Lori and Deaglan McEachern made a lovely bride and groom. Their wedding website includes photos of the smiling couple, the story of Deaglan’s proposal (on Lori’s birthday, in a New York City park), and the news that “Shortly after we moved back East and are now happily living in the Beehive of Brooklyn.”
That was February 22, 2014. And that’s the problem for Deaglan McEachern, candidate for N.H. State Senate District 21.
New Hampshire makes both voting and running for office easy. For voters, they have same-day registration and for would-be candidates, they have few requirements to qualify. For example, the only qualifications for state Senate candidates are that you’re 30 years old, you live in the Senate district where you’re running, and that you’re “a registered voter and domiciled in New Hampshire for at least seven years.”
In other words, to qualify for the September 8, 2020 Democratic primary, you must have been living in– aka “domiciled” — in New Hampshire by September 8, 2013. And as the newlyweds announced, in February of 2014, the McEacherns were still “happily living in the Beehive of Brooklyn.”
And it’s not just their wedding website. At a site called “This Is The Bronx,” McEachern begins a story about a healthcare crisis his wife faced while they lived in New York with the phrase: “I vividly remember that awful day. August 4, 2014.” He goes on to say, “We left New York for New Hampshire and moved in with my Aunt.”
According to public records, McEachern voted in New Hampshire via absentee in 2014. He purchased his home in Portsmouth N.H. in April, 2015.
So, how is it possible for McEachern to be living in New York, voting absentee from New York, but still eligible to run as a state Senate candidate in Portsmouth, N.H.?
“I have always maintained residency in New Hampshire,” McEachern told NHJournal. When asked to explain how that’s possible, he simply repeated, “I have always maintained residency here. I voted absentee. I have just always maintained my residency.”
McEachern declined repeated requests to explain how he managed to be domiciled in the Granite State from his home in the Big Apple, or how he maintained his standing as a New Hampshire voter casting ballots in local elections while living and working in New York.
It’s an important question. When asked by NHJournal if a person who didn’t move to New Hampshire until after January 1, 2014, would be eligible to run for state Senate this year, a representative of the N.H. Secretary of State’s office said, “Under the law, no.”
McEachern is facing off against Rebecca Perkins Kwoka in the Democratic primary to replace Sen. Martha Fuller Clark. The longtime progressive Democrat who announced her retirement earlier this year has endorsed McEachern’s opponent.
“I believe Rebecca is the most qualified candidate to carry on my legacy as your state Senator for the past 12 years,” Clark said in her endorsement.
Kwoka declined to comment on this story.
In addition to his single-sentence answer, there’s another hint that McEachern knew his residency might be an issue in this race. When he ran in the Democratic NH-01 primary in 2018, his campaign website read: “In 2014, after working in both San Francisco and New York, McEachern returned back to New Hampshire with his family.”
Interestingly, the bio page on his state Senate website no longer references when McEachern moved back to Portsmouth.
There is no seven-year domicile requirement to run for Congress.