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Bob Dole: A Hero, If Not A Winner, In The Granite State

When the news of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole’s passing broke Sunday, politicos on both sides of the aisle praised his impressive record of public service, from fighting in World War II to serving as the GOP’s presidential nominee in 1996.

His record in New Hampshire is less impressive, however. He ran in the First in the Nation GOP primary three times — ’80, ’88, and ’96 — without a win.

“Now I know why it’s called ‘The Granite State,'” Dole said the night he narrowly lost the 1996 primary to pundit Pat Buchanan. “It’s tough to crack.”

Praise for Dole poured out of the political community Sunday, with Gov. Chris Sununu ordering flags on all public buildings and grounds in New Hampshire to fly at half-staff in his honor.

“Bob Dole will long be remembered for his lifetime of service to the United States — defending the freedoms of Americans and those abroad in the Army during World War II, and championing the principles of liberty during his decades of public service as an elected official. I join with my fellow Granite Staters and Americans in remembering his legacy,” Sununu said in his statement.

Ironically, his father Gov. John H. Sununu, was key to helping George H. W. Bush defeat Dole in the Granite State’s 1988 primary

“New Hampshire voters tend to like candidates who are a little different. And Bob Dole was ‘Republican Establishment’ through and through,” former Second Congressional District GOP U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass told NHJournal. “Reagan, Buchanan, McCain, and of course Trump.”

Former President Donald Trump issued a statement Sunday, calling Dole “an American war hero and true patriot for our nation. He served the great state of Kansas with honor and the Republican Party was made stronger by his service.”

It’s hard to imagine a Republican with less in common with Trump than Dole, who was gravely injured in combat in Italy. (Trump, like Biden, used bogus health claims to dodge the Vietnam draft.) And yet Dole endorsed Trump in 2016 — after first backing Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio — the only one of the five living previous GOP presidential nominees to do so.

Dole did it in the name of party unity, telling the Republican leadership to respect their primary voters and rally around Trump in order to defeat Hillary Clinton. “He had a career often seen as a testament to absolute fidelity to the Republican Party,” said political commentator Jeff Greenfield.

Dole’s career, which began in the Kansas House of Representatives in 1950, took him through a time when the GOP establishment was extremely out of favor: Watergate. Dole was chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1971-72, and he was closely identified with President Richard Nixon when the scandal erupted. In 1974, the year Nixon resigned, Dole narrowly won re-election by 1.7 percent.

“During the campaign, when Nixon was in trouble and needed friends, he called Dole and asked if the senator wanted him to come campaign on the ground in Kansas,” Bass said. “Dole said ‘How about a fly-by in Air Force One’ instead?”

Longtime  NHGOP strategist Dave Carney, who worked on Dole’s presidential campaign as well as his majority leadership office, said the Kansas Republican loved New Hampshire, “even if the voters didn’t love him back.

“He loved the retail politics, the diners, town meetings, and home coffees allowed folks to see the real Dole: Smart, funny, and authentic,” Carney said. “He ran three times and extended his support each time. He was tough as nails and had a life of experiences that allow everyone to relate to him personally.”

Strategist Tom Rath, who also worked for Dole, echoed those sentiments.

“He really liked New Hampshire. He made a lot of friends here and kept them until the end,” Rath told NHJournal. “Bob Dole was fascinating to work for. He had great command of the issues. He was genuinely funny and was great at the back and forth that goes on behind the scenes in politics.”

Many Granite Staters had their own stories of meeting Dole and the impression he left on them.

“I was working as a staffer for Congressman [David] Emery in Maine in the 1970s and the phone rang. The voice on the other end said, “Charlie, this is Bob Dole.” I thought someone was pulling a joke on me, but he had served with my father [Perkins Bass] and showed he knew my name. He wanted to talk about New Hampshire politics.”

A few years later, he would run in the 1980 FITN primary, losing to Ronald Reagan and finishing well behind George H. W. Bush and Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee.

“One day when I was a young teenager, Sen. Tom McIntyre [D-N.H.] took me to the senators’ dining room for lunch and he took me over to Bob Dole’s table to meet him,” New Hampshire Democratic strategist Jim Demers said Sunday. “I will never forget how nice he was to me, spending about 20 minutes talking with me. It made a big impression on me,” Demers said.

“There is no doubt Bob Dole built a career as a conservative Republican, but he was one who recognized a bipartisan deal was better than getting nothing. Our political process would be better today if more people did business like Bob Dole did,” Demers added.

Bass says Dole’s greatest moment of leadership was when he brought an end to the government shutdowns imposed by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995. At the time, the GOP base praised the new House leadership for being aggressive. But in retrospect, it’s widely agreed to be a blunder that helped President Bill Clinton hold onto the White House in 1996.

“In my opinion, it was Bob Dole’s shining moment, bringing that second shutdown to an end. The House side didn’t like it, but Dole did it, not because it was the Republican or Democratic thing to do, but because he knew it had to be done,” Bass said.

For Rath, it was Dole’s service that made the biggest mark.

“Bob Dole was an American patriot in the fullest sense possible. He served with honor and with courage. It was a privilege to have worked for him. His was a life of service and decency. Watching him tie his necktie was a reminder that freedom is not free,” Rath said.

NH Dems Back Failed Effort To Make FITN A Federal Election

It had the support of all four members of the New Hamshire congressional delegation and 50 members of the U.S. Senate, but a Democratic bill to federalize state and local elections was blocked by Senate Republicans Wednesday afternoon.

It’s the latest attempt by the delegation to pass legislation limiting the power of state officials like Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D) to oversee Granite State elections are conducted — including the state’s signature First In The Nation primary.

New Hampshire Democrats have been among the most outspoken advocates for the law.

“Today, I’m voting yes on the #FreedomToVoteAct,” Sen. Maggie Hassan tweeted Wednesday. “Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy, and this bill would help stop billionaires from buying our elections, crack down on dark money, and make sure every American can have their voice heard.”

Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas both signed a letter urging the Senate to pass the legislation.
“The Freedom to Vote Act can fortify our democracy and bring Americans of all political stripes back into the town square,” the letter reads.

Critics note the legislation would prevent voters in the town square from making the rules for their own elections.

“Our position hasn’t changed,” Deputy Secretary of State David M. Scanlan told NHJournal. “This bill would be a federal takeover of New Hampshire’s elections.” He called the bill’s defeat in the Senate “good news.”

“The bill is hundreds of pages long, and it covers aspects ranging from requiring states to mail every voter an application for an absentee ballot, to drop off boxes for ballots, and at locations other than with the city and town clerks. That creates logistical problems of getting ballots to where they belong, and doing so securely,” Scanlon said.

The defeated bill would also:

— Force New Hampshire to send postage-paid mail-in ballots to every voter who requests them, rather than having Election Day voting supplemented by absentee ballots;

— Require New Hampshire to have at least 13 days of early voting, including weekends, and to count ballots that come in late;

— Ban voter ID requirements by mandating allowing voters without ID to cast ballots based on a signed statement alone;

— Give millions of public dollars to political candidates to use on campaign staff, TV ads, attack mailers, etc.

And of special concern in New Hampshire, the law would cover “a primary election held for the expression of a preference for the nomination of persons for election to the office of president.” In other words, the First In The Nation primary.

That’s something not even the more expansive For The People Act attempted. According to Garder, this fundamentally changes the primary, which is currently a state election involving state officials, aka representatives to the Electoral College.

“The point is they did this now, and they didn’t do it in the first bill,” Gardner said. “You had a 1,500-page bill and now you have a 600-page bill, but they are still fundamentally changing how we conduct and participate in our election.”

“This is a terrible way to do this,” Gardner said.

The overwhelming support for the bill among New Hampshire’s elected Democrats is raising questions yet again about their support for the FITN primary. Polls show most Granite State Democrats don’t support the state’s law protecting the primary. And the state Democratic Party recently handed New Hampshire’s slot on a key DNC committee to a Washington, D.C. resident with few ties to the state.

The DNC’s leadership has repeatedly complained about New Hamsphire’s first-in-line primary position.

The primary isn’t just an important part of the national political process, it’s a key part of the Granite State’s economy, bringing in millions of dollars of business into the state. The fact that all four Democrats in the delegation are willing to back bills that endanger it is a telling political development in the Granite State.

Yang: Of Course Out-Of-State College Students Want to Vote in New Hampshire

Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang understands that out-of-state college students have used New Hampshire’s lax voter residency laws to cast ballots in the Granite State. He just doesn’t understand why some people think that’s a bad thing.

“If you’re here in New Hampshire, you know this is the center of the political world, right? And so it’d be very natural for our college students here to say, ‘Hey, I’d like to have my voice heard,'” Yang told NHJournal. “And if you make it harder for them, then you’re sending the wrong message.”

Yang says he opposes New Hampshire’s recently passed voting regulations that require people to be legal residents — as opposed to merely temporarily domiciled here — if they want to vote in the state’s elections. “New Hampshire should be making it easier and not harder for [out-of-state] college students to vote.”

New Hampshire has the highest percentage of college students per capita in the country, and progressive campus groups have publicly bragged about their ability to mobilize these students — many legal residents of other states — to sway elections in the past. For example, the campus group NextGen America (founded by 2020 contender Tom Steyer) says they increased turnout in their targeted college precincts in 2016 by more than the margin of victory for Democrat Maggie Hassan over incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

Given that Trump lost New Hampshire that year by less than 3,000 votes, some New Hampshire residents don’t want the state’s Electoral College votes to be controlled by temporary residents of the Granite State. There are also complaints by long-term residents about the impact of these out-of-state student voters on local elections, too.

Yang rejects these criticisms. “I would argue that the local New Hampshire voters are helped, not hurt, by having more people participate in the process here. It doesn’t dilute their votes. It’s the opposite. If you have young people in the state excited about the candidates, then they’ll spread the word through social media and other means. These are all very positive things.”

 

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang shoots hoops with students at Concord (N.H.) High School on January 2, 2020.

 

Yang made his comments at a campaign stop in Concord, NH, on Thursday, after shooting hoops with Concord High students as part of a campaign tour across the Granite State. In addition to lower residency standards in New Hampshire, Yang touted his support for allowing 16-year-olds to vote.

“We have 16-year-olds paying taxes,” Yang said. “And it’s only fair that they should know where their taxes are going. And studies have shown that when you vote young, you’re more likely to become a lifelong voter, which we should be encouraging. Right now, high school students look at our politics and don’t feel that it’s relevant to them in part because they can’t participate.

“So if you had the voting age at 16, you would have every high school in the country actually engage with our democracy. And that’d be positive,” Yang said.

Yang isn’t the only Democrat who feels this way. “I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16…I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last year.

 

Appealing to young voters has paid off for the once-unknown tech entrepreneur. Though he continues to poll in single digits, he’s received enough support to make the Democratic debate stage in December — something experienced politicians like Sens. Cory Booker and Michael Bennet were unable to do. And Yang still has a shot at qualifying for the January debate in Iowa.

Yang’s managed to pull ahead of these pols thanks in large part to his support from younger voters, particularly those 18-29-year-olds. According to a Morning Consult poll in December, Yang is in fourth place among these voters at 9 percent. And he’s getting a larger share of his support from voters under 45 than anyone else in the field.

So catering to college students and teenagers may be a smart, short-term strategy for Yang, but it presents challenges in the long run.

For example, his plan to let 16-year-olds pick a future president is wildly unpopular with voters overall, with multiple polls showing 75 percentor more — of Americans oppose the idea. It’s also out of step with moves across country to restrict the choices people under 21 can legally make, such as smoking cigarettes or vaping. When asked about this dichotomy, Yang insisted that 16-year-olds are adult enough to vote.

“You could argue that 16-year-olds don’t understand enough to vote. But that argument rings false to me when I actually interact with them, many of whom are very savvy and understand what’s going on around them,” Yang said. “And the fact is we’re not springing pop quizzes on voters when they show up to vote.

“We need to trust our people. And that includes our young people,” Yang said.

NH Democrats Want Tulsi Gabbard to Vote for Herself in FITN Primary

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is so committed to winning the New Hampshire primary that she’s moved to the Granite State, renting a house in Goffstown, N.H.  Now that she’s moved in, the question has arisen: Should she be able to vote for herself here, too?

According to the New Hampshire ACLU, the state Democratic Party, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and — oddly enough — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the answer appears to be yes.  Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii should be able to cast a vote in the New Hampshire presidential primary.

In 2018 when Republicans still controlled the state legislature, Gov. Chris Sununu signed a voting reform bill into law that specifically declared voters must be residents of New Hampshire, as opposed to merely “domiciled” here. “New Hampshire now aligns with virtually every other state in requiring residency in order to vote,” Sununu said in defense of the legislation.

As a result, people who are domiciled in New Hampshire — students, temporary workers, 2020 Democratic presidential candidates — must take actions to indicate actual residency, like getting a New Hampshire driver’s license or registering a car. Which means that, under current law, Rep. Gabbard wouldn’t be able to vote in the First in the Nation primary in February.

But what happens if the ACLU of New Hampshire, with the support of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and most of the 2020 presidential field, is able to get the law overturned? Could Tulsi vote “Gabbard 2020” in Goffstown?

“Yes,” says Republican state Rep. Barbara Griffin, “And I hope if she does, she votes for me, too!”

Griffin, one of the key supporters of the voting reform efforts, represents Gabbard’s new home/residence/domicile in the state legislature. “She’s got a lease agreement and a phone number. Under the old law, that’s all she would need.”

To some — particularly actual New Hampshire residents who own homes and pay local taxes and don’t want non-residents picking their city councilors or members of Congress — the idea of a congresswoman who currently represents a district seven time zones away voting in a New Hampshire election may sound crazy.  Is this really what the ACLU and progressive activists fighting to change the law want?

The ACLU-NH declined repeated requests for comment and refused to answer any direct questions about Gabbard’s voting eligibility. Sen. Shaheen, who urged every 2020 Democratic candidate to publicly oppose the new Granite State law, also declined to say whether she supports allowing Gabbard to legally vote for herself here.

Multiple sources inside state government who deal directly with voter eligibility and the new law told NHJournal that while there are legitimate questions about Gabbard’s voter status in New Hampshire, she almost certainly would have been allowed to vote legally under the old system.

“A person in [Rep. Gabbard’s] situation would not have been turned away,” one source told NHJournal.

It’s also worth noting that in Gabbard’s home state, would-be voters must pass a “residency” test as well. “The residence stated by the applicant cannot simply be because of their presence in the State, but that the residence was acquired with the intent to make Hawaii the person’s legal residence with all the accompanying obligations therein,” according to the state of Hawaii’s election’s office. Anyone making that claim falsely “may be guilty of a Class C felony.”

Why would New Hampshire, with the highest percentage of college students per capita in the U.S., want lower standards for voter residency than an island state in the South Pacific?

Unfortunately for the ACLU-NH (and, theoretically, Rep. Gabbard), that’s unlikely to happen. Last month, a federal judge refused the ACLU-NH’s request for a preliminary injunction to block the law from being in effect for the First in the Nation primary on February 11.

For her part, Rep. Griffin says she has no problem with Gabbard voting in the #FITN primary–as long as she does it legally.

“Just register your car here in our town within 60 days,” she requests. “That’s more tax revenue for my town!”

As a “NH Neighbor,” Liz Warren Enters POTUS Race as a Candidate On the Cusp

As she announces her decision to launch a formal exploratory committee for a 2020 POTUS bid, “Senator Warren is a candidate on the cusp,” according to a prominent Massachusetts-based pollster.

“In many ways she’s a candidate in-between,” David Paleologos tells InsideSources. Paleologos is director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.  “Warren’s definitely a viable candidate, no doubt about that. But she’s neither a top-tier candidate nor a long shot. She’s not a new face, but she’s not an old hand like [former VP Joe] Biden or [Sen. Bernie] Sanders, either.  She’s on the cusp in many ways.”

While the 69-year-old Massachusetts senator’s announcement has been long expected, the timing–on New Years Eve, and early in the cycle while other big names remain on the sidelines–is somewhat surprising. Traditionally, top-tier candidates tend to sit and wait, attempting to build up some drama before the big announcement. Warren’s decision to jump in early may be her campaign acknowledging their back-of-the-pack position.

“Her decision to enter early is clearly an acknowledgment that she has considerable work to do with early state voters (and major donors) to repair the self-inflicted damage of her attempt to put the Native American question behind her,” says CNN’s Chris Cillizza. 

Joel Payne, a DC-based Democratic strategist who advised the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, agrees that Warren’s early negatives could be a problem.   “While people point to the Native American heritage uproar,  I think the biggest danger to her candidacy is her high name ID because many voters may already have hardened opinions about her,” he told InsideSources.

And in a series of polls over the past month, those opinions among Democrats aren’t great for Senator Warren. As InsideSources has previously reported, Warren has consistently been out of the top tier of polling among Democrats, behind candidates like Biden, Bernie Sanders and Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke.  In the most recent CNN poll, Warren was the only major Democratic candidate whose approval was underwater (negatives higher than her positives) at 30 percent approve, 32 percent disapprove.  Sen. Sanders, on the other hand, was at 51/35 percent and Joe Biden was at 54/29 percent approval/disapprove.

According to Paleologos, the top tier of candidates is “I don’t know yet” and Joe Biden, with a second-tier that includes Biden, Beto, California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey’s Sen. Cory Booker. “Warren’s in the third tier–another reason she couldn’t afford to wait,” Paleologos said.

This early in the race, Warren’s sagging support among progressives is her biggest challenge. Progressive activists who traditionally energize and deliver voters in primaries have plenty of choices in 2020 (as opposed to 2016 or 2008), and they’ve yet to rally around Liz Warren. Two straw polls of progressive organizations, MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, both find Warren trailing the “Three A-Bee-gos,” Biden, Bernie and Beto.  In the DFA straw poll, she’s in fourth place at 8 percent and in the MoveOn poll (the same group that spend about $1 million on the #DraftWarren movement four years ago) she’s in fifth place at 7 percent.

According to the latest Suffolk poll, American’s top wish for Washington, DC is for politicians to work together (29 percent) far higher than more divisive issues like impeaching President Trump (9 percent). That may not bode well for a candidate best known for battling with the president.

Paleologos also notes a Suffolk poll of her own constituents in deep-blue Massachusetts earlier this year that found 58 percent of Bay Staters didn’t want her to run for POTUS in 2020.  The fact that she’s essentially announced her candidacy even before she’s been sworn in to the new US Senate term local voters just gave her shows how concerned her campaign is about their current position in the polls.

“By announcing now, she’s saying ‘I’m serious. I’m in it to win it.’ It shows that she sees a path to victory,” Paleologos said. And that path goes right through New Hampshire.

Jim Demers, a key New Hampshire Democrat, told InsideSources: “As a neighbor, New Hampshire is a must-win state for Senator Warren. Getting in early helps insure she will be in every news story in the coming weeks.” Demers, who’s backing Cory Booker, believes that “the New Hampshire primary is wide open.”

Payne believes Sen. Warren’s hopes could possibly ride on New Hampshire as “her firewall…given its proximity to Massachusetts,” while Paleologos predicts Warren will “play the home girl–twice.”

“First she’ll go to Iowa as the ‘Sooner Sister,’ the fellow Midwesterner running in the caucuses. Then she’ll morph into the ‘New Hampshire Neighbor’ from Massachusetts. After that, she’ll have to hope that some of her fellow progressives have dropped out by the time she gets to South Carolina.”

 

Warren’s campaign video, also released on New Year’s Eve, certainly highlighted her Oklahoma roots more than she has in the past.  Warren also goes out of her way in the video to attack Ronald Reagan–an interesting decision given that the Gipper’s approval rating among Americans in 2018 was 72 percent.

Fairly or unfairly, Warren continues to struggle with the #Fauxcahontas scandal, a story that many on the Left say has hurt her far more than originally realized. “There just aren’t a lot of Democrats talking about Liz Warren at the top of their list,” one New Hampshire Democratic activist told InsideSources after her announcement. “She’s just not generating much excitement.”

Still, progressives have hardly turned their back on Warren. “Senator Elizabeth Warren’s formal entrance into the 2020 race for President today helps launch what we believe will be a vibrant discussion of bold, inclusive populist ideas in the Democratic Primary, and we look forward to the wide array of progressive candidates that we expect to join her in it in the year ahead,” Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director of Democracy for America told InsideSources in a statement.

Progressives Already Passing Judgment on 2020 POTUS Picks

Earlier this week the progressive group MoveOn.org released results of a straw poll of its members on the 2020 potential Democratic lineup.  The outcome inspired a bit of media buzz when progressive rock star (complete with fog machine) Rep. Beto O’Rourke outpaced the entire field.

It turns out MoveOn.org isn’t the only progressive group polling its members. You can go to Democracy for America’s webpage right now and pick your top three 2020 candidates. DFA is a progressive group originally founded by Howard Dean and is best known today for its support of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Their list, by the way, includes three people who just lost their own elections in 2018: Rep. O’Rourke, Georgia’s Stacey Abrams and Florida’s Andrew Gillum.

See the entire list of 2018 potential candidates by clicking here

 

Meanwhile the far-Left group People’s Action has announced they’ll be polling their members in 2019, and they are already organizing candidate forums–including one in Durham, NH on October 14 hosted by their local arm, Rights & Democracy NH– to push POTUS candidates towards progressive issues.

And liberal billionaire Tom Steyer’s organization NextGen America is also powering up, both the support his now-likely candidacy and to pressure candidates to embrace far-Left positions like carbon taxes and socialized medicine, as well as their insistence that Democrats must impeach President Trump.

All of these efforts motivate the base to get involved. Doing well in these early progressive polls is a good way to give your candidacy a push among primary voters. And in the Ocasio-Cortez era, attending these events is all but mandatory.

At the same time, the motivated base in turns “motivates” candidates to embrace the party’s more out-of-the-mainstream policies.  And thus far, running for president on the far Left has proven a losing strategy. President Barack Obama governed as a liberal progressive, but during the campaign he went to great lengths to avoid the label–claiming to oppose both a single-payer healthcare system and legalizing same-sex marriage, for example. The last politician to run as a full-throated liberal on a major-party ticket was Walter Mondale (maybe) and George McGovern (definitely).  They each carried one state.

One.

Progressive candidates didn’t do particularly well in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary last September. The more moderate candidates in the high-profile races won handily. It could be that New Hampshire’s Democratic voters just aren’t on the same page as their more progressive counterparts in, say, Massachusetts, California or New York.  Moderate Democrats like Joe Biden, former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) might do well here.

But with progressive “voting” starting today, and after a year’s worth of MoveOn/DFA/OFA/People’s Action organizing, by the time the FITN primary rolls around, there may not be any moderates left.

Patrick Bemoans “Cruelty of Election Process” as He Bows out of 2020 Race

In a Facebook post Thursday morning, two-term Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick made it official: He will not be running for president in 2020.

“After a lot of conversation, reflection and prayer, I’ve decided that a 2020 campaign for president is not for me. I’ve been overwhelmed by advice and encouragement from people from all over the country, known and unknown,” Patrick wrote.  “But knowing that the cruelty of our elections process would ultimately splash back on people whom Diane and I love, but who hadn’t signed up for the journey, was more than I could ask.”

In doing so, Patrick confirmed the suspicions of some doubters who questioned whether the famously thin-skinned governor was prepared for the rough-and-tumble of a national campaign–particularly one that might involve taking on Donald Trump. Patrick was known for angry outbursts over relatively mild media criticism and personal animosity against members of the press. As Jon Keller, the well-respected political reporter at Boston’s CBS affiliate put it in 2012:  “Deval Patrick has a lot of attributes, but thick skin is not one of them.”

Director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center David Paleologos tells NHJournal that Patrick was “one of ten strong Democrats who had a path to score Democratic Primary victories in the three early states and to ultimately take on President Trump.”  According to Paleologos, the immediate beneficiaries of his decision are his fellow New Englanders  Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and African-American candidates, “especially Cory Booker.”

In his Facebook statement, Patrick said he believes “Democrats have a clear chance not just to win [people’s] votes but to win their respect and earn their help by showing up everywhere, engaging everyone, and making our case.”

“America feels more ready than usual for big answers to our big challenges. That’s an exciting moment that I hope we don’t miss. I hope to help in whatever way I can. It just won’t be as a candidate for president,” Patrick said.

Are Progressives Catching BetoMania in the Granite State?

Is there really a bout of BetoMania spreading through the New Hampshire Democratic party?

Democratic Party activist Jay Surdukowski sure hopes so.  The Concord attorney has been pushing for the Texas congressman, Senate candidate, and political phenom to make his way to the Granite State.  Thus far, Rep. O’Rourke (whose real name is Francis Robert) hasn’t responded to any of the invitations from New Hampshire, but the conversation alone is generating news at Politico and CNBC.

(Longtime New Hampshire media hand James Pindell crankily tweeted “Didn’t realize unanswered invites were news but here we are.”)

So, is O’Rourke a real player in New Hampshire? The obvious–and obviously true–answer is that it’s way too early to say. “There’s a lot of chatter and a lot of buzz about a lot of people,” one Democratic insider told NHJournal. “Have I heard Beto’s name? Sure. I’ve also heard Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown.  Most New Hampshire Democrats are waiting to meet these people, look them in the eye, watch them campaign.”

On the other hand, how many of those people have fans posting Facebook pages about them? Or have political activists in New England start a PAC (“Draft Beto 2020”) to encourage them to run?

And then there’s the fact that, despite being a political unknown just a year ago, Rep. O’Rourke is near the top of (very early) polling for the Democratic nomination, ahead of big names like Warren, Harris and Booker.

This weekend, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard–who has actually talked about possibly running in 2020— is coming to New Hampshire to talk to voters. And yet it’s safe to say that more Democrats this week will be talking about the outgoing Congressman from Texas than the incumbent Congresswoman from Hawaii.

Why? In part it’s because O’Rourke is a legitimate political talent.  Jeff Roe, Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign manager, said after his candidate’s narrow victory over Beto: “The Democrats don’t have anybody like him,” Roe said. “I’ve seen all of them. They don’t have anyone of his caliber on the national stage. I pray for the soul of anyone who has to run against him in Iowa in 453 days.”

But it’s also more than that. O’Rourke is a talented progressive politician, at a moment when the party’s base is hungry for progressive leadership.  Bernie Sanders hit the right notes, but voting for Bernie was voting for the progressive platform alone. O’Rourke brings the Left’s ideology, but adds charisma, skills and–let’s face it–sex appeal.

“Beto is exciting, he’s articulate, he’s passionate,” New Hampshire progressive activist and broadcaster Arnie Arnesen told NHJournal.  “But he also used his time in the limelight to speak to the future. So even though he was running against one of the most hated Republicans there is, he didn’t use that fact as an excuse to moderate his message or soften his agenda.”

“And that’s a wonderful thing,” Arnesen said.

Not everyone agrees. Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel responded to the Beto craze this way:

“If Beto O’Rourke wants to go and run for president, God bless him, he should put his hat in and make his case. But, he lost. You don’t usually promote a loser to the top of party.”

Longtime New Hampshire Democratic player Jim Demers, who has publicly expressed support for Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ),  is more moderated in his views:

“I think Beto O’Rourke has a few interesting options. Some people would like to see him run for President, others think he is in a very strong position to challenge John Cornyn for the Senate seat in Texas in 2020,” Demers told NHJournal.

“Regardless, I hope Democrats will take the pledge not to devour each other in the presidential race and to stand united when the nominee is selected. The goal is to change the occupant in The White House, period.”

Are New Hampshire Democrats ready to give that job to a guy from Texas? Whose entire political resume is three terms in Congress and a losing bid for the US Senate?

“I’m not sure I couldn’t be convinced Beto O’Rourke should be President,” the Democratic insider told NHJournal.

And given how many big Democratic names are on the 2020 list, and how little New Hampshire Democrats actually know about O’Rourke, that’s something.

Noon Today: “Day After The Midterms” With Bill Kristol and NH GOP Insiders

New Hampshire is the home of the “First In The Nation” presidential primary, and on November 7th it will be home of the first event of the 2020 presidential election cycle when nationally-known conservative leader Bill Kristol joins a panel of Granite State GOP insiders on the day after the 2018 midterms.

This free event, hosted by NH Journal and the SNHU College Republicans, will feature a panel analyzing the results of the midterm elections and the performance of the Republican Party.  Did the GOP hold the House? How did Republican candidates fare in swing districts like NH-01? And is a serious GOP primary challenge of President Donald Trump more or less likely?

 

 

All these topics will be covered by a panel to include:

  • Bill Kristol – Co-founder of The Weekly Standard
  • Chris McNulty – Causeway Solutions, Former RNC Political Director
  • Ovide Lamontagne – 2012 NHGOP Gubernatorial Nominee
  • Sen. Sharon Carson – NH State Senator
  • Daniel Passen – Chairman, NH Federation of College Republican

So make plans now to join NHJournal and the SNHU College Republicans on Wednesday, November 7th, noon-1:30pm at SNHU’s Walker Auditorium in Manchester, NH.

The event is free but seating is limited, so advance registration is strongly recommended. Click here to reserve your seats.

Eric Holder for POTUS? “Let’s Do This Thing!”

“Let’s do this thing!”

So said former Attorney General Eric Holder on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show Tuesday night when asked about a presidential run in 2020. Holder was admittedly being flippant, but the former Obama administration official then confirmed to host Trevor Noah that he’s giving the idea of a White House run serious consideration.

Holder made similar comments on MSNBC the same night: “I’m thinking about it, but I’ve not made any determinations. I’m focusing on the work I’m doing with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and trying to deal with gerrymandering.”

Holder may not have made any determinations, but he has made some concrete plans to come to New Hampshire and speak at “Politics and Eggs,” hosted by the St. Anselm College Institute of Politics and the New England Council, on Friday June 1st.  This event is a mandatory stop on the New Hampshire #FITN political circuit, and the 2018 list of attendees already includes Sen. Jeff Flake, former Gov. Martin O’Malley and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol (scheduled for next month).

What sets Eric Holder apart is his openness about his intentions. “Julian Castro did the same thing–and I think that’s smart,” St. Anselm IOP’s Executive Director Neal Levesque told NHJournal.com.  Castro hasn’t appeared at a Politics and Eggs event (yet), but he did visit the St. Anselm campus and speak to students in February.

“Everybody knows why people like Eric Holder are up here,” Levesque says. “It’s not like they’re coming to New Hampshire just for breakfast.”