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Ellen KolbJuly 30, 2014Leave a comment

State Senate District 11: Maureen Mooney

Maureen Mooney is one of four Republicans vying for the nomination in District 11. This is an open seat, most recently held by Sen. Peter Bragdon (R-Milford). 

Maureen Mooney as a state representative in 2006. Photo: votemooney.com

Maureen Mooney as a state representative in 2006. Photo: votemooney.com

Maureen Mooney showed me an envelope during our interview. “I happen to be on my way to mail my New Hampshire Right to Life personhood affirmation.” She pointed out the design on the stamp. “I purposely put an Equality stamp on the envelope, because I’m working for equality for our unborn.”

No shock there. Maureen used to be one of my state representatives, elected in 2002 and serving three terms. I know she voted pro-life. Since her terms in office, she’s been an active volunteer in the New Hampshire Republican party, and she currently co-chairs U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown’s Women for Brown coalition. Now, she’d like to return to Concord, this time to the Senate. She has entered one of the state’s most competitive primaries. So what sets her apart from a crowded field?

Why she’s running

“I decided to run in June. When I heard that the seat had opened up, I spent an entire month talking with people throughout district 11 for their feedback on my being a candidate, the views of this district, and whether or not I could represent them. I wanted to really see if it was a good fit and if my candidacy was needed and I came to the conclusion Yes.” She added that her decision’s been reaffirmed by the people who agreed to be on her steering committee. It’s a broad-based group, and she adds “I’m very proud of that.”

She mentioned her opponents by name only to speak respectfully of them. Of Gary Daniels, for example: “He should be very proud of his record because it’s outstanding.” Nevertheless, she yields to no one. She noted that unlike two of her opponents, she has never lost a Senate race. “I feel I bring a fresh perspective to the conservative cause. And that’s very important. In addition to that, I’ll be a full-time senator. I do not hold local office, and so I can be fully committed to all the commitments that the job entails. I look forward to that.”

Maureen spoke about supporting Sen. Peter Bragdon before his retirement from the State House. “I backed him very strongly because I knew he’d be an effective advocate. And that’s what I can emulate. I want to say this too: Peter Bragdon, towards the end of his legislative career, found himself in a position to have to excuse himself [from some votes] because of his job [as executive director of HealthTrust]. I won’t have that problem. I don’t anticipate any conflicts of interest.”

She’s confident her experience will pay dividends for her district. “I served with almost half [of the incumbent Senators] when I was in the House. They were colleagues of mine. I have the familiarity with who’s up there now and the ability to advocate for the principles that this district stands for.”

Life issues

“I’m pro-life,” she reminded me. “Always have been. Always will be. I put that right up on my web site.”

She was a first-term representative when New Hampshire’s first parental notification law was passed, and she voted in favor of it.   When a partial-birth abortion ban failed in 2004, she was on the pro-life side. Same year, there was a failed effort to prevent public funds, employees and facilities from being used for abortion; again, Mooney voted pro-life. Ditto for a 2005 informed consent bill and another one in 2007 and a slew of life-issue bills in 2008.

She was glad to see a parental notification law finally get enacted after her House terms. What would she do as a Senator if a repeal effort came up?  “I would build [a coalition against repeal] by pointing to the success other states have had with that law. The success that New Hampshire’s had with the law. The fact that there are so many that support it. Again we’d get into – and this came up when I was up there in the initial debate – how many things out there require parental notification. I’ll never forget a representative standing up during the debate, holding up a paper for a coloring contest that some organization was sponsoring, saying that parental notification was required for a minor to enter the contest. These types of things are very important to rally support.”

She calls the New Hampshire buffer zone law “terrible. It’s a freedom of speech issue on public property. People who have been affected by this buffer zone are peaceful advocates. I know that some advocates pray and silently make their statement. So there’s no threat.” She called the bill an “overreaction” by abortion providers. “What are they afraid of? It’s an attempt to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s part of a very strong pro-choice agenda.”

How about accusations that the GOP is waging war on women? “To me, that is real clever Democratic slogan. It’s catchy, and liberals take an incredible amount of pride in being able to throw it around. But what does it really mean? I’m not quite sure. Here I am, a Republican woman, pro-life, running for the state Senate. I don’t see a war on women at all. They’re trying to label issues as women-specific. I see a lot of issues applying to everybody. For example, getting jobs into the state. That’s not a gender-specific issue. Getting tuitions to be lower, that’s another issue. So I think it’s an attempt to label certain issues as gender-specific, and I’m looking for the greater good for society as a whole.”

Getting to know her district

Maureen Mooney has lived in Merrimack for more than twenty years. District 11 includes not only Merrimack, but Milford, Wilton, and Amherst as well. That’s a lot of new ground for her. How’s she doing? “I’ve been going door-to-door, making phone calls into the district. I’ve been going to events. I’m meeting activists and meeting people who aren’t necessarily involved in politics but who vote. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very enjoyable.”

She knows that Senate races can be expensive. “You have to have the ability to raise funds, which so far I’ve been very successful in doing, and that’s very important not only for the primary but for the general.” She expects Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and the Democratic party to pour money into state Senate races. “Unless you’ve run for state Senate, you wouldn’t know just what a dramatic difference it is from running for state representative. Geography-wise, money-wise, and making contact.”

What are she looking forward to doing that she hasn’t done before? “Getting out there and meeting more and more people, really. Hearing peoples’ stories is something I always look forward to on the campaign trail. It’s the only way to know what the public is thinking. You spend too much time with Republican activists, you become insular, and it’s not always about that. It’s about getting what the voter feels.”

Her web site: www.votemooney.com

 

 
 

 

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Ellen KolbJuly 28, 20141 Comment

The survivors: “…I know I had a little brother or sister.”

Today’s blog post on the Stand True site is written by the sibling of an aborted child. I love the writer’s conclusion, so powerful and positive: “I want to be able to say I avenged my big brother David by abolishing abortion, and I am confident that I am part of the generation that will do that.” 

Think about how many “survivor siblings” there are in America, after forty years of widespread abortion. How does it feel to be a survivor?

I was forced to think about that one day, twenty-three years ago, when I was invited to address a sociology class at University of New Hampshire. The topic was abortion, and I was offering the pro-life arguments. Someone from NARAL was there to represent the other side. The students in the class were all very courteous, but the vast majority were strongly supportive of abortion, and they kept me on my toes for forty-five minutes with a series of challenging questions.

I nearly threw in the towel five minutes into the class. After our opening statements, a student hesitantly raised her hand and began to speak. She seemed to be holding back tears, and she haltingly asked  “…but what about … what can I do if …” before she ran from the room, overcome with emotion.

Great, I thought glumly. It only took me five minutes to send someone fleeing from the room. The professor quickly indicated to us to keep going, as she left to follow the student. The professor was back a few minutes later, alone.

We got through the class with no further incidents. We actually had a good conversation. The questions I got were sharp but never snarky. I had prepared a formal presentation, but I didn’t need it. The students’ thoughtful questions made for a much better outline than anything I could have drawn up. All through the class, though, I kept thinking of that tearful student.

When the class ended, I hurriedly thanked the professor before running into the hall to try to find the student. The hall was packed with between-class traffic, and I didn’t know where to go. I was about ready to give up when I felt someone touch my arm and quietly say “Excuse me? Hi.” There she was. She had come back to find me.

Her name was Patty. We had no place to sit down. She had another class in ten minutes. But, “I had to talk to you. I had to explain.” You don’t owe me anything, I assured her. I’m sorry if I upset you. She shook her head. “You don’t understand.” It took her another two minutes to tell me her story, which has haunted me ever since.

Patty was twelve and her little brother was ten when their parents announced that another baby was on the way. It was great, exciting news. A happy time. The happiness came to a halt a few weeks later. The parents, solemn and sad, sat down with Patty and her brother to explain that the doctors had found something wrong with the baby. Mom was going to have an operation to end the pregnancy. Abortion.

Down’s? Spina bifida? A tumor? Trisomy 18? Patty never asked. The baby was sick, and abortion was the answer.

Patty began to cry again as she said to me, “I love my mom and dad. But I know I had a little brother or sister.” None of the students rushing by on their way to class could have heard her soft voice, but I caught every syllable. Six years after the fact, her sibling’s death tore at her. She knew her parents had not come to their decision lightly. She grieved with them. And still, she honored the memory of that baby.

I wish I could end this with an account of how my wise and consoling words wrapped everything up and we all lived happily ever after. That’s not how it happened. In fact, I went blank. I can’t remember a single thing I said to Patty after she told me about her family’s experience. I was reeling inside. To this day, I pray to God that none of my words – whatever they were – made matters worse for her. I hope I thanked her. I hope I hugged her. I hope I somehow conveyed to her how my heart ached for the loss she felt. I wanted her to understand that missing her sibling didn’t mean being disloyal to her parents. What did I actually say? Only God and Patty know.

And then she was off to her next class. I never saw her again.

That’s a heavy load, to know you’re a survivor. You’re chosen, when someone else wasn’t. Where to go from there? Back to the girl who wrote for Stand True: I want to be able to say I avenged my big brother by abolishing abortion, and I am confident that I am part of the generation that will do that.

 

 

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Ellen KolbJuly 24, 2014Leave a comment

NH “buffer zone” court hearing cancelled; enforcement of law remains on hold

Peaceful prayer witnesses outside Concord's Feminist Health Center

Peaceful prayer witnesses outside Concord’s Feminist Health Center

Concord, NH
U.S. District Judge Joseph Laplante has ordered that New Hampshire’s new “buffer zone” law not be enforced against peaceful pro-life witnesses outside abortion facilities until further notice. The judge’s order, dated July 23, followed a telephone conference with representatives of all parties to a lawsuit filed earlier this month seeking to block the law.

Laplante’s order cancelled the scheduled July 25 preliminary-injunction hearing on the new law. He has requested that all parties to the lawsuit jointly file a status report within 60 days to advise the court of any “legislative, executive, judicial or factual” developments relevant to the lawsuit.

The judge’s order means that even if an abortion facility puts ups “patient safety zone” signs in an attempt to block peaceful demonstrators, the law will not be enforced for now. Laplante wrote that any defendant learning about an abortion facility’s plan to post such signs must give immediate notice to plaintiffs’ attorneys and to the court. Such a move would trigger a rescheduled preliminary-injunction hearing.

Seven pro-life activists are challenging the buffer zones. Defendants include Attorney General Joseph Foster, five county attorneys, and five municipalities.

In a court filing prior to Judge Laplante’s order, Attorney General Foster argued that since no zones have been posted yet and therefore no enforcement has taken place, the seven plaintiffs have nothing to complain about. Foster has expressed confidence that the New Hampshire law is different from the Massachusetts buffer zone law recently rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That sounds like “we have a law, and I’m happy to defend the law, but we’re not enforcing the law, so make this case go away.”

Can the law be repealed within 60 days? Not without a special session of the legislature. With House leaders who favor restrictions on pro-life speech (including silent prayer), forget any special session. What WILL happen within 60 days is a primary election, involving many legislators who voted on the buffer-zone bill. That’ll help set the stage for the next legislative session in 2015, when perhaps the First Amendment will fare better.

Text of Judge Laplante’s July 23 order

 

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Ellen KolbJuly 18, 2014Leave a comment

State Senate district 16: Jane Cormier

Jane Cormier (from her campaign web site)

Jane Cormier (from her campaign web site)

(First in a series of profiles of New Hampshire 2014 state senate candidates.)

Jane Cormier’s neighbors elected her to the state legislature in 2012. She earned the Republican nomination for the seat the hard way, defeating an incumbent. She did it as a political newcomer, in a year when many GOP candidates were clobbered. Not a conventional candidate, by any measure. Proudly pro-life, too.

This was no “stealth” candidate. Jane Cormier was (and is) right up front about who she is and what she believes. “Being outspoken, telling the truth, has no ‘R’ or ‘D’ attached,” she said to me when we spoke recently.

In her first year in office, she sponsored a bill to strengthen informed consent requirements for women seeking abortion. I was at the hearing and at the floor vote when she defended her bill, saying “this is about knowledge and information.” She learned that knowledge and information about abortion were not things that some of her colleagues wanted to encourage. This year, she was among the most committed legislative opponents of the buffer zone bill. First in committee and then in the floor debate, she urged her colleagues not to rush to pass a bill when the Supreme Court’s decision on the similar Massachusetts law was pending. Cormier’s concerns were vindicated when the Court threw out the Massachusetts law.

The 2014 campaign brings a change of scene and a new challenge for her. Business and family commitments recently prompted the Cormier family to move from Alton to Hooksett, and Jane has decided to take on incumbent state senator David Boutin in this year’s GOP primary. No Democrat is running, so unless a serious write-in campaign springs up, the primary will determine the next senator.

Rep. Jane Cormier at 2013 Concord March for Life

Rep. Jane Cormier at 2013 Concord March for Life

So how is she getting to know her new district? “Door to door. We’re working ‘em all right now.” A tall order, in a district that includes Hooksett, Dunbarton, Bow and Candia as well as wards 1, 2 and 12 Manchester. “A lot of calling. I know I’m the new guy coming in. I’m not going to be afraid to talk to the voters. That’s the only way I can get my message out. It’s going to be an interesting race.”

Why she’s running

Cormier and Boutin both got the buffer zone and fetal homicide votes right this year, so the primary isn’t going to be about that. So why is she not just running, but running against an incumbent in a district that’s new to her?

“It’s all about a message. Wake up. Things are seldom what they seem, and more so in politics. Unless we pay attention to what’s being said, and verify what’s being said, we’re going to get good ol’ boy politicians.”

“This is about integrity,” she continued. She talked about some of Boutin’s votes. “All the gun groups came to the table for constitutional carry. He had said he would support it, and he’s the guy that stopped it from happening. Here’s a man that signed the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers pledge, and then he voted for the gas tax, a 23% increase. He talks about being
fiscally sound, and then voted for Medicaid expansion, which is going to end up causing an income tax – there is no way you can get around it. And how can you support more Medicaid when you know the health outcomes are worse for its users than not having insurance? We give people sub-par insurance and then pat ourselves on the back for it. There’s nothing charitable about it.”

Why she’s Republican

What does it mean to her to be Republican? “The platform is common-sense, liberties-based. I believe in that.” She wonders if some GOP candidates lost sight of that in 2012. “If we had coalesced around our platform, we would be winning. I love that platform. I am a Republican because of that platform.” She believes the party platform is the key to a constructive Republican primary. “Engage these folks [primary opponents] on where they stand with the party platform, or what we’ll get is Democrat Lite.”

Is she a Free Stater? “I am a Republican. When I first heard that Free Stater thing, I didn’t even know what it meant.” She and her husband have been in New Hampshire for more than 30 years, long before the libertarian Free State movement began. “One Republican called me a Free Stater who wants to burn things down until there’s no government left.” She
shakes her head as she recalls the accusation. “I told him I am a Republican who loves the platform.” She wonders why any Republican would use words like “Free Stater” and “teabagger” to label the party’s conservative base. “Libertarians try to pass themselves off as grassroots conservatives. They are not.”

I asked her what “grassroots” means to her. “Listening. You’re working for them.” She fears that’s an endangered attitude in the New Hampshire Senate.

Not afraid to debate

Jane Cormier doesn’t mince words, and some of her fellow Republicans aren’t sure what to make of that. “If you are assertive, you are branded as a bomb-thrower. I’ve been called that more than a few times. I am someone who’s trying to get back to the Founding documents.”

“A fellow Republican told me I was [annoying people]. And I said to him, when do we push back? If we have a situation where it’s plain and simple, what is being said is wrong, is untruthful, we are not supposed to address it? And if it’s not me, who? And on the life issue, when do we push back? You shouldn’t be afraid to address it. It’s part of the platform.” She spoke several times
in our conversation about the need to “take the debate to the Democrats” on issues. She prefers not to play defense, politically. On the buffer zone, for example, she’s “Avoid discussing the buffer zone in Manchester? Not a chance. I’m not saying that you stand on a soapbox and proselytize. that’s not correct, either. However, if we are afraid to debate, we’ve got nothing. Pack up
and go home.”

She’s not afraid to take a debate to fellow Republicans, either, when circumstances so warrant. When fellow GOP state representative Frederick Rice recently published a letter endorsing Sen. Nancy Stiles over her primary opponent, Cormier found much to dispute. From Granite Grok, here is the text of Rep. Rice’s and Rep. Cormier’s respective letters.

“I needed to challenge it” [the Rice letter]. She did so by writing her own letter, pointing to specific votes from Sen. Stiles: support for the gas tax increase, co-sponsoring the now-on-hold buffer zone law, support for Common Core educational standards. She wrapped up with “If you want a Democrat, you can vote for a Democrat.  But, Republicans should expect their public servants to vote with AT LEAST with the larger planks in the platform.  Stiles does not.”

Isn’t she afraid her letter will be used against her politically? No, she told me. “That will give us another opportunity to have the debate.”

“Reaching across the aisle does not mean giving up the farm.”

I asked her what she’s proudest of from her term in the House. “That I would stand in my principles, no matter how much somebody pushed back. My principles do not move. Reaching across the aisle does not mean giving up the farm.

“My job is to fight for the race and let God do the rest.”