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Bunny’s and Chocolate Win Big at NH SBA Awards

Pramod Nyaupane and his wife, Bibhuti Thapa, may take a moment to enjoy their award as the 2024 NH SBA Small Business Week Minority-Owned Business of the Year—but only after they’ve finished working.

“We work seven days a week. Hard work and long hours at work help keep peace at home,” Nyaupane said. “Our goal is to cut back. We want to work five days a week…starting 10 years from now.”

The owners of Bunny’s Superette, the convenience store that’s been a Manchester fixture since the 1950s, were among this year’s New Hampshire SBA Small Business Week winners honored during a celebration held Tuesday at the Tupelo Music Hall in Derry.

SBA Director Administrator Isabel Guzman, who took photos with the winners, delivered a message on behalf of the Biden administration.

“The SBA can power up business success stories,” Guzman said, touting the $50 billion in funding the agency handles annually to aid small businesses. She noted the Tupelo Music Hall itself needed SBA help at one point.

The small businesses honored on Tuesday are among 170,000 in the Granite State, according to Guzman, who said her agency has received about 40,000 new business applications from New Hampshire since 2021.

Nyaupane and Thapa both came to the United States separately in the early 2000s and made their way to Manchester. The couple got together in the Queen City, married, and began their business life.

After buying Bunny’s in 2010 and working hard to keep it successful, Nyaupane and Thapa expanded the business. They opened a new Bunny’s location on Elm Street in 2017, betting the store would thrive with the city. Nyaupane said Thapa is the secret behind their success.

“When your wife works twice as hard as you do, things go well,” he said.

District Director Award winner Richard Tango-Lowy was a physicist when he fell in love with chocolate in the 1980s. He spent years researching chocolate and teaching himself how to work with a confection with a history dating back to the Mayan civilization. When he decided to leap into the professional world of chocolate, Tango-Lowy’s wife was skeptical.

“I never planned to be a chocolatier. My wife said, ‘You’re going to make a living doing what?'” Tango-Lowy said.

He spent more years studying chocolate with masters in the field. He went to Vancouver to take the Ecole Chocolat’s Professional Chocolatier course, to France and later Tuscany to earn his Master Chocolatier certifications, and to Ecuador to learn how to go from chocolate bean to chocolate bar. In 2011, he opened Dancing Lion Chocolate, which is a shop, cafe, and production kitchen in Manchester. Dancing Lion has gone on to be recognized as one of the premiere chocolate shops in the country and Tango-Lowy as one of the best chocolatiers.

Both New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan were on hand to honor the small business owners.

Businesses like Bunny’s and Dancing Lion drive the economy and innovations, Shaheen said.

“I think most of us know that about two-thirds of jobs are created from small businesses. But my favorite statistic about small businesses is that you create 16 times more patents than large businesses. I think most people don’t realize that. And I think it’s one reason that the U.S. Patent and Trade Office just decided to locate its northern New England office in New Hampshire, which is very good news for all of us,” Shaheen said.

Hassan’s message was that freedom is essential to small business success.

“All the small business owners here are also a testament to the difference that freedom can make. And I want people to just focus on this for a minute, a lot of things that we can take for granted living in New Hampshire, living in the United States. I think one of them is democracy and freedom, and it’s something that is essential to the kind of progress and the kind of strength that you all exhibit here today,” Hassan said. “Because to be individually free is to be free to innovate, to be free to do the thing you love to do, to contribute your talents, to be able to try something and fail and then try again. There is no limit to our creativity, but we all have to be free and live in this democratic society in this democratic system.”

Among the other winners Tuesday:

Small Business Persons of the Year, Susan Borchert and Betsy Harrison, Counseling Associates, PLLC, New London; Home-Based for NH and New England, Logan Snyder, HasOptimization, LLC, Canterbury; Young Entrepreneurs for NH and New England, Bryce Harrison – Ian Lubkin – James Gaudreault, Cheese Louise, Portsmouth – North Conway – Portland, Me.; Veteran Owned, Ken Whitten and Joseph Whitten, Apparel Impact, LLC, Hooksett; Woman Owned, Danielle Jones, Abenaki Trail Restaurant and Pub, North Conway; Financial Services Champion, Patricia Grauwiler, Enterprise Bank and Trust Co., Salem; Small Business Manufacturer, Justin Sousa, Sousa Signs, LLC, Manchester; Jeffrey Butland Family Owned Award, Tom and Sally Wilkins, Wilkins Lumber Co., Inc., Milford; Micro-Enterprise, Andrea Lee Daniels, and Quality Press, Inc., Concord.

Hassan Dodges Immigration Activists During Biden Visit

Sen. Maggie Hassan was supposed to be talking up infrastructure spending during President Joe Biden’s visit Tuesday. But she spent much of her day dodging protests from Granite State progressives and members of the local Latino community. They are upset by Hassan’s reversal on immigration policy and a video she released standing in front of Trump’s border wall calling for more “physical barriers.”

Protesters gathered or posted signs at various spots along Hassan’s route in Portsmouth as she traveled with the president. “Hassan + Pappas, NH Welcomes Immigrants,” one sign read. One of the organizers is Rep. Maria Perez (D-Milford), who resigned from the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s Latino Caucus last week in protest of Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) announcing their support for Title 42. That is the emergency authorization used to turn away more than one million undocumented migrants at the border last year.

“No cages, no walls! @SenatorHassan and @ChrisPappasNH We need a real plan to increase capacity and resources to manage the needs of migrants seeking entry at the border, not a continuation of racist, misguided and inhumane policies,” Perez tweeted from the protest.


Progressives who have worked for Hassan in the past have denounced her new, more pro-enforcement policy positions on immigration.

Perez said Tuesday afternoon she has not been able to speak to Hassan about her recent call for more barriers on the border, and other right-leaning policies the senator has adopted in a tough election year.

“The response that I got from her office is that she’s too busy,” Perez said.

Hassan tried using her trip to the southern border to shoot campaign videos in which she unconvincingly promised to get tough and push for more physical barriers. Hassan repeatedly voted against funding a border wall when Donald Trump was president — the same wall she used as a prop in her video, with barbed wire hanging over her head.

Granite State immigration activists were irate. “That was the last kick in the butt for the immigrant community, and all of us as Latinos,” said Eva Castillo, executive director of the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. Some progressives called on Hassan to apologize.

Hassan has refused. She also refused to respond to requests for comment from NHJournal.

Perez said immigrant advocates want to express their views to her in person, but Hassan is avoiding them. She plans to keep up the pressure until Hassan responds in some way.

“I’m not taking a no from her office anymore. A lot of people in the community have been so disappointed. We’re just asking for time to talk to her and she’s refusing to meet with us. She’s too busy to meet with us, but she’s not too busy to go to the border,” Perez said.

Clifton West, Jr., a founder of Black Lives Matter’s Seacoast chapter, also protested the two Democrats’ actions, urging them via Twitter to “support immigrant communities and stop hijacking COVID relief funds to support a Trump policy, Title 42. New Hampshire residents stand in solidarity with migrants’ rights to seek asylum.”

The Title 42 issue puts Hassan and Pappas at odds with Biden. Both members of Congress back legislation to block the administration’s plan to end the policy. The progressive action group Rights and Democracy is demanding the two New Hampshire lawmakers “remove their co-sponsorship from bills that would indefinitely block asylum access for immigrants at the U.S. border, as President Biden finally moves to end harmful, racist Title 42.”

Perez said members of the Latino community are also being ignored by Pappas and his team as well.

“I’m a Democrat. But with everything going on these days, I’m embarrassed to call myself a Democrat,” she said.

Hidin’ Hassan? NH Senator Still Keeps Office Closed to Public

“It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again. People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office.”

Those are President Joe Biden’s words from State of the Union three weeks ago, but the message apparently has not reached U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) She is one of a handful of senators still keeping her Washington, D.C. office closed to the public.

The Granite State junior senator’s closed doors were first spotted by the Washington Free Beacon, which posted a photo of Hassan’s locked office in the Hart Senate Office Building.

“A Washington Free Beacon investigation after Biden’s speech found that many Democratic offices completely closed and unstaffed, with several displaying signs that they were not returning to work due to COVID-19,” it reported.

On Tuesday a New Hampshire Journal reporter called Hassan’s office and asked if the office was open. The person who answered the phone could not answer the question and had to consult a co-worker before confirming the office is closed to the general public. Visitors are allowed with an appointment only.

When asked why the staffer was unable to answer. “Those are just the office policies that we have, I don’t have answers as to why.”

The reporter was transferred to a staffer who only identified herself as “Emily” and refused to answer why Hassan’s office is still closed to the public.

“The policy is that you need an appointment,” Emily said. When asked why, she replied, “Because we only accept appointments.”

That is a very different policy from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) where, according to Communications Director Kevin Bishop, “Our offices in D.C. and South Carolina are open. We are all here. We meet with constituents every day.”

And the Free Beacon reporter Matthew Foldi, who walked through legislative office buildings said he had no problem walking the halls and taking camera photos of congressional office doors. “The Hart Building was open. Joe Manchin’s office, for example, was fully staffed when I walked by.”

While Hassan’s staffers refused to answer the question, her fellow Democrats who are also keeping their offices closed to the public say it is in response to fears of COVID.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has his desk unstaffed and office closed, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has a sign outside his shuttered office saying it is closed because of the pandemic, according to the Free Beacon.

“In an effort to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria, Sen. Sanders’ foot office is closed to the public,” the sign reads.

Hassan keeps several offices in New Hampshire, in Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Portsmouth, and Berlin. None of these offices have public hours listed, and the phone numbers go straight to the same voicemail. Hassan’s press team did not respond to an email asking questions about the New Hampshire offices.

Thanks to Biden’s plummeting poll numbers, Hassan is facing a tough re-election environment next year. The closed offices and refusal to respond to basic media requests could feed her opponents’ narrative that she is an absentee U.S. Senator who avoids difficult questions.

“Hidin’ Hassan,” tweeted an RNC spokesperson in response to the Free Beacon story.

GOP challenger Kevin Smith is already raising the issue.

“As (Londonderry) town manager, I ordered all employees back and re-opened town hall in June 2020,” Smith said. “As your next U.S. Senator, this office will be open again to serve the people.”

Another Republican candidate, state Sen. Chuck Morse (R-Salem), said Hassan’s decision to close shop shows she is unable to fight for New Hampshire.

“Maggie Hassan’s continued decision to keep her Senate office closed highlights her inability to fight for New Hampshire and our 603 Way,” Morse said. “Make no mistake – when I’m in the United States Senate we will keep our office open, and I’ll never stop serving my constituents.”

And retired Gen. Don Bolduc, also running for U.S. Senate, said: “If leftists like Maggie Hassan had their way, we would be locked down forever. It’s long past time we all learned to live with the pandemic and get back to life as normal, especially politicians who are paid by taxpayer money. If Senator Hassan doesn’t want to show up and do her job, the people of New Hampshire will replace her with someone who will.”

Smith previously accused Hassan of being an “absent senator,” claiming she was not available when Londonderry navigated the pandemic.

“We heard many times from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. We didn’t hear once from Maggie Hassan in two years, asking about how Londonderry was doing during the pandemic,” Smith said.

Hassan disputes that, telling WMUR she was in frequent contact with people all over the state, including some in Londonderry.

“I had roundtables and was in constant contact with municipal leaders, mayors, and town managers across the state. Sometimes those roundtables included people from Londonderry,” she said.

But not, apparently, in her office.

Hassan, Pappas Silent as Inflation Hits 40-Year High

Grim economic news for New Hampshire residents as inflation continues to climb, spiking to a 40-year high at 7.9 percent. And, experts say, it’s likely to get worse in the coming months — presenting a serious problem for vulnerable incumbents like Democrats Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas.

The U.S. Labor Department released numbers Thursday showing the previous 12 months had the highest rate of inflation since 1982 as Americans deal with sky-high prices for food, gas, and basic goods.

President Biden blamed Russian President Putin.

“[T]oday’s inflation report is a reminder that Americans’ budgets are being stretched by price increases and families are starting to feel the impacts of Putin’s price hike,” Biden said in a statement

“The numbers are eye-watering, and there is more to come,” Eric Winograd, senior economist at asset management firm AllianceBernstein, told the Associated Press. “The peak in inflation will be much higher than previously thought and will arrive later than previously expected.”

In New Hampshire, gas is already more than $4 a gallon and heating oil is topping $5 a gallon. With the worst inflation still ahead, the response from members of the New Hampshire congressional enate delegation has been to continue with the status quo.

Polls show people across the nation and here in New Hampshire say their top issue is inflation. And yet as of late Thursday night, neither Hassan nor Pappas had released a statement about the new inflation numbers or any plans to address the problem. Nor did they respond to requests for comment.

[Editor’s note: Despite being taxpayer-funded public employees, the staffers at Hassan and Pappas’ offices have been instructed not to respond to media requests from NHJournal.]

Hassan did, however, post a message praising Major League Baseball for resolving a labor dispute:

In the past, both have argued that increased federal spending, like the Build Back Better proposal Pappas voted for late last year, is the best way to solve the inflation problem.

Hassan has proposed a temporary gas tax holiday as a way to deal with rising prices. That would add about $20 billion in federal debt as funds were transferred from the general fund to the highway fund.

“It would be about a $20 billion hit on the Transportation Trust Fund,” Robert Puentes, president of the Eno Center for Transportation, told Marketplace. “That’s the main source of money for fixing roads, bridges. and subways, and a gas tax holiday for the rest of the year would cut it in half, Puentes said.

And, economists note, the “spend to solve” strategy could actually make the inflation problem slightly worse.

Southern New Hampshire University’s Professor of Economics Dr. Nicole Bissessar said that while long-term federal spending does not generally increase inflation, spending with short-term benefits like relief checks and gas subsidies can alter the market and lead to higher consumer prices.

“If government spending leads to an increase in consumer demand which then will affect supply immediately (short term 1-3 months), it will affect prices,” she said.

Associate Dean of Business Dr. Zuzana Buzzell said the federal government can take action to curb the rise in inflation by going after monetary policy.

“The government and Federal Reserve should act quickly to address the rise. There needs to be a tightening on monetary policies, starting with the rise in interest rates and tapering the asset purchases. The monetary policy needs to put more weight on inflation risks in 2022. This is particularly important as commodity prices are expected to rise again in 2022,” Buzzell said.

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates later this month in an effort to slow the inflation surge.

GOP candidates running to unseat Hassan lost little time Thursday in jumping on the inflation numbers. New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) said inflation has been climbing since President Joe Biden took office, and Hassan has failed to act.

“Inflation is out of control and prices on everything from gas to milk to everyday purchases are skyrocketing. We need to get spending under control in DC the same way we’ve controlled it in NH. The 603 Way, not the DC Way, will get us out of this inflationary crisis,” Morse said.

Former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith knocked Hassan for blaming oil company price gouging for the spike in energy prices, calling that a “conspiracy theory.”

“Granite Staters are desperate for solutions, yet Maggie Hassan instead chooses to peddle short-term gimmicks that won’t work and debunked ‘price gouging’ conspiracy theories that aren’t true,” he said.

Don Bolduc accused Hassan of being out of touch with Granite Staters who are struggling to pay their bills.

“Everyone is feeling the squeeze of inflation. Unfortunately, Sen. Maggie Hassan has been part of the political machine for so long, she’s stopped understanding the real-world problems facing Granite Staters,” he said.

According to the Associated Press, from January to February, prices for nearly every category of goods and services went up substantially. Grocery costs jumped 1.4 percent, the sharpest one-month increase since 1990, other than during a pandemic-induced price surge two years ago. The collective price of fruits and vegetables rose 2.3 percent, the largest monthly increase since 2010. Gas prices spiked 6.6 percent, and clothing, 0.7 percent.

For the 12 months ending in February, grocery prices jumped 8.6 percent, the biggest year-over-year increase since 1981, the AP reports. Gas prices are up 38 percent and housing costs have risen 4.7 percent, the largest yearly jump since 1991, according to the AP.



Sununu Sags, Hassan Soars in Latest UNH Survey

Democrats are celebrating the latest Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which found Gov. Chris Sununu’s approval rating continues to decline.

“Passing an unpopular abortion ban and failing to lead during COVID is coming back to haunt Gov. Chris Sununu,” the NH. Democratic Party tweeted. “Lowest approval since taking office. 1st time since 2003 that voters think NH is moving in the wrong direction. Record low approval of his handling of COVID.”

And it’s true Sununu’s numbers have been slumping for months — though he’s still got a 52-47 percent job approval.

The more fascinating finding is the change in Sen. Maggie Hassan’s standing over the past two months. Simply put, her numbers have soared.

In October, Hassan’s approval/disapproval was a dismal 33 percent approve, 51 percent disapprove, leaving her underwater by -18 points. Two months later, that number in the UNH Survey is +3 points, at 43/40. That’s a dramatic, 21-point swing.

So, what happened?

The new poll was taken before Hassan announced she was abandoning the filibuster in order to back a new federal election law. That was by far the most high-profile political move she had made in months.

And while millions of dollars have been spent promoting Hassan and her support for Biden’s spending packages, a similar amount has been spent attacking her on issues like rising inflation and deficit spending.

What makes the Sununu v Hassan divide interesting isn’t the net number, but the trends. Sununu’s seem to make sense. Hassan’s don’t.

The story of Sununu is the story of COVID-19. He was one of the country’s most popular governors, according to polling, before the pandemic hit. Then, as he dealt with the public health emergency, his numbers shot through the roof. From April 2020 until February 2021, he was essentially at 70 percent job approval or higher in the UNH Survey. In May 2020, he hit a jaw-dropping 82 percent approval rating.

But COVID-19 has lingered. The economy has been a troubling mix of rising inflation, disappearing workers, and an unsteady supply chain. Despite having one of the lowest rates of unvaccinated citizens, the state hit the number one spot for COVID-19 cases. And then there are the millions of dollars in attack ads accusing him of banning abortions in New Hampshire (only abortions after six months are prohibited).

Put all that together and the steady decline of Sununu’s polls is hardly a surprise. When the state’s COVID-19 numbers improve, it is likely Sununu’s will, too.

But Hassan? For months, her approval has hovered in the low to mid-30s. Her current 43 percent approval is the highest it has been since February 2020. There is no storyline, just a sudden surge. Why?

Some veteran New Hampshire politicos refused to discuss the UNH numbers, rejecting the “panel” system Dr. Andrew Smith and the UNH Survey Center use as unreliable.

However, its findings are wildly off from the recent Trafalgar Group poll — one of the most accurate pollsters since 2016 — which showed a 46-40 percent Hassan lead in a match-up against Gen. Don Bolduc. And an October St. Anselm Survey Center poll put her at 44 percent approve, 50 percent disapprove, not too far from the UNH Survey number that month.

One theory several strategists suggested to NHJournal is Democrats are rallying around Hassan as their party’s fortunes appear to be fading.

“Partisanship is back,” said GOP strategist Dave Carney. “The [political] team jerseys are back down from the attic. They might have been under the Christmas decorations.”

It may seem an odd time for a Democrat’s poll numbers to rise. The party has been plagued by in-fighting for months over the Build Back Better bill. There is a split between the progressives and the rest of the party. And the issues Americans say are their top priorities — inflation, spending, jobs, even COVID — aren’t breaking their way. Plus, President Joe Biden’s approval dropped to a new record low of 41 percent just last week.

That partisanship gets Hassan to the mid-40s. If there’s not a third-party candidate splitting the anti-Hassan vote (in 2016 there were two), that’s not enough to win.

More bad news: According to the UNH survey, she is underwater with independent voters 26 to 49 percent. In the St. A’s poll in October, that number was 27 to 64 percent.

There aren’t enough Democrats to make up that gap, particularly in a “red wave” midterm election when, it appears, Republicans are likely to be highly motivated voters.

Still, the poll is a reminder that the Democratic Party is very strong in New Hampshire. It is no coincidence the entire delegation is Democratic, or that Republicans have only won the presidential election here once since 1988.

The UNH Survey adds more evidence to back up the theory that Hassan is viewed by the public as “Generic Democrat,” and her fortunes will closely follow those of her party.


Hassan Flips on Filibuster, Joins Progressive Push to End 104-Year-Old Rule

Sen. Maggie Hassan has reversed her position on the legislative filibuster, joining progressives like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in abandoning a Senate rule she adamantly defended as recently as 2017. In 2020, Hassan joined Democrats in invoking the filibuster rule to block GOP legislation more than 300 times.

Now she says it’s a “threat to our democracy.”

Hassan announced her new position from the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday night, dismissing the 104-year-old Senate procedure an “arcane” rule “being used as an excuse not to act.”

“This cannot stand,” Hassan said. “We must change the rules, to allow a simple majority of this body, as our Founders intended, to pass laws that will protect the right to vote and protect American democracy.”



In a dark and ominous speech, Hassan laid out a conspiracy-fueled vision of American democracy on the verge of collapse.

“If the partisans who are attacking our democracy have their way, our Tuesday Election Day in early November will be different,” Hassan warned. “We’ll wake up, cast our vote, drop our kids at school, go to work. We’ll tune back in at the end of the day to see the election results – only to learn that the vote tally is being ignored, that our votes don’t matter much. We’ll learn that our legislatures are going to throw out the results and pick their own winner.

“We’ll see an election day that is a charade – just like in countries where democracy doesn’t exist.”

In fact, last year’s election set a record for the highest voter turnout in 120 years, Two years earlier, the 2018 midterms had the highest turnout since 1914.

Hassan’s announcement appears to be part of what Capitol Hill reporters are calling a Democratic “pivot” away from the failing Build Back Better bill — which has been tabled until at least March 2022 — and to backing one of the voting law proposals progressives have been pushing for months. Hassan didn’t mention which voting plan she wants to pass once the filibuster rule is removed, but congressional Democratic leaders are talking about the “Right to Vote Act,” a more modest version of the H.R. 1 “For the People Act.”

Under the Right to Vote Act, states like New Hampshire would no longer be able to decide how to conduct their elections. Instead, the federal government would mandate early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots, and it would impose federal rules on voter ID requirements that would override state laws. The bill would also spend millions of public dollars funding political campaigns.

“Because that effort here in Congress is being blocked by a minority which is abusing its power, I believe the time has come to change the Senate rules to allow a straight up or down majority vote on this fundamental issue of democracy,” Hassan said Thursday.

Hassan’s comment about “a minority which is abusing its power” is apparently a reference to the 50 GOP U.S. Senators using the 60-vote threshold under the filibuster rule to keep legislation from moving forward. And yet, as a member of the Democratic minority from 2017-2019, Hassan frequently joined in filibusters to block Republican legislation.

As Marc Theissen at The Washington Post reported:

“Democrats used the filibuster to block funding for construction of Trump’s border wall in 2019… They used it in September and October [2020] to stop Republicans from passing further coronavirus relief before the November election. They used it to halt Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) police reform legislation so Republicans could not claim credit for forging a bipartisan response to the concerns of racial justice protesters. They used it to block legislation to force ‘sanctuary cities’ to cooperate with federal officials, and to stop a prohibition on taxpayer funding of abortion, bans on abortions once the unborn child is capable of feeling pain, and protections for the lives of babies born alive after botched abortions.”

All told, Hassan and her fellow Democrats used the filibuster 320 times in 2020 alone.

As recently as 2017, Hassan was so committed to protecting the filibuster that she joined Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and 28 other Democrats who signed a bipartisan letter telling then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that preserving the rule was vital to protecting the Senate’s ability to do its job.

Hassan’s embrace of the radical rule change is out of step with months of messaging that she’s a “bipartisan” moderate. It’s also out of step with New Hampshire voters, according to a poll taken earlier this year.

In a March 2021 Granite State Panel conducted by the UNH Survey Center, just 30 percent of respondents said they support eliminating the filibuster. Among New Hampshire independents, that number is just 17 percent. (Another 15 percent of all voters say they’d support changing the rule to a “talking filibuster.”)

New Hampshire Republicans see it as a sign of desperation. “Apparently she believes she has a base problem,” tweeted GOP strategist Mike Biundo.

NHGOP Executive Director Joe Sweeney tweeted “Maggie Hassan officially comes clean and wants 50 U.S. Senators and the Vice President to be able to take over all election laws and procedures in New Hampshire or across the country.”

Hassan’s poll numbers continue to sag. A new Trafalgar Group poll found Hassan with a modest 6-point lead over fringe GOP candidate retired Gen. Don Bolduc. And polls consistently show her approval rating in the low 40s at best.

Hassan’s high-profile reversal may have also inspired the first shot fired in next year’s Senate race. Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, who is widely expected to announce his candidacy early next year, responded to Hassan’s decision with a one-word tweet:


EXCLUSIVE: New Poll Shows Abortion Issue Unlikely to Save NHDems in 2022

As President Joe Biden’s poll numbers have fallen and Democrats’ prospects for 2022 have dimmed, party loyalists have largely pinned their hopes on two predictions: Passing the Build Back Better bill will boost their fortunes, and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling undermining Roe v. Wade this summer will set off a political avalanche over abortion.

But the latest New Hampshire Journal poll finds that, in the Granite State, those are unlikely outcomes.

On Monday, NHJournal released polling data showing that New Hampshire voters oppose Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar spending plan as a whole (45-52 percent) and believe it will increase, not decrease inflation (55-9 percent). These new numbers shows they oppose specifics of Biden’s new spending priorities as well.

In particular, Granite Staters overwhelmingly oppose Democratic efforts to raise the cap on state and local taxes (SALT) from $10,000 to $80,000. It’s a policy that would overwhelmingly benefit wealthy taxpayers in high-tax states like Massachusetts, New York, and California.

The Build Back Better bill would raise the cap on state and local tax deductions from $10,000 to $80,000, with most of this benefit going to the highest-income Americans. Would you support or oppose this policy?

Support: 20%

Oppose: 63%

Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas both voted for the House version of the BBB that included the SALT cap provision, which is estimated to cost $275 billion over the next five years. But when Pappas announced he was running for a third term a few weeks later, he told WMUR’s John DiStaso he actually opposed the measure.  “We need to negotiate that deduction to a level far lower than it is now,” Pappas said.

Republicans responded with mockery.

“It sounds like Chris Pappas was for the SALT deduction deal before he was against it,” said John Corbett, spokesperson for Matt Mowers’ campaign, who noted it would have only taken a handful of Democrats to stop the bill from passing in the House.

“When presented with a choice, Chris Pappas ultimately chose tax breaks for billionaires at the expense of New Hampshire families who will pay for it in higher energy and food costs. The bottom line? Chris Pappas’ promises should always be taken with a grain of salt.”

Voters aren’t keen on a provision Kuster and Pappas voted for granting work permits to illegal immigrants so they could remain in the United States for up to 10 years, either. They oppose it 44-53 percent.

If those provisions aren’t stripped out of the bill, both Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen will be voting to back them, too.

All four members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation have already voted for another unpopular policy that also benefits upper income households. The bipartisan infrastructure bill Biden signed into law included a provision to give tax breaks of up to $12,500 for people who buy electric vehicles. Only 43 percent of Granite Staters support it while 51 percent are opposed.

It’s another taxpayer-funded benefit that would largely go to the wealthy in states like California. In New Hampshire, virtually nobody drives EVs. According to vehicle registration data, as of the end of 2020, there were just 2,690 EVs in the entire state.

Republican strategists, however, say the Democrats’ real problem isn’t the devilish details, but their broad failure to address the big issues Americans are concerned about. What are those issues?

According to the new NHJournal poll, inflation is the top concern among Granite Staters, followed by COVID-19. Crime, climate change, and jobs were closely bunched together, while abortion was far back from the rest of the pack at 4 percent.

The margin of error on this poll is 3.5 percent.

It’s hard to see how an issue that ranks as low as a priority as abortion can change the fortunes of Democrats campaigning next year. And it’s worth noting that about one-third of respondents who named abortion as their top priority are Republicans. Their priority is likely more abortion restrictions, not outrage over a potential assault on Roe v. Wade.

In fact, independent and swing voters barely mentioned abortion as a priority in this poll. Just one percent of self-identified moderates and two percent of unaffiliated voters named abortion their top priority. Among swing voters, the response was too small to register.

In other words, if there is a surge of reaction to a Supreme Court decision on Roe next summer, it’s likely to be among people who are already motivated to vote their abortion politics already. Swing, moderate voters just don’t think it’s a priority.

The results are from a New England Polling survey based on online interviews with 729 New Hampshire registered voters. Interviews were collected between December 9 and 10, 2021, with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.

(See complete poll and crosstabs here)

ANALYSIS: Biden’s Visit a ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ for NHDems

President Joe Biden picked New Hampshire as the first stop on his national tour to promote the $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package. Based on the polls, he’s not doing local Democrats any favors.

“The bill I’m about to sign is proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results,” Biden said at Monday’s White House signing ceremony. The spending proposal garnered the votes of 19 Republicans in the U.S. Senate, 13 in the House, and is polling well with the general public. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds 63 percent of Americans support Washington spending $1 trillion “on roads, bridges and other infrastructure.”

Unfortunately, just 41 percent of Americans in that same poll approve of the job Biden is doing in office. Among independents, 45 percent strongly disapprove. And about 50 percent of suburban voters give Biden a “thumbs down,” too.

In swing states like New Hampshire, the numbers are even worse. When ABC News looked at results in the eight states believed to have the most competitive U.S. Senate races, including New Hampshire, they found Biden’s overall job approval rating was a dismal 33 percent.

Biden’s numbers are killing the polls for the rest of his party. As ABC News reported last weekend, the GOP’s 10-point margin in the “generic ballot” question is the largest in the 40 years the network has asked the question.

The Green Bridge in Woodstock, N.H.

One of the Democrats being hurt by Biden’s sagging polls is Sen. Maggie Hassan, who’s expected to appear with Biden when he stops by a bridge in Woodstock, N.H. to promote the trillions in spending Democrats have passed so far this year. In last month’s poll from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Hassan had a 44 percent approval rating — identical to Biden’s.

By comparison, independent Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, who hasn’t backed away from opposing some of the more progressive policies of his fellow Democrats, has an approval rating in West Virginia 28 points higher than Biden’s.

It’s just another data point in the growing evidence that Granite State Democrats’ performance in 2022 is likely to closely track that of the party as a whole. And every appearance by Biden will help more closely tie local Democrats like Hassan and U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas to the president and the national party.

Not everyone believes that is bad news.

“It is significant that President Biden has picked New Hampshire for his first stop after signing the infrastructure legislation,” veteran N.H. Democratic strategist Jim Demers told NHJournal. “It highlights the importance of bipartisanship, it’s been a long time since such a significant vote included the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell.

“And the backdrop of the Green Bridge in Woodstock symbolizes one important aspect of the bill, funding for roads and bridges all across the country, many that have been in dangerous disrepair for years. Infrastructure has been talked about in Washington for a long time but you have to hand it to President Biden, he got it done.”

Hassan has tried to build on the bipartisan message, too. Her press releases are filled with the “B” word — sometimes four such press announcements celebrating ‘bipartisanship’ in a single day. But Hassan has largely voted with her party leadership, including on the latest trillion-dollar spending package. And there are already Democrat-funded ads touting her support for the “Build Back Better” social welfare/green energy policy spending proposal the House is expected to pass this week.

And then there’s that most problematic of questions around the president’s visit: What’s the point?

Partisans will debate the various elements of the bipartisan infrastructure bill Biden signed on Monday. But what do billions for roads, bridges, broadband and electric car chargers have to with the issues Granite Staters are actually worried about: inflation, energy prices and the worker shortage?

New Hampshire has among the highest percentage of homes heated by oil and propane in the nation. They’re looking at price hikes this winter of 50 percent or more. What is the Biden administration doing to drive those costs down?

New Hampshire has one of the lowest rates of unemployment and employers are running ads pleading for workers to return to the workforce. And Joe Biden is coming to New Hampshire to brag about spending billions to create even more competition for scare workers?

The same with inflation, which isn’t going to be helped by increased government demand for goods and services. That’s the Biden pitch?

Once again, this infrastructure spending may be needed. It may be a smart investment. But it’s almost entirely unconnected from the voters’ priorities of the moment. It’s as if your house is on fire, and Joe Biden pulls into the driveway in a new car he says was a great deal. It may be. But it won’t help put out the fire.

Hassan will be standing right by President Biden at the Woodstock Bridge. How is this a winning strategy in a state where Biden’s approval has collapsed and not a single elected Democrat has 50 percent statewide approval? Heading into a midterm election in which the GOP has record-setting polls?

“What else can she do?” a Granite State Democratic strategist told NHJournal. “Her fate is tied to Biden and the Democrats. It’s too late to pull a ‘Manchin.’ She has to count on the calendar — there’s still a year until the election.”

At least one Republican agrees. “A year is an eternity in politics,” says GOP strategist Tom Rath. “She’ll be tougher than folks think.”

She’ll need to be. The last time a GOP wave hit New Hampshire, the 2010 backlash to Obamacare, Republicans won the U.S. Senate and both House seats. Wildly-popular Democratic Gov. John Lynch held on with less than 53 percent of the vote.

And even Hassan’s biggest boosters concede: She’s no John Lynch.

Sununu Announces, Twitter Reacts

Gov. Chris Sununu’s decision to ditch Washington and run for a fourth term in the Granite State has political Twitter buzzing. Some tweeters are trying to figure out why, some are looking at the impact of Sununu’s bow out, and others are looking at what could happen next.

The New York Times’ Shane Goldmacher said Sununu’s decision not to run could be one of the biggest stories for the upcoming mid-term elections.



The news did not seem to go over well in Sen. Mitch McConnell’s circle. The Senate minority leader heavily recruited Sununu for months. Here’s McConnell’s former campaign manager, Josh Holmes, shortly after Sununu’s announcement. (Holmes co-hosts the popular “Ruthless” podcast, and Sununu was a featured guest over the summer.)



Fox New’s Laura Ingraham said no one should have been shocked, and blamed McConnell and other establishment Republicans.



The liberal magazine, The New Republic, echoed Sununu’s views on life in the U.S. Senate.



Dave Weigel, a Washington Post reporter, seemed to like Sununu’s path.


Raw Story’s Matthew Chapman blamed McConnell for botching the recruit.


New Hampshire Bulletin’s Annmarie Timmins raised a possible presidential run.


CNN’s Dan Merica took note of how Sununu made the announcement: By going after Washington.


The decision is good for the state Republicans, according to Chaz Nuttycombe with CNalysis.

Kyle Kondik with Sabato’s Crystal Ball sees it ultimately helping Hassan.


Speculation as to who might jump into the race is getting heated up and Drew Nirenberg, the communications director for Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, threw out a new name.

Court Ruling Backs Sununu’s Stance Opposing Vax Mandates

Less than 48 hours after Gov. Chris Sununu announced his support for a legal challenge to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate on private businesses, a federal court has already stepped forward to rule against Biden’s plan.

The ruling “foreshadows an uphill battle” for the mandate policy, according to the New York Times, and it’s the latest indicator that Sununu has once again put himself in the center of the political bell curve on the politics of COVID-19.

When New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella announced his decision to join an 11-state lawsuit challenging Biden’s federal vaccine mandate, Sununu quickly gave his public endorsement.

“COVID vaccines are the most effective tool we have to protect ourselves and our community from this virus,” Sununu said. “But as the head of state, I recognize the limitations of government in mandating this personal medical decision. President Biden has created a loophole to facilitate this overreach, which is why I fully support the Attorney General’s decision to sign on to this lawsuit.”

New Hampshire Democrats have been criticizing Sununu’s opposition to mandates, in particular his reluctance to impose mandates on local school districts regarding COVID policy, since the pandemic began. Sununu has consistently said that, while he believes the vaccines are safe, effective, and the best way out of the pandemic, he generally opposes mandates as a public policy.

Formella’s office announced Friday that New Hampshire joined with Missouri, Arizona, Nebraska, Montana, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming, along with several private businesses and organizations in a challenge to an “emergency” Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule to force employers to require workers to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

Formella also believes that the vaccines are safe, effective, said in a statement on the lawsuit that the mandates are the problem, not the vaccines.

“The new Emergency Temporary Standard issued by OSHA is illegal and would impose significant burdens on New Hampshire businesses and their employees. We are therefore obligated to take action to protect the interests of our state’s citizens and businesses,” Formellla said.

At least 27 states have filed lawsuits challenging the rule in several circuits.

In a separate legal action, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Louisiana temporarily halted the mandate after a conglomeration of businesses groups, religious groups, advocacy organizations and several other states filed a petition on Friday with the court, arguing that the administration had overstepped its authority.

The Fifth Circuit panel said the judges were blocking the regulation “because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate.”

Some legal experts, like UCLA Berkeley Law Professor John Yoo, call the mandate blatantly unconstitutional.

“It undermines the Constitution’s balance between Congress and the president and between the federal and state governments,” Yoo said. “Congress has not vested the president with the power to govern every aspect of every office and factory in the nation, and even if it had, such a grant of sweeping power would violate the very division of authority between the national and state governments.”

(Yoo is perhaps best known for writing the legal justification for the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation tactics against Al-Qaeda detainees during the George W. Bush administration.)

And attorney Dan McLaughlin, who writes legal analysis for National Review, says the administration’s decision to announce the “emergency” OSHA rules in September, but not have them take effect until January, will hurt their case.

“The Biden administration could have a very hard time explaining to the [SCOTUS] chief justice why it is entitled to assert emergency powers that exist to address ‘immediate’ threats, then do nothing with them for four months.”

Nonetheless, the Biden administration says they’re going to keep pushing the mandates.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told ABC’s “This Week” it’s full steam ahead.

“The president and the administration wouldn’t have put these requirements in place if they didn’t think that they were appropriate and necessary, and the administration is certainly prepared to defend them,” Murthy told host Martha Raddatz.

Are they playing politics? They may want to re-read their polls. Since mid-September, polling has shown that Americans are, at best, split on the issue of mandates. A recent Economist-YouGov poll reports that only 52 percent of registered voters back Biden’s mandates, while 43 percent are opposed.

Here in the Granite State, a slim majority oppose the vaccine mandates, 52- 46 percent, according to a New Hampshire Institute of Politics poll.

And a new Rasmussen Research poll found 52 percent of likely voters say they support workers refusing to comply with workplace requirements to get COVID-19 vaccines. Just 38 percent oppose it.

And then there’s the question of whether, after Biden expends the political capital to push them, the mandates will still be needed in January. Many health experts predict COVID-19 is winding down due to the prevalence of vaccines and the Delta wave that largely infects the unvaccinated. With vaccines approved for children aged 5 to 11, and a new Pfizer drug that can prevent 90 percent of hospitalizations of the infected, COVID-19 may be in the rearview in a few months.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the FDA said on Twitter the government has already been successful in rolling out the vaccines, and mandates are not the way to reach the unvaccinated.

“As a fight over the federal OSHA mandate unfolds, we should remember 80.5% of responsible adults 18+ already had at least one dose of Covid vaccine,” Gottlieb wrote. “What level do we need to get to? What will the OSHA provision accomplish? And were there less divisive ways to achieve these goals?”