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ANALYSIS: AG Schools Warmington Over Clueless PragerU Complaint

Don’t worry, Ronald McDonald: “Hamburger University” is safe from Cinde Warmington — for now.

It’s no surprise that Executive Councilor Warmington, a progressive Democrat seeking her party’s nomination for governor, isn’t a fan of PragerU. Founded by conservative radio talk host Dennis Prager, PragerU generates short, educational videos on a variety of topics — some overtly political, others basic life skills.

The PragerU content under consideration by the state Board of Education consists of several short videos and coursework covering lessons on basic personal finances, from how paychecks work, how checking and savings accounts work, how to get a loan, and how to invest for retirement. 

What PragerU doesn’t do — and has never claimed to do — is hand out college diplomas. There is literally a message on its website that reads, “No, PragerU is not an accredited university, nor do we claim to be. We do not offer degrees. However, we are the most accessible and influential online resource for explaining the concepts that have made America great.”

But that didn’t stop Warmington from demanding an Attorney General investigation into PragerU, claiming it is attempting to defraud people fooled by the “U.” You know, like those tricky people who run ESPNU (your cable TV home for college sports!).

And, she claimed, she’d found a New Hampshire law the education nonprofit was violating by calling itself PragerU.

Unfortunately for Warmington, the law she cited applies to businesses incorporated in New Hampshire (PragerU is not) that are using terms like “college” or “university” in ways “tending to designate that it is an institution of higher learning” (it’s not), or somehow “invoke the consumer protection rationale” (as the AG put it) of the statute.

By the way, Warmington is a lawyer. Maybe she’s angry because she got hoodwinked by the Jethro Bodine School for Lawyerin’?

As the Attorney General’s office said in a statement Monday: “After reviewing the statute, the AGO does not read RSA 292:8-g to require nondomestic entities that merely have a presence in New Hampshire through the existence of a website to incorporate under the provisions of RSA 292:8.”

In other words, Councilor Warmington literally didn’t know what she was talking about when she demanded the investigation.

Which, by the way, is great news for College Motors and University Donuts — not to mention the Electoral College which, coincidentally, many progressives would like to shut down as well.

There is a strong case to be made that pursuing content from PragerU is a political miscalculation by Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut and the state Board of Education. Given the current state of the media, it’s hardly a surprise that leftwing outlets were willing to pile on with Warmington’s uninformed complaints, taking them seriously. PragerU is an openly conservative content provider. In the current political climate “conservative” and “controversial” are synonyms, regardless of the facts.

Is it true that the same people attacking PragerU’s completely non-political lessons on personal finance also embrace the blatant racism of Ibram X. Kendi for public school classrooms? Yes. Is it true that media outlets who knew — or should have known — this was a ridiculous ploy by Warmington played along and pretended it was legit? Of course they did.

But those are the political realities of the moment.

Hilariously, Warmington stuck with her bogus claims in response to the AG’s dismissal of her complaint.

“I’m disappointed with the Attorney General’s failure to protect the public from Prager University’s [sic] clearly misleading name,” Warmington said, intentionally misleading voters by using a fake name for “PragerU.”

Warmington is a smart enough political operative to seize an issue like this, real or imagined, and use it for political gain. But why did she make ridiculous, fact-free claims about fraud and breaking the law? Isn’t “I oppose all content to the right of MSNBC” enough?

Did Warmington, an attorney, simply not understand the law she was citing? Or did she understand but, in the cause of political opportunism, simply not care? Either way, Granite Staters have learned something about what kind of governor Warmington would be.

And they didn’t need a college degree to figure it out.

Facing Jail Time, Dem Woodburn Fighting Convictions “Tooth and Nail”

Former Democratic State Sen. Jeff Woodburn is filing another appeal after he was sentenced Thursday to a month in jail on criminal mischief charges connected to the domestic violence case that ended his political career.

“We will defend this tooth and nail,” said Mark Sisti, Woodburn’s attorney.

This week, Coos Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein denied Woodburn’s motion for a new trial on the two criminal mischief convictions and sentenced him to 12 months in jail on each count, with all but 30 days suspended. That sentence is stayed, meaning he will not have to report to jail until after his appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court is heard.

The state Supreme Court ruled earlier this year Woodburn is entitled to a new trial on the convictions for one count of domestic violence and one count of simple assault. The Supreme Court found Woodburn did not get a fair trial in 2021 since he was not allowed to use a self-defense argument.

According to court records, the convictions stem from Woodburn’s violent actions related to three separate incidents. In the first instance, Woodburn and the woman arrived in separate vehicles at a Dec. 15, 2017, Christmas party, and the woman agreed to drive him home so that Woodburn would be able to drink at the party. During an argument on the drive home, Woodburn had the woman pull over. During a struggle over his phone, he bit her hand, according to court records.

On Christmas Eve of that same year, Woodburn kicked the door to the woman’s house after she refused to let him inside. Earlier that year, in August 2017, he reportedly kicked her clothes dryer, breaking the appliance, according to court records.

The woman went on record telling Bornstein that she tried to grab his phone without permission at one point during her many struggles with Woodburn. Bornstein stated in court that did not rise to the level of behavior allowing Woodburn’s self-defense claims.

But the Supreme Court found there was just enough evidence on record for Woodburn to make a self-defense case.

“Because the record contains ‘some evidence’ supporting a rational finding that the defendant acted in self-defense, the trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury on that theory of defense was unreasonable,” Supreme Court Judge James Bassett wrote.

However, in the same ruling, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the criminal mischief convictions. 

Woodburn and Sisti continue to aggressively pursue appeals. They have been arguing Woodburn should get a new trial on all counts because Woodburn’s prior attorney erred by not seeking separate trials on all the charges, which ended up prejudicing the jury.

Sisti has further argued against the 30 days in jail, saying the sentences for the criminal mischief convictions might have been different if Woodburn had originally been found not guilty of domestic violence and assault.

Sisti said Woodburn will keep fighting the case as long as the state continues to push it. He’s open to a resolution, though.

“If they want to push it, they can push it,” Sisti said. “Jeff’s been open to a resolution to this for the past five years. For some reason, there’s this need to go forward with this.”

Woodburn was formally charged in August of 2018, and, ignoring calls for his resignation, ran for reelection to his Senate seat. Woodburn won the Democratic primary but lost in the general election in 2018.

He was originally tried on nine counts, but the jury found him not guilty of five of the alleged criminal acts.

‘We Feel Like Tokens’: NH Dem Leadership Tried to Block AAPI Support for Latino Caucus

State Democratic Party leaders tried to silence members of the New Hampshire Democratic Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus who are critical of U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas’ right turn on immigration. 

“All of us feel like we’re tokens,” said Shideko Terai, a member of the NH AAPI Caucus. “This is not okay. You can’t use us and abuse us.”

Members of the New Hampshire AAPI Caucus planned last week to send out a statement of support for the New Hampshire Latino Caucus after members of the latter group’s executive team publicly quit in protest of Hassan’s support for a border wall, and Pappas and Hassan’s support for Title 42 immigration restriction.

“I have no patience for the shenanigans,” said Terai, who drafted the statement. “I’m aware of the wheeling and dealing in politics, but when it comes to doing what is right, they have Maggie Hassan’s reelection take precedence over the care of immigrants.”

With polls showing Hassan is headed for a loss in November she has responded by veering right, calling for additional wall construction on the southern border with Mexico. She even went to the border to film campaign videos as part of her effort.

Terai spoke with her caucus leadership, and they decided to draft a statement that leadership from all the state party constituency caucuses could sign to support the Latino Caucus leaders. Instead of unified support, Terai said, leaders of other minority caucuses tried to dissuade her from going forward.

“I was told, ‘We have to be really careful. We need Sen. Hassan’s fundraising,’” Terai recalls.

Another message sent to Terai stated that Free State libertarians will use the dissent in the Democratic Party in an effort to cement their control of the state.

“I am very cognizant that we have a really tough election to run. It will not be easy to win in November despite the fact that we have values that lift all our people up. No, the Free Staters do not lead the way but they are running our state now and if people stay home in November the Free Staters will be running our state for years to come. They are using this as a recruitment tool,” the email stated.

The state party started several constituency caucuses several years ago as a way to reach out to, and support, various groups. Aside from the Latino Caucus, and the AAPI Caucus, there is the African American Caucus, the Stonewall Caucus, the Young Democrats Caucus, the Women’s Caucus, and a Veteran’s Caucus. 

One email Terai saw sent from a prominent Democrat to another constituency caucus leader states the party needs to protect Hassan and that means silencing critics.

“Yes, I am suggesting you hold off (on the statement of support.) I think this matter needs to be addressed directly to Sen. Hassan. It doesn’t mean we don’t deal with the situation, but we should not address it in the same way we would address our opponents. We are all stewards of the Democratic Party, and we need to work through our differences,” the email reads.

Terai said another prominent caucus leader told her the party needs Hassan’s money, and criticism of the senator would have negative consequences for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) Democrats. Terai thinks, based on the flurry of activity set off when she sent the statement to caucus leadership last week, that Hassan’s team pressured the state party to stop the statement.

“That’s my suspicion. But you know, it’s just my suspicion from the flurry of emails, texts, and phone calls that I got,” Terai said.

Hassan’s team did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday, nor did a representative for New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley. Rep. Maria Perez, D-Milford, who was one of the Latino Caucus leaders who resigned from the executive team, was angered when she found out about the effort to silence the other caucuses.

“I’m going to start by saying that we’re very disappointed to learn about some political leaders calling other caucuses and asking them not to sign the letter to @SenatorHassan very disgraceful and anti-democrat from leadership! You know who you are, our silence is not an option!” Perez tweeted.

Perez told NHJournal that Hassan’s team is refusing to meet with her and other members of the Latino community. Perez has been told the senator does not have time to talk. Terai said the party needs to start listening to the minority caucus members before it is too late.

“All of us are gung-ho Democrats, but we’re not gung-ho NHDP, mostly because of the way we have been ignored,” Terai said.

The NH AAPI Caucus statement, released Thursday afternoon, requested Pappas and Hassan to change course.

“We respectfully ask Sen. Hassan and Congressman Pappas to reverse course and revoke their support of Title 42 as stated clearly by the NHDP Latino Caucus leaders. The decision of the signers of their statement to resign from the NHDP Executive Committee is a bold demonstration of staying true to the fight for immigrant justice. Our immigrant brothers and sisters seek safety and refuge and deserve to be welcomed across the southern border into the United States. President Joe Biden wants to end Title 42,” the statement reads.

Aside from Terai, signers included AAPI leaders Cora Quisumbing-King, and Sumathi Madhure; Laconia Democrats Secretary, and Latino Caucus Cahir Carlos Cardona; Delegate-At-Large Jordan Applewhite with the Stonewall Dems; and Delegate-At-Large the Revs. Susan and John Gregory-Davis, co-pastors of Meriden Congregational church.

What Happened to Liz Warren?

Three months ago this week, Senator Elizabeth Warren looked like the 2020 frontrunner so many Democrats dreamed she could be. After months of languishing in the New Hampshire polls — a must-win state for the Massachusetts senator — she had roared back to the top of the pack. She was leading in Iowa, too, five points ahead of second-place Joe Biden. She had even managed to raise more money than Bernie Sanders in the previous quarter.

Today? Warren is fading — and fast.

The former frontrunner is in fourth place in both Iowa and New Hampshire. In the Granite State, her support has fallen by a jaw-dropping 50 percent. In a sure sign that the campaign is struggling, the Warren camp is celebrating the endorsement of former HUD Secretary Julian Castro as a big win.

The Washington Post referred to it as a “timely boost.” The New York Times says the endorsement “could help Ms. Warren reignite excitement at a critical moment.”

But in the last New Hampshire poll taken before he dropped out, Castro was polling at 0 percent.

How did Warren, a one-time Democratic rock star who seems to fit her party’s 2020 mood so well, wind up trailing a relatively unknown Midwestern mayor in her own New Hampshire back yard?

Some campaigns struggle with message. That’s Sen. Cory Booker, who’s offering an optimistic vision of unity and partisan reconciliation to a Democratic base that’s ready to rumble with the Republicans.

Some campaigns have structural problems: Not enough money, too little name ID, no natural political base. Would governors like John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee have made good nominees? We’ll never know.

And then there are the campaigns facing the most daunting obstacle of all: Their own candidate. (See “O’Rourke, Beto.”)

The first two problems can be fixed. The last one can’t.  And every day the evidence builds that the Liz Warren campaign’s biggest problem, is Liz Warren.

“She got an authenticity problem,” one DC political operative told NHJournal. “It’s the one thing about her that’s real.”

The authenticity issue appeared again this week when Warren amended her views on the U.S. military strike that killed Iranian Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani, after blowback from progressives. Her first reaction was to declare Soleimani a “murderer responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans.”

Within 24 hours she was calling him a “senior government official,” who had been “assassinated,” and she repeatedly refused to concede that Soleimani is a terrorist. (He was declared the leader of a terrorist organization by both the Bush and Obama administrations.) Rather than celebrating his demise, Warren was suggesting that Soleimani only died because Trump is facing impeachment.

“Wow. We went from ‘murderer’ to ‘wag the dog’ in the space of a few days,” quipped CNN’s liberal commentator Chris Cillizza.

Why the shift? Because progressives like Sanders were denouncing the Trump administration’s action as illegitimate, and were uncomfortable with criticism of Soleimani that might support Trump’s case.

“Given where she is in the race, Warren simply could not withstand that sort of criticism from the left,” Cillizza wrote.

The Soleimani story is small potatoes. But it’s part of a growing list — her claims of Native American heritage, her debunked story about being fired over a pregnancy, her misleading statements about her children attending public school and her backtracking on Medicare For All — that suggests Warren is willing to say whatever it takes to get elected.

“She started off as a candidate with a strong message: ‘I want to fight for you, I’m going to take on corruption.’ She sounded like someone who knew exactly what she wanted to do,” Democratic strategist Joel Payne told NHJournal.

“Now she sounds like a candidate who’s still looking for a message, and that’s not good.”

Some Democrats disagree. “I don’t think the Native American thing or these other stories are hurting her. I think she’s got an explanation for all of them,” said Bob Shrum, director of USC’s Center for the Political Future and a veteran of multiple presidential primaries. “I think it’s one thing: Medicare For All.”

That’s a common explanation for Warren’s weakness. Democrats and pundits point to the release of Warren’s poorly-received $52 trillion healthcare plan as the moment her campaign began to founder. “It’s not true that New Hampshire Democrats don’t like Warren,” one senior Democratic Granite State source told NHJournal. “They just hate her Medicare For All plan.”

But even the Medicare issue highlights Warren’s authenticity problem. One reason she was forced to release the politically-damaging specifics of her plan was because she’d spent weeks refusing to say whether her proposal would require a middle-class tax hike. She gave so many obviously evasive answers that late-night TV host Stephen Colbert begged her on the air to find a better response.

Warren supporters are quick to suggest that she’s the victim of misogyny, that conversations about authenticity and likeability are just code words for being uncomfortable with a woman nominee. But that hardly makes sense in New Hampshire, where three of the four Democrats in the congressional delegation are women, the two previous governors were women and where Hillary Clinton won both the 2008 primary and the 2016 general election.

These are voters who are more than willing to vote for a woman. At the moment, however, they appear reluctant to vote for Liz Warren.

And that’s a ‘candidate’ problem.

Another Progressive Straw Poll Puts “Three B’s” at Top of 2020 Democratic Pack

In post-midterms America, the Democratic Party is all about the “B’s”– Bernie, Biden and Beto.

A new straw poll by the progressive political action committee Democracy for America gives Sen. Bernie Sanders a big lead among its supporters, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke in the second and third spots. And, once again, Sen. Elizabeth Warren lags well behind.

Vermont progressive Bernie Sanders topped with list with 36 percent, followed by Biden at 15 percent and O’Rourke–the Left’s flavor-of-the-month–at 12 percent. Sen. Warren was in fourth place with just 8 percent of DFA’s support, narrowly edging out California Sen. Kamala Harris at 7 percent.

“Let’s be clear: Progressive support in the 2020 Democratic primary is up for grabs and so is Democracy for America’s endorsement,” said DFA’s incoming chairman Charles Chamberlain, in a statement released to Politico.  “Unlike 2016, no candidate has support strong enough for the Democratic Party establishment to clear the field, which means progressives will have an excellent opportunity over the next year to kick the tires on a wide range of different candidates and find the best one to take on Trump.”

DFA, an organization founded by progressive Howard Dean, endorsed Sanders in the heated 2016 Democratic POTUS primary, so it’s no surprise that he’s the top choice of their membership.  However, the fact that a series of polls–both among progressives and Democrats as a whole–put the same three candidates in the top tier gives a good indication of how likely primary voters view the current field of contenders.

And perhaps most significant, one-time front-runner Elizabeth Warren doesn’t crack the top three in any of these surveys.

For example, last week the progressive activist group MoveOn.org released the results of their own straw poll. Beto was on top, with Biden and Bernie close behind. Warren trailed Harris and came in fifth. Similarly, a national poll of Democrats released by CNN over the weekend put Biden at top, followed by Bernie and Beto, with Sen. Warren in seventh place and just 3 percent support.

Pollsters and political pros all agree that polling and surveys two year ahead of the general election are far too early to be significant. The consensus, rather, is that there is no consensus.

“There is no frontrunner there,” pollster Frank Luntz said on Fox News. “There are twice as many candidates they may run for the Democrats this time as ran for the Republicans two years ago.”

Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner argues that the strong performance by Beto O’Rourke is less a reflection of the Texas Democrat’s strength than the weakness of the field overall. “The fact that O’Rourke, without doing much, could leapfrog all of the other candidates who had been clearly positioning themselves to run for years, suggests that none of the Democratic candidates enter the race in a particularly strong position,” Klein writes.

And despite his consistently strong showing in these surveys, Joe Biden insists he won’t make his decision to run based on the polls.

“I don’t think about the polling data,” Biden told CBS News. “I think about whether or not I should run based on very private decisions relating to my family and the loss of my son and what I want to do with the rest of my life. But I don’t think of it in terms of can I win, can I – will I lose. That’s not part of the calculation.”

OK, so Why WON’T Bernie Sanders Endorse His Son?

The Boston Globe has a fascinating story about trying to get an answer to the question: Why can’t Levi Sanders get the endorsement of his own dad? After all, Sen. Bernie Sanders has been criss-crossing the country to back candidates who share his socialist views (though without great success), why not do the same for his son in the 9-way race for New Hampshire’s First Congressional District?

Sen. Sanders has issued a simple, and not particularly satisfying, statement: “Levi has spent his life in service to low income and working families, and I am very proud of all that he has done. In our family, however, we do not believe in dynastic politics. Levi is running his own campaign in his own way.”

For his part, Levi has been reluctant to discuss the matter. His campaign declined comment fo NHJournal.com, and he’s largely dodged the question across the board. From the Globe:

“You know I’m not Bernie’s son. I’m the son of Larry David’s fourth cousin,” he quipped in a brief conversation, referring to the distant blood tie between the comedian and the senator. He initially agreed to a more extensive interview on Tuesday night but then canceled the interview and has not responded to numerous messages left with him and his campaign associates.

Levi is certainly following in his father’s far-Left footprints. Go to his SandersForCongress.com website, and you’ll find his support for socialized medicine (“Medicare For All”), a $15 minimum wage and free college tuition for all.  But the closest you’ll come to seeing his dad’s support is this somewhat odd photo:

That’s Levi on the right, walking toward the camera as his father walks away.  Odd.

Then again, it may not matter all that much. In a recent poll of potential 2020 presidential candidates, only 13 percent of New Hampshire Democrats back Bernie, putting him behind Sen. Liz Warren (26 percent) and former VP Joe Biden (20 percent). Sen. Sanders may not hold much sway, not even in a state he won in the 2016 Democratic primary.

And while Levi Sanders may be outspoken on his socialist-leaning policies, he’s been relatively quiet on politics–declining to say if he’d vote to make Nancy Pelosi speaker, and equivocating on the question of impeaching President Trump. Perhaps he believes going too far Left isn’t a smart move in this swing district.

So does that mean Sen. Sanders refusing to endorse his son because doesn’t want his endorsement? Stay tuned….

Dartmouth Study Looks at How N.H. Women Legislators Cope with Work-Family Balance

With a legislature like New Hampshire’s, one would think that it would be easier for women to be elected into office and serve their local communities. A recent Dartmouth-led study has found that might not be the case.

The research states that volunteer-based state legislatures may perpetuate gender inequality in political representation. The work-family balance appeared to disproportionately affect female legislators than their male colleagues, since women often take on more family obligations for their households, which then, compete in time and priority with their legislative responsibilities.

“So even though we began this project thinking that the volunteer aspect of the legislature would actually lower the barriers of support for women’s entry into the political sphere, the unpaid and often undervalued nature of the work, actually may heighten them,” said study co-author Kathryn Lively, a professor of sociology at Dartmouth College.

In a volunteer or citizen-based state legislature, for which there is little to no compensation and a lack of resources or staff, members usually draw on their own personal time to fulfill their role as a lawmaker.

The qualitative study focused on the experiences of 17 women legislators in New Hampshire. On average, the women were 60 years old and over, married, and had three children under 18 years old and still living at home. The sample skewed to the left, with 15 respondents affiliating with the Democratic Party and only two with the Republican Party. However, women in the N.H. House tend to be more blue, with 76 representatives in the Democratic Party and 38 lawmakers in the Republican Party out of 400 total legislators. In the N.H. Senate, there are 24 members, and seven are women (four are Democrats and three are Republicans).

Two-thirds of the women in the sample spoke about the stress of juggling work-family obligations with their legislative duties. Respondents said they often were forced to choose between attending committee meetings and staying late to vote in an executive session versus leaving in time to take care of loved ones.

“They’re not going to say, ‘Don’t go take care of your mother,'” one respondent said in the study. “But you feel really bad because you’ll get to [Representatives’ Hall] and your colleagues will be like, ‘Oh, you weren’t here last week, and we had this vote.’ On most votes, you wouldn’t make a difference. But every once in a while, there’s a vote that’s close. If you’re not there, it could change whether it becomes a law or not.”

To juggle their responsibilities, women legislators adopted coping strategies such as bringing their children with them to committee hearings. The women lawmakers often found themselves at a disadvantage, where they simply could not participate as fully in the political process due to the demands and scheduling conflicts associated with child or elder care, the study found.

“If we’re trying to figure out a meeting time or date, those who aren’t divorced will say, ‘Oh my wife is home, she’ll take care of the kids. I don’t have to be home until whenever,'” one lawmaker said. “But the women, you’ll see every woman pull her iPad, phone, or calendar out and say, ‘Oh I’ve got to take my kid to soccer…’ and that’s what happens, because we do have more and I think our values are greater. So then, the men are the ones who go to the meeting.”

In addition, two-thirds of women legislators indicated that their work seemed to be devalued in comparison to paid employment. Some women said their spouses did not seem to take their role as a legislator seriously given that their work only brought in $100 a year, and was therefore, perceived as if it was charity or volunteer work.

“Oh, my husband teases me about it every day, for 12 years,” one woman lawmaker said. “He calls it my hobby. And I know that doesn’t sound very professional, but he says, ‘You’re doing that for free.’ But you know, it’s my community service.”

Many women also discussed having feelings of guilt for missing family time to perform legislative work. Some stated that they felt like they weren’t being “good mothers,” as defined by gender norms. In prioritizing their work-family and legislative responsibilities, they ended up putting themselves last with little to no personal time. In some cases, this ultimately led to them leaving the legislature all together, even if they would have preferred to keep serving.

This problem isn’t unique to New Hampshire. With over two-thirds of the state legislatures falling somewhere in between a “professional” and “volunteer” system, women legislators may often be experiencing the tensions between legislative and work-family responsibilities. The National Conference of State Legislatures classifies only 10 states as true professional legislatures, and 16 are considered part-time legislatures, with the majority falling somewhere between the two.

Instituting changes, such as by scheduling meetings and votes during times that are more agreeable for all, would help address some of the political inequities and enable women to participate more fully as legislators. Although the number of women politicians at all levels of government has been increasing since the 1970s, women still make up only about one-quarter of state legislators in the United States.

Lively’s co-author, Morgan Matthew — a Dartmouth alum — is  beginning to look at how women participate in the political process in institutions like a volunteer-based legislature. Other research topics could look at how gender intersects with other aspects of women legislators’ backgrounds, like socioeconomic status, race, geographic location, and how that shapes their individual coping strategies.

Follow Kyle on Twitter.

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Where Does NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley Fit In With DNC Reform?

After an unsuccessful run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Ray Buckley wants to change the way the national party does its elections–yet how much influence and power he wields in the new DNC leadership is still largely unknown.

In an email to DNC members, Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party (NHDP), laid out his proposal on how to improve campaigns and elections for officers in the coming years. He noted that an impressive $4 million was spent in the DNC chairman’s election, an unprecedented number of candidates ran, and the race was in the national spotlight in a way that it hasn’t been in the past.

“It is likely that the level of interest we saw this year will continue, and so it is a good time to examine whether any reforms or changes could improve the process, while insuring more fairness, accountability, and transparency,” he wrote.

His proposal includes campaign finance limits and full disclosure of receipts and expenditures. He suggested limiting contributions to $500 per donor and not accepting any “dark money.”

“As the party that opposes big money and corporate money in politics, I also would limit donations to individual donors, labor, and progressive organizations,” he wrote. “No donations from any business, corporation or their PAC [political action committee] or lobbyists would be permitted.”

He would also forbid DNC employees, consultants, or even employees of consulting firms that do business with the DNC from publicly or privately supporting a candidate for DNC officer.

WMUR was the first to report about Buckley’s plan.

It’s not immediately clear if any of his proposals would be implemented under the new DNC order.

Despite having the most party leadership experience of the lot, he was still a dark horse candidate. Buckley was vice chair for the DNC and president of the Association for State Democratic Chairs (ASDC), which led him to have many voting members as friends and allies.

The two frontrunners, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison and Tom Perez, labor secretary under President Barack Obama, stole the headlines at the various debates and forums. It was essentially a Clinton versus Sanders match up again, since Ellison backed former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Perez was a supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Buckley eventually dropped out of the election, shortly before the DNC chair vote in February, endorsing Ellison for the post. Ultimately, Perez won the chair and made Ellison a deputy chair.

The DNC chair race revealed deep wounds for the Democratic Party, which still had not healed from the hotly contested battle between Sanders and Clinton for the presidential nomination. Some Democrats claim the DNC favored Clinton when it was supposed to be neutral. The Wikileaks emails didn’t help the cause, revealing that former DNC chairs Debbie Wasserman-Schulz and Donna Brazile coordinated with the Clinton campaign during the primaries.

After his victory, Perez vowed to heal the party and bring a unified Democratic Party to defeat President Donald Trump’s agenda and beat Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections, but Buckley’s role in the national party has changed since he ran for the chairmanship.

He’s no longer a vice chair for the DNC and there is a new president for the ASDC, with Buckley’s position now listed as “president emeritus.” Although Perez made Ellison a deputy chair after the close election between the two, the position is largely symbolic and doesn’t have any official duties. Even though Buckley backed Ellison, and Ellison has a prominent position, it’s not clear if their agenda would be enacted.

Ellison was recently in New Hampshire for his first public appearance as deputy chair at the NHDP’s state committee meeting on March 25, where Buckley was reelected as state party chairman for a sixth term. Ellison and Buckley argued that the party has been too focused on the White House and not enough on the state legislatures and governorships.

“We’ve got to have a higher vision than just winning an election,” Ellison said. “When we set our sights as really agents and champions for the American people, people start feeling the flow.”

On top of that, Perez is launching a major overhaul of the party’s organization, requesting resignation letters from all current staffers. While it’s usually routine to see major turnover under new leadership, the mass exodus allows Perez to completely rebuild the DNC and determine how it should be structured in the future.

“It sounds good if you’re looking for change, but it’s not what people were clamoring for,” said liberal New Hampshire radio host Arnie Arnesen to The Boston Herald about the DNC shakeup.

“They weren’t angry at the people working within the base of the Democratic Party. They were furious with the leadership. I’m not sure that gets us to the goal,” she added. “I think it hurts a lot of little people. Is that what the Democratic Party is supposed to be known for?”

As for Buckley, it looks like he’s going to be focused on New Hampshire for a while. He’s going to focus on strengthening local communities and grassroots ahead of 2018, with the hopes of flipping the state legislature and taking back the corner office. Will he, or his platform, still be heard up the ranks at the DNC, though? Only time will tell.

“With all that we’ve accomplished, 2016 is a prime example of why we cannot afford to rest on our laurels,” he wrote in a Monday op-ed for the New Hampshire Union Leader. “We know that our economic and social progress means Democratic ideas are working, and our electoral success shows Granite Staters understand that. But we need now more than ever to put our nose to the grindstone and keep fighting.”

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How Democrats Who Refuse Compromise Could Wind Up Hurting Their Party

There are 19 groups in New Hampshire that have signed on to completely resist President Donald Trump, and they’re trying to take a page out of the Tea Party’s playbook.

A new national organization called “Indivisible” is going back to the basics: push back against Trump from the grassroots level. The group published a manifesto, essentially a manual on how to resist the Trump agenda, written by former Democratic congressional staffers.

“We examine lessons from the Tea Party’s rise and recommend two key strategic components: A local strategy targeting individual members of Congress; a defensive approach purely focused on stopping Trump from implementing an agenda built on racism, authoritarianism, and corruption,” they wrote.

Indivisible, which has more than 2,400 local groups registered with them, is advising voters to assemble at the local level and have members focus on their respective elected senators and representatives by speaking out at town hall meetings, asking their elected officials questions at local photo-ops and ceremonies, showing up at their district offices for meetings, and overwhelming their phone lines with coordinated calls.

“We can all learn from their [the Tea Party] success in influencing the national debate and the behavior of national policymakers,” the group wrote. “To their credit, they thought thoroughly about advocacy tactics.”

Many progressives are trying to recreate the circumstances that led to a wave of Republican victories in Congress and state legislatures in the 2010 midterm elections. Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, gained more seats in the Senate, and flipped several state legislative seats, mostly campaigning on conservative ideals and anti-President Barack Obama rhetoric. But liberals could find it difficult to implement a similar strategy and might find more success if they work with Trump when possible.

The Democratic Party enters the Trump presidency completely shut out of power, with Republicans in control of the White House, House, Senate, and even most state governments. And they’re already divided amongst themselves with progressives versus moderates, and whether they should oppose Trump or work with him on common interests.

Just after his first week in office, it looks like many Democrats and progressive activists want to resist him at every step. The American Civil Liberties Union already filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s executive order that temporarily bars entry to refugees from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen due to terrorism concerns. A federal judge granted an emergency stay Saturday to stop deportation of people with valid visas who landed in the United States.

But if they continue that mentality, they might run into some trouble in the 2018 midterm elections and even the 2020 presidential election. Even though the party in charge usually doesn’t do well in midterm elections, many House seats will still favor Republican control due to gerrymandering. And Democrats have to defend 10 Senate seats in Republican-controlled states. The political terrain isn’t favorable for them right now.

By refusing to compromise, Democrats may be unable to influence policy even when the president’s agenda aligns with traditional Democratic interests. It’s true that rejecting compromise can reveal internal differences and struggles within the president’s own party, such as with the ongoing Republican debate on repealing Obamacare. More damage could be done by working with Trump and exposing the internal divide in the Republican Party that’s been there since the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009.

An area some Democrats and Trump could work on together is infrastructure spending, albeit with some disagreements on how to fund it. Trump will almost need Senate Democrats to help get it through Congress. Some of his ideas resemble the “big-government conservatism” of George W. Bush that upset many Tea Partiers. Working out a few deals with Trump could anger some Republicans, and it might do more damage to the president than being vehemently opposed to everything he does.

If the Democrats could unify around that message, they could be in much better shape to retake Congress and the presidency, and ultimately be able to govern themselves and the country better than before.

Uncompromising Democratic opposition is essentially saying the party wants to be more like the Republican Party, by trying to emulate what the Republicans did in 2009. But while the Republicans were “unified” by being anti-Obama anything, they didn’t take the time to rebuild as a party and create a clear message for the base. That was evident by the loss of Mitt Romney in 2012. And now, look at them. They ended up nominating a candidate who barely aligns with their platform. They have full control over the federal government, but they still are struggling to be unified over how to run it, as exhibited by disagreement over many of Trump’s policies.

While it’s understandable that Democrats and progressive activists would want to go about rebuilding their party the same way the Republicans did in 2009, it’s better for their party to engage with Trump in policy debates because those issues are ones they can build a campaign on, and not just on partisan rhetoric.

The Democrats have a prime opportunity to genuinely build their party from the grassroots level up. If the loss of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election taught them anything, it’s that they need to listen to the working class in Middle America again and create a message that appeals not only to their base, but also to disenfranchised voters who feel left out of the system.

It’ll prove to be difficult for them to do that though, especially with some major players on the national stage that see the party going in a different, more radical direction.

Just look at the confirmation hearing battles. Several Democratic senators who are looking to run for president in 2020 won’t vote for anything put forward by Trump out of fear from attacks to their left. John Kelly was confirmed as secretary for homeland security by a vote of 88-11. Some of those “no” votes came from Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The more moderate Democrats might feel pressure to vote a certain way in order to follow suit, and especially when the media reports that former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Warren, and Booker voted one way, it could make it seem like the Democrats who don’t fall in line aren’t supportive of the party.

An unpopular Trump could win another four years if the next Democratic presidential leader is too far outside of the political spectrum.

And speaking of leaders, the race for the next chair of the Democratic National Committee is revealing to show how anti-Trump and against compromise the Democratic Party could be. While members of their party were participating in the Women’s March earlier this month, most of the 10 candidates for DNC chair were at a private fundraising conference held by liberal political operative David Brock. The message that could send to grassroots leaders is that the Democratic Party hasn’t learned its lesson from its recent defeat and instead, continues to listen to big money rather than voters.

The latest forums between the candidates have also shown that there aren’t many disagreements between them; they don’t have many new ideas to jumpstart the party, and they all have zero desire to work with Trump.

“That’s a question that’s absolutely ridiculous,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley at one of the forums, when he was asked about working with Trump.

If the Democrats try to imitate the Tea Party movement, don’t create a unifying message for its voters, and resist Trump at every turn, then they’re in for a long eight years.

 

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