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Gen Z Was NHDems’ Seawall Against the ‘Red Wave’

If the Democrats had a secret weapon Tuesday during their surprise showing for the midterms, it may have been young voters acting as a seawall against the anticipated “Red Wave.” And that was especially true in the Granite State.

Votes are still being counted, but instead of handily losing control of both houses of Congress as expected, Democrats may be a few seats behind the GOP in the House and have a realistic chance of maintaining the current 50-50 tie in the Senate.

They were so key to the Democrats’ success, President Joe Biden gave Gen Z voters a shoutout during Wednesday’s post-election presser.

“I especially want to thank the young people of this nation,” Biden said during his White House remarks. “They voted to continue addressing the climate crisis, gun violence, their personal rights and freedoms, and student debt relief.”

In the fight for the state legislature, Gen Z voters helped cut the size of the GOP House majority down to just 203-197 — before recounts. Republicans, like House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn), said they are confident their majority will hold. “The voters of New Hampshire have spoken and have sent Republicans back into the majority in the House for the 2023-2024 term,” he said in a statement.

But the final outcome will be directly impacted by the youth vote.

Democrat-aligned organizations spent millions focusing on mobilizing the youth vote. One of those groups, NextGen America, spent $25 million on the election, according to its president, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez. Those voters were natural targets for the continual messaging on abortion and fighting extremism from the Hassan, Kuster, and Pappas campaigns.

“Young people are relentlessly committed to building the infrastructure needed to harness the full power and potential of the largest and most diverse generation in American history,” Tzintzún Ramirez said. “From abortion access to economic justice, young people recognized the stakes and mobilized to address some of the most challenging issues our country has ever faced. Young people just sent a clear message: The future belongs to us–and there’s no room for hatred, greed, or fear in the country we will continue to build.” 

Part of NextGen’s plan was to find voters on college campuses, targeting 245 colleges nationwide. The group used direct mail, texts, calls, and influencers to reach close to 10 million young voters ahead of Tuesday’s election. The success was evident in Tuesday’s results.

Our initial data from Youth Vote Indicator Precincts shows that young people NextGen registered or pledged to vote turned out at 6 points higher than young people overall during the early voting period. And early turnout among young voters in precincts organized by NextGen exceeded nationwide averages,” Tzintzún Ramirez said. 

In college towns like Durham, home of the University of New Hampshire, and Hanover, home to the Ivy League’s Dartmouth College, college students surged to the polls. The Granite State has the highest percentage of college students in its population in the country.

According to Durham officials, 1,446 people registered to vote on Tuesday, out of more than 5,900 total ballots cast. Most of those new voters were UNH students. As a result, Democrats won big. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas scored nearly 4 to 1 margins over Republicans Don Bolduc and Karoline Leavitt respectively.

Carson Hansford, president of the UNH College Republicans, said the state party put time and money into getting out the vote in Durham, but could not match the intensity of the young Democrats.

“College campuses tend to be more liberal. That was proven again last night,” Hansford said.

In Hanover, close to 800 people registered to vote on Tuesday, again mostly students from Hanover, according to town officials. Griffin Mackey, a conservative Dartmouth student with the Dartmouth College Republicans, said voter sentiment in towns like Hanover did not reflect the reality of the rest of the state. Dartmouth students largely come from wealthy families that already skew liberal, he said.

“Dartmouth students are 1) not from New Hampshire and generally do not engage with the local community beyond their campus; 2) do not pay for food or rent, and 3) do not have cars or pay for gas,” Mackey said. “How on earth could Gen. Don Bolduc, or any other conservative candidate for that matter, appeal to those students?”

According to national exit polls, 63 percent of Gen Z and Millennial voters, aged 18 to 29, voted for Democrats. Just 35 percent backed the GOP.

Bolduc focused on economic issues impacting working families, like “heating or eating,” and most other GOP candidates hit the economy, record high inflation, and soaring fuel costs as part of their campaigns. Mackey said messages about economic insecurity generally fell on deaf ears in affluent Hanover.

“This is a foreign concept for many Dartmouth students who believe that the fossil fuel industry is evil and who want everyone to be vegan,” Mackey said.

State Senate District 16 Candidates Clash: Who’s the ‘Real’ Republican?

While the GOP primary campaign for U.S. Senate is getting most of the attention, a hotly-contested Republican race for state Senate being is waged in District 16. Political observers say it is the most-watched legislative primary race of the year.

And a key debate between the two candidates is which one is the ‘real’ Republican.

Rep. Barbara Griffin (R-Goffstown) has been a GOP member of the legislature since 2014. Before getting involved in politics, however, she considered herself an independent, though she did vote in the 2008 and 2012 Democratic primaries.

Rep. Michael Yakubovich (R-Hooksett), a self-described Rand Paul Republican, said he quit the GOP in 2016 when the Kentucky senator dropped out of the presidential primary and pulled a Democratic ballot — casting his vote for Vermin Supreme. He also voted in the state Democratic primary that year, records show.

Griffin, who points to her work to create a winnable legislative district map for Republicans as chair of the redistricting committee says she has always been very conservative.

“I’ve been a gun owner for many years, and a member of the NRA for many years. When someone brings this up, I say to them, ‘Show me something I’ve done that makes you think I’m a liberal Democrat.’”

State Rep. Michael Yakubovich

Yakubovich, first elected to the House in 2018, told NH Journal he has been a solid Republican for nearly his entire life in America.

“I have voted for many Republicans since I escaped Communism and became a United States citizen in 1995,” Yakubovich said.

The dispute over their partisan standing comes because at one time both Griffin and Yakubovich were registered Democrats.

Griffin grew up in a Republican house, with parents who attended an inauguration party for President Richard Nixon. She registered as “undeclared,” but when she voted in a Democratic primary, she said she forgot to switch back to undeclared and did not think about it until she decided to get into state politics. That was when she made sure her party affiliation matched her true beliefs, she said.

Yakubovich admitted he voted in the Democratic primary in 2016, but said it was just a protest. “I did not ‘switch parties’ – my intention always was to remain as a Republican.”

Yakubovich has said that in the past he voted for Vermin Supreme, a performance artist known for wearing a rubber boot for a hat and promising to give away ponies if elected. Asked by NHJournal to confirm that vote, he declined to answer the question.

Whether or not either Griffin or Yakubovich were ever committed Democrats, the two current Republicans have very different voting records.

Griffin has put together a conservative, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment record in her time in the State House, according to Sen. Regina Birdsell (R-District 19). She is endorsing Griffin, as are other conservative stalwarts like Sen. Kevin Avard (R-District 12), Birdsell said.

“She’s what we need in the state Senate. I fully endorse her,” Birdsell said.

Birdsell said she is convinced of Griffin’s conservative bona fides based on her record as a lawmaker. She was not concerned about any Democratic past, as many prominent Republicans had been Democrats in their youth.

“A lot of us were Democrats before we were Republicans. Including myself, including Ronald Reagan, including Donald Trump,” Birdsell said.

While Griffin casts herself as a traditional conservative, Yakubovich tilts libertarian in his votes and has won the endorsement of the libertarian-leaning organization Americans for Prosperity. Greg Moore, AFP state director, said Yakubovich is exactly the right person for the Senate.

“Michael Yakubovich is an incredibly effective and important legislator who has, in his two terms in the House, shown that he has been one of the best leaders for delivering on low taxes, limited spending, reducing regulation, and growing the New Hampshire Advantage,” he said. “We’re thrilled to endorse him so that he can bring those same skills to the Senate and become a leader there.”

On the Second Amendment issue, Yakubovich supporters note that Griffin scored a B with the NRA’s Political Victory Fund this year, while Yakubovich scored an A. The group did not endorse in the race. Similarly, the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition graded Griffin with a B-, and gave Yakubovich an A.

Yakubovich’s libertarian approach has led him to cross the aisle and vote with Democrats on legalizing marijuana. And he voted against a bill to charge people who pay to have sex with children with a class A felony. More recently, Yakubovich voted against GOP-backed attempts to fix the recently passed bail reform law that some say has allowed too many repeat offenders back on the street.

Last week, Daniel Whitmore, 75, of Manchester was stabbed to death on a walking trail near Bradley Street. The suspect in the murder is homeless man Raymond Moore, 40. He was arrested twice this summer; once in July in Nashua for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, and again in August in Manchester in another apparent stabbing incident. Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig took to Twitter to decry the lenient bail system in New Hampshire that let Moore out of jail.

“Our criminal justice system cannot continue releasing violent offenders back onto our streets. I, once again, urge our legislators to act quickly and address this issue. The safety of our residents is at stake,” Craig said.

Griffin, who supports bail reform, said law and order is part of the New Hampshire Advantage and that GOP politicians need to support getting tough on crime.

“I know the chaos it creates in the city of Manchester and our communities,” she said. “This murder could have been avoided.”

HUYETT: NH Senate Democrats Just Voted to Allow ‘Suspending’ the Constitution

New Hampshire liberty advocates won a major victory on Wednesday when our State Senate voted to pass HB 440, Rep. Jim Kofalt’s Civil Liberties Defense Act. This bill will prohibit constitutional rights from being suspended during a state of emergency.

Kofalt proposed the bill because New Hampshire’s emergency powers laws have been interpreted by our state courts to allow a governor to suspend constitutional rights during an emergency. This is no exaggeration: According to the legal test used by our state courts, even “fundamental rights such as the right of travel and free speech” may be “suspended” by a governor in a declared emergency.

That means that, as Rep. Michael Sylvia pointed out during a House floor debate, “We are all enjoying our fundamental rights, including free speech and trial by jury, at the mercy of the current governor.” As long as a governor’s actions are related to a declared emergency, any constitutional challenges to those actions can simply be dismissed out-of-hand.

Although HB 440 faced some initial setbacks, on Wednesday every Republican State Senator joined in sponsoring an excellent floor amendment that restored the key substance of the bill. Senate Republicans then voted unanimously to pass the bill and protect our constitutional rights. It’s important to contact your Republican state senator now and thank them for their vote.

During Wednesday’s Senate floor debate, Republican Sen. Sharon Carson made a powerful argument in favor of HB 440. During World War II, the legal theory of “suspending constitutional rights” was used to uphold the internment of Japanese Americans in detention camps. Carson pointed out those Americans had their property confiscated and their lives destroyed by a government wielding unchecked emergency powers. As Sen. Jeb Bradley noted, abuses of that kind should be unthinkable in the “Live Free or Die” state.

Republican Senators wisely made clear this bill is not a repudiation of Gov. Chris Sununu. As Rep. Matt Simon said during the initial House floor debate, the bill is necessary to “shore up our constitutional defenses during a state of emergency so the responsibility for any potential future abuses will not rest upon our shoulders.” Accordingly, Sununu is likely to sign the bill. When he does so, he will deserve our thanks for helping to protect the fundamental rights of Granite Staters from his successors and their subordinates.

While Wednesday’s vote is a great victory, it should also serve as a dire warning about the intentions of New Hampshire Democrats. In the House, HB 440 did enjoy a modicum of bipartisan support, including from Democratic former House Speaker Steve Shurtleff. In the Senate, however, Democrats unanimously voted against the bill.

Democratic Sen. Rebecca Whitley rose to speak against the proposal. In her remarks, she claimed it would prevent judges from balancing the public interest against individual rights in times of emergency. But that is false.

Courts balance the public interest and individual rights in perfectly ordinary constitutional challenges every single day. As a trained lawyer, Senator Whitley must know this. Our problem in New Hampshire is that a “suspension” theory is not a balancing test: It is a rubber stamp on government action. So long as an executive’s actions are factually connected to a state of emergency, New Hampshire courts have said they will simply set constitutional rights aside. That is not “balancing.”

Aside from Whitley’s ambiguous remarks, Democrats offered no explanation for their votes to allow “suspending” the Constitution. The only thing we know for sure is Senate Democrats have just voted to uphold the same legal doctrine that Franklin Roosevelt once used to put an entire race of people into camps.

As recently as the first candidacy of Barack Obama, many Democrats claimed to be champions of civil liberties. Rep. Steve Shurtleff seems to represent this form of Democratic politics—one that is increasingly rare in his party today.

Instead, in today’s Democratic Party, authoritarian cultural progressivism is the order of the day. Many Democrats appear eager to wield unchecked power over their political adversaries, and Wednesday’s vote was a startling reminder of that fact. Granite Staters should be wary of what Democrats could do with that power if they regain control of the state government.

To learn more about HB 440, see Cornerstone’s page of resources on the bill. Don’t forget to thank your Republican senator for voting to safeguard our constitutional rights and to thank Kofalt for his tireless efforts on behalf of liberty.

Bolduc: I Drove ‘Communist Sympathizer’ Sununu Out of Senate Race

During a conspiracy-spinning interview with radio host Jack Heath Tuesday retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc called fellow Republican Chris Sununu a “Chinese Communist sympathizer” whose family business “supports terrorism,” and claimed he drove the governor from the U.S. Senate race.

“I derailed Gov. Sununu from running for Senate,” Bolduc said. “Let’s face it — the most powerful political family in New Hampshire made a decision not to run against a political outsider for the United States Senate.

“We ran a Sun Tzu-like campaign that brought to the forefront all of his flaws for serving at the national level as a U.S. Senator. And he surprised all of his supporters because in the 11th hour, he looked at the polls and there was no guarantee could beat Bolduc. And he can’t afford a loss based on his future ambitions in the political arena.”

A UNH Survey Center poll released in October found that while Sununu led Sen. Maggie Hassan 45-42 percent, Bolduc trails her 47-42 percent.

Bolduc also called Sununu a “Chinese Communist sympathizer” who’s “in business with Saudi Arabian companies that give money to terrorists. He’s a globalist world-government guy.”

While some of Bolduc’s rhetoric appears to be motivated by personal anger at Sununu’s unwillingness to back him in last year’s Senate primary, the retired general has embraced conspiracy theories as a central part of his campaign.

Bolduc is touting Trump’s fact-free claims about the Biden campaign stealing the 2020 presidential campaign.

Bolduc was also one of 124 retired generals and admirals who released a letter in May claiming the election was rigged in Biden’s favor. And his most recent campaign event headlined disgraced former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“He was a lousy candidate when he was sane,” one NHGOP insider told NHJournal. “Running as a lunatic isn’t much of an improvement.”

 

From ‘Run Warren Run’ to ‘Why, Liz, Why?’

They are the headlines every potential presidential candidate wants to see a month after the midterms:

  • “Liz Warren Is Catching Fire” – Politico
  • “Elizabeth Warren Has Arrived And So Have We” – Daily Kos
  • “Elizabeth Warren’s Moment” – NBC News

“The storyline…is that the heart of the Democratic Party really wants Warren,” wrote Chris Cillizza of CNN.com, while Rep. Keith Ellison of the DNC  said on Face the Nation: “I think that right now people want an authentic candidate. Elizabeth Warren comes off as a very authentic person. So that is what people are gravitating towards.”

That’s quite a December for any candidate. Unfortunately for Liz Warren, that was December….2014.

Four years ago this week, MoveOn.Org was touting the Massachusetts liberal as the progressive’s rising star on their  “Run Warren Run news” website. (“We’re excited for week 2 of the Run Warren Run campaign…”) A few weeks later they would pour $250,000 into their “Draft Warren” efforts, backed by veteran Democratic campaigners like New Hampshire’s Kurt Ehrenberg and Blair Lawton of Iowa.

The effort lasted into the summer of 2015, with excited Democratic activists gathering more than 365,000 signatures trying to rally a reluctant candidate to run for president.

 

Iowa MoveOn member Saba Hafeez (University of Iowa campus organizer) and New Hampshire Democracy for America member August Tucker (an 18-year-old HS senior from Portsmouth, NH) delivered the petition to Sen. Warren in June, 2015

Four years later, the roles are reversed.

It’s hard to imagine a “Run Warren Run” grassroots wildfire today. Despite her highest of high profiles, polls among Democrats show her in the single digits in the 2020 race. Most Democrats in her home state of Massachusetts aren’t keen on her running.  And her decision to release a DNA test in her ongoing #Fauxcahontas fight with President Trump—just weeks before the midterms—was viewed bad timing and worse strategy.

And so now Liz Warren is trying to transform herself into the very obstacle she faced four years ago: The next Hillary Clinton.

In a story headlined “Elizabeth Warren Forges a 2020 Machine,” Politico reports that if Warren pulls the trigger on her POTUS campaign, “she’ll be rolling out arguably the most advanced and sweeping infrastructure in the Democratic field, a plug-and-play campaign that could give her a massive head start on nearly every contender in the burgeoning primary roster.”  That includes $12.5 million in the bank and more than 50 people on her campaign payroll.

She’s “built a shadow war room….that has encompassed work in all 50 states and close coordination with more than 150 campaigns,” Matt Viser reports in the Washington Post. It’s an impressive tale. But is it true?

Some Democrats tell InsideSources off the record that they think this is largely spin from the Massachusetts senator, an attempt to build up her standing as a member of the 2020 short list.  “They’re pushing this 150 campaign number so it looks like she has a machine,” one New Hampshire Democrat told NHJournal. “But she’s no Hillary Clinton—at least, not yet.”

But could she be?  Hillary Clinton had the benefit of the Clinton brand, built on eight years in the White House and a narrow loss to the politically-talented Barack Obama in 2008.  Sen. Warren, on the other hand, is a Democrat in one of the most Democratic states in the country. The last Republican to win a general election campaign for the U.S. Senate was Ed Brooke in 1972.  (Scott Brown won a special election in 2010 and promptly lost to Warren two years later.)

In fact, according to data analyst Harry Enten of CNN, Warren is an underperforming Massachusetts Democrat. Adjusting for the high number of Democratic voters in her state, “Warren’s performance was the sixth worst of all Senate Democrats” in 2018, Enten says.

When it comes to 2018, all the standard caveats go here: It’s early, none of the best-known Democrats considering a run have even announced, the Iowa caucuses are more than 400 days away, etc.  But the stark contrast between the mood of progressives today and four years ago is hard to miss.  Instead of headlines like “A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren,” the headline in the Wall Street Journal reads “Too Soon For Democrats to Dump Liz Warren?

Yes, the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal lean right. But the headline from the left leaning Washington Post reads  “As Her DNA Test Still Reverberates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Political Operation Shows Fissures.” Even her longtime allies at the Boston Globe have editorialized “Warren missed her moment in 2016, and there’s reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020.”

“She has become a divisive figure,” they added.

As Hillary Clinton demonstrated, you don’t have to have grassroots excitement or progressive bona fides to win the Democratic nomination. Bernie Sanders had both and she still beat him (with a little unauthorized help from the DNC).  But if Hillary couldn’t generate excitement, she could generate something else:

Fear. Few people wanted to cross Hillary Clinton, and fewer still wanted to fight against the first woman POTUS nominee of a major party among Democrats so focused on identity politics.

Liz Warren, unfortunately, has none of those advantages. There’s no cost to crossing her, there are at least three other women on the potential-candidates list, and the glass ceiling (for the nomination, anyway) has already been broken.

Four years ago, the chant was “Run Warren Run!”

Today, it’s closer to “Why, Liz? Why?”

Shulkin’s Out: What Does That Mean for Manchester VA?

For former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, the Manchester, NH VA Medical Center was both his high point and his downfall. Now New Hampshire officials are wondering what his legacy will be for Granite State veterans.

Within hours of President Trump’s tweet announcing that he was firing Shulkin and replacing him with White House physician Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, NH Rep. Carol Shea-Porter tweeted:

Among those commitments: $30 million in new spending on the Manchester VA Medical Center–a high-profile pledge he made in Manchester, surrounded by state leaders, just weeks after firing the top two local VA officials.  Gov. Chris Sununu and other political leaders said they were pleased with the reform efforts of Secretary Shulkin. “It’s a new day, ” Shea-Porter said at the time. Manchester appeared to be a big win for Shulkin.

Unfortunately it also played a cameo role in his ouster. The VA secretary was unable to shake the consequences of expensive (and questionable) taxpayer funded travel.  According to a damning Inspector General’s report, when confronted about apparently light, tourism-friendly schedule on an official trip to Copenhagen, Shulkin defended himself by pointing to the time he spent “handling of matters relating to a media crisis that developed relating to allegations of substandard care at the Manchester VA Medical Center.”

It appears Shulkin mishandled the entire “luxury travel” scandal. As USA Today reports:

He first blasted the VA inspector general’s findings that he improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and airfare for his wife during the 10-day junket. He then refused to accept the determination that his chief of staff misled ethics officials to get clearance for his wife’s airfare, suggesting instead that her email had been hacked. Shulkin later expressed regret and repaid the cost of the tickets and airfare. But he also complained that the appointees were targeting and undermining him.

That’s not what President Trump wanted to hear. But it could be music to the ears of VA reformers urging that veteran’s health services be handled by the private sector, the so-called “privatization” issue. A source close to VA leadership told NHJournal:

“Shulkin enjoyed tremendous support from the Veterans Service Organizations because they knew he wouldn’t privatize. Veterans are proud of their service and the benefits they’ve earned.  VA Healthcare is one of those benefits.”

Privatization is also clearly on the minds of New Hampshire’s politicians. Rep. Annie Kuster posted on her FB page:

I was disappointed by the misuse of taxpayer dollars by Secretary Shulkin that eroded the trust of the American people. Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that his firing today will strengthen efforts to privatize operations within the Department of Veterans Affairs. I’ve spoken with many Granite State veterans who fear the loss of camaraderie and the full recognition of their veteran status that comes with receiving care at the VA.

Privatization of the VA health system has long been the goal of economic conservatives, but they’ve always lacked the political support to get it done. It seems highly unlikely that the new VA Secretary, a White House doctor with a military background, is going to lead that ideological charge.