompted criticism from one New Hampshire senior communications strategist, who said “I do not know why anyone would care to hear the opinion of a campaign about to get its second consecutive stomping in a primary. Morse is spending way too much time begging Trump for an endorsement and complaining about the DGA and not nearly enough getting New Hampshire voters to give a damn about him.”

Oof.

State House and Senate Democrats — Despite being in the minority (even though they won the popular vote in the 2022 midterms) House and Senate Dems continue to punch above their weight, delivering wins for reproductive rights and education this week.

House Democrats managed to pass House Bill 1212, expanding eligibility for free and reduced lunches, approving the bill on a 193-175 vote, and defeating House Bill 1419, a bill creating a mechanism to ban books from New Hampshire schools. Both bills were priorities for Republican House leadership.

Senate Democrats meanwhile managed to pass SB 567, a bill protecting and expanding access to the abortion medication mifepristone. 

Taylor Swift — Republicans have declared a “Holy War” on the iconic, history-making singer, who is rumored to be weighing an endorsement for Joe Biden ahead of the November election. Swift shook the political world in September of last year when a single instagram post moved over 35,000 new voter registrations.

We recently caught up with all the candidates running for governor this week to see what side they took in this upcoming Holy War.

Both Joyce Craig and Cinde Warmington issued statements of support for Swift.

Both Kelly Ayotte and Chuck Morse… declined to comment.

Of course, since Ayotte has called Donald Trump a role model in the past, and Chuck Morse is recruiting volunteers to get Trump elected, it’s probably not hard to guess where they stand.

Who’s Out!

Chris Sununu — Even among conservative media, reviews were not kind for Governor Chris Sununu’s final State of the State address delivered this week, where he opened by saying “Fourth term, don’t care.”

The sparsely attended speech included a plea for lawmakers to approve his $850,000 request to send 15 New Hampshire National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border, a move Democratic lawmakers in the state have decried as “political theater.”

Perhaps no one was more subtly cutting in their assessment of the Governor’s performance than the Dean of the Senate himself, Senator Lou D’ellasandro, who kept his assessment short, saying, “Not much new, very little talk about the future.”

Rep. Joe Alexander — When Republicans voted last week to drastically expand their school voucher program, Republican State Rep. Joe Alexander used a personal experience to try and justify the expansion. He spoke about his experience coming out as gay in high school as proof that New Hampshire students should have the flexibility to leave schools where they felt they were in an environment that was harmful for them. 

The hypocrisy of Alexander’s position was not lost on his fellow lawmakers.

One pointed to his vote in favor of legislation that would forcibly out LGBTQ+ students just last year. Rep. Alexander also put together an event candidate for Governor Kelly Ayotte, who opposed gay marriage in New Hampshire when serving in the Senate, even when it was legal in the state.

Rep. Matt Coker — This week Rep. Matt Coker, whose political career peaked late last year when he became an early endorser of Dean Phillips in the presidential primary, changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. Rep. Coker won his seat by only 35 votes in 2022 from another Democrat.

Republicans celebrated his switch, noting his vote was responsible for last Thursday’s passage of a $60 million expansion of Republicans’ school voucher program passed.

Dan Hynes — The Bedford Republican-turned-Independent is out, having resigned from his seat on February 9th. Hynes was reportedly unhappy with Republican’s support for last year’s budget and the GOP’s push for forced outing bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community. His resignation follows the recent scandal of Bedford Rep. Laurie Sanborn, who is under investigation for her and her husband’s alleged illegal use of $844,000 in pandemic assistance.

Jonathan George, Executive Director of the Democratic Victory Campaign Committee said he was eager for the opportunity to make moves in Bedford:

“Between Hynes’ GOP defection and resignation last week and Laurie Sanborn’s alleged criminal activity, the Bedford Republicans are embroiled in scandal. We believe this presents a unique opportunity for House Democrats to win a record-breaking number of seats in historically-red Bedford.”

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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