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Blackout: NH Dems Get Failing Grade on Energy Report Card

Granite Staters are paying more at the pump, paying double the price for electricity, and are now getting slammed with heating oil costs heading into winter.

And according to the American Energy Alliance (AEA), the state’s top Democrats have done nothing to help. 

New Hampshire’s federal delegation, Democratic Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, and Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, all scored a “zero” on the 2o21-2022 AEA report card on energy policy.

“All the proof of their rejection of affordable energy policies will show up in the energy bills for people in New Hampshire this winter,” said AEA President Thomas Pyle. “New Hampshire is not California and yet the entire delegation votes for California-style energy policies.”

The energy debate isn’t an abstract one in New England, where ISO New England Inc., has warned that an extremely cold winter could potentially result in rolling blackouts due to lack of supply.

“If we get a sustained cold period in New England this winter, we’ll be in a very similar position as California was this summer,” said Nathan Hanson with LS Power Development, which operates two gas-fired power plants in the region.

The AEA looks at what lawmakers have done to “promote affordable, abundant, and reliable energy,” as well as the steps they have taken to “expand economic opportunity and prosperity, particularly for working families and those on fixed incomes.”

In her debate with Republican Don Bolduc on Tuesday, Hassan was asked for her solution to rising energy costs. She touted her support for green energy spending, government subsidies to help consumers pay the higher prices, and her call for President Joe Biden to release more oil from U.S. reserves. She did not mention increased domestic energy production, and she repeated a debunked claim that “Big Oil” was manipulating energy prices.

Democrats have been scrambling ahead of the midterms to do something about the high prices. This week, Biden announced he was releasing 15 million gallons of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a last-ditch ploy to tamp down prices before people vote. His use of the SPR is being applauded by Hassan and Pappas as they fight for their political lives in tight races.

Hassan signed on to a letter asking Biden to do more, like release oil from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.

“With lower inventories of crude oil, propane, and natural gas and the continued global disruption caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine contributing to a sharp rise in residential energy costs, we urge the administration to closely monitor the energy needs of the Northeast and release stock from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve,” Hassan’s letter states.

But as The Wall Street Journal reports, the problem isn’t Russia’s drop in exports — just 560,000 barrels a day out of a global supply of 101 million — but “a lack of investment, especially in the U.S., which had been the world’s swing producer.”

“Now the swing producers are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. OPEC countries and their allies, which account for 45 percent of global oil production, accounted for 85 percent of new supply in September,” WSJ reports. That new production cannot come from the U.S., in part because Biden has slashed the number of new oil and gas leases by 97 percent.

Pappas is pushing for more funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help people through the winter. But, like Hassan, he has a record of opposing expanded oil and gas production.

Don Bolduc, Hassan’s GOP challenger, said Democrats are hurting the country with short-sighted energy policies that ultimately drive up the cost without addressing the need for energy independence.

“Now, facing the brutal consequences and with a midterm election looming, their only solution is releasing more of our emergency supply of oil, leaving us vulnerable to future supply shocks and whims from evil despots (in Venezuela.) It never had to be this way: America has the resources to power our country right here at home,” Bolduc said. “For those facing tough choices between heating and eating, you’ve got Joe Biden and Maggie Hassan to blame.”

Craig Stevens, spokesman for the GAIN Coalition, blamed Biden.

“With each passing week, it grows more evident that President Biden has no real strategy for lowering energy prices. From Day One, the president has put American energy producers and pipeline operators in his crosshairs,” Stevens said. “Now, with gas prices up 59 percent since his inauguration and electricity prices set to double this winter, every American is dealing with the consequences of his unprecedented hostility to the energy sector.”

New Hampshire’s Delegation Celebrates Signing of Biden’s $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster stood in the White House Rose Garden Monday moments before President Joe Biden was due to sign the $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending, celebrating the spending.

“A billion dollars coming to New Hampshire for roads and bridges and highways, we’re even going to get rail back to New Hampshire,” Kuster said in a video posted to Twitter.

As Kuster spoke, the United States Marine Corps Band played “76 Trombones” from the Broadway show, “The Music Man,” about a con artist who made big promises he couldn’t keep.

Kuster and the rest of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation celebrated Biden’s signing of the bill, citing the investments in roads and bridges, as well as broadband internet for rural areas like New Hampshire, public transportation expansion, and investments in clean drinking water.

“This bill has so many elements that will be game-changers for our families and our economy,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan.

Hassan is facing a potentially tough reelection bid despite presumed front-runner Gov. Chris Sununu bowing out of the race last week. Polls show Biden’s spending package is popular, even if the president himself is not.

Rep. Chris Pappas, whose congressional career faces possible extinction thanks to Republican-led redistricting, also supported the spending plan.

“I’m pleased the president has signed this legislation into law, and I look forward to beginning the work of repairing our infrastructure,” he said.

Both Pappas and Kuster’s poll ratings dipped into negative territory in the latest New Hampshire Institute of Politics poll, a first for both of them. Pappas was at 42 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable, Kuster landed at 40 percent to 46 percent.

The only Democrat not facing reelection this year, Sen. Janne Shaheen, touted her role in crafting the spending legislation.

“As a lead negotiator, I fought to ensure New Hampshire priorities were front and center: that includes investments to upgrade our water infrastructure – including robust support to combat PFAS contamination – and to bring high-speed internet to every corner of our state,” she said.

Backing the nominally bipartisan infrastructure plan, which had 13 Republican House votes, is risky for the three incumbents facing voters next year. Biden is underwater with Granite State voters, according to the most recent polling data. His recent polling average is 42 percent approve/52 percent disapprove. As Gallup reports, “Currently, 34 percent of independents approve of the job Biden is doing, the lowest of his term to date. His approval among independents has fallen a total of 21 points since June, including nine points since August.”

Biden is also trying to push through his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better social safety net spending package that includes spending on daycare, cash payments to parents, and green energy policies. Given a 30 percent spike in inflation, a majority of New Hampshire voters may not want to see all of that spending. Only 37 percent of Granite Staters want the “Build Back Better” multi-trillion-dollar spending package to pass, while 40 percent would like to see both spending bills killed, according to the polls.

And a Scott Rasmussen poll taken in August, before inflation become a top-tier issue, found 59 percent of voters nationwide believe increased government spending leads to inflation. Only 14 percent disagreed.

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.

Corey Lewandowski to NHGOP Senate Candidates: You Can’t Beat Shaheen

Corey Lewandowski says he’s made his decision about a possible 2020 U.S. Senate race and, while he won’t say what it is, he does have a message for the New Hampshire Republicans already in the field:

Don’t bother. You can’t win.

“If I decide to get into this race, it’s going to send shock waves not just across New Hampshire, but through the country,” Lewandowski said on the John Fredericks radio show Thursday. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think I would be successful.”

He doesn’t have the same confidence in the rest of the GOP field: Retired Gen. Donald Bolduc, attorney Corky Messner and former NH House Speaker Bill O’Brien.

“I hear the other [NHGOP] candidates can’t raise money for a litany of reasons. If I said today ‘I’m out of the US Senate race’… it’s not like they’re going to raise $10 or $20 million tomorrow. Let’s not kid ourselves.

“The only person who potentially can get in this race who has a national profile is Corey Lewandowski. And the only person who’s going to send Jeanne Shaheen home permanently, if I do get in the race, is going to be me.”

“People can argue it,” Lewandowski added, “but that’s just the truth.”

Lewandowski, who says he’s currently advising the Trump/Pence 2020 campaign, told Fredericks he’s discussed his possible candidacy with President Trump, Vice President Pence and Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.

Lewandowski also predicted that impeachment would make Democratic incumbent Shaheen easier to beat in November. “I’ve weighed my calculation based on what impeachment will mean for a U.S. Senate race and I think Jeanne Shaheen is very vulnerable because I believe she will vote in lockstep with AOC and Speaker Pelosi to remove a duly-elected president.”

When Fredericks said it sounds like Lewandowski’s decided to run, the former Trump campaign manager didn’t disagree.

“Well, I’ve been brushing up on foreign policy,” Lewandowski said. “I’ve spent an enormous amount of time understanding some issues that I wasn’t as well briefed in as an incumbent U.S. Senator would be. If that gives you an indication of what my decision is, I’ll leave it at that.”

Shaheen “Disappointed” by Gay Wedding Cake Ruling, Suggests Baker Would Be Forced to Comply Under N.H. Law

In the wake of today’s 7-2 Supreme Court ruling in favor of a religious business owner who declined to bake a designer wedding cake for a same-sex marriage celebration, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) says she’s “disappointed” by the decision and suggests that under New Hampshire law, there would be a different outcome.

 

 

The Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado state commission that heard the petition from bakery owner Jack Phillips abused his religious liberty by not giving due regard to his claim that participating in a same-sex celebration would violate his religious beliefs. The court also pointed out that the state of Colorado was simultaneously protecting the right of businesses that refused to print anti-same-sex messages with which the business owner did not agree.

Would this case come out differently in New Hampshire? That seems to be Sen. Shaheen’s implication, referencing HB 421 which then-Governor Shaheen signed into law in 1998. That law added “sexual orientation” to the list of groups with special protections against discrimination under New Hampshire state law.

Is Sen. Shaheen saying that people of faith who own New Hampshire businesses– bakers, photographers, calligraphers, etc.– do not have the right to decline to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies?

If the SCOTUS had ruled against Masterpiece Cakeshop, the owner would have been forced out of business for refusing to comply. Sen. Shaheen finds the fact that he wasn’t “disappointing.”

How many Granite Staters agree?

NHGOP, Conservative Group Blast Hassan After Meeting With Supreme Court Nominee

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan met with Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch on Monday to discuss issues important to the freshman senator from New Hampshire. Republicans were quick to criticize her statement about the meeting, saying it’s riddled with hypocrisies and calling on her to support a full Senate hearing for Gorsuch.

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Judge Gorsuch and to discuss the importance of a strong and independent judiciary,” Hassan said in a statement after the meeting. “In our conversation, I highlighted the critical role the judicial branch plays in protecting the civil rights of all Americans, including a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own health decisions. I also emphasized the importance of ensuring equality for LGBTQ individuals, as well as my concerns with the influence of unlimited corporate and dark money in American politics. I will continue to thoroughly vet Judge Gorsuch’s record and views throughout the hearing process.”

Hassan and her Democratic colleague, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, have expressed concerns about Gorsuch, but have also called for a full confirmation hearing and vote by the Senate.

“It is not in our interest to deny a hearing to Neil Gorsuch,” Shaheen said at a Friday town hall. “That’s what’s prescribed under the Constitution. Let me tell you something. I’m not going to go out and say it’s wrong for them and then say that it’s right for us.”

Last year, the GOP Senate leadership refused to hold a hearing or vote for former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. There has been some discussion among Senate Democrats who want to filibuster or block Trump’s nominee, similar to what Republicans did to Garland. The GOP has been calling for an “up-or-down” vote on Gorsuch, meaning a direct “yay” or “nay” vote on him without any obstruction.

Hassan and Shaheen have not made a final decision on how they will vote for Gorsuch. His confirmation will require 60 votes, or a cloture vote, according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“I think it is absolutely appropriate and right for us to do our constitutional duty and have a hearing,” Hassan said.

New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Jeanie Forrester is going to hold Hassan to her promise, noting that last year, the former governor called for a hearing and confirmation vote for Garland.

“If she doesn’t call for an immediate hearing and vote on Judge Gorsuch, she will be in direct contradiction of her past statements,” Forrester said.

Hassan penned an op-ed in the New Hampshire Union Leader in February 2016, calling on the Senate to hold a hearing and vote to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia

“As is often said, justice delayed is justice denied. A stalled Supreme Court will not move our country forward; it will only exacerbate the deep political divide and gridlock in Washington,” Hassan wrote.

America Rising Squared (AR2), an arm of the Republican opposition research group America Rising, is also pushing for Hassan to call for an up-or-down vote for Gorsuch.

“After spending nearly a year talking about the importance of having a ninth justice on the Supreme Court, Senator Hassan should join Senator Shaheen in calling for an ‘up-or-down’ vote for Judge Gorsuch,” said Nathan Brand, spokesman for AR2, in a statement to NH Journal. “If she instead joins in Senator Schumer’s obstructionist games, it reaffirms her hypocrisy and the fact that she puts her partisan agenda before the interest of Granite Staters.”

There was some confusion earlier this month on Shaheen’s comments about calling for an up-or-down vote. On the Senate floor, she surprised many people when she said on February 7 that she would support an up-or-down vote, going against what Schumer wants. Shaheen met with Gorsuch on February 15.

“Unlike the Republican majority, I haven’t heard any Democrats saying we don’t think that Judge Gorsuch should get a hearing or that he should get an up-or-down vote,” she said. “Everybody I’ve talked to agrees he should get a hearing and an up-or-down vote.”

However, Ryan Nickel, Shaheen’s communications director, took to Twitter to correct the record saying she meant a cloture vote, or 60 “yeas” to be approved.

Ar2 also criticized Hassan’s statement, specifically when she said she has “concerns with the influence of unlimited corporate and dark money in American politics.”

The New Hampshire Senate race between Hassan and former GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte was the second most expensive race in the country, with more than $90 million spent in outside funding. Only the Pennsylvania Senate race topped it with more than $119 million in outside spending.

Hassan and Ayotte had the opportunity to avoid big spending by outside groups in the race, but a pledge failed to come to fruition.

Ayotte proposed a “People’s Pledge” similar to one adopted in Massachusetts in the 2012 race between Sen. Scott Brown and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — requiring that a candidate who benefits from a third party ad donate 50 percent of the ad’s total cost to a charity of the other candidate’s choice.

Hassan countered Ayotte, declining to sign the pledge and suggesting limiting each candidate’s spending to $15 million. “This move is politician speak for ‘I do not want to sign the People’s Pledge,’” Ayotte said. The candidates could not come to an agreement and the outside group money flooded into the state.

The Center for Responsive Politics wrote an article about the staggering amount of dark money in the New Hampshire Senate race titled, “Dems in New Hampshire supported by the secret money they rail against nationally.” The article exposed the issue of Democratic candidates being against dark money and outside spending, yet letting it happen anyway.

“If hypocrisy is the coin of the realm in politics, then spending by a Democratic dark money group in New Hampshire’s Senate race could be Exhibit A,” the article stated. “For years, Democrats have blasted Republicans’ use of unlimited secret money in elections. There’s one problem: Hassan herself is receiving millions of dollars in ground support…” from outside groups.

More outside money was spent against Republicans in the New Hampshire Senate race. Nearly $45 million was funneled to the Granite State opposing Ayotte, while $34.8 million went against Hassan.

Gorsuch is making the rounds through the Senate, led by Ayotte, who is helping President Donald Trump’s nominee through the confirmation process. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin on March 20.

Follow Kyle on Twitter.

 

 

 

How Do Hassan, Shaheen Stack Up to Their Own Criticisms of Betsy DeVos?

Some local headlines of the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing showed Sen. Maggie Hassan making her mark early in her first term.

Hassan emerges as fierce critic of Trump’s Cabinet nominees,” reads an article from the Associated Press. Hassan’s questioning of President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education earned her 15 minutes in the national spotlight after she hammered DeVos on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and school vouchers.

But a look at Hassan’s record shows she has taken advantage of school choice, despite questioning DeVos about it.

Hassan sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) and voted against DeVos’s nomination on Tuesday in a committee vote. The freshman senator, whose son has cerebral palsy, is an expert on public education for students with disabilities. Her son, Ben, went to public high school.

But DeVos has received a significant amount of criticism from Senate Democrats and the media due to her lack of experience in the public school system and for being in favor of school choice and school vouchers. The National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are also against her nomination.

However, six of the 10 Senate Democrats on the HELP committee attended private or parochial schools, or have children and grandchildren attending them, according to information obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group.

Sens. Robert Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Michael Bennet of Colorado sit on the committee and have never attended public school, according to the investigation.

For Hassan, her husband Tom, served as the principal of the elite Phillips Exeter Academy, where their daughter, Margaret, attended, as well. Tom was censured last year for failing to disclose sexual misconduct charges against a faculty member.

Hassan received approximately $10,000 from the NEA during her Senate campaign and the union also spent $1.5 million against her opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. AFT also spent $4,400 against Ayotte.

“It’s just bizarre to see people who have exercised those school options suggesting that it’s somehow problematic or malicious to extend those options to all families,” said Frederick Hess, executive editor of Education Next, to the Daily Caller.

Hassan’s record on school choice is also revealing. While she was a supporter of public charter schools as governor, she did veto a bill that would enable small school districts to pay tuition, at public or private schools, for students of any grade level if it is not available within their resident district.

On a recent interview with NPR, Hassan reiterated her support for charter schools, but she took issue with DeVos position of a voucher system.

“I am a proud supporter of public charter schools here in New Hampshire, as well,” she said. “But there is a real difference between public charter schools, which can be established working with local communities and educators to fill a particular need in the public school system and provide more alternatives and more choice for learning styles and families – than a voucher system, which diverts money from the public school system, generally and often doesn’t cover the full cost of the private school that the student is attending.”

During DeVos’s confirmation hearing, Hassan also questioned her on her role in her family’s foundation, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation. While it’s being debated if DeVos was accurate with statements during the hearing about having a role or not, she is also being charged that she and her family have donated extensively to groups which promote the idea that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students must undergo “conversion therapy.”

The claim comes from Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., who cites their large donations to the Focus on the Family group as evidence. Politifact found his claim to be “Mostly False” saying they found indications that the group supports conversion therapy, but there was no evidence that they believe that LGBT students must undergo it.

A recent report by The New York Times, highlights another side of DeVos not seen in public. She has supported her gay friends and advocated for LGBT rights as far back as the 1990s. This shows her coming out in support significantly earlier than a lot of Democrats who are questioning her on these beliefs.

“At that time, two colleagues recalled, she made accommodations for a transgender woman to use the women’s restroom at a Michigan Republican Party call center,” the article states. She also used her political connections to help persuade other Michigan Republicans to sign a brief urging the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015, though she did not sign it herself.”

“This aspect of Ms. DeVos’s personal story is not only at odds with the public image of her and her family as prominent financiers of conservative causes, but it also stands out in a nascent administration with a number of members who have a history of opposing gay rights,” the report continued.

Hassan has been a champion for LGBT rights in New Hampshire, dating back to her time in the state Legislature. In June 2016, she issued an executive order that banned discrimination in state government based on gender identity.  

However, her colleague, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, hasn’t always been supportive of LGBT rights. Shaheen has announced that she will vote “no” on DeVos’s nomination.

As governor, Shaheen initially opposed same-sex marriage. After Vermont signed into law a “civil union” bill in 2000, Shaheen said she didn’t support it.

“I believe that marital unions should exist between men and women,” she said at the time.

However, she came out in favor of marriage for same-sex couples in 2009 and became a sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act in the U.S. Senate. She also voted in favor of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military and supported government recognition of same-sex spouses of military members and other government personnel.

Although Hassan and Shaheen didn’t mention DeVos’s stance on LGBT student rights when they said they wouldn’t vote in favor of her nomination, it is interesting to note the differences in time of support between them of LGBT causes.

Shaheen agrees with Hassan, saying that DeVos is “unqualified” to be the next secretary of education. The full Senate is expected to vote on DeVos’s nomination on Thursday.