New Hampshire is often seen as a political anomaly in the Northeast. At the state and local level, the state is a speck of red in a sea of blue, surrounded by the socialist republics of Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
In fact, New Hampshire is one of the most pro-liberty states in the nation. It’s on the license plate after all: “Live free or die.”
But freedom and liberty aren’t possible without grassroots activism. Since 2018, our organization—Young Americans for Liberty (YAL)—has been involved in nearly 200 races in the Granite State, with dozens of other races pending for the General Election later this year. Our Hazlitt Coalition, a group of pro-liberty legislators across the country, currently includes 60 members in the State House out of 202 Republicans in the caucus and two members in the State Senate out of 13 Republicans.
New Hampshire is also unique in that it is very easy to run for office here. In order to get on the ballot, an individual must meet the residency requirements, paying $2 or gathering five petition signatures. New Hampshire also boasts 400 State House seats, which is roughly one House member for every 3,387 people. In practical terms, that means the universe of voters is very small and very manageable while the cost to run for office isn’t high.
A candidate in New Hampshire can run for as little as $2,000 and win a State House seat. That is a valuable opportunity for liberty candidates.
In addition to its smaller districts, New Hampshire also boasts multi-member districts, so voters may step into the voting booth and vote for only one candidate in some cases while voting for 11 candidates in others. That empowers YAL to get involved in local races on the ground, where we can knock districts three times and swing the race in our candidates’ favor by up to 20 percent.
With so many liberty legislators in one state, New Hampshire is a key battleground for the liberty movement writ large. Out of all the Northeast states, the Granite State is currently the only one that has no income tax and no sales tax, making it straightforward for anti-tax candidates to campaign in their general elections.
In 2020, I was the Senior Election Director on the ground in both the primary and general elections, so I saw the stark contrast between our candidates’ messaging and the Democrats’ talking points. In New Hampshire, the recipe for YAL’s success is campaigning on stopping the Democrats from destroying the New Hampshire advantage. It’s much more challenging to talk to voters about raising their taxes. In many ways, the pro-tax messaging from New Hampshire Democrats has politically destroyed the state party at the state level.
New Hampshire has other advantages too. Unlike in other states, it is relatively simple to get a recorded vote on a bill, and that helps YAL tremendously in the primaries. Just this year alone, our organization was able to take out four “Republicans In Name Only” (RINOs) in the primaries after they voted to kill right-to-work legislation in 2021. By running quality candidates who believe in liberty and educating voters about the poor voting records of RINOs, YAL emerged victorious. In almost any other state, taking out a RINO incumbent would be next to impossible, but thanks to the low cost of New Hampshire races, our endorsements, and our resources go a much longer way.
Even in this primary cycle, Gov. Chris Sununu dropped $27,000 in attack mailers against six incumbent lawmakers, five of which were YAL-endorsed. In the end, we ended up winning three of five races—an excellent success rate, considering $27,000 in mailers is almost unheard of for a State House race in New Hampshire.
Looking ahead, assuming Republicans have control of the State House, the future looks bright. In 2021, New Hampshire passed the most pro-liberty budget in the country, including tax cuts, spending reductions, and so-called Education Freedom Accounts. With as many pro-liberty legislators as we are expecting, YAL believes that we can continue to enact tax cuts, limit regulation even further, expand Education Freedom Accounts, and—thanks to the defeat of a few RINOs—finally pass right to work in New Hampshire.
The people of New Hampshire deserve nothing less. Live free or die.
Daniel Stuart serves as Hazlitt Action Director at Young Americans for Liberty.