Good morning, Granite Staters. The general election is just 33 days away. Here's your rundown of the latest in NH politics. First, the highlights:
👩🏻⚖️Judge tosses out redistricting challenge
🔌Executive Council OKs $35 million for heating help
📊Polls show incumbents ahead, not always by much
🔁Bolduc keeps shifting his stance on 2020 election
Purely political question
Politicians recently redrew the districts for NH Senate and Executive Council. Whether they did so in a way that unfairly favors one political party over another isn't a question for state judges to decide, a state judge has decided.
A group of Democrats had filed a lawsuit in May alleging that the 2022 redistricting process, which was led by the GOP-controlled legislature, gave Republicans an advantage in 16 of the 24 state Senate seats and four of the five Executive Council seats, as Todd Bookman reported for NHPR.
But a judge dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday, concluding the lawsuit presents a purely political question the courts must not answer. The decision from Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Jacalyn Colburn reasoned that courts can weigh in only on whether new districts meet the requirements expressly outlined in the NH constitution.
"Because the newly-drawn districts meet those express requirements, the Court must decline to consider the plaintiffs' challenge to the constitutionality of the districts based on claims of excessive political gerrymandering as such claims present non-justiciable political questions," Colburn wrote.
If the people of New Hampshire had intended to impose additional requirements for the redistricting process, "they would have explicitly provided those requirements alongside the existing ones in Part II of the constitution," Colburn wrote.
The plaintiffs have until Oct. 15 to file a motion to reconsider and may also choose to appeal to the NH Supreme Court, according to the NH Attorney General's Office.
Energy assistance on its way
Executive Council approves funds for heating and electric aid. All the major electric utilities have hiked their rates, and home heating fuel costs are expected to rise this winter as well, so the state will send $35 million in surplus tax revenue to five regional agencies to distribute credits to qualified NH residents. This program is separate from LIHEAP, an existing federal program. (Paula Tracy for InDepthNH) #nhleg #nhgov
- Franklin voters choose moderates over reformers for school board (Eileen O'Grady for Concord Monitor)
- Seacoast communities unite to address rising tide of hate: 'You have to make a stand' (Ian Lenahan for Portsmouth Herald)
- US warns about foreign efforts to sway American voters (Eric Tucker and Nomaan Merchant for AP)
Purely poll-itical numbers
The latest Saint Anselm poll shows NH voters dislike Democrats, but dislike Republicans more. "The bad news for Democratic incumbents is that their standing with voters is weak. The good news for Democratic incumbents is that their Republican challengers are even weaker," said NHIOP Executive Director Neil Levesque (Andrew Sylvia for Manchester Ink Link; see also Adam Sexton for WMUR and the poll itself).
- In the U.S. Senate race, Maggie Hassan leading Don Bolduc, 49%-43%, with 4% unsure and 4% wanting someone else (±3.3%).
- In NH01 race, Chris Pappas leading Karoline Leavitt, 49%-41%, with 7% unsure and 3% wanting someone else (±4.9%).
- In NH02 race, Annie Kuster leading Robert Burns, 49% to 35%, with 7% unsure and 9% wanting someone else (±4.9%).
- In the governor's race, Chris Sununu leading Tom Sherman, 50%-34%, with 11% unsure and 5% wanting someone else (±3.3%).
More polling headlines:
- Bolduc Bounce? Two new polls put Senate race in single digits (Michael Graham for NHJournal) #nhsen
- Left-leaning poll from Data for Progress shows Hassan and Sununu holding leads (Andrew Sylvia for Manchester Ink Link) #nhgov #nhsen
Get the memo.
Keep tabs on NH politics with updates straight to your inbox.Sign up for free
Bolduc shifts again
Don Bolduc keeps changing his stated stance on whether the most recent presidential election was legit. First he was sure it was stolen, then he was sure it wasn't; now he "can't say that it was stolen or not." Here's a timeline:
- Aug. 14: At a Government Integrity Project event, Bolduc said, "I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Trump won the election, and damn it, I stand by my letter."
- Sept. 10: Speaking with Granite Memo, Bolduc said he "misspoke" at the August event and should have used words that more closely aligned with the substance of the letter, which he said he stands by. The letter claimed that the FBI and Supreme Court ignored "election irregularities" in 2020.
- Sept. 13: Bolduc wins the GOP primary. He'll face Democratic incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan in the Nov. 8 general election.
- Sept. 15: In a Fox News interview, Bolduc disavowed his prior stance. "I have come to the conclusion – and I want to be definitive on this – the election was not stolen."
- Oct. 3: At a town hall in Hudson, in response to a voter's question, Bolduc said, "I can’t say that it was stolen or not. I don’t have enough information. But what I can say is that we have irregularity" (Holly Ramer for AP). #nhsen
Promising new offensive against Hassan, Bolduc finds himself on defense with some voters. " 'She's the one that needs to get over it,' Bolduc said to a couple in their 20s who hadn't asked him about abortion. ... In fact, no voter at the Red Arrow brought up abortion with Bolduc that morning. But several said they were aware that Bolduc had staked out fresh – and sometimes conflicting – positions on a number of issues since winning the Republican primary." (Josh Rogers for NHPR) #nhsen
#nh01 & #nh02
Candidates in NH01 focus on national themes while trying to reach local voters. Pappas has highlighted abortion access, his opponent's false claims about the 2020 election, and his support for prescription drug pricing reforms for seniors. Leavitt has highlighted high inflation, concerns about the number of migrants at the southern border, and her opponent's alignment with Democratic Party leaders. (Todd Bookman for NHPR) #nh01
Bolduc, Burns and other GOP nominees draw 100 attendees to Tempesta's Restaurant in Keene. Burns talked about inflation, lower taxes, limited government and energy independence. Bolduc reiterated his calls for Social Security and Medicare to be overhauled. Both were asked clarifying questions about their stances on abortion. Attendees also heard from Cheshire County sheriff candidate Richard Pratt and NH Senate District 10 candidate Sly Karasinski. (Hunter Oberst for Keene Sentinel) #nhsen #nh02
More #nh01 and #nh02 headlines:
- Candidates in NH01 spar over comments about privatizing Social Security (Adam Sexton for WMUR) #nh01
- Kuster and Burns share competing ideas on cutting costs of prescription drugs (Adam Sexton for WMUR) #nh02
National GOP group backing women running for NH State House. Republican State Leadership Committee has spent $500,000 so far this election cycle to help send women to Concord. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is targeting the NH legislature as well. (Damien Fisher for NHJournal) #nhleg
Taxation, school vouchers and abortion among issues in NH Senate District 10 contest. NH Rep. Donovan Fenton of Keene and Swanzey Selectman Sylvester “Sly” Karasinski will face each other in the Nov. 8 general election. (Rick Green for Keene Sentinel) #nhleg
Manchester Democratic candidates gather before final election season sprint. "Democratic candidates from across the city gathered on Sunday afternoon to take a break from knocking on doors and renew their spirits for the final few weeks of campaigning and share their stump speeches with anyone interested in stopping by." (Andrew Sylvia for Manchester Ink Link) #mht #nhleg
NHJournal publishes article critical of Democrats who oppose school vouchers and send kids to private schools. NH Sen. Tom Sherman, "a self-declared champion of public schools and opponent of school choice" who's running for governor, voted against the Education Freedom Account law and sent his son to a private school in Massachusetts. The article also criticizes Rep. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham, who's running for Sherman’s seat in the NH Senate; Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua; Rep. Marjorie Porter, D-Hillsborough; Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham. (Damien Fisher for NHJournal; Patrick Hynes column in Union Leader) #nhleg
She wants NH voters to eliminate a position she used to hold. In a guest column, Donna Sytek of Salem (a former Speaker of the NH House) urges the public to vote "yes" on Question 1 on their Nov. 8 ballot to eliminate the Register of Probate position. "All that remains of the Register of Probate is the title, which is enshrined in the state Constitution as an elected position along with other county officials." (Donna Sytek for Foster's Daily Democrat)
More #nhleg headlines:
- Portsmouth holds reception honoring Rep. Laura Pantelakos for 44 years of service (Portsmouth Herald) #nhleg
- After Spotlight investigation into heart surgeon, NH lawmakers eye changes to medical board transparency (Paul Cuno-Booth for NHPR) #nhleg
Laconia forum on homelessness hears from voice of lived experience. Kathryn Hatzenbuhler shared her story during the first of seven forums about the city's homelessness challenges. Det. Eric Adams said the number of unsheltered children, adults and families in Laconia jumped from about 80-100 before the pandemic to roughly 300-400 now. (Jon Decker for Laconia Daily Sun)
Manchester considers banning shopping carts in public parks. Alderman Erin George-Kelly feared the provision could make houseless people feel unwelcome in city parks, and said the item should be tabled until the city names a new director of homeless initiatives. Other aldermen pushed back. (Andrew Sylvia for Manchester Ink Link) #mht
Former NH Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick the consensus pick to manage $100 million YDC victims fund. "The chief job of the administrator will be to arbitrate disputes when lawyers for victims reject damage awards that the Attorney General’s Office has offered to them. ... The lead lawyers for most YDC victims ... said they won’t have their clients use this settlement process, but they did recommend that the attorney general pick Broderick." (Kevin Landrigan for Union Leader)
More #safety headlines:
- Plaintiff in newly filed case shares stories of alleged abuse while in New Hampshire's care (Jennifer Crompton for WMUR)
- 8 more lawsuits with allegations of sexual and physical abuse at YDC and contracted facilities, including 1 operated by Catholic priests (Pat Grossmith for Manchester Ink Link)
- Belknap County commissioners favor 25% raise for corrections officers (Michael Mortensen for Laconia Daily Sun)
- Man who threatened mass shooting at UNH to remain in Belknap County jail (Michael Mortensen for Laconia Daily Sun)
Double the breakfast
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who's among several prominent Republicans toying with the idea of running for president in 2024, will be around for breakfast on both Thursday and Friday:
- Politics & Eggs at the NH Institute of Politics – Thursday, Oct. 6, 8-9:30 a.m. – Event details
- Meet & greet with Rich Girard and Keith Murphy at Murphy’s Diner in Manchester – Friday, Oct. 7, 7:15-8:45 a.m. – Event details
In a podcast interview with NHJournal this week, Hogan touted his record as a Republican governor of "the bluest state in America."