Observations on the Republican candidates for N.H. Governor 2016

For what it’s worth, I offer a few notes on votes cast by the people running for New Hampshire Governor in the Republican primary.

I’m not ignoring the Democrats. It’s just that I refuse to pretend that there are any distinctions among them on the right to life and the desirability of forcing you and me to hand money to abortion providers. PPNNE’s Action Fund has endorsed Colin Van Ostern, if that tells you anything.

I’ve interviewed Frank Edelblut. He’s got a decent voting record in his one and only House term. (I tracked some 2015 and 2016 votes.) He’s been endorsed by New Hampshire Right to Life PAC (and the name is spelled “Edelblut,” folks).

Jeanie Forrester has been a state senator for three terms. Her record can’t be compared directly with Rep. Edelblut’s, since most life issue bills originate and are killed in the House.

  • She voted for the parental notification law (HB 329) that was passed in 2011 over John Lynch’s veto.
  • In 2012, she supported the fetal homicide bill (HB 217) that came achingly close to passage, falling to a veto. She supported the ban on partial birth abortion (HB 1679, which became law). She voted against killing the Women’s Right to Know bill (HB 1659, also known as Informed Consent). She voted to send a post-20-week abortion restriction to interim study, effectively killing the bill. She voted along with 16 other senators to table a bill to restrict public funding of abortion providers (HB 228).
  • In 2014, she opposed repealing the death penalty (HB 1170).
  • In 2015 and 2016, when fetal homicide bills (HB 560 and SB 40) got bogged down, she ended up along with several pro-life colleagues voting for troublesome Senate language that had been amended to define “viable” [fetus] as being “capable of sustained extrauterine survival.” If that language was designed to pick up votes from a couple of resistant Republican senators – as I suspect it was – it fell short. (See my coverage of these bills.)

Ted Gatsas was a five-term state senator before being elected mayor of Manchester. In the Senate in 2003, he supported a parental notification bill that became law only to be repealed a few years later. (A second bill passed after Gatsas left office and remains in effect.) In 2007, when the Senate considered a bill to ban the Department of Health and Human Services from entering into contracts with abortion providers (SB 77), he voted against killing the bill. In 2008, pro-abortion senators tried to pass an “adult involvement” bill (SB 527) as an alternative to parental notification for minors seeking abortion. Gatsas voted against the bill, before it was sent to interim study on a voice vote.

And then there’s Chris Sununu. He has thrice voted as an Executive Councilor to give contracts – that’s your money – to abortion providers (2011, 2014, 2016). He managed to vote against one Planned Parenthood contract in August of 2015, but his recent vote flipped that and sent him back to what is apparently his comfort zone. He has no legislative record to confirm where he stands on other life-issue policies.

I strongly advise concerned voters to contact candidates directly for more information.

A few minutes with Frank Edelblut

Frank Edelblut meeting voters outside the NH State House. (Ellen Kolb photo)
Frank Edelblut meeting voters outside the NH State House. (Ellen Kolb photo)

The New Hampshire Right to Life PAC has announced its endorsement of Frank Edelblut for New Hampshire Governor, calling him “a steadfast advocate of the pro-life cause.”

On his own campaign web site is this statement: “Frank knows life is truly a gift from God and he believes the New Hampshire Constitution guarantees ‘life’ and ‘liberty’ for every soul in New Hampshire.” Edelblut’s pro-life votes from the House session just ended are already on record (see my digest of 2016 votes here).

Before I spoke with Edelblut after June’s Executive Council meeting, I had a longer interview with him at his Manchester campaign office. He is one of several Republican candidates who will be on the September 13 primary ballot.

What sets you apart from the other candidates? What do you bring that they don’t? Their experience ranges from business management to legislative politics to mayoral politics.

I’m a job creator, not a politician. I’ve served in the legislature one term, long enough to see how it works and where the problems are and not long enough to be the problem. I’ve not spent my entire life calculating moves, trying to figure out a way that would build up to [being] governor.

I’ve been involved in business. I think the mood of the electorate is that we need an outsider, we need someone who isn’t part of the system in order to try and make a difference. I’m on the outside, a business guy who thinks he can try to  make the government work for the people again.

You’re a first-term state representative. When you ran in 2012, you were the top vote-getter in your ten-town district by one vote. What made the difference for you?

The beautiful thing about winning by one vote is that every single person who even thought about my campaign was responsible for my win. If you put a sign up, it was because of you that I got one vote. If you made a phone call, or attended a rally, it was because of you that I got one vote. People helped. And I ran a campaign. I did lots of phone calling, lots of door-knocking.

You were present when the Executive Council voted to send taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood. Your thoughts?

I think that it is such a controversial subject. There are people with good intentions, I know, on both sides. I  just think it makes no sense that taxpayer money should go anywhere near funding abortion. We need to separate those two activities [abortion and non-abortion work], and it becomes very difficult. I’m an accountant. I know how moneys flow in an organization. When you have an organization that is both providing services to women, as well as providing abortion services, those funds become commingled and become really difficult to separate. So why don’t we just say, if you’re going to be in the abortion business, then you don’t need to have any state funding in there. That allows organizations that want to provide women’s health services to provide health services without the risk and the perception that that money is somehow going across into an activity that many people in this state find abhorrent.

In private life, away from politics, you and your wife are longtime CareNet supporters. Tell me about the kind of work you’re supporting there.

The main issue there is comprehensive care for women. That’s the goal. When  a woman is pregnant, and it is unplanned, it is a crisis. We need to make sure she has the full scope of options, and not kind of force her down a certain path. Most of the time, the decisions being made are not about the pregnancy. They’re about what happens after the pregnancy. There’s all this pressure [on the woman]: what happens when I have the baby? Employment, housing, can I be a good mom? What about the dad, how can I engage him? [CareNet is] not just taking you through your pregnancy. We’re taking you through your parenting. We bring men in and help them learn how to be good dads. Probably half the ministry over there is what to do after the kids are born, to help them get a good launch in life. And this is all done with private funding. 

Here’s an op-ed by Rep. Edelblut from last April in which he outlines his pro-life views and how they are consistent with a governor’s constitutional responsibilities.

To learn more about Frank Edelblut, go to frankedelblut.com.

Edelblut: Sununu “doesn’t know what he believes in”

Gubernatorial candidate Frank Edelblut, one of several Republican primary contenders, took fellow candidate Chris Sununu to task after Sununu flip-flopped on Planned Parenthood funding at today’s Executive Council meeting. I spoke with Edelblut briefly after the Council’s vote.

“We need a Governor who knows what he believes in,” he said. “Chris Sununu has been playing politics with this thing for the last week, maybe ten days, playing us, because he doesn’t know what he believes in. He just appropriated money to an agency that’s already overspent their budget by 16 million dollars, and just gave them another $600,000. That’s just wrong.”

Frank Edelblut (at right) talks with Jean Ferreira (in hat) before Executive Council meeting. Ellen Kolb photo.

Two other Republican gubernatorial candidates critical of Sununu’s vote weighed in via social media.

Ted Gatsas on Twitter:

Jeanie Forrester took Sununu to task via Facebook:

On the Democratic side, gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern was one of the Councilors joining Sununu in supporting the PP contract.