Offering An Assessment Of Possible Gubernatorial Candidates

It’s early, but I look forward to hearing what other 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.…

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 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.  

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43 Responses to Offering An Assessment Of Possible Gubernatorial Candidates

  1. StraffordDem April 24, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    Has Lynch actually said he’s not a candidate in 2012?  At what point should potential candidates expect the governor to let his intentions be known?

    The race on the other side should be interesting if not entertaining…I can’t remember a legislature coming under public fire so soon out of the gate.  On what will R candidates hang their hats?

    • Rep. Jim Splaine April 24, 2011 at 6:30 am #

      Good questions, StraffordDem.  About timeline, I’m sure John Lynch has his own and that’s all up to him.  IF he doesn’t run, if he publicly announces that as early as June or July of this year that would make him a sure “lameduck” for the second part of this legislative session starting in January.  True, it would allow other Democrats to get up and running, but it’s important to have as strong a Governor as possible taking on the Republican House/Senate agenda.  

      If John Lynch takes himself out too early, will he be weaker in taking on the Republican agenda?  Perhaps it’s 50-50. Maybe he would be perceived as more a statesman than a politician in the eyes of voters if he says he’s not running, and faces down the right-wingers eyeball to eyeball. But his continued strong approval polling gives him strength regardless.

      I think it’s good that other potential Democratic candidates start talking about what they may do, because that’s the value of our bench.  If not for 2012, then for 2014.  We know the Republicans are at it already, so our potential candidates should feel fine talking about their possibilities.  

      All that said, I hope John Lynch takes on a 5th term.  IF he does, perhaps announcing his interst in another term as early as this June or July would not be too early.  

  2. Dean Barker April 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    I do believe you may have broken the news that Steve Marchand is exploring a run for governor.

    An exclusive!

  3. MartyInNashua April 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    The mention of Bette Lasky reminds me that we will need to encourage other candidates who lost in 2010, or other fine choices, to take back the legislature and the Executive Council in 2012.

    For example, I would like to see both Bette Lasky and Peggy Gilmour running for the Senate, and Deb Pignatelli running for the Executive Council.

    I would also like to see Gov. Lynch run for a fifth term.  All of the candidates you’ve profiled have great records of public service, though, and we need their experience somewhere in government if not the Governor’s office.

  4. hannah April 24, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    Let me just add, a little off topic, that it’s now my considered opinion that legislators who don’t play the power game are perceived as threats by those who do.  Which suggests that some members of Congress, who didn’t go along with the incumbency crowd were targeted for elimination just because they weren’t going along to get along.  While CSP spurned DCCC support after it was initially withheld, her spurning of PAC contributions may well have signed her death warrant — not because PACs are particularly keen to throw away money, but because her refusal to join in signaled a rebuff of the establishment crowd.
    One of the arguments against a rapid turn-over of elected officials is that agency bureaucrats get the upper hand when there’s no institutional memory. I’m not sure that’s valid. The real issue seems to be that the power of incumbency has to be maintained because power is a priority.

    Who decided that CSP and Paul Hodes were good targets for removal from Capitol Hill?  Who persuaded Paul to move up instead of focusing on the task at hand?
    Fact is that the power of political parties is on the wane, unless they buckle down to doing the real work of grooming competent candidates and making sure voters are alert and ready to make choices. If office holders can’t be petty potentates, the parties can’t be dictators.  The power of the electorate challenges all the traditional power centers. Millennials are not going to be easy to intimidate ’cause they’re not status-conscious. (Hadn’t thought of that before).

    • susaninrindge April 25, 2011 at 12:35 am #

      I remember that Paul Hodes was invited to watch the superbowl @thWH the February after Obama was elected. I had the feeling then that Obama encouraged Hodes to run for Gregg’s seat. At the time, I think Obama was considering Gregg for a cabinet appointment. Hodes, as you remember, had been the first NH supporter of Obama primary for Pres — over HRC.

      Perhaps someone who knows Paul personally and has some more grounded knowledge would know whose idea it was for Paul to try for the Senate.


      • Demosthenes April 25, 2011 at 3:35 am #

        He has a funny way of following through.

        Did the white house do anything worthwhile to help Paul’s campaign??

        • susaninrindge April 25, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

          Obama was struggling for his political life following the brutal health care debate. At that point, I think the WH had triaged the Congressional races. He let Paul twist in the wind on his own.

          But, of course, this is all speculation on my part….  Probably an over-active imagination!

    • TimothyHorrigan April 25, 2011 at 1:48 am #

      It was Paul Hodes who persuaded Paul Hodes to run for the Senate. Hodes’ Senate race ended badly, but there is no guarantee that a hypothetical CD2 re-election campaign would have been successful.  Charlie Bass may be a lackluster candidate, but he was strong enough to beat Annie Kuster.  Hodes could have lost to Bass too.

      • TimothyHorrigan April 25, 2011 at 5:14 am #

        In 2010, Charlie Bass was strong enough to beat Annie Kuster.  In 2012, he is destined for defeat!

    • Demosthenes April 25, 2011 at 3:33 am #

      Carol raised almost a half million from PACs last cycle.  1 in 3 of the dollars to her campaign came from PACs.  That’s a much higher percentage than Hodes or McLane-Kuster (can’t check Lynch on  Hardly ‘spurning’ the establishment.  In fact, the establishment propped up her campaign just like Guinta’s mystery bank account propped up his.

      • StraffordDem April 25, 2011 at 5:56 am #
      • susanthe April 25, 2011 at 6:27 am #

        Carol accepted no corporate PAC money. That ham-fisted comparison to Guinta is a particularly craven form of bullshit.  

        • Demosthenes April 25, 2011 at 6:53 am #

          Go back and read above.

          Hannah’s point above is that Carol Shea Porter “spurned PAC contributions” which “signaled a rebuff of the establishment crowd”.

          This is not true.  

          In fact, Congresswoman Shea-Porter took $495,994 from PAC’s in her last campaign – about 30% of her total (or almost double the percentage taken by Paul).  These contributions were from, in fact, the very ‘establishment crowd’ that Hannah claims she was rebuffing.  About $100k from Democratic leadership PACs, another $80k from fellow Democratic members of Congress, $200k from labor unions, etc.  That is the definition of the Democratic “establishment”.

          If some of these facts are incorrect, please correct them.  If you dispute that Democratic leadership PACs, Democratic members of congress, and labor unions represent the ‘establishment’, have at it. If all you have to offer is unrelated points and insults, please don’t bother.

          Here is where I got this data from:

          • elwood April 25, 2011 at 6:55 am #

            Democratic establishment” as you were challenged.

            Quite a game you’re playing.

            • Demosthenes April 25, 2011 at 7:04 am #

              You think Hannah meant the REPUBLICAN establishment??

              (But even if you want to set aside party labels, you cannot dispute that the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, dozens of her colleagues, and dozens of labor unions are ‘the establishment’.  That doesn’t make them evil.  But it does no one any good to pretend that Congresswoman Shea Porter didn’t rely on the establishment.  She did.)

              • elwood April 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm #


                You COULD  have said, “Maybe she didn’t accept money from industry, but she did accept contributions from groups such as EMILY’s List and from UNH employees.”

                But that wasn’t sinister-sounding enough for you. You simply launched into, “She took hundreds of thousands from PACs.”

                • Demosthenes April 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

                  Stop trying to change the subject with this ‘industry’ thing.  That was no where in the original comment or my response.  Your attention to insert it after-the-fact is bizarre and sheds no light on this discussion.  If you want to start a diary on ‘where carol gets her money from’ we can engage in this discussion there, but in the meantime you are trying to change the subject- and hijack the discussion- simply in an attempt to win an arguing point.  

                  The question is whether (a) carol shea porter spurned PAC contributions and (b) whether she receive financial support from the establishment.

                  Hannah, above, said neither is true.  This is factually wrong.  I think it is fair to correct false statements so they don’t fester into fact.

                  You will see I detailed the type of PACs (as specified by the nonpartisan Center for Reaponsive politics)  and provided a link.

                  • Douglas E. Lindner April 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

                    Is the part where you pretend people care about PAC money because of the concept of a PAC, rather than who controls the contributions.

                    Getting money from one’s own political and ideological coalition is not the same as getting money from the oil lobby.

                    • Demosthenes April 26, 2011 at 12:28 am #

                      If you have any evidence to the contrary.

                      But I really don’t think that “PAC” is synonymous with “corporate PAC.”.  

                      Giving up pork alone doesn’t make you kosher.

                      In fact, I think that most voters are skeptical of special interest money whether it comes from corporations, labor unions, ideological groups or other politicians.

                      To say that a politician rejected ‘the establishment’ and gave up PAC money, when in fact she took lots of PAC money from powerful establishment players like labor, congressional leadership, etc, is either a genuine mistake or it is dishonest.  

                      Either way it deserves to be corrected.  

                    • elwood April 26, 2011 at 3:13 am #

                      for a candidate to take money from a group that wants to HELP them, as from one that wants to HURT them.

                      Makes perfect sense.

                    • Douglas E. Lindner April 26, 2011 at 3:15 am #

                      In case there’s any confusion here, let’s be clear. The BHer posting as “hannah” does not speak for Carol Shea-Porter.  Nor do I, nor does any regular contributor here.

                      Rep. Shea-Porter only ever claimed that she rejected corporate PAC money, and her doing so is a well-documented fact. One poster’s omission of an adjective describing the well-documented practice of one of our state’s most prominent political figures, whose record on this is well known to the BH community, does not merit an entire argument based on semantics.  Hannah failed to specify. Your nitpicking should be aimed only at her, not at the former Congresswoman.

                      Demosthenes, your Concern is noted.

                    • TimothyHorrigan April 26, 2011 at 4:07 am #

                      I happen to have known the person who posts here as “Hannah” for decades— she is a longtime progressive activist and she was in fact an early  supporter of Carol Shea-Porter.  She does not- and she would never even want to- speak for anyone but herself.  

                      Demosthenes took some of Hannah’s musings and twisted them way out of context as part of what is evidently a deliberate attempt on his part to smear Carol Shea-Porter.

                    • Douglas E. Lindner April 26, 2011 at 4:08 am #

                      Just making a point.

                • StraffordDem April 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

                  And the subsequent direction that the discussion has taken reinforces my initial suspicions.

                  • TimothyHorrigan April 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

                    I am suspicious of Demosthenes.  He has no info about himself on his profile, he just got here, and he spends almost all his time trying to play “gotcha!” with the Democrats.  He also makes a big fuss over labor union PACs. I think he may be a troll.

                    • Demosthenes April 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

                      If you really think Hannah’s  comment was accurate and that my response was trollish, than I don’t know how to convince you otherwise, beyond the posts above in which I provide links and details.

                      But for others less quick to judge:

                      I think we have stronger candidates when we don’t create myths.  Self-delusion is a recipe for disaster.

                    • TimothyHorrigan April 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

                      Thanks for confirming my suspicions about you, Mr. D.

                    • elwood April 26, 2011 at 3:24 am #

                      “Hi, I’m new in town. I just thought I’d come here and tell you that you’re all completely wrong, and your candidates are hypocrites. I say that based on my Noble Principle that money from the Sierra Club is just as dirty as money from the Koch Brothers or BP.

                      “You challenge me? You doubt my motives? How UNWELCOMING!!”

                    • JonnyBBad April 26, 2011 at 12:55 am #
                    • StraffordDem April 26, 2011 at 1:13 am #
          • susanthe April 25, 2011 at 7:03 am #

            is showing.  

      • elwood April 25, 2011 at 6:53 am #

        Right here.

        It shows that your post is baloney. None of her top 5 contributors was an industry group.

        • Demosthenes April 25, 2011 at 6:56 am #

          who said anything about an industry group?

          • susanthe April 25, 2011 at 7:05 am #

            those goal posts are moving mighty fast now, Demosthenes.

            • Demosthenes April 25, 2011 at 7:36 am #

              Here is what moving goalposts look like:

              original assertion: carol rejected PAC money and therefor rejected the establishment.

              my counter: actually, she did take a lot of PAC money and it came in large part from establishment PACs.

              you: but she didn’t take CORPORATE/INDUSTRY money.

              me: ummmmmm.  ok.  I don’t think that really has anything to do with the original point.

              Speaking of, this thread is getting hopelessly off-topic, so here is an attempt to bring it back to the point:

              The original diarist did a good job about saying nice things about a bunch of people running or thinking about it.  

              I think those candidates should be judged on their merits.  On their background, what they have to say, the positions they take, the strength they show on the campaign trail, who they take money from, the competence of their organization, etc.

              When people try to insert imaginary gripes or preconceived notions into that equation – oh, this person is ‘establishment’ this one isn’t – I think it is a detriment to the process.  Partly because it feels gossipy and clique-y, and partly because it is often based on completely wrong information.  Instead we should be focused on ‘hey, he has a great idea’ ‘wow, she did a great job on X’ etc.  

    • Ray Buckley April 25, 2011 at 3:56 am #

      jumped the shark on this one. OMG.

    • Kathy Sullivan 2 April 25, 2011 at 5:22 am #

      Paul Hodes started running for senate the day was elected to a second term. Maybe before that. No one talked him into running. In fact, the theory was that he announced so early to block CSP from taking a shot at the senate seat.  

      • Douglas E. Lindner April 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

        At an NHYD event in 2008, I asked Paul, “what are you going to do about Judd Gregg in 2010?” He responded that he was focused on the 08 reelect.

        So clearly, it was me.

      • StraffordDem April 25, 2011 at 11:05 pm #
      • FrankLloydMike April 26, 2011 at 1:48 am #

        I like Paul Hodes, but I think his incredibly early decision to announce his candidacy for Senate (between the time Gregg announced he would accept the nomination for Commerce Secretary and then reneged that acceptance, I believe) was not wise.  In early January/February 2009, there was no way to know what the political landscape would be like in late 2010, nor what roles he might play in the intervening two years.  It was a bad move, because it allowed those inclined to do so to view his second term as a two-year campaign, not to mention the hubris that some may have read into such an early decision.  It also reduced (and in actuality eliminated) the likelihood of a strong primary, which left him struggling for media attention in the summer and fall of 2010, and was in part to blame for the lack of enthusiasm among progressives.  I have no doubt that the decision was his alone, and I’m not sure what the exact motivation was for announcing so early, but my humble guess is that had he waited longer, he probably would have chosen to run for re-election in CD-2, which though far from a sure thing, probably would have been more attainable in the 2010 reactionary tidal wave.

  5. ThatTallGuy April 26, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    (if Lynch doesn’t re-run) highest of all the people listed.  I’ve met him and I found him quick and intelligent, personable and likable, and dedicated to a progressive vision.

    • StraffordDem April 26, 2011 at 4:13 am #

      I haven’t met him but Steve’s footsies with No Labels left me wondering a wee bit about his political instincts.  Still lots of time and room to persuade me, tho.

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