#NHPolitics Weekly Ins and Outs — March 17, 2024

By Colin Booth

March 17, 2024

Another week of #NHPolitics Ins and Outs, taking you on a tour of the ins and outs of the ever-changing world of New Hampshire Politics, keeping score of the winners and losers week-by-week — and letting you know who’s in and who’s out.

Let’s get into it.

Who’s In?

Delegates Are Back On The Menu, Boys — While covering Joe Biden’s trip to New Hampshire earlier this week, where he sought to make up with New Hampshire Democrats, the razor sharp Politico reporter Lisa Kashinsky picked up details on what Biden said to an intimate crowd of supporters on the future of seating NH delegates at this year’s Democratic Convention after New Hampshire ran a successful Write-In campaign for Biden.

“Biden told supporters at a private campaign event on Monday that while he wouldn’t get ahead of the DNC’s process, he expects that New Hampshire’s delegates will count, according to two people familiar with his remarks and granted anonymity to speak freely,” Kashinsky wrote for Politico.

This comes after DNC Chair Jaime Harrison suggested he was open to finding a way to seat New Hampshire delegates at a recent retreat for House Democrats.

New Leadership in Littleton —  After a space on the Littleton select board opened up earlier this year when State Senator Carrie Gendreau—infamous for venomous attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and for floating a public art ban in the town—decided not to run for another term on the select board, many were pleased.

Many more were pleased this week when Kerri Harrington, a progressive Democrat and staunch LGBTQ+ ally, won Gendreau’s former seat on the board. 

House Dems Rack Up Wins — House Democrats won two major special elections this week, overperforming and carrying more than 60% of the vote in both races.

The special election wins — Jennifer Mandelbaum in Rockingham County’s 21st district (which includes Portsmouth ward 1 and Newington) and Erik Johnson in Strafford County’s 11th district (which includes Dover ward 4, Lee, and Madbury) are just the latest for House Democrats, whose election arm, the House Democrats Victory Campaign Committee, (DVCC) has delivered 10 victories for Democrats out of the past 13 House special elections.

One Senior political strategist in New Hampshire races said the trend of wins for House Dems was a result of major differences in the quality of the campaign programs between the two parties.

“The dems have always had strong special election operations. This year, they obviously ratcheted up their game while republicans flailed. Their caucus is fractured, their ramshackle organization is broke, and they keep losing”

  

Who’s Out!

Granite Solutions — Conservative dark money group Granite Solutions run by Representative Joe Sweeney made their first foray into school board elections this week, resulting in threats against a candidate running for school board who was ultimately forced to report them to the police.

At the heart of the dark money group’s campaign in a non-partisan race were bitterly partisan ads attacking candidates like Lauren Doukas, a member of the town’s budget committee from 2021 to 2024 running for school board this year, who was the subject of sharp culture war attacks using language from the far-right fringes of OAN. InDepthNH has the full story so far.

One senior New Hampshire campaign veteran with experience in school board races said the contrast with how other groups ran advocacy in these local races was stark.

“Granite Solutions’ approach to entering into local politics was at best clumsy, and at worst, deliberately trying to incite anger from voters. And that is exactly the type of politicking Granite Staters really dislike about politics right now. So it’s not a surprise this is the reaction this conservative outfit is getting. The flip side of the coin is how 603 Forward operates in these local elections, which is focused on a positive message, focused on the young leaders they’re supporting, and making sure voters are aware that there’s even an election happening and how to vote.”

Voting Rights — Republicans in the House this week unleashed a direct attack on targeted groups of voters, passing HB 1569, which would eliminate any exceptions to the state’s voter ID laws and require proof of citizenship to vote. The bill also removes the ability of those registering on election day to sign a sworn affidavit .

Critics say the move would hurt young people, individuals experiencing homelessness, and those just moving to the state.

One day before the vote, Sununu said the bill was unnecessary, saying at a press conference,  “Our system works very well, so I’m not looking to make any changes.”

One veteran of State House politics said to this reporter that despite Sununu’s comments, this would not be the governor’s first time saying one thing and doing another.

“Republicans just made it harder for the average Granite Stater to be able to cast a ballot all while the governor says everything is fine with the system? I don’t trust a f**king word he says.”

Accountability for Education Spending — This week, House Republicans voted down HB 1594, blocking an annual review of eligibility for Education Freedom Account recipients. Republicans have blocked not just fiscal accountability for the program at every turn, but also accountability for student performance and outcomes. Studies have found little evidence that school vouchers improve test scores — in fact, they’ve sometimes led to score declines.

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.

CATEGORIES: EDUCATION POLITICS

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