NH House 2015: returning pro-lifers

New Hampshire State HouseIn the weeks before the New Hampshire general election, I noted the names of the strongest pro-lifers on the ballot (here and here). How’d they do?

Extremely well. In a 400-member House, what difference can a small group make? Plenty, with time and persistence and the attention to one’s district that solidifies electoral support.

Six for six 

Seven state representatives cast pro-life votes on all six bills listed below. That includes voting to repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire, setting them apart from their other pro-life colleagues who aren’t ready to support repeal (and some of whom are in the forefront of fighting repeal). All seven were re-elected this week. Welcome back Reps. Bill Nelson, David Danielson, Robert Rowe, Donald LeBrun, Frank Kotowski, John O’Connor and Jeffrey Harris.

Other notable victories

What follows is not a complete list of pro-life victories from the recent election. There’s enough here to explain why I consider the recent election to be a Good Thing – capital G, capital T.

Voting pro-life on five of the bills below, and winning re-election: Keith Murphy, Ralph Boehm, Jeanine Notter, Tony Pellegrino, David Murotake, Dan McGuire, Joe Duarte, James Devine, and Kenneth Weyler.

Former representative Kevin Avard ousted Senator Peggy Gilmour. Avard’s strong pro-life record was no obstacle for him.

Roger Berube, the House’s lone consistently pro-life Democrat, will be back. Ditto for Leon Rideout and Griffin’s Law. So will J.R. Hoell, whose personhood bill sparked a conversation that continued at the Republican State Convention, where delegates adopted a personhood plank for the platform. (Oddly, the new platform has not yet made its way to the NHGOP web site. Perhaps party leaders aren’t as ready for the future as are the rank-and-file party activists.) Kathy Souza, who has been involved for decades in pro-life legislation as a citizen and an elected official, is back for another term.

At least five pro-life representatives who lost their seats in 2012 won them back in 2014. Others may yet win after recounts.

The president of New Hampshire Right to Life, Kurt Wuelper, was just elected to the House. Linda Gould, a NHRTL trustee, is a newly-elected representative who was her town’s top vote-getter. She outpolled veteran lawmakers to win one of her town’s six House seats.

Not a complete list, as I said, but it’s reason to celebrate. Alas, House and Senate lack veto-proof majorities. Nevertheless, Governor Hassan will have to play defense on the life issues next year. I don’t anticipate any signing ceremonies with a PP lobbyist over Hassan’s shoulder, like the one we were treated to when she signed the buffer zone law last June.

Some buffer zone supporters are now ex-reps

Twenty-three representatives who voted for the buffer zone law lost this week. Another nine are “on the bubble,” in races so close that a recount is likely.

That’s no more or less a “drop in the bucket” than the pro-life group I’ve mentioned. You can bet that abortion advocates would dearly love to have that drop back.


The bills from the 2014 session

HB 1501, strengthening public-health oversight of abortion facilities and requiring providers to have admitting privileges at an area hospital (bill was killed in House)
HB 1503, Griffin’s Law, a fetal-homicide bill; more than thirty states have such legislation (bill was gutted in House by changing original language; bill was then tabled in Senate)
HB 1504, the “All People Created Equal Act”, recognizing that life begins at conception (bill was killed in House)
HB 1325, legalizing assisted suicide (thankfully, the House killed this bill by a wide margin)
SB 319, establishing a no-silent-prayer “buffer” around abortion facilities (signed into law but not being enforced pending the outcome of a lawsuit)
HB 1107, death penalty repeal

NH “buffer zone” team looks thin this morning

Gov. Maggie Hassan (nh.gov photo)
Gov. Maggie Hassan (nh.gov photo)

The team that gave New Hampshire a buffer zone law took a hit at the polls Tuesday. Maybe squelching peaceful prayer vigils isn’t a winning issue.

Preliminary results from Tuesday’s election indicate that at least twenty-five House members who voted for New Hampshire’s unenforced “buffer zone” law have lost their seats. The bill passed 162-100 on a day when the 400-seat House barely mustered a quorum to do business.

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In the 24-member Senate, ten senators who supported the law were re-elected – maybe 11, pending the outcome in district 7.

There’s a repeal bill in the works, ready to be introduced as soon as the legislature convenes for 2015.

Fortunately for the abortion-facility lobbyists who worked so hard to pass the law, Governor Hassan was re-elected. She’ll likely veto a straight repeal, as opposed to repeal-and-replace. It would take a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override, and we’re not there yet. The shift in House and Senate membership is good news, but not decisive.

Send her a repeal bill anyway. Let the Governor decide just how much she wants to invest in nullifying the First Amendment outside abortion facilities. How long does she want to keep the taxpayers on the hook for defending this law, so similar to the one the Supreme Court threw out in McCullen v. Coakley? How much time and political capital does she want to invest in protecting the law, pushing other state business to a lower priority?

Make her go on record, over and over again.

The lead sponsor of the buffer zone law was just re-elected. She might say once again, as she did last year with a straight face, that this law is about “safety and balance” outside abortion facilities. Neither she nor the Governor ever managed to explain why our existing laws against trespassing, disorderly conduct, harassment and assault weren’t being used.

Make them keep trying. The buffer zone can be repealed, or it can be thrown out in court. Repeal is cheaper in every sense. The Reddy v. Foster case is still pending, with a restraining order currently preventing enforcement of the law. If I were governor, and if I were contemplating a U.S. Senate run in 2016, I’d be careful about inviting a judicial smackdown of a law I made a big deal about signing.



NH Dems, a pro-life choice: Clecia Terrio

I got a call recently from Ross Terrio. He’s a former state representative from Manchester whose claim to pro-life fame is his sponsorship of the bill that became New Hampshire’s partial-birth-abortion ban. He’s running for that state rep seat again, by the way, on the Republican side.

But enough about him. This is about his wife, Clecia. Mr. Terrio called to let me know that Clecia, a Democrat, has filed for governor versus incumbent Maggie Hassan. Why? Because Clecia Terrio is a pro-life Democrat.  She’s offering an option to pro-life Democratic voters. She’s also giving an option to pro-life independent voters who lean Democrat on other issues.

I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Terrio. When I do, I’m going to shake her hand. It must get lonely in that party for anyone who’d like to see a little respect for human beings at all stages of development. Good for her.

Maggie Hassan is going to win that primary. Even so, everyone who picks up a Democratic ballot and looks at the candidates listed with Hassan will see one woman’s quiet declaration that there are still pro-life voters in the Democratic party.

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Andrew Hemingway: “We are talking about the importance of protecting life”

Andrew Hemingway
Andrew Hemingway

Andrew Hemingway wants to be New Hampshire’s next governor. He’s twenty days away from a big hurdle: the primary election that pits him against former BAE executive Walt Havenstein. Both men are putting in countless miles getting to events and meeting voters. Andrew Hemingway made a priority of coming to Concord on a recent weekend to speak at a pro-life gathering arranged by supporters of Senate candidate Bob Smith.

One can’t help but be struck by Hemingway’s youth (early 30s) when he’s at a forum with other candidates, many of them a generation older, with that much more experience. He didn’t sound like a newcomer when he took the mic, though, and made his appeal to the pro-life voters listening on the State House plaza.

One of the things I’ve been most impressed and excited about throughout this process is meeting people. It’s the most rewarding part of this. If you’re not excited and interested in the people of New Hampshire, you’re probably doing the wrong thing. I have been amazed at the number of individuals who are pro-life, yet have been beaten into submission and into silence. Folks, we have over 500 Republicans running in this state right now for election, and yet when we hold a pro-life rally on the steps of the capitol building, are they there? I think we should take a count, not so much of who is here, but who is NOT here. They say that they’re Republican, yet do they represent what it means to be a Republican? Because last I checked, the right to life, the value and the sanctity that we put on human life, is still in our party platform. And I want to say thank you …to the state candidates who are here, I want to say thank you to all of you who are here, who are willing to stand up regardless of what the mainstream media tells us, regardless perhaps sometimes of what our own party leadership tells us. We know that life is sacred from conception until natural death.”

He called out Republicans supportive of the abortion agenda. He knows perfectly well that New Hampshire voters have varying views. He also knows what the Republican platform says.

“…in our party, we were putting forward individuals who are pro-choice, who are actually scornful of individuals who carry the pro-life banner and stand up for life. We see it in these closed rooms. We’re told ‘you can’t talk about that. Don’t talk about that issue.’ Anyone who has run for office knows that this is true. Absolutely true. ‘You can’t talk about that issue. After we win, then we get to talk about it.’ No. That is why we lose.”

Andrew spoke boldly about the 2011 Executive Council vote to deny Planned Parenthood the Title X family planning contract it had come to expect every two years. (Here’s a review of that situation, including how PP recovered from the vote.) He doesn’t buy into the segregated-funds argument advanced by PP, which says that Title X funds cannot be used for abortion – this from northern New England’s premier abortion provider, which complained about having to drop cancer screenings when Title X funding was compromised. Apparently staff salaries and public policy work are more critical than cancer screenings — but I digress.

You know the funding of Planned Parenthood came up in our Executive Council. And if not for Republicans voting for that funding, it would have been shut off. It would have been stopped. Countless lives would have been saved in this state. We were two votes away. I believe that with the right leadership in Concord, with the right leadership in the governor’s office, with a conservative House, with a conservative Senate, we can stop the taxpayer funding of abortions in our state.”

Taxpayer funding of abortion providers, actually. Any move to let taxpayers divest from that industry is a step in the right direction.

Am I drawing a figurative target on his back by reporting what he said? I don’t think so. A big-bucks abortion advocacy group has already signed on with Governor Hassan, and that will not change. Walt Havenstein and Andrew Hemingway can both expect slander and lies once the primary’s over, no matter who wins:- “denying health care to women” if they support taxpayer divestiture from abortion providers, “bosses making women’s health care decisions” if they support the Hobby Lobby decision and conscience rights for employers (including female business owners), “putting women’s safety at risk” if they’re not on board with the buffer zone and its nullification of the First Amendment “up to 25 feet” from abortion facilities.

Where to from here?:

You’ve got to ask yourselves ‘how to we take that next step?’ Is it just rallies? Is this just where we come and we clap and we cheer and we say Yes and we get fired up, and then we stop? No. You can’t let this stop. This needs to be a starting point. Is there any other greater cause? No. This is it. The pinnacle. So we must move forward on this cause. You must take the energy from this day and move this cause forward. Believe me: at every single stop, in all 200 places, we are talking about the importance of protecting life. … [Pro-life candidates] will keep fighting. But we need your help. We need your support. We need you to rally your friends and your family. Make sure everybody who votes September 9th votes pro-life.”

Thanking a voter who picked up a yard sign
Thanking a voter who picked up a yard sign

I spoke with Andrew privately after the event. I had to ask him a question that he’s probably heard often. Walt Havenstein is a man of proven managerial skill, as is known by many New Hampshire residents who have worked at BAE Systems. (I include my own family in there.) How can Andrew Hemingway compete with that kind of management experience? “Yes. Walt does have management experience. No question. But he’s not an entrepreneur. He’s a manager. He’s not a creator. I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve started businesses, I’ve sold businesses. I understand small business.” He noted that most New Hampshire businesses fall into that category. “I understand New Hampshire. I grew up here.”

I asked him if anything had surprised him about the state during his campaign travels. “Some of the manufacturers here that I’d never heard of!” And one more thing: “How beautiful our state is. I thought I knew that already. Then I go someplace new, and I think, ‘oh, this is amazing,’ and then I have another stop later in the day, and it’s a place just as amazing.”

After the rally, he stayed to talk with voters. No looking at his watch. He spent more time listening than talking. Retail politics at its best. As he said, he understands New Hampshire.




State Senate District 11: Gary Daniels

Gary Daniels is one of four Republicans vying for the nomination in District 11. This is an open seat, most recently held by Sen. Peter Bragdon (R-Milford). 

Gary Daniels (from garydaniels.org)
Gary Daniels (from garydaniels.org)

At various times, Milford voters have entrusted Gary Daniels with the offices of selectman, school board member, school district moderator, and – for eighteen years – state representative. What have we here? A career politician?

“I’ve been called a career politician. I guess if $1800 before taxes is a career, then I’m probably not very good at choosing careers.”  What Daniels could have said, but didn’t, is that the voters seem to have chosen the work for him. He’ll be on the ballot again in September, this time for state Senate in a district spanning Wilton, Milford, Amherst and Merrimack.

Let me also mention that he has a pro-life voting record going back years. I served with him a some years ago on the board of the state’s oldest pro-life organization.

Deciding to run, and what “establishment” means

Why the Senate?  Gary told me he decided to explore the race when retiring Sen. Peter Bragdon had to recuse himself from this year’s Medicaid expansion vote, citing a conflict of interest arising from his job with HealthTrust. “There was uncertainty over whether this district would have representation when it came to Medicaid expansion. That’s when I seriously started thinking about it. I jumped in when Peter announced he wasn’t going to run [for re-election].”

One of his opponents in the primary recently called Gary an “establishment” candidate. I asked Gary about that. “Before you go calling people ‘establishment,’ don’t just look at how long they’ve been there. Look at their voting record. Mine has been consistent for eighteen years. My first year up there, I got dragged into the back room by the [GOP] majority whip, and he started in on ‘you have one of the worst voting records among Republicans for supporting leadership.’ I simply said ‘when leadership starts acting like Republicans, then you’ll have my vote.’ That mindset has continued for eighteen years.”

New Hampshire House GOP leadership eventually got the message. When Republicans last held the House majority, Gary was named chairman of the Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services committee. (With Democrats in charge, he’s the ranking Republican.) That’s a high-profile, high-pressure job, with right-to-work legislation drawing large crowds and controversy whenever it’s introduced. Gary’s temperament and attitude in the role earned him respect  “I had [the head of a prominent New Hampshire union] come up to me and say ‘we’re never going to agree on this, but I do respect the way you run the hearing. You’re very fair, you give people a chance to talk.'” Gary paused for a moment before adding, “That’s how it’s supposed to work.”

He knows how to work on a team where not everyone has his kind of temperament. I asked him about former Speaker Bill O’Brien, who led the GOP majority in 2011-12. “People criticized him for being harsh. I don’t see that he was any harsher than Terie Norelli has been. Remember, we had an $800,000,000 [budget] hole going into 2011-2012, and you’re not going to make friends when you’re filling that hole. But the thing is, we filled that hole and we didn’t raise your taxes.”

Representing more than one town would not be new to him. His House seat is a floterial district, covering the towns of Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon & New Boston. “Really, what I’m doing [if I win] is changing from Rt. 13 to Rt. 101.” A testimonial on his campaign web site from a Mont Vernon resident notes that even though Mont Vernon is the smallest town in Gary’s House district, Gary “gave Mont Vernon the same attention he gave the largest towns.”

On life

Gary was pro-life long before he was elected to office, and he has a long pro-life voting record. Most recently, he opposed the buffer zone and supported Griffin’s Law.

Referring to Maureen Mooney, the other district 11 candidate with a state voting record, “Maureen’s and my pro-life vote is probably the same. I think she’s been pretty staunch on that. I think the biggest thing that separates us is experience. I hope that people can see the value.”

Has he seen any shift over the years in how representatives treat the life issues?  Yes. “We will fight for social issues on constitutional grounds, as in pro-life. We’re talking about a human being here, and government’s purpose is to protect people. And we’ve actually made progress on that front. When you think back to my early days in the legislature, we were fighting about whether [the preborn child] was a human being or not. We don’t hear so much of that these days.”

If there’s a shift in House and Senate membership after this year’s election, will the buffer zone law be repealed, if it’s not tossed out by the courts? Probably, said Gary. “Constitutional grounds. That would be something I would highly expect to pass.” What about parental notification? Is that safe, or will someone try to repeal it? “Anyone can put in a bill. If Republicans are in a majority, I’d say that any attempts [at parental-notification repeal] would probably fail.”

Where has the local pro-life movement missed some opportunities? Gary described a recent email he received from a pro-life activist.  “Yes. I was former chair of New Hampshire Right to Life. That’s why I got a little bit perturbed this year when I got an email, saying something like ‘you have been identified as being someone who is not pro-life.'” Gary traced the accusation back through a Facebook post to a blog post to a comment on that blog. “You run into something like that once in awhile.” He shook his head and said of the commenter who sparked the email, “You don’t stop to think that you’re insulting the people who have stood by you for years and years.” He knows less-experienced colleagues who have voted pro-life on bills but then received criticism from pro-life activists anyway. “If you don’t have a strong person there, and they might have put themselves out to support a bill and then they get a thing that says ‘I understand you’re not pro-life,’ they say ‘you know what? If that’s what you think, forget you.'”

“Sometimes it takes time to pass a bill,” he said, acknowledging that this can be frustrating for activists eager for progress.

Other Senate issues

Where does Gary think the state has unfinished business? Jobs. “If you don’t have work, then a lot of these other things like affordable health care don’t mean a whole lot, because it’s not a high enough priority and people go without.” He mentioned a recent survey on how children are faring in various states, and said that New Hampshire’s rank has dropped sharply year-over-year, “primarily because of children in poverty. If we have jobs for people, then maybe the children wouldn’t be living in poverty. But we can’t produce jobs when you have a mindset that business is evil. ”

He described a successful project from his time as chair of the Labor committee. “We were having people [come to the committee] who were facing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fines because they didn’t do something right with worker’s compensation or something like that.” He suggested to the state’s commissioner of Labor that  a “welcome packet” be created for owners of new businesses, with the state’s labor laws included on a CD. Business owners would have all the relevant information in one place, rather than having to figure out the law piecemeal. Since that program began, he said, “We haven’t had one person come back after with the same issues of non-compliance. It’s things like that where you can look back and say ‘I made a difference,’ whether it’s working with people or just helping with businesses.”

What else? “We need to come up with a New Hampshire solution for health care. That was one of the original intents in running for the seat, feeling that people needed a voice. And I felt it was a big enough issue that it needed to have attention. Education – this whole Common Core thing has to go away. I’m trying to bring education into the 21st century, and a lot of it ties into jobs and the economy.” He cited the state’s Building Aid program to school districts. “Enrollments are going down. Is there an opportunity to give building aid money to putting schools together with fiberoptic, creating virtual classrooms with students from around the state? Let the state start building the infrastructure that will make a 21st century classroom.”

His proudest legislative accomplishment is a Lyme disease law that he sponsored, passed without former Gov. John Lynch’s signature in 2011. “This was a segment of society that had been forgotten by the legislature, and in many ways are still forgotten by Health and Human Services. People were having to go out of state [for long-term antibiotic treatment] because one doctor would say ‘there’s no such thing as chronic Lyme disease,’ while another would say ‘chronic Lyme DOES exist and MAY be treatable with long-term antibiotics.’ The problem was that doctors around the country treating with long-term antibiotic therapy were being reported to their [state] boards of medicine, and having their license pulled, and people with Lyme would lose a doctor. So we were trying to be proactive.” Passing the New Hampshire law was painstaking, gradual work. “This is where legislative experience comes in. It was a process. A lot of constituent work. I worked with people who had Lyme disease. I let the Lyme patients be the advocates. Two hundred of them showed up at the House hearing. No way could anyone walk out of that hearing thinking there’s no such thing as chronic Lyme.”

“If I get elected, something that should not be too confrontational is to take the educational requirements that a nurse must go through, and make at least an hour or two of those about Lyme disease. We have one of the highest concentrations of the disease right here in New Hampshire.”

“If I’m not up there, then maybe there won’t be someone up there to represent my views. So at least while I’m up there, I can fight for the things that I feel are right, the things that my constituents elected me to fight for.”

His campaign web site: garydaniels.org