Flotsam & Jetsam: December 14, 2012



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A Notch in his belt

It’s not often that the good people of New Hampshire are treated to a public appearance by one of their former leaders, none other than former Gov. Craig Benson. But that’s what happened earlier this month when Benson appeared on a stage with a couple of other members of his club, the former Govs. Merrill and Sununu.

Suffice to say, Sununu – with his effervescent personality and apparently uncontrollable desire to tick people off – stole the show.

And Merrill – referred to in his day as Governor Sunbeam – was his usual self.

Benson, however, actually seemed warm and almost cuddly. For him..

Anyway, the man not known for letting many favorable aspects of his personality appear in public let his hair down at the Josiah Bartlett Center event, kind of. It was particularly evident when he was asked about the most “unexpected” thing to occur during his tenure as governor.

Needless to say, Benson’s answer was easy -- the collapse in 2003 of the Old Man of the Mountain.

"I'll never forget the day I got the call that the old man fell down. It had stood for 10,000 years and it had to fall down?” said Benson.

He added, with exasperation: “Come on.”

That’s the ticket

With the latest electoral win by New Hampshire Democrats, Republicans are floating all sorts of ideas to get their grip on Granite State government back.

One of the more interesting for recent-history buffs is the proposal by Rep. Jeanine Notter, a Merrimack Republican, who apparently figures the best way for the GOP to get back its mojo is to make it easier for people to vote Republican.

In other words, resurrect straight-ticket voting.

Straight tickets were eliminated in 2007, and since then certain Republicans have been nostalgic for the days when people could just check off the GOP box at the top of the ballot and get it over with.

After all, the GOP was a juggernaut back in the day, when a heck of a lot of voters apparently thought checking a single box at the top of a ballot was the only way to cast a vote.

Was the straight ticket a Republican advantage? Let’s put it this way – Republicans held majorities in both houses of the Legislature and the Executive Council, not to mention the congressional delegation, for over a century with straight tickets. And of course there were the occupants of the corner office through those years. Overwhelmingly – if that’s a strong enough word – Republican.

No wonder Representative Notter appears so nostalgic for the good old days.

F&J Tote Board:

Michael Delaney: The Attorney General calls for more transparency to combat growing costs involved in answering Right-to-Know requests.

D.J. Bettencourt: The former House majority leader emerges after some six months of self-imposed political exile to write a letter to the editor of the Eagle-Tribune to say "I am sorry" to his former constituents in Salem and Windham.

Jacqueline Cali-Pitts: The Democratic state rep from Portsmouth launches what she calls a “crusade” to regulate coin-operated children's rides after a scary encounter with one over the summer involving her infant grandson.

Jeanne Shaheen: The state’s senior U.S. senator, up for re-election in 2014, holds an 11-point lead in a head-to-head match against former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, according to a Public Policy Polling survey.

Jim Merrill: The attorney and former political strategist for the Romney and Lamontagne campaigns announces his engagement to Kristy Roney, policy director of the New Hampshire Senate.

Bill Binnie: The former U.S. Senate hopeful and chair of the state GOP’s finance committee, adds 17 more radio stations to his growing portfolio of media holdings.

It’s been making the rounds …

 • Aren’t people getting a little carried away with even suggesting that Kelly Ayotte could successfully run for president?

 • If the state GOP didn’t scrap the $25 party membership fee, would that mean we’d call the next party chairman the straw boss?

 • Does it only seem as if John Lynch is more outspoken on his farewell tour, or is he just more relaxed?

 • The media and other interested parties should take up a collection to convince John E. Sununu not to run for Senate in ’14, just to set up a GOP primary between Jeb Bradley and Frank Guinta.

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