Flotsam and Jetsam

Election season is the time for hyperbolic pledges, platforms and promises, so you can’t blame GOP gubernatorial hopeful John Stephen for indulging in his fair share.Nevertheless, in a interview with the editorial board of the Nashua Telegraph, Stephen rattled off some of the bullet points on his agenda if elected, but none more pressing than getting state department heads to cut their budgets by 10 percent.”I’m devoting my energy mainly to the spending side, frankly,” he told the newspaper. “Once we get through that problem, that is when we can deliver a tax cut for businesses.”That tax cut, by the way, involves cutting the business profits and business enterprise taxes.All well and good – and sure to be welcomed by businesses around the state. But it is an ambitious plan, and Stephen – who touts his long experience in state government as key in his ability to get things done – admitted as much.”I’m not going to set a timetable,” he said of his tax cut plans. That’s probably a good thing, considering the mess the state’s finances are in – and the fact that New Hampshire governors have two-year terms.Identity crisisThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent foray into New Hampshire politics – it’s spending a small fortune on ads attacking Paul Hodes – drew an interesting response from Tim Sink, president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.Noting that “campaign season is in full force and the negative campaign ads are flying,” Sink said in an e-mail sent to members: “The US Chamber of Commerce, based out of Washington, DC, is running a series of strongly worded ads aimed at the Senate race in New Hampshire. I have received several communications from individuals who have taken issue with the ads and confused the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce (your local chamber) with the US Chamber. We are distinct, separate organizations independent of one another. The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce is non partisan. We do get involved in public policy issues on a local and state level, but we do not endorse or attack candidates. In the interest of full disclosure, we do pay a nominal annual membership dues to the US Chamber because they are the accrediting body for chambers of commerce in the United States, and we believe in accreditation for chambers as we do for hospitals and schools. It is a worthwhile process that provides comparison benchmarks and ensures best practices. We do not participate in US Chamber political programs. The distinction is an important one, because the Greater Concord Chamber and the US Chamber operate very differently from one another.”Got that?Power steeringThe self-anointed political savants who cover national politics for a living always seem to fall into the same trap when covering New Hampshire politics: They can’t help shake their fixation on the past.Take the latest example. Marc Ambinder, politics editor of The Atlantic, offering up his assessment of the New Hampshire GOP Senate primary, described the potential boost Ovide Lamontagne’s campaign should have after receiving the blessing of a Union Leader editorial, which he described as “still a powerhouse endorsement.”Never mind that the backing came a few weeks too late to be of any real help to the Lamontagne campaign, but “powerhouse”?Get back to us when Jennifer Horn goes over 30 percent in the 2nd C.D. primary.An oversight?Since Charlie Bass, Ann Kuster, Carol Shea-Porter and Katrina Swett each took out ads in the September issue of the New Hampshire Jewish Reporter, wishing readers a happy new year, you’d think the one major Jewish candidate, Paul Hodes, would have followed suit.But you’d be wrong.F&J TOTE BOARDGary Smith: The six-year president of the State Employees Association, currently serving a two-week suspension over a tactic used in the last union election, announces he won’t seek another term as SEA chief.Joe Kenney: The former GOP nominee for governor endorses Ovide Lamontagne, another former Republican gubernatorial nominee, for U.S. Senate.John Lynch: The governor lends his campaign $500,000 to shore up finances before the November election.Jim Bender: In arguing in favor of term limits, the GOP Senate candidate takes a shot at Judd Gregg, the man he wants to replace. “Eighteen years, where the heck was he? The government just ballooned. Then in the last year he started speaking and being heard.”Laura Ingraham: The talk radio host adds her name to the list of non-New Hampshirites butting in on the U.S. Senate race, this time to offer her nonstop support for Ovide Lamontagne.It’s been making the rounds…• An ad idea for the Lynch people, gratis: Time to give back the donuts.• The UL’s endorsement of Jennifer Horn in the 2nd C.D. falls into a pattern in the newspaper’s hate-love relationship with Charlie Bass, who it will endorse when Bass is the GOP nominee, just as it has before after endorsing a Bass opponent in the primary. In fact, you could say the UL was against Bass before it was for him.• Add recently self-outed Ken Mehlman to the list of Republican gays who have ponied up to support Kelly Ayotte’s Senate race.• You’d think with the influx of politically active (to put it mildly) Free Staters, the New Hampshire Libertarian Party would come up with some new candidates instead of the same old retreads.