Hassan’s Victory Charts Successful Path for NH Democrats

(Ed Note: Part Moved below the fold)

New Hampshire Democrats got it right when they nominated Maggie Hassan as their candidate for governor. Hassan breezed to victory 57 percent to 40 percent over Ovide Lamontagne in the General Election. Why did Hassan do so well?

One reason is that her centrist views matched those of the electorate.  When New Hampshire Democrats nominate moderate candidates for office, they do well. When Democrats veer to the far left for their choices, often they don’t do well. Gov. John Lynch, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and former congressman Dick Swett come to mind as other moderate Democrats who have prospered at the polls.
Hassan confirmed her reputation as a fiscal conservative and social progressive in her opening remarks about the upcoming state budget. An Associated Press article (11/26/2012) reported “Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan warned New Hampshire agency heads Monday that their spending requests for the next two-year budget are unrealistic. ‘The requests total far more than our economy and taxpayers can afford,’ Hassan said in opening three days of budget hearings on agency spending requests.”

In a second AP story (12/03/12), Hassan was quoted as saying, “People understand we continue to be in tough economic circumstances and I was clear in the campaign we weren’t going to do everything at once. Regardless of political party and interest, people understand we need to be fiscally responsible. That’s the cornerstone of New Hampshire government and what people expect,”

The press was quick to applaud Hassan. The Keene Sentinel (12/29/12) noted, “As Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan readies for her first budget-planning season in the state’s corner office, she got started on a good note this week by promising a measured approach.”

Fosters Daily Democrat (11/29/2012) wrote, “Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan was right on the mark Monday when she told state agency heads their spending requests for the next two-year budget cycle were unrealistic.”

The Nashua Telegraph (11/30/2012) added, “So far, though, Hassan is off to a promising start in the weeks leading up to her Jan. 3 inauguration. We like what she told the overeager department heads. We like that she continues to stress a bipartisan approach to government – something sorely lacking in the current Legislature. And we like that she set up informal transition teams to travel across the state in search of wisdom from leaders in business, education, health care, transportation and other key areas.”

Progressives, to their everlasting credit, defend the dispossessed – the poor, minorities, the disabled, and the elderly. It takes a person with a well-developed conscience to take the part of people different from themselves. Republicans, by comparison, stress self-reliance to the point where the fate of those who can’t care for themselves seems of supreme indifference to them. “If only the destitute tried harder, they could be millionaires.”

Some Democrats become so concerned and compassionate about the needy, however, that they ignore the bottom line. Yet, no matter how pressing  human needs may be, only so much tax money is available to meet them.  Nevertheless, when some on the far left encounter Democrats like Hassan or Lynch who focus on fiscal responsibility, they tend to mutter in their beards, “We’ve elected a Republican.”

No, you haven’t elected a Republican. You’ve elected a centrist who understands that unless the economy is healthy, then everyone, including the needy, is going to suffer. A healthy economy generates the revenue which makes it possible to help those in need.

John Lynch sometimes gave the impression that the last place he wanted to be seen was in the company of Democrats. It was bad for his bipartisan image. Yet,during the 2011-2012 legislative session, when Republican  supermajorities threatened to steamroller appalling legislation past enfeebled Democratic minorities, it was John Lynch who stood tall as a Democrat and vetoed these bills. These vetoes helped Democrats avoid a legislative calamity.

And so it is likely to be with Maggie Hassan. Those on the far left will grumble that she is too business friendly or too bipartisan or too fiscally conservative  or that she isn’t providing enough money for this worthy cause or that one. Yet, with Hassan as governor, Democrats can be secure in knowing that she will be there when it counts – opposing so-called Right To Work legislation, opposing private school vouchers, supporting Planned Parenthood, defending public education, and opposing restrictive photo ID bills.

Fiscal conservatism combined with social progressivism has worked for Democratic officeholders in the past and will work in the future. For that is where the heart of New Hampshire really lies.  

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  • Dean Barker
    • NateP

      I’m not going to get into it now. Too soon.

    • Jack Mitchell

      I’m leaning towards Dean on this.

      I tire quickly at breathy Liberals who incessantly lecture me from the pious of their enlightenment. Like I don’t carry the torch for the cause.

      That said, Gary Patton is more than a tad too “in your face” with this diary. The dirty hippies are right to be riled, by this gloating boob of a diarist.

  • Rep. Jim Splaine

    I appreciate and respect your perspective, Gary — and you’re right on many levels.  But I think there are many other reasons why Maggie — whom I supported in the primary — won, not because she was a “moderate.”  We shouldn’t deter non-moderates, i.e. “liberals” or “progressives,” from running because in the right circumstances, they can win too.

    This was a “perfect storm” election.  Just as I projected the Democratic win in 2006 a month before it occurred because the perfect storm was brewing for us then, and the turn-around in 2010 when the perfect storm was forming against us, it was easy for me to see as early as June that this year was going to be for us.

    And that might be different in 2014 if we don’t act like Democrats.  We can’t become more Republican, or we lose.  We have to involve more people in the discussion of governing, and that’s how political leaders win.

    This year, 2012, we had poor Republican candidates to run against.  Jackie Cilley — and again, I supported Maggie, but loved Jackie too — could have beat Ovide Lamontagne this year.  And Mitt Romney gave us mega-openings to beat him.

    And thank goodness for Bill O’Brien being Bill O’Brien these past two years, and giving us much to run against.  He allowed us for 2012 to show “night” and “day” differences.  

    Plus, we had good candidates up and down the line — thanks in Rockingham County to your leadership — and that makes the difference in turnout as well.  We had a coherent, uniform “forward” message, and the Republicans fell over themselves on what to say.

    I think we win not by being “moderate.”  Not from running away from issues like gay marriage or budgets that help the poor.  We win by being Democrats.  By involving each other.  By showing that we fight for equality in every way.  By showing people we’re on their side.

    Americans care for one another — and all aren’t just interested in voting for leaders who show they’re more concerned about the size of their bank accounts than doing good deeds.  

    • xteeth

      We await with baited breath to see the still Republican controlled Senate belly up to the bar. There is still, and can’t be any money to pay for the functions that we all seem to want from the government. We are left with the property tax – and gamboling (sic) which will solve nothing. Sadly, government functions require funding as does everything else and as Americans and particularly residents of New Hampshire, we are paying the lowest taxes since Truman. Now we have no solution to that and that isn’t “Perfect” in my view.

  • tchair

    What are we going to do about the highest per cap Property taxes is the nation while being 6th in per cap income and 42nd in state and local taxes combined ?
    There are NH citizens with their local taxes being over 30% of their income??????

    HOW DO WE GET PROPERTY TAX RELIEF?

    We must slow down our youth leaving NH and make UNH affordable !

    • JonnyBBad
      • xteeth

        Right up to the time when someone comes up with another way to finance government. So far the argument has gone, Democrats lose if we have an income tax as part of our platform. According to many, (e.g. Jim above) in this last election this prediction was false, the fear unjustified.

        As will become clearer and clearer, we lost anyway because raising property taxes is unfair and achieve only howls from seniors and others on fixed income. Property taxes and sales taxes are regressive. There just is no more money there. This part of the argument really has nothing to do with personalities – its about realities.  

        • StraffordDem

          http://www.unionleader.com/art

          Another sign that the apocalypse is indeed upon us.

          • Paul Twomey

            And as a bonus save millions in wasted prosecutions and incarcerations.

            And as a double bonus, redirect law enforcement to real crimes that hurt others.

            • Paul Twomey
              • xteeth

                but it is no where near the amount required and it has its own costs. Looking at economic effects, there are always offsets. That is one of the reasons that I don’t think I’ll give up my opposition to gambling. If it works well, others will do it and that decreases the amount of increased taxes etc. This is completely besides my real argument which is that I don’t want to fund my government that way – nor with prostitution or the sale for profit of addicting drugs. We really need to tax ourselves where the money exists and we can count it.

                The most telling argument, in my view, is that we just have to pay for government. Everyone dances around that obvious fact. It really only matters to special interests how we do that. A certain, and at this point rather large amount, needs to be taken out of the economic realm. The arguments about how much, clothed as arguments about the size of government, always seem to be confused and covered up with these philosophical free state libertarian ideals and never come down to what the American people actually want. This is a Democracy and we should have what the majority of us want and, on the other side, not have what we don’t want. As currently phrased the argument always comes up – how can we have the stuff we want without paying for it which means forcing public servants to get less and less while we continue to use their services. That isn’t fair or worthy but is really the essence in my view.

      • Rep. Jim Splaine

        I think that discussion always has to continue, as long as our poor face budget cuts, our children and seniors face service reductions, our disabled and challenged lack the help they need and remain on “waiting lists,” the property tax is overburdening to our renters and workforce, and our children don’t have the educational investment they need to succeed.  

        Yes, we need that discussion. And Democrats, by the very nature that we are “Democrats,” need to engage in that discussion, without fear of the polls.    

  • tchair

    In one of the most expensive areas of the country to run anything NH ranks 47th in per cap state spending ( local taxes are not counted)

    There is nothing left to cut, the state is in $$$ shortage and you cannot (at least we should not) downshift costs to the prop tax…..WHAT TO DO?

    • JonnyBBad

      and the LLC tax was a good idea, overwhelmed by a lopsided  Republican majority

    • GreyMike

      On lakefront homes on Winnepesaukee owned by non-residents with incomes above $1 mil.?

      • JonnyBBad
        • GreyMike

          47%?

      • MartyInNashua

        Those of us who have been around a while remember this one.  A tax imposed only on non-residents is unconstitutional.  Austin v. New Hampshire, 420 U.S. 656

        http://supreme.justia.com/case

        • GreyMike

          So we include resident millionaires with lakefront property on Winnepesaukee too. Guessing there ain’t many if them. But I could be wrong. So, maybe 10 mil. is the threshold…

          Slowly removing tongue from cheek now,,,

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