It’s early, but I look forward to hearing what other BlueHampshire.com posters have to say about the potential candidates for offices. Since I’m a fan of both Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, I see the “action” for 2012 mostly in the Governor’s race. Democrats are wealthy in that we have a strong “bench” developing.
Since November, 2012 is just 563 days from now, or just over 80 weeks, it’s not too early to consider their strengths or lack thereof. Here are some of my initial thoughts, in no specific order:
1. John Lynch. John Lynch should run for a 5th term. While I didn’t support his first race for the nomination — I supported a lifelong friend, two-time Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Paul McEachern in 2004, Lynch has impressed me greatly. McEachern didn’t win in 2004, but I think he made John Lynch a better candidate, who went on to smash then-Governor Craig …. I forget his name.
Last November was John Lynch’s toughest election, but he won, and he won well, and he won with class. And thank goodness. Can you imagine today, with this right-wing Legislature, if it was “Governor Stephen” or “Governor Kimball?” John Lynch saved us from all that. And his vetoes of horrible bills during the next few months, and next year too, will protect the lives of real people who would otherwise be hurt by some horrible legislation. By those vetoes, Lynch will feel a renewed spirit of purpose and need. He can win big in November, 2012. Let’s draft him.
2. Mark Fernald. From the first day I met him, I have liked Mark Fernald. He gave it a solid try in 2002 and received our nomination and faced the $11 Million Dollar Man with a campaign budget of 1/20th that. In a year where the wind of 9/11 was still blowing he did a credible job. He spoke of the needs of human beings and offered tax reform as a way of shared responsibility. He hasn’t faded into the background and he has spoken and written about the needs of our state more and more during these past few months. He’s older and wiser. He’d be a tough competitor. If he can come across on the campaign trail as a more mellowed “professor type” than he was almost a decade ago, he could do it.
3. Steve Marchand. Steve asked to meet with me for an hour a couple of weeks ago, but that meeting at my McDonald’s office went almost twice that. Two political campaign technocrats getting together take a while to cover the issues even if each talks fast. He said I could mention our meeting because he is going fast-speed-ahead on his exploration of a campaign which is already obviously well-grounded.
This guy is fun. He has a friendly, welcoming way to him, even when you disagree with him. I’ve known Steve since the early days of when Jim Normand had been thinking of running for Governor in 2002. I had run Jim’s 1996 successful Governor’s Council campaign, and I was helping Jim think about 2002. Steve got involved and led that exploration for a few months, and immediately I got to respect his abilities. He knows campaigns, understands fundraising, has a message already thought out, and he’s networking every day.
He’s at a good age, comes across well in person and at podiums, and was elected Portsmouth Mayor — no easy effort and I know because I had been elected Assistant Mayor three times but never topped the ballot as he did. He won’t “take the pledge” and he’s against expanding gambling. He also has the experience of having done the walk on a possible U.S. Senate run three years ago, yielding to Jeanne Shaheen.
Can he do it? Well, of all possibilities he’s the only one saying that for sure, if John Lynch doesn’t run he will — and that’s an asset at this point because he leaves no doubt. And I haven’t talked with a candidate who has such a “can-do” determination since my first meeting with Carol Shea-Porter before she was on the radar screen of many. http://bluehampshire.com/diary…
4. Mark Connolly. I have known Mark Connolly since the mid-1970s when he served in the NH House while he was a student at Dartmouth. That depth of involvement in government and caring about people in itself says something about the guy. His years of government and private business gives him life experiences that are tough to equal in either party.
Mark also is one of the most honest people I have ever known in government. Embroiled in the “FRM” (Financial Resources Mortgage, Inc.) situation as Director of the Bureau of Securities Regulation of the Secretary of State’s Office, he publicly resigned rather than become a go-along-to-get-along participant, saying that more information needed to come out. A just-finished 600 page inquiry seems to have proven him right in that much more information was brought forward, and his pursuit for that information guaranteed more information sharing.
Now, what does he do? If he can work the timing out, and if he can do the catch-up that he has to do, he could go all the way. One-on-one he looks you right in the eye. At the podium he exudes his confidence. His ability to absorb issues is impressive. I think his integrity is beyond question. His caring about people is obvious. As longtime and close friends, he’d be my #1 choice, but he has much to decide as to whether he really wants to do it this time. He has also firmly said that he wants John Lynch to run.
5. Maggie Hassan. In just a few short years Maggie Hassan has impressed many people, including me. She’s smart, quick on her feet, a hard-worker, and determined. After her close defeat last November in a tough district for Democrats against an opponent who fed off the national anger of voters who didn’t take the time to learn what the candidates were actually saying, she has stayed involved and gone to meetings and events statewide.
More than any of the other potential candidates mentioned here, she can rightly claim that she was instrumental and hands-on in helping to get House Bill 436 through the Senate. She wasn’t an early public Senate supporter of the gay marriage cause in 2009 — that honor goes to Sens. Martha Fuller Clark, Bette Lasky, and Harold Janeway, each of whom made important personal testimony to the House Judiciary Committee at a time that we had to show Senate support. But at an important moment when it looked like marriage equality might lose in the Senate, Maggie pulled support together.
I much admire Maggie’s intensity, and she would make a striking contrast in any debate with Stephen, Lamontagne, Bradley, or any other Republican. It would be a classic race. She and I have disagreed on some issues, but that’s part of the process of politics and governing. I could get excited about her chances. And she probably generates more excitement among Democratic interest groups than any of the other potential candidates.
6. Jackie Cilley. I have known Jackie for many years, and in the Senate she was always well-spoken and ethical. She knows issues well, and while in the legislature she made her voice and idealism heard in committees and on the floor. She’s one of those people who when you’re with whether for thirty seconds or an hour, she makes you feel that you’re the only one important to her for the moment. After leaving the Senate last November she has stayed involved as a spokesperson for Democratic causes, and as BlueHampshire.com readers know, she widely distributes weekly updates about pending legislative action. She might not have the networking and fundraising capabilities of some other candidates, but she would fill those gaps with enthusiasm and intelligence. Many of us could get excited about her in 2012.
Others? There are some other great possibilities too, including former State Senator Peter Burling, former Speaker Terie Norelli, former Senate President Sylvia Larsen, Nashua Rep. David Campbell, former Senator Clif Below, former Congressperson Dick Swett, Gary Hirshberg, the co-founder of Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, astronaut Jay Buckey, and former Governor’s Councilor Jim Normand. Each has records of accomplishment and the proven desire to help people as part of their backgrounds. They are among those who represent part of the depth of our bench.
There may well be other potential candidates from the private sector who would also rise to the occasion, as well as other office holders in state, county, or local government. Remember, at this point in April, 2003, more than a year before the filing period, John Lynch was virtually unknown statewide, and known primarily by Democratic Party activists. He jumped on the scene just six months before he was elected.
And President Barack Obama has shown us that you don’t need to be a household brand name or have a lot of money early during campaign season to win an election. I do think that November, 2012 is shaping up well for Democrats nationally and statewide since voters now see what they get if they don’t pay attention to exactly what kind of people they vote for.
I wouldn’t be worried about a hard-fought nomination process. If we have a few primary contests, that can generate more excitement for our eventual nominees and help lead us to greater turnout, and victory in 80 weeks.