Flotsam & Jetsam

Déjà vu all over again

It perhaps says more about the state of the New Hampshire Republican Party than about the candidate herself that the GOP right wing has been, shall we say, skeptical, about Kelly Ayotte’s U.S. Senate hopes.

Scarcely a day goes by when questions about Ayotte’s ability as a candidate and, in particular, her views on red-meat issues like abortion and same-sex marriage aren’t raised by the party’s more conservative activists. Throw in the specter of the national party “bosses” – translated as “outsiders” in New Hampshire parlance – sticking their grubby little fingers in the mess and you’ve got the makings of a real intraparty brouhaha.

Mere observers of the goings-on may be forgiven for getting the feeling that they’ve seen all this before…

The time: 1996. The place: New Hampshire. The event: the Republican gubernatorial primary. The protagonists: “moderate” Congressman Bill Zeliff and “conservative” Ovide Lamontagne. The victim: The Republican Party, which is arguably still recovering, not only from the beatdown it received at the hands of Jeanne Shaheen that November but the aggravated party divisions that were exposed for all to see that year.

Fast-forward to 2009 and you get the feeling you’re helplessly watching a car crash occurring in slow motion right before your eyes.

‘Nuff said

Whatever its possible positive attributes, the nascent Rochester 912 Project – a group that its leaders say was inspired by the rationally challenged radio and Fox TV host Glenn Beck – may raise at least a few eyebrows.

The skepticism doesn’t stem from anything members of the group have said, at least not at this point, but by what one of its leaders was wearing at a meeting last month.

According to an article in Foster’s Daily Democrat, Randy Bowen, one of the group’s founders, was wearing a T-shirt that read in large type, “Earth First.” In smaller print read, “We’ll strip-mine the other planets later.”

A different tack

Never let it be said that leaders of the state Democratic Party aren’t true believers in the competitive two-party system. After all, why else would they be doing their darndest to revive the Republican Party?

A case in point – actually, it’s THE case in point – is the state budget mess in general and the dispute over whether the state should have even attempted to plunder the medical malpractice insurance surplus. The Superior Court ruling and the state’s generally shaky fiscal condition have been playing right into the hands of the GOP, which is doing its best to undermine whatever financial credibility the governor and legislative leadership have at this point. Words like “theft,” “budget chaos” and “incompetence” don’t exactly play into the Democrats’ strength at this point.

Perhaps it would have been better if they came clean on why they decided to use the medical malpractice surplus. Instead of using a convoluted, and obviously legally tenuous, argument that money the state never had anything to do with belongs to the state, perhaps Governor Lynch and the leadership should simply have quoted the legendary bank robber Willie Sutton. When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton said, “Because that’s where the money is.”

Just asking

Could anyone construe it as a conflict of interest if the New Hampshire Legislature – 60 percent of whose members are over the age of 60 and more than half of whom are retired – votes to water-down the state’s strict driver’s license renewal laws for older drivers?

New Hampshire’s license-renewal program for older drivers is one of the strictest in the country, requiring anyone 75 or older to pass a road test in order to renew a license.

But in the wake of a legislative study committee that called the system discriminatory because it arbitrarily sets 75 as the age for road-testing, an effort may emerge next session to change the rules and base further testing on “functional and medical fitness” instead.

Thought for the day

It’s an unfortunate fact that people who scream, “Get your government hands off my Medicare” – or even harbor such thoughts – actually have the right to vote.


John Lynch: The governor, confident of the state’s legal standing in the medical malpractice fund lawsuit, reportedly rejects any talk of a compromise with plaintiffs.
New Hampshire GOP: The state party plays up its much-improved midyear finances – a $174,000 balance – at the expense of state Democrats, who had $22,000 cash on hand at midyear.
New Hampshire Dems: Responding to Republican gloating over party finances, the Democrats’ communications director points out that the GOP owes the Dems a few more years of $25,000 annual payments to settle the 2002 phone-jamming case.
Mark Fernald: The former Democratic state senator and gubernatorial candidate abandons his congressional campaign two months after launching it.
Jim Wieczorek: The Manchester Republican activist reportedly decides against running in the 1st C.D. GOP primary.
Paul Hodes: In an interview with the Nashua Telegraph, the congressman says, “I think you would slow down the business of Congress to a crawl” if each member were expected to read each bill word-for-word.

It’s been making the rounds…

• Add the name of real estate broker and Republican leading light Karl Norwood as a potential candidate to face John Lynch in 2010.

• Funny how state Dems are playing up how the national GOP is butting in on the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race. It never seems to bother them when their big shots in Washington stick their nose into state politics.

• If Christopher Columbus “explored” the way Kelly Ayotte does, he wouldn’t have needed any ships.

• So it took Mark Fernald two months to realize he had a son starting college and a daughter in high school and that a congressional campaign might get in the way?

• Meet Fred Tausch’s STEWARD of Prosperity, aka the politico full employment program.

• It seems kind of odd that Jeanne Shaheen’s announcement of her support for Sonia Sotomayor got more play in New Hampshire than Judd Gregg’s.