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Woodburn, Convicted of Assaulting Girlfriend, to Represent Himself In Appeal

Former Democratic leader Jeffrey Woodburn, convicted of physically abusing his ex-fiancée, will represent himself next week as he seeks to reverse his case at a hearing before the state Supreme Court. 

The hearing is set for Tuesday morning. Woodburn is expected to argue he was denied a fair trial because he could not accuse the victim of abuse for trying to take his phone.

Woodburn (D-Whitefield) was the Democrat’s Senate Minority Leader when he was charged in 2018 with nine counts of assaulting his former fiancée. Though he initially resigned as leader, Woodburn clung to his Senate seat for months and members of the Coos County Democratic Committee initially refused to ask him to step down.

The appeal stems from Coos Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein’s ruling that Woodburn could not argue self-defense during the trial. Woodburn was originally charged with nine counts stemming from more than a year of abuse he reportedly directed at the victim.

The convictions are based on Woodburn’s violent actions related to three separate incidents, according to court records. The victim went on the record telling Bornstein that at one point during her many struggles with Woodburn she tried to grab his phone without permission. Bornstein stated in court the attempted grab did not rise to the level of behavior that allows for Woodburn’s self-defense claims.

In the lead-up to the trial, Woodburn leaked the name of the victim to the media by having his attorney, Donna Brown, send unredacted copies of sealed court records to members of the press.

“His lawyer proactively sent copies of unsealed documents to the media,” the alleged victim’s attorney—and former Hillsborough County prosecutor— Patricia LaFrance told NHJournal at the time. “I’ve never seen that in my 16 years as a prosecutor”

Woodburn was sentenced to two years in jail with all but 60 days suspended. He has been out on bail pending his appeal.

New Hampshire Democrats now have the specter of Woodburn’s domestic violence haunting them again a few weeks before the midterm elections. Representatives for the state Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Woodburn’s case came at a particularly problematic time for New Hampshire Democrats, during the hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen both opposed the Trump nominee and used unfounded — and in some cases, ludicrous — allegations of sexual assault from Kavanaugh’s high school and college days as a reason to reject him. They were unwilling, however, to publicly criticize Woodburn until months after he was charged with a crime.

Woodburn won the Democratic nomination in 2018 but lost the general election.

The most egregious blow to the victim, critics say, came when a Woodburn paramour who smeared the victim as a “liar” and “sociopath” was given a leadership award by the Manchester Democrats organization.

NH Progressives Fall in Line as Hassan, Pappas Tack Right

In the past few months, Sen. Maggie Hassan has called for building more of former President Donald Trump’s border wall, supported a “racist” policy to block asylum seekers, and promoted more fossil fuel production — all positions that anger progressives. She is facing zero competition for the Democratic nomination.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed a budget last year that cut taxes, created Education Freedom Accounts, and blocked government agencies from using race-based CRT content. And for his trouble, he is facing five GOP primary opponents.

And that, political observers say, is the difference between New Hampshire progressives and far-right conservatives: Conservatives fight and progressives tweet.

New Hampshire progressives went after Hassan on Twitter again last week, for example, accusing the Democratic incumbent of hurting minority communities because of her stance on immigration. 

But so far, the same progressive community has failed to hold Hassan to account in real life.

Using news that racist flyers targeting immigrants were being distributed in Nashua, activist Asma Elhuni called out Hassan for her record on immigration.

“People are saying no to hate because of a racist flyer against immigrants in Nashua. We need this same pushback against @SenatorHassan. Her policies are actually more dangerous than fliers that incite violence. She is actually causing violence,” Elhuni claimed.

Progressives like state Rep. Maria Perez (D-Milford) have been trying for months to speak with Hassan about her position on Title 42 and her newfound support for building a wall at the southern border to no avail. Activist Alissandra Rodriguez-Murray said Hassan is basically running for re-election as a member of the GOP.

“Unfortunately, @Senator Hassan has chosen to run as a Republican in Dem clothing. For months constituents have begged her to hear us on this issue and she has refused, pandering instead to racists who demand ‘border control.’ We will not sacrifice our people for her reelection,” Rodriguez-Murray said on Twitter.

Even New Hampshire Quakers, famous for their pacifist beliefs, are hitting Hassan hard for her immigration platform. The American Friends Service Committee called on Hassan to rethink her stance on Title 42, which allows the United States to expel immigrants and those seeking refuge as asylum seekers.

@Maggie_Hassan, asylum seekers and other immigrants are our family members, our neighbors, and our community members; your actions should be in service to, not in opposition to, their well-being, their rights, and their dignity,” the Friends wrote on Twitter.

Hassan opposes lifting Title 42, a move President Joe Biden wants to make saying that it would harm security at the border.

“Repealing Title 42 without a plan in place will do nothing to promote a responsible border policy that keeps our country safe and lives up to our humanitarian values. I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this bipartisan bill, and I look forward to hearing directly from border agents during my trip to the border this weekend about what additional steps the administration must take to strengthen border security,” Hassan said in a statement.

Hassan took flak for a spring trip to the Southern border where she shot campaign videos calling for tighter security. She even said the border needs more “physical barriers,” aka “The Wall.”

“It’s very clear the administration needs to address certain gaps in the physical barriers along the border,” Hassan said.

And still — no progressive challenge.

U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas has been even more open in his rejection of progressive policies, but like Hassan, he has yet to pay a price. Pappas supports increased fossil fuel production, has broken his “no fossil fuel” campaign money pledge, and opposes Biden’s student debt bailout — a touchstone of progressive politics. And yet he doesn’t face a primary challenge or significant public criticism from the Granite State left.

The fact that Democrats like Hassan and Pappas are not facing a primary opponent — or even serious discussion of a primary challenge earlier in the cycle — has observers saying there is no progressive movement in the Granite State. Former congressman and outspoken progressive Paul Hodes doesn’t agree.

“If you take a look at many of the younger Democrats who are coming up, and you read the blogs, and you read Twitter, and you follow social media, there is a strong progressive movement that is in line with New Hampshire’s independent and quirky politics,” Hodes told NHJournal during a recent podcast. “But it’s fair to say the more moderate wing of the Democratic party has had more [electoral] success.”

Meanwhile, progressives continue to avoid criticizing their fellow Democrats in the press. Neither Elhuni nor Maggie Fogarty with the American Friends Service Committee responded to requests for comment. Rodriguez-Murray responded by saying she refuses to speak to NH Journal.

“Please remove me from your contact list,” she wrote in a message.

Rodriguez-Murray is angry over NH Journal’s coverage of her Twitter comments referring to Jewish people as termites.

Other progressives are practicing their own form of avoidance. Environmental activist group, 350 NH, for example, is skipping endorsements for federal races this election cycle rather than being forced to denounce Democratic lawmakers like Hassan and Pappas for their embrace of fossil fuels.

That is in stark contrast to activists on the right. In 2016, when conservatives were upset with Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte over her rejection of Donald Trump (among other issues), they ran two other candidates in the general election. Independent Aaron Day took more than 17,000 votes, and Libertarian Brian Chabot got more than 12,000 votes.

Ayotte ended up losing to Hassan by just 1,017 votes.

Progressives have an uphill battle winning in New Hampshire, according to Hodes. Even if New Hampshire voters want some change from their elected officials, most Granite Staters want incremental change, not the big, structural changes progressives favor.

“I’m not sure voters are that attracted or feel comfortable with wholesale change,” Hodes said.

Vandals Hit Littleton Pregnancy Center, Part of National Trend

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in early May, there have been dozens of attacks against pregnancy clinics offering counseling and care to women considering alternatives to abortion. On Tuesday, that trend came to New Hampshire when the Pathways Pregnancy Care Center was vandalized.

According to Littleton Police Chief Paul Smith, volunteers at the center found graffiti on the side of the building reading “Fund Abortion, Abort God.” Pathways is a faith-based ministry devoted to helping pregnant women renting space from the Elevate Church.

Police in Littleton say it is too early to tell if the vandalism counts as a hate crime.  “It could be determined as the facts develop that this is a hate crime,” Smith said.

Shannon McGinley of Cornerstone Action, however, says there is no doubt. “This is a hate crime.”

The FBI is investigating more than 40 violent attacks on pregnancy centers and churches in the wake of the Supreme Court leak. Some centers have been firebombed, and others have had significant damage from vandalism. The Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the authority to regulate abortion back to the states.

Smith said his investigators are working on the case, and they have already contacted the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office about the possibility this could end up charged as a hate crime.

Michael Garrity, director of communications at the New Hampshire Department of Justice, said the state Attorney General’s Office is watching for Littleton’s results.

“At this point, our office is aware of an incident at the center. The Littleton Police Department alerted our Civil Rights Unit, flagging the incident as one of concern,” Garrity said. “We are now closely monitoring an active, ongoing investigation being carried out by Littleton Police investigators. Our Civil Rights Unit will ultimately look at how the facts and circumstances of the case develop.”

Under New Hampshire law, a person who commits a crime “motivated … because of hostility towards the victim’s religion, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin or sex,” could face enhanced penalties. Smith said the alleged crime might be charged as misdemeanor criminal mischief if there is no hate crime component found during the investigation. Misdemeanors rarely result in jail time.

Pathways offers free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, parenting classes, baby supplies, as well as help with getting social assistance, among other services.

“There are three times as many Pregnancy Care Centers (PCC) in New Hampshire as there are abortion facilities. We are even blessed with two maternity homes,” McGinley said. “Every client is treated with compassion and respect – regardless of the decision they choose for their pregnancy. Empowering women to make informed decisions is a top priority,” McGinley said.

Pro-abortion activists, however, have attacked these facilities for years, raising their profile as a possible target. An abortion extremist group, Jane’s Revenge, has taken credit for some of the recent attacks, including smashing the doors and windows of a Michigan clinic.

Their message: “If abortion isn’t safe, neither are you.”

Last week, Kayla Montgomery, vice president of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, took to the airwaves to attack the facilities in New Hampshire.

“I want to be clear; crisis pregnancy centers are not based in science or in medicine,” Montgomery told WMUR. “If people need care, they should call their local Planned Parenthood of New Hampshire abortion provider who will provide honest, compassionate, non-judgmental care and explain the full range of options.”

Montgomery did not respond to a request for comment about the vandalism in Littleton.

And Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) has also been critical of these facilities in the past, accusing them of offering “fake health” in order to trick women into keeping their babies.

“In New Hampshire – and at more than 2,700 locations across our nation – women are walking into fake women’s health centers, misleadingly called ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ believing that they are receiving medically sound, neutral advice about pregnancy. But these centers really exist to serve one purpose: preventing women from accessing abortion,” Hassan wrote in 2018.

Hassan, who has kept a steady stream of public comments about abortion rights over the past two months, has been silent on both the spike in attacks on pregnancy centers and the threats targeting Supreme Court justices — including a failed assassination — since the Alito opinion leaked.

McGinley says there is a clear double standard.

“These kinds of attacks underscore the cynical nature of arguments that pro-life people do not offer enough material assistance to women in need. When abortion advocates—from arsonist groups to Elizabeth Warren—threaten pregnancy care centers, they are saying that assistance to women is immoral unless it specifically promotes abortion,” McGinley said. “Their goal is not helping the vulnerable. Their goal is to spread abortion like a religion—and they don’t care if that means taking services away from women in need.”

Executive Director of Pathways Pregnancy Care Center Angel Marshall said their mission will continue.

Pathways will not allow a hate crime to hinder the much-needed support we provide.  This has not and will not deter us from serving our community,” Marshall said. “Empowering men, women, and teens to make informed decisions is a top priority. I am working closely with the Littleton Police Department in this investigation. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of the center’s staff, volunteers, and clients.”

Smith said the volunteers at Pathways are responding to the vandalism by organizing more help to provide security at the center. He’s asking anyone with information to contact Littleton Police at 603 444 7711.

Candidates Spar at First NHGOP Senate Debate

GOFFSTOWN — The five Republican candidates competing to take on Sen. Maggie Hassan in the fall burnished their conservative bona fides during Monday night’s debate hosted by New Hampshire Journal.

Retired Gen. Don Bolduc, bitcoin businessman Bruce Fenton, entrepreneur Vikram Mansharamani, State Sen. President Chuck Morse and former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith mostly stuck to criticizing what they say are Hassan and President Joe Biden’s failed policies, though Fenton and Smith did go on the attack at times against the other Republicans.

Smith targeted Bolduc several times during the debate, questioning his temperament and attacking his past statements on the war in Ukraine. Smith referenced a March 2022 Fox News interview in which Bolduc appeared to urge the CIA or military to “get in there on the ground” in Ukraine, using “indirect fires and direct capabilities” to attack Russian targets. At one point, he said the U.S. could use “special operations troops in a way that we get in there,” though without “boots on the ground.”

“These are Democrat tactics, attacking Republicans like this,” Bolduc said in response to Smith’s attack. “Yeah, I have in the past, and I acknowledged that and said hey, like anybody else you regret some of the things you say. That’s being honest, that’s being truthful. This up here is political theater because he polls at two points.”

Fenton repeatedly attacked Morse for what he said was a lack of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for being a “deal maker” and a rubber stamp for the Republican Party. Morse did not respond to any of the attacks launched throughout the debate. Immediately after the debate ended, his team declared victory.

“The difference between me and them is I’ve actually done it,” Morse said in a statement.

Morse touted the fiscally conservative budgets passed during his time in the State House, and his socially conservative achievements like getting Education Freedom Accounts passed and a 24-week abortion ban made into law.

The candidates largely agreed on the issues; they want energy independence, lower taxes, stronger border enforcement, and they are opposed to abortion and gun control. All five said they would not support a federal abortion ban imposed by Washington, D.C.

Where they differ is in their emphasis on the issues.

Fenton, for example, says he can bring along Free State libertarians and independents as part of his coalition. He repeatedly hit the COVID-19 pandemic response as an example of the tyranny he is fighting.

“A senator doesn’t have that much power, but what you can do is disrupt and I’m a disrupter. I’ve been a disrupter my whole career. And this is what we need now. We need a disrupter desperately because of what have going on in our country,” he said. “If I had sat on this stage four years ago years ago and told you that a scientist was going to be able to shut down millions of businesses and put people out of their jobs and people were going to be forced to wear a mask, you’d have thought I was insane.”

Smith made the case for himself as the most electable conservative with experience going back to his time as a 19-year-old state representative, and his years leading the town of Londonderry.

“We’re going to need the strongest, most electable conservative candidate as our nominee in order to win this race. And I believe I am that person,” Smith said. “The reality is we’re going to need the Glenn Younkin model for our nominee to win this race. I’ve said all along we’re going to need not just conservative Republicans, we’re going to need Trump Independents and we’re going to need Regan Democrats as well.”

Mansharamani, a newcomer to politics, told voters he would bring an independent, results-oriented view to the job

“The first thing to know about Maggie Hassan is she is a party-line voter. She doesn’t think for herself. Where I’ve written a book called ‘Think For Yourself,'” Mansharamani said.

The debate, sponsored by N.H. Journal, was held at the Saint Anselm College New Hampshire Institute of Politics auditorium. It was aired on Manchester Public T.V. Channel 16 and streamed online. N.H. Journal Managing Editor Michael Graham led the panel that included longtime New Hampshire GOP strategist and media personality Alicia Preston Xanthopoulos and Washington Times Capitol Hill reporter Haris Alic.

It was the first debate of the primaries for the race, but Smith started calling for four more debates before the event began. Mansharamani topped that, calling for 10 GOP candidate debates.

NH Law Not Impacted by SCOTUS Ruling, But NHDems Still Vow to Fight

New Hampshire’s elected officials responded with anger and outrage to the news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision, sending the regulation of abortion back to the states and the people. New Hampshire Democrats promised to fight. 

“I am angry and heartbroken by today’s Supreme Court decision. We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Elections have consequences, and I will never stop fighting for access to abortion and a woman’s right to choose,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said on Twitter.

Sen. Maggie Hassan called the ruling a “radical” decision.

“The Supreme Court’s radical decision to take away a woman’s freedom – her right to bodily autonomy – has pulled us back decades,” Hassan said. “Abortion is a fundamental right. I won’t let this be the final word on our freedom, and I will keep fighting.”

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D) said the conservative majority on the Supreme Court will go further unless Democrats win elections.

“Make no mistake – they are coming for contraception. They are coming for same-sex marriage. Elections matter. Vote,” she tweeted.

Alito’s majority opinion explicitly confronts that particular argument, saying, “Rights regarding contraception and same-sex relationships are inherently different from the right to abortion because the latter (as we have stressed) uniquely involves what Roe and Casey termed ‘potential life.'” However, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a lone concurring opinion, suggested any cases resolved based on “substantive due process precedents” — which includes cases involving birth control and same-sex marriage — should be “reconsidered.”

Governor Chris Sununu released a statement repeating the fact that New Hampshire’s law isn’t impacted in any way by this ruling. “Regardless of this Supreme Court decision, access to these services will continue to remain safe, accessible, and legal in New Hampshire,” Sununu said.

Nevertheless, U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, still claimed the Supreme Court’s ruling impacted women in the Granite State.

“This decision is a devastating blow against the health, well-being, and personal freedom of women in New Hampshire and all across our country,” Pappas said.

And state legislators like Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) went so far as to “implore” Sununu  “to call the Legislature back in for a special session to enshrine the right to safe, legal abortion care here in New Hampshire.” She did not explain how the court’s ruling affected abortions in the state.

State Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, who is running to unseat Sununu, said he would fight to ensure women continue to have the right to abortion in New Hampshire.

“I trust women to make their own medical decisions, & I will fight to codify into N.H. law the right to a safe and legal abortion,” Sherman tweeted. “Access to safe abortions & contraceptives have allowed women to grow their careers and make choices that are right for them & their families.”

All four members of the state’s federal delegation support the Women’s Health Protection Act, which, if passed, would force states to allow abortions without restriction through all nine months of pregnancy.

Dartmouth Health, the state’s largest healthcare provider, issued a statement on Friday affirming it would continue to provide abortion.

“Dartmouth Health is unwavering in its belief in the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship to make the best-informed decisions for patients to reflect their needs and healthcare priorities,” the statement read. “We also strongly believe that abortion is an essential component of healthcare. Like all medical matters, decisions regarding abortion should be made by patients in consultation with their healthcare providers.”

While Democrats in New Hampshire and national were blaming Republicans for the decision, Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life, pointed out that the party’s extremist stance on abortion likely cost it the support needed to protect Roe.

“Abortion activists are responsible for the Roe being overturned. They overstepped by celebrating abortion and advocating for it for up to 9 months. The Democratic Party embraced these extremists leading to Republican majorities all over the country,” Day wrote on Twitter.

New Hampshire Republicans offered muted praise for the ruling, emphasizing the court’s decision moves the issue back to the states.

“I’m proud of my pro-life record in the New Hampshire State Senate,” said Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem), a candidate for U.S. Senate. “Last year we settled the law in New Hampshire that permits abortions in the first six months while banning late-term and partial-birth abortions in the last 12 weeks of a pregnancy – a policy that the vast majority of Granite Staters support. This decision has no impact on New Hampshire. I strongly believe that the states should have the right to govern policy in their respective states as the Supreme Court has ruled,” Morse said.

Retired Gen. Don Bolduc, who is also running in the GOP U.S. Senate primary, applauded the court’s decision as well.

“As a pro-life candidate, I believe the Supreme Court made the right decision. After the death and destruction I’ve seen across war-torn places in Afghanistan and Africa, I believe all life should be protected,” Bolduc said. “We must understand that this opinion does not outlaw abortion. It returns the decision to the individual states to make the decision they think is best for their citizens. Here in New Hampshire, our state has already passed our own laws well before this Court decision. That is precisely how the Founding Fathers intended our Constitutional Republic to function.”

Kevin Smith, R-Londonderry, another GOP U.S. Senate candidate, said state legislatures are the appropriate place to make decisions about abortion laws.

“I support returning the matter to the state legislatures, so the people in each of those states have a say in determining when it is appropriate to put reasonable restrictions in place, such as New Hampshire has done on late-term abortions,” he said.

In the GOP primary for the First Congressional District, several candidates were quick to give credit for the ruling to former President Donald Trump.

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s righteous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Today, life wins, and the rule of law has prevailed. God Bless the Justices, and thank you President Trump!” said Karoline Leavitt, who is hoping to challenge Pappas in November.

Rep. Tim Baxter (R-Seabrook), another candidate in the crowded First District field, also thanked Trump, and said more work needs to be done.

“We need proven conservative leaders in Congress who will stand up against the radical abortionists’ attempts to codify abortion into federal law, and I look forward to defending the lives of the unborn once I’m elected to Congress,” he wrote.

Cornerstone Action, which has promoted pro-life legislation, issued a statement predicting violence against pro-life groups as a result of the decision.

“We expect today’s news will hasten political polarization around the country and inflame a hateful totalitarianism which threatens America’s constitutional order. We must also focus—more than ever—on the physical safety of pregnancy care centers and churches and, ultimately, on protecting the separation of powers and the rule of law,” Cornerstone said.

The Sununu administration appeared to take those concerns seriously.

Friday afternoon, New Hampshire’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division issued a state-wide alert after activists were gathering to protest the decision at several locations throughout the state.

“The State Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated as of 4:00 PM on Friday, 6/24/22 to monitor multiple events taking place across the state in response to a Supreme Court decision.”

NH Progressives to Hassan: You Won’t Get Our Votes

New Hampshire progressives say they’ve had enough of Sen. Maggie Hassan and what they call her “racist”  policies on immigration, and they’re not planning to support her re-election in November.

Tension between Granite State progressives and the governing establishment is nothing new. What is notable, however, is the willingness of progressive activists to criticize a powerful incumbent Democrat so publicly.

“Maggie Hassan is racist. No need to dance around the obvious for much longer,” said Marcus Ponce de Leon, until recently an executive team member of the New Hampshire Democratic Latino Caucus.

Rep. Maria Perez, D-Milford, another leader of the Latino Caucus, says she’s been trying to get Hassan to meet with members of the Latino community for months, to listen to their concerns about her immigration stance. Perez has finally had enough with the state’s junior senator.

“I asked Hassan today for a time to meet and she said that she’s not meeting with us and if we need to ask questions to speak with someone in her office,” Perez said over the weekend. “I’m done supporting someone who doesn’t have time to meet with us.”

After her narrow victory in 2016 — she defeated incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) by just 1,017 votes — Hassan was a reliably liberal vote, voting with Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer 96 percent of the time. But as the political climate changed and her re-election approached, Hassan began shifting her stances on issues like increased drilling for oil, tax cuts for fossil fuels and building more of Trump’s border wall — all positions she voted against in the past.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was Hassan’s trip to the southern border, where she recorded a video calling for more enforcement and “physical barriers” while standing in front of a barb-wire laced section of the Trump wall. She also endorsed continuing the Title 42 policy put in place during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Trump administration, allowing border officials to immediately turn away would-be undocumented migrants without allowing them into the country.

Ponce de Leon said Hassan’s supporters in the New Hampshire Democratic Party are endorsing white supremacy by not holding her to account. He called the New Hampshire Democratic Party an embarrassing disappointment.

“I’m struggling with parsing white supremacy vs. those who support @SenatorHassan … Today many of them flat out said they didn’t care what black and brown people are going through. They chanted ‘603 for Maggie’ as if they hadn’t heard our testimonies,” Ponce de Leon wrote on Twitter. He was referencing the chaotic scene outside the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office Friday when progressives and Hassan backers tried to shout each other down as the senator filed to run for re-election. Security had to repeatedly intervene, and Hassan was eventually forced to flee the Secretary of State’s office out the back door.

Talking to reporters after her filing, Hassan appeared to confirm Perez’s account that the senator is unwilling to meet with Latino leaders.

“I have spoken with some of their members and my team continues to have conversations,” Hassan said. “But we have a disagreement here,” Hassan said. “I do not think the administration should lift Title 42 until there are resources at the border to ensure safety and security. All sides of this issue agree that, when Title 42 is lifted, we’re going to see an increase in illegal border crossing attempts,” she said. “I respect they have a disagreement with me about this. At the end of the day, I need to stand up for the safety and security of my state and my country.”

Progressives are not satisfied. 

Several weeks ago, activist Asma Elhuni confronted Hassan at a public event, an encounter caught on video. Rather than answer Elhuni’s questions, Hassan responded by telling the young activist she didn’t know what she was talking about.

“First of all, you have some facts wrong,” Hassan said. “What I understand is what I need to do is to make sure that we have a safe, orderly migration at the border.” Hassan also claimed she had spoken to migrant families and was genuinely interested in their concerns.

“You’re actions speak louder than your words,” Elhuni responded.

“You’re not interested in hearing my side,” Hassan concluded and walked away, accompanied by her handlers.

Robin Vogt, co-chair of the New Hampshire Progressive Coalition, called Hassan’s immigration policies disgusting, and he said Democrats who do not take progressive issues seriously will start to face challenges from the left.

“Holding my own party accountable does not mean myself and others are being ‘unreasonable’. It simply means that we are ready for political leadership to start listening and take action here in New Hampshire. If not, we come for your seats, and you will get called out,” Vogt wrote on Twitter.

Hassan is viewed as unusually vulnerable in a state that rarely votes for Republicans at the federal level and where no GOP challenger has yet emerged from the Republican field. The conservative group One Nation just announced a nearly $1 million buy targeting Hassan, who narrowly won the seat in 2016 by just 1.017 votes.

Ironically, progressive attacks on Hassan could fit in with her campaign strategy of triangulating against her own party. The Associated Press published a story Monday listing Hassan as one of several Democrats “actively trying to distance themselves” from the Democratic Party. They note she’s running a TV ad accusing Democrats of getting the issue of gas prices wrong (“I’m taking on members of my own party to push a gas tax holiday.”)

On the one hand, polls show the Democratic Party is struggling to earn voters’ trust on the top issues of the day — the economy, gas prices, crime and the border. On the other, Hassan’s approval ratings continue to lag in the low to mid 40’s, meaning she needs an energized Democratic base to turn out if she hopes to win re-election. Will they turn out?

“Senator Maggie Hassan will criticize Trump when he’s in office but literally support those same racist policies as if her party’s name will always protect her,” Elhuni tweeted this weekend. “This is the time for bravery. People need to stand up to Hassan and say no to racism.”

 

Shaheen Calls Sununu ‘Cowardly’ On Guns. But Remember Carl Drega?

In the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen took to Twitter to accurse Gov. Chris Sununu of cowardice. But her own record as governor is problematic.

In response to a tweet from Sununu regarding the Robb Elementary School shooting, Shaheen wrote, “How can anyone be complacent with this status quo? Refusing to enact common-sense gun reforms is cowardly, irresponsible, and deadly.

“Buffalo. Uvalde. Tulsa. Las Vegas. Orlando. Newtown. Parkland. Aurora. Columbine,” Shaheen added. “The list goes on.”

But there is another town she could have added to the list: Colebrook, N.H.

In August 1997, Carl Drega shot and killed four people in Colebrook, including two New Hampshire State troopers in the state’s only mass shooting. 

Carl Drega

Described as a disgruntled loner who blamed local officials for his wife’s death from cancer, the 62-year-old Drega had repeatedly been involved in disputes over zoning regulations and property taxes with the town of Columbia, N.H. Years of frustration boiled over into deadly rage on August 19 when state troopers Les Lord and Scott Phillips pulled him over for excessive rust on his truck.

Drega stole the dead officers’ police car and drove to Colebrook District Court to hunt down Judge Vicki Bunnell, who was also a Columbia selectwoman and had a restraining order against him. Drega shot her eight times in the back. When Dennis Joos, editor of the Colebrook News and Sentinel, tried to wrestle the AR-15 away from him, Drega killed him, too.

Drega went to his house in Columbia and set it on fire. He was confronted by N.H. Fish and Game warden Wayne Saunders, who Drega shot and wounded. He then fled across the river to Vermont for a last stand, during which three more law enforcement officers were wounded before Drega was finally shot to death.

It was a shocking crime in a small community. A library in Stewartstown was later named for Joos in honor of his courage. Books have been written about the horrific events of that August day.

And who was governor in 1997? Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

In the aftermath of New Hampshire’s only mass shooting, then-Gov. Shaheen didn’t sign any laws restricting gun ownership or making it more difficult to buy AR-15s. Indeed, Democrats have held the corner office for 19 of the 25 years since Drega’s rampage and New Hampshire still has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation. 

NHJournal repeatedly contacted Shaheen’s office for a comment about her gun control record, her accusation of cowardice against Gov. Sununu, and what she would do in response to the mass shooting in Texas. She declined to respond.

Associate Attorney General Jeff Strelzin, Director of the Public Protection Division, said the FBI defines mass shooting incidents as those with four victims, not including the shooter or shooters.

“The Congressional Research Service defines mass shootings as multiple, firearm, homicide incidents, involving four or more victims at one or more locations close to one another,” Strelzin said.

While Drega’s shooting is the only one to meet the FBI’s definition of a mass shooting, Strelzin said there are two other incidents in which three people were shot.

In July 2007, Michael Woodbury shot and killed three men in a store in Conway. In 2010, Ken Arsenault shot three people in Pittsburg. One victim later died.

Both of those shootings also occurred on the watch of Democratic Gov. John Lynch. During his record four terms, no significant gun restrictions were put into place.

Hassan’s contribution to gun control as governor was vetoing the constitutional carry bill that Sununu would go on to sign into law.

The Gifford Law Center, a non-profit dedicated to preventing gun violence, gives New Hampshire an F in gun control laws.

“New Hampshire lacks many basic gun safety protections and, in fact, has weakened its gun laws in recent years—state lawmakers must reverse this deadly trend,” the Giffords ranking states. “New Hampshire has not passed any meaningful gun safety laws in years, and recently enacted a law that allows people to carry loaded, hidden handguns in public without a background check or permit.”

But according to Jim Goulden, a Nashua defense attorney who specializes in gun crime cases, New Hampshire politicians who support gun control usually end up out of office.

“I don’t know of any New Hampshire politician who has pushed for greater gun control,” he said.

New Hampshire’s gun laws tend to focus on punishing people who use firearms in the commission of a crime, or who possess firearms while being legally prohibited from doing so, he said. Goulden said the results of New Hampshire’s laws are evident.

“If we’re going by crimes involving firearms, New Hampshire has very good gun control, we have very few gun crimes,” he said.

Last year, the FBI released crime statistics for 2020, finding a 30 percent surge in murders nationwide, but not in New Hampshire. According to the FBI’s data, there were 6.5 murders per 100,000 people nationally. In New Hampshire, it was 0.9 per 100,000 or 12 murders for all of 2020.

The 2020 statistic may be an anomaly. Michael Garrity, director of communication for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, said the state typically averages about 19 murders per year, and 2022 is following the trend.

“There have been 11 so far this year, so there has been no spike in homicides,” he said.

Goulden said no matter the gun laws anyone wants to propose, the only real change will happen when people start getting serious about addressing mental illness.

“Until people start taking personal responsibility for themselves and their own families, mental illness, always going to be an outlier,” he said.

Dems Attack Smith’s Dad-Daughter Cameo in Education TV Ad

Democrats are mocking U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Smith over his appearance in a commercial for an education app that helps students complete their homework.

Gates MacPherson, deputy communications director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, tweeted a screenshot of the ad Smith made for education company Brainly

“In addition to running as a B-tier Senate candidate, Kevin Smith is also a… paid actor, according to his personal financial disclosure, and made $900 from the New England Models Group for appearing in an ad,” MacPherson tweeted.

Smith took the Democratic Twitter snark in stride, saying he only appeared in the ad to support his daughter, who was being featured by Brainly. The ad partially deals with struggles faced by students due to classroom lockdowns — a policy promoted and defended by Democrats like U. Sen. Maggie Hassan.

 

“While my acting career was short-lived and in support of my daughter, Maggie Hassan’s election year act is alive and well, although widely panned by critics,” Smith said.

A wave of post-lockdown research shows critics of closing classrooms were correct: The policy took a disastrous toll on low-income and disadvantaged students but did little to stop the spread of COVID-19.

According to Smith’s campaign, his daughter Lindsay was chosen to be in the ad. COVID procedures mandated that the producers use real parents instead of actors for the parents. 

“While the Democrats and their Teachers Union counterparts were desperately fighting to keep schools shuttered, Kevin’s daughter was chosen to appear in an ad for a remote-learning education platform. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the company required actual parents to appear in the ads with their children, and Kevin was proud to support and appear alongside his daughter in that ad,” said Seb Rougemont with Smith’s team.

“As the proud father of three children in Londonderry public schools, Kevin cares deeply about their education and the education of all students across New Hampshire. Is this seriously what the New Hampshire Democrats are spending their time attacking?”

Brainly offers a peer-to-peer learning platform to support students, teachers, and parents. The company claims to have 350 million users which would make it the biggest online learning platform in the world.

Smith is running in a crowded field to challenge Democrat Hassan. While MacPherson and state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley have slammed Smith, Senate President Chuck Morse, and retired Brigadier General Don Bolduc as “B-tier” candidates, recent polling suggests Hassan is a “C-tier” incumbent at best.

Despite her 99 percent name ID, Hassan leads Smith by just one point, 45-44 percent, according to the Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. She is leading Bolduc 47-46 percent, and she is actually losing to Morse 44-46 percent.

The attack also opens the door for Smith and his fellow Republicans to hit back. President Joe Biden is imposing new rules on charter schools that will make it harder for them to accommodate more students. As the liberal New York Times reports:

“Rules proposed by the Education Department to govern a federal grant program for charter schools are drawing bipartisan backlash and angering parents, who say the Biden administration is seeking to stymie schools that have fallen out of favor with many Democrats but maintain strong support among Black and Latino families.”

Asked by NHJournal if she supports the new rules, Hassan declined to respond.

“Hassan’s flacks are attacking an education TV ad while her Joe Biden and her party bosses attack charter schools, keeping communities from getting the quality education and classrooms they need,” Smith said.

Sununu: Abortion Will Remain ‘Safe and Legal’ In New Hampshire

Abortion remains legal in New Hampshire up through the 24 weeks of pregnancy despite the worry that the U.S. Supreme Court is set to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.

The fallout continues from Politico’s leak of a February draft opinion in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that would overturn the 50-year-old Roe legal framework, sending the questions of abortion back to the states.

Gov. Chris Sununu, who signed into law a late-term abortion ban (it allows unrestricted abortion for the first 24 of pregnancy) said Tuesday he stands by Roe v. Wade.

“As a pro-choice governor, I am committed to upholding Roe v. Wade, which is why I am proud of the bipartisan bill headed to my desk this year that expands access. So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal,” he said in a statement out Tuesday.

Last year, as the Supreme Court was hearing the arguments in Dobbs, NH Journal asked Sununu if he would take action to protect abortion rights if the Supreme Court overturned the Roe decision. At the time, Sununu scoffed at the idea that Roe was on the docket.

“I’m not really paying attention to that case,” Sununu said. “It’s not an overturn of Roe v Wade, it’s about viability.”

Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed Tuesday that the draft written by Justice Samuel Alito is authentic. However, he added early drafts are common in the Supreme Court’s work and do not necessarily reflect the final outcome. According to the draft, there are five votes in favor of reversing the controversial 1973 ruling that created a constitutional right to abortion within a complex framework of viability.

The ruling is expected to be released sometime in June, though some legal scholars are urging the court to release its decision now in response to the unprecedented leak.

New Hampshire is the only New England state that does not explicitly protect the right to abortion in state law. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island all have laws on the books affirming access to abortion. New Hampshire, on the other hand, had no restrictions on abortion at any point in a pregnancy when the new law was signed, one of the most extreme pro-abortion states in the country. Connecticut has had abortion rights as law since the 1990s, while the other states passed laws in the past three years as a hedge against a possible Roe reversal.

Now that Roe is in danger, Granite State political leaders are lining up to stake out a position. State Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, who is running to unseat Sununu, sent a fundraising email Tuesday implying Sununu wants to ban all abortions.

“Gov. Sununu has already shown he can’t be trusted to stand up for women’s right to make their own medical decisions,” the email states.

Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, who has been criticized for her flip-flops on border security and oil production, stuck to the party line on abortion, saying Tuesday she supports passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would assure women the right to access to abortion while taking away the right of states to set limits.

“The unconfirmed SCOTUS opinion would be devastating for women’s freedom,” Hassan said on Twitter. “With a woman’s right to live as a free and equal citizen under attack, Congress needs to codify Roe v. Wade now more than ever.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced plans to push for a vote on a bill that would give unlimited access to abortions and override the original Roe decision.

“This is not an abstract exercise. This is urgent,” Schumer said on Twitter. “We will vote on protecting a woman’s right to choose, and every American is going to see which side every senator stands on.”

Ian Huyett, an attorney with the Christian advocacy organization, Cornerstone, said the proposed federal legislation that Schumer and Hassan want to pass would eliminate New Hampshire’s 24-week ban.

“No state laws would be allowed except when there is no ‘less restrictive alternative’ which would advance ‘the safety of abortion services,’” he said,

State Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem), who is running in the GOP primary to challenge Hassan, said he would work to keep New Hampshire’s abortion law in place.

“I’m proud of my pro-life record in the New Hampshire state Senate. Last year we settled the law in New Hampshire that permits abortions in the first six months while banning late-term and partial-birth abortions in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy – a policy that the vast majority of Granite Staters support. This potential decision will have no impact on New Hampshire. We will wait to see what the Supreme Court ultimately decides, but I strongly believe that the states should have the right to govern policy in their respective states as this draft opinion would ensure,” Morse said in a statement released by his campaign.

Bruce Fenton, another GOP Senate hopeful, said he also supports the six-month ban.

“I think that the 24-week ban in New Hampshire struck a good balance in protecting the unborn without a radical expansion of state authority,” Fenton said.

Retired Gen. Don Bolduc, another GOP Senate candidate, said he supports New Hampshire’s law. Bolduc wants to see Roe overturned and have states set abortion policies.

“We must understand that this opinion does not outlaw abortion. It returns the decision to the individual states to make the decision they think is best for their citizens. Here in New Hampshire, our state has already passed its own laws well before this court decision. That is precisely how the Founding Fathers intended our constitutional republic to function.”

And former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, who a decade ago served as executive director of the pro-life group Cornerstone Action, said he supports “returning this matter to the state legislatures so the people in each of those states have a say in determining when it is appropriate to put reasonable restrictions in place such as New Hampshire has done on late-term abortions. Unfortunately, Sen. Maggie Hassan and the extremists in Washington support late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions, and they oppose any and all reasonable restrictions on abortion. That is plainly wrong and vastly out of touch with most Granite Staters.”

Monday night’s leak could galvanize voters on either side of the question heading into the midterms. Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund Kayla Montgomery said the potential reversal of Roe represents a crisis moment.

“Elections matter. The future of reproductive rights in the Granite State depends on the election of lawmakers who will fight to ensure abortion is safe, legal, and accessible – no matter what,” Montgomery said.

However, Gallup polling over the past two decades has consistently found about 80 percent of Americans oppose Planned Parenthood’s position of abortion without restriction up to the date of birth.

And a NHJournal poll taken in December found just four percent of Granite Staters said they wanted abortion to be the top priority of President Joe Biden and the Congress.

However, a July 2o21 University of New Hampshire poll found 56 percent of Granite Staters opposed the new law while just 33 percent supported it. The legislature has since amended the law to address criticisms of specific issues such as the ultrasound mandate, changes the governor is expected to sign.

New Hampshire House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn) said New Hampshire voters both left and right want to keep the 24-week restriction in place, no matter what the Supreme Court decides.

“In the past year, pro-choice and pro-life legislators came together to settle on a prohibition of the most extreme and unnecessary late-term abortions. Any forthcoming Supreme Court decision will not change New Hampshire’s position,” he said.

Hassan’s First TV Ad Targets Biden, Fellow Dems Over Gas Prices

A candidate in the U.S. Senate race is out with a new ad promising to take on President Joe Biden and her fellow Democrats to lower gas prices for the average American.

No, it is not another Republican entering the crowded GOP primary, but endangered incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. Fresh off her poorly-received trip to the southern border where she was criticized for calling for more wall construction, Hassan’s new ad distances the first-term incumbent from her party and president.

“I’m taking on members of my own party to push a gas tax holiday,” Hassan says in the ad out Monday. “And I’m pushing Joe Biden to release more of our oil reserves. That’s how we lower costs and get through these times.”

Hassan’s ad is getting noticed by national political reporters who see it as another signal Democrats in competitive races will be running away from Biden as the midterms approach.

“We’ve seen plenty of ads from Republicans this election cycle seeking to pin blame on Biden and congressional Democrats for higher gas prices,” writes The Washington Post. “In a new ad from New Hampshire, Sen. Maggie Hassan, a vulnerable Democrat, has now embraced the issue, too.”

“New ad for Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who continues to distance herself from Biden ahead of November,” tweeted Natalie Allison of Politico.

And in an article headlined, “This ad tells you a whole lot about Joe Biden’s political problems,” CNN’s Chris Cillizza said notes Hassan is willing to be openly critical of the sitting president.

“[Hassan’s] message is unmistakable,” Cillizza wrote.

“1) Gas prices are a major problem in the country.
2) Biden and Democratic leaders aren’t doing enough to solve it.
3) Hassan isn’t afraid to tell her party — and her President — that they need to do better.”

Not every New Hampshire Democrat is delighted by Hassan’s campaign tactics.

“Maggie is going to lose her base if she tries to separate herself from Biden by running to his right,” tweeted state Rep. Eric Gallager (D-Concord) “Biden has been doing a much better job than she has. This has been seen most recently on Title 42 where Biden was on the right side of it, and Maggie was on the wrong one.”

Party activist Carlos Cardona dinged Hassan for her ad, saying she should be focusing on liberal priorities instead, like those found in Biden’s abandoned Build Back Better bill.

“If our Senator is serious about helping Granite Staters, she should start by not giving away money to gas companies. Pass the #ChildTaxCredit or do a form of #UBI for all  #NHPolitics,” Cardona tweeted.

Rebecca Beaulieu with the environmental activist group 350 NH said Hassan should do more to help with climate initiatives instead of helping oil companies’ profit.

“Sen. Hassan should instead be calling for a Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax: this would raise billions of dollars that could be sent to Americans to help with the costs of high gas prices. Big oil doesn’t deserve to make huge profits off the climate crisis they created. Exxon, Chevron, and other big oil companies are making huge profits because of their high gas prices,” Beaulieu said.

Republicans say they are delighted to see Hassan attacking Democrats, believing it will only discourage her party’s base without converting any independents. They note she has voted with President Biden 98 percent of the time. “Maggie Hassan’s campaign strategy is to pretend she has no voting record.  She is trying to completely remake herself in the final seven months of the race and pretend no one notices.  Well, everyone does notice and won’t be fooled so easily,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson T.W Arrighi said Monday.

Don Bolduc, one of the Republicans running in a primary to unseat Hassan, said there is no way to separate her policies from Biden’s.

“Sen. Hassan promising relief on gas prices is the equivalent of an arsonist saying they can help put out a fire. The Biden-Hassan anti-energy agenda got us here, and the only way out is sending Hassan packing” Bolduc said.

Bruce Fenton, the crypto-millionaire running in the primary, blames Hassan’s staff for the incoherent messaging, and Hassan for failed leadership.

“Her marketing consultants and handlers seem sort of all over the place, so it’s not really clear what she’s attempting to say she stands for,” Fenton said. “Her voting record speaks for itself. Politicians who support terrible policies always try to distract voters, but this won’t work this time.”

Fenton might have a point. While Hassan has recently been vocal in pushing for a gas tax holiday during the inflationary price spikes, she was also responsible as governor for saddling New Hampshire families with an additional $240 million in gas taxes since 2014. Hassan’s four cents a gallon hike, passed in 2014, added $30 million a year in new taxes. It was at the time the first increase in decades.

And Hassan has long supported restrictions on oil and gas production, including Biden’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline, a move the senator continues to support.

Kevin Smith, the former Londonderry town manager in the running to challenge Hassan, said the senator keeps stealing positions from the GOP as she frantically tried to win reelection.

“If Hassan keeps trying to run from her far-left record at this rate, by the time September rolls around she will have called for the election integrity she voted against, decried the out-of-control spending she voted for, and railed against Biden’s foreign policy disasters she stood silently by. It’ll be interesting to see how her first speech at CPAC is received given her long, far-left record that runs contrary to her election-year moderate makeover rhetoric,” Smith said.

State Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said Hassan’s political maneuvering is obvious, and won’t fool any voters.

“Maggie Hassan votes for Joe Biden’s agenda and nominees 98 percent of the time. It’s laughable she would even try to distance herself from her best friend in the Washington Swamp with her latest gimmick ad,” Morse said. “Whenever President Biden comes to New Hampshire, she’s there for the photo-op. We need real, American First energy solutions to combat our current problems – not gimmicks from someone who did nothing while Keystone was shut down and we started funding dictators’ bloody war machines across the globe instead of producing oil in North America. When I’m in the U.S. Senate, I’ll actually take on Joe Biden and his backward energy policy head on.”