A concerned Republican & Sununu’s reply

I got an email yesterday that would have gone straight into the trash file if not for the name of the sender. The subject line: “Why conservatives should vote for Chris Sununu for Governor.” I’m a pro-life voter, not necessarily a conservative or a party’s member. Then I saw the name of the sender: Ovide Lamontagne.

Ovide Lamontagne speaking to Manchester 40DFL volunteers
Ovide Lamontagne speaking to Manchester 40DFL volunteers

I have the utmost respect for Ovide. He’s a New Hampshire neighbor and a longtime pro-life advocate. He’s also a high-profile Republican. He is not a fan of the recent ad by GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu.  He had a conversation with Sununu about it, resulting in the correspondence below, which as you will see was meant to be made public.

Here are two messages which must be read together for full effect. Make of them what you will.  They might not change your view of candidate Sununu – I remain unmoved – but I think enough of Ovide to share his message. I also think Sununu’s reply should be kept handy for future reference.

I’m trying hard not to editorialize here, but the following points drown out my best intentions.

  • Sununu’s reassurances are preceded by his claim that he has always opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. He apparently thinks funding abortion providers is something different. Again, make of that what you will.
  • The gubernatorial campaign of underdog Max Abramson goes unmentioned in this correspondence save for one oblique reference in Chris Sununu’s statement.
  • I’m a firm believer in defensive elections. I’ve voted for candidates just because they’re less awful than their opponents. It riles me, though, when a candidate hands my money to abortion providers and then basically tells me that he’s my only logical choice at the polls.
  • The GOP/Dem and conservative/liberal frame of reference does not resonate with this pro-life voter. I’ve spent too much time at the State House watching “conservatives” kill pro-life legislation and grant contracts to abortion providers.

But enough commentary. The following correspondence is unedited.


Email from Ovide Lamontagne, November 4, 2016

Dear Friends:

I hope this email finds you well.

Like many of you, I approach the next few days leading into the November 8th general election with great anticipation and energy.  It is fair to say that our Primary process has led to the nomination of an interesting slate of federal and state candidates.  I firmly believe that, on balance, the Republican ticket holds the best chance of advancing an agenda which more closely reflects our values and the best interests of New Hampshire and the Nation.

Regarding the campaign for Governor, I encourage New Hampshire conservatives to vote for Chris Sununu.  Like many of my conservative friends, I was angry and disillusioned when Chris changed his position and voted to fund Planned Parenthood this past Summer.  There is simply no justification in my mind for allowing one cent of taxpayer money to be contributed to an abortion provider, especially one as notorious and as sinister as Planned Parenthood.

Even though he knew how I felt about his vote and his stated position on Life, shortly after winning his Primary, Chris called me to discuss his views on a host of conservative issues and specifically asked me to help him understand what pro-life initiatives I thought he could support.  As we discussed a number of these issues, he explained his opposition to late term and partial birth abortion; his support of conscience rights for health care workers; his view that the buffer zone law should be repealed; and his belief that abortion providers should be held to the same health and safety standards applicable to healthcare facilities such as ambulatory surgical centers and providers.  While he supports a women’s ability to have an abortion during the earlier stages of pregnancy, he said he strongly disagrees with the extremist views of Colin Van Ostern who has the full-throated endorsement of Planned Parenthood’s New Hampshire Action Fund.  Among other things, Van Ostern supports abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy for any reason; opposes common sense health and safety standards for abortion clinics; and given the chance, I believe he would support taxpayer funding of abortion, the official position of Planned Parenthood nationally (i.e., they want to repeal the Hyde Amendment).

I asked Chris to memorialize his support for some of the common sense measures we discussed since the Primary.  Please find attached a copy of a letter he recently sent me setting forth the pro-life initiatives he would support as Governor.  While I strongly disagree with Chris on his vote to fund Planned Parenthood and his pro-choice position, I do believe that if elected Chris will indeed advance a constitutional and common-sense pro-life agenda, something that hasn’t happened in NH from the Corner Office in years.

On other issues, Chris is where we need the next Governor to be:  he supports Right to Work and designing a NH solution regarding expanding healthcare coverage, not a Washington-mandated “permanent” Medicaid expansion program; he opposes Common Core and the federal government’s overreach in elementary and secondary education; and he opposes the establishment of a job-killing state minimum wage and rejects the false promise of taxpayer-funded commuter rail.  He’ll bring conservative leaders into his administration and I believe he will create an environment for robust economic development, reversing almost 20 years of liberal Governors presiding over economic stagnation in the Granite State.

When I consider what is at stake in this election — and despite my disagreements with Chris Sununu on some issues which are very important to me, and I know are important to you — I believe that conservatives and all NH citizens will still be much better served with Chris in the Corner Office than Colin Van Ostern.  This is not even a close call.

Please let me know if you have any questions or observations about supporting Chris Sununu for Governor.  I hope you will join me in voting for Chris so that together we can begin to set New Hampshire on the right track.

If you are inclined to do so, I would also ask you to forward this email and the attached letter to your email lists and/or to publish both through social media.

All the best,

Ovide


From Chris Sununu, attached to Lamontagne email as a PDF on campaign letterhead, undated

Dear Ovide,

Download (PDF, 452KB)

Thank you for your support and assistance in trying to get New Hampshire back on the right track. I appreciate our recent conversations discussing my ad response to the Democrats’ multimillion dollar media campaign accusing me of being against Medicaid funding of cancer screenings for women and pre-natal care. Their ads are blatantly dishonest.

As you know, I have always opposed taxpayer funding of abortions. It is important for conservative voters to know that I too support many of the common sense platform initiatives that they want to see passed including:

1. Fetal Homicide Bill

2. Women’s Health Protection Act

3. Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act

4. Late Term Abortion Ban

5. NH Buffer Zone Repeal

I know that my winning the race for Governor will be our best chance to get this important work done.

It is important to remind people that there are only two real choices in this race. By voting for me the voters can undo the liberal left-wing agenda that Democrats have imposed on New Hampshire over the past twenty years. Thank you again for your advice, your guidance and your support.

/s/ Chris

Christopher T. Sununu

 


Observing a Republican “take on” his party

I wonder if New Hampshire Republicans take exception to this: “Chris Sununu took on own party for women’s health.” That statement is featured in a television ad now running, a week before the election.

screenshot of TV ad, November 2016
screenshot of TV ad, November 2016

Looking at you, GOP. What are you – against women’s health? Why else would your own gubernatorial candidate say he “took on [his] own party” over women’s health? 

Nasty implication there, bordering on a smear of Republicans, if Sununu’s statement is taken at face value.

But let’s be serious. Sununu’s talking about his Executive Council votes to give contracts to Planned Parenthood. That one vote he cast against a contract in 2015 appears more and more like an aberration, wiped from the slate by his do-over last June.

Candidate Sununu now abuses the term “women’s health” the same way his opposite number in the Democratic party does: equating taxpayer money to PP with “women’s health.”

I was at the Executive Council meetings where the last two PP contracts were considered. Neither of the Councilors now running for governor queried the commissioner of health and human services about doing business with a vendor that publicly threatened women with loss of health care if a contract were denied while at the same time spending well over a million bucks on “public policy”, fundraising, and marketing.

Now, both candidates for governor are touting their “women’s health” credentials, debasing the term by using it as code for taxpayer funding of abortion providers. One candidate has now implied that his own party is an obstacle to women’s health – at least that’s how the ad sounds to this independent voter. The other party’s candidate ought to be drafting a thank-you note to Sununu right about now.

It’s not my business how a party’s candidate characterizes his or her own party, since I am what is known in the Granite State as “undeclared.” This ad is a curious thing, though. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by voters and by Sununu’s fellow GOP candidates.


Voting records: Hillsborough County state reps, 2015-16

In a downloadable PDF document embedded below, here is a compilation of votes cast by New Hampshire state representatives from Hillsborough County on selected bills on which I’ve reported in the past session, 2015-16. Rockingham County will follow later this week. No scores or endorsements – just votes.

VOTE on November 8. Do not be dissuaded by the choices at the top of the ticket, if you share my aversion to the lot of them. Downballot is where policies will be made and enforced, for good or ill. Let’s get to work.

Look up the sample ballot for your district here, or obtain one from your town clerk, if you’re not sure in which district you reside.

The only candidates I’ve included here are incumbents seeking re-election. I have omitted party affiliation. Some former reps are running again; I’ve listed them at the end of this post.

Any errors in the compilation are my own.

Download (PDF, 101KB)

Links to bills used for this compilation

Each hyperlink will take you to the roll call I used for the bill.

  • HB 1399, requiring licensure of outpatient abortion facilities
  • HB 1570, buffer zone repeal
  • HB 1623, prohibiting abortions for genetic abnormalities (eugenic abortion)
  • HB 1625, limiting post-viability abortions
  • HB 1627, relative to infants born alive after attempted abortion
  • HB 1636, limiting abortions past the point at which the fetus can feel pain
  • HB 1663, prohibiting buying, selling, and experimenting on aborted fetal remains
  • HB 1684, prohibiting the use of public funds, employees and facilities  in assisting or performing abortions
  • HB 194, acknowledging the personhood of the unborn human being
  • HB 560, Griffin’s Law/fetal homicide, as introduced by Rep. Rideout (more on fetal homicide legislation here)
  • HB 670, conscience rights for medical personnel

Former representatives running again

Several ex-representatives from Hillsborough County are trying to get back into office.  Before the 2014 election, I made a compilation of votes similar to the one I’ve posted here, and many of these former reps are listed. Go to the 2014 post “How They’ve Voted” to view or download the Hillsborough County sheet and search for these names (here with district numbers in parentheses):

Mark Warden (8), Win Hutchinson (9),  Steve Vaillancourt (15), Brenda Grady & Bob L’Heureux (21), Shannon Chandley (22), Melanie Levesque (26), Sylvia Gale and Jan Schmidt (28), Michael Balboni (29), Mariellen MacKay (30), Linda Harriott-Gathright & Kevin Brown (36), Andy Renzullo (37).

State Senate incumbents: votes on buffer zone repeal & abortion stats

In 2016, the New Hampshire Senate considered and failed to pass bills that would have repealed the buffer zone law and established an abortion-statistics program at the state level.

The senators who managed to get those votes right and who are running for re-election deserve your consideration. These are bellwether bills: a legislator who opposes them is all but certain to be weak or hostile on the right to life.

I know there are other seats, other candidates, and fundamental pro-life policies. Today, my only concern is to list the legislators who supported stats and the First Amendment in the past term in Concord. The Senate had straight up-or-down votes on those two bills.

If you’re not sure who the candidates are in your area, you can check your Senate district number here, and then look at a sample ballot for your town to see the names of the candidates for each office.

Buffer zone

These are the incumbents running for re-election who voted ( via bill #HB 1570) to repeal the buffer zone law, thus respecting your rights and mine to demonstrate peacefully on public property outside abortion facilities. The repeal effort failed on a tie vote.

Jeb Bradley (district 3), Andy Sanborn (district 9), Gary Daniels (district 11), Kevin Avard (district 12), Sharon Carson (district 14), John Reagan (district 17), Regina Birdsell (district 19), and Chuck Morse (district 22). Some House reps who supported the same bill are running for Senate now: James Gray (district 6), Harold French (district 7), Joe Duarte (district 16), and Bill Gannon (district 23).

Reps. French and Gannon are going up against incumbents who voted the opposite way: Sen. Andrew Hosmer vs. French and Rep. Alexis Simpson vs. Gannon.

Bradley is the only senator who supported passage of the buffer zone bill in 2014 and later changed his mind. I’m glad the First Amendment eventually appealed to his better nature.

Note that Kevin Avard is being challenged for his seat by former senator Peggy Gilmour, who voted for the buffer zone law in 2014. Voters gave the seat to Avard later that year. This year’s rematch is fierce and expensive, and it could go either way.

Abortion statistics

Another tie vote doomed an abortion statistics bill (HB 629). The same senators listed above for the buffer zone supported the stats bill: Bradley, Sanborn, Daniels, Avard, Carson, Reagan, Birdsell and Morse. The House passed the bill on a voice vote, so there’s no recorded vote for candidates Gray, French, Duarte and Gannon.

A sobering total

The bills I’ve cited here don’t even assert a right to life. The buffer zone law is about denying First Amendment protections to peaceful pro-life demonstrators, and the repeal bill was an effort to rectify that error. The statistics bill was about public health, particularly women’s health. Tie votes were the best the Senate could muster for them.

The eight incumbent senators and four House candidates for Senate I’ve mentioned cover twelve districts. That’s only half the seats in the Senate. If all these candidates win, things like a stats bill might still die on a tie. If any of these candidates lose, prospects for mischief increase dramatically.

Two other districts to watch

District 18’s Donna Soucy, chief sponsor of the buffer zone law, is being challenged by former Rep. Ross Terrio, chief sponsor of the partial-birth abortion ban that became law in 2012. In district 2, an open seat, former Rep. Bob Giuda is a candidate. He served in the House over a decade ago and had a good pro-life record, including helping to pass New Hampshire’s first parental notification law.

(Senate photo by Leon Rideout.)


 

The First Amendment and would-be Sen. Hassan

Gov. Maggie Hassan (nh.gov photo)
Gov. Maggie Hassan (nh.gov photo)

We’ve seen New Hampshire’s Governor Maggie Hassan in action for two terms. So what would a Senator Hassan look like, if she should prevail over incumbent U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte on November 8?

Look back at one policy decision ratified by Hassan in 2014: the buffer zone law.

Buffer zones and the First Amendment

New Hampshire’s buffer zone law gives abortion facility managers the right to determine whether and where the First Amendment may be exercised within 25 feet from an abortion facility.

Maggie Hassan signed the law despite the fact that a challenge to a substantially similar law from Massachusetts was pending before the Supreme Court. Two weeks after the New Hampshire law was signed, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the Massachusetts law on First Amendment grounds. Hassan continued to defend New Hampshire’s version. She still supports it, even though no abortion facility in New Hampshire has put a zone into effect, as of October 2016. The facility managers know that litigation would doom the New Hampshire law.

Hassan signed the New Hampshire measure into effect even though the Court’s First-Amendment decision on the Massachusetts law was unanimous.


That’s what Governor Hassan thinks of the First Amendment as it applies to nonviolent pro-life demonstrators. Now she wants to become Senator Hassan, with power to confirm (or refuse to confirm) nominees to federal judgeships, including Supreme Court seats.

Dodging the First Amendment 

I reported in 2014 on the form letter I received from Hassan’s office two months after I and many other people had petitioned her not to sign the bill into law. An “assistant director of citizen services” wrote back.  Hassan wouldn’t even reply over her own signature. No skin off my nose, to be sure, but I caught the dismissal.

My 2014 post includes the full text of the letter from Hassan’s assistant. Not once in the letter did the assistant director of citizen services mention the First Amendment. No mention of the Supreme Court. No mention of the Masasachusetts law or the grounds on which it had been invalidated.

Watch your language

The 2014 letter is echoed in some of the language on Hassan’s Senate campaign web site (which has a high enough search ranking already without my linking to it): all-purpose terms, equally available for misuse whether the topic is nonviolence or a Senate seat.

The following bullet points are taken directly from my 2014 post reacting to the letter from Hassan’s assistant. Listening to 2016’s campaign messages, nothing’s changed.

  • “Critical health services.” In other words, cancer screening and contraception and abortion are all “critical.” Huh? The intentional direct taking of human life has nothing to do with “health.”

  • “Access…privacy…safety.” No mention that laws are already on the books against blocking access, against harassment including invasion of privacy, against violence. That was what doomed Massachusetts’s original buffer zone law – the failure to enforce existing laws first.

  • “Affordable access to basic health care coverage is critical to the economic security of women and families.” Knowing that abortion is part of what Hassan defines as “health care,” she’s saying – excuse me, her assistant is saying – that kids are disposable if they come up short in a woman’s cost-benefit analysis.

  • “…without fearing for their safety…” In the fantasy world occupied by the Governor and supporters of the buffer zone law, people standing in silent witness outside an abortion facility are no different from people entering an abortion facility bent on murdering the employees….In the real world, peaceful witnesses have just as much reason to fear violence as do an abortion facility’s employees.

A Seat in the Balance

I have heard from many people of good will who want me to reconsider my adamant refusal to support either major presidential candidate. The shape of the Supreme Court is the usual argument.

I understand the concern. Note well, though, that presidents can only nominate judges. The Senate confirms, or refuses to confirm. It’s the firewall against presidential whackery from any party’s standardbearer.

That’s why I think New Hampshire’s Senate race is at least as important as the presidential one – more important, actually, for those of us who have no top-of-the-ticket preference.

Candidate Hassan made a ceremony out of signing the buffer zone law, and now she wants a seat in the body that confirms jurists who will rule on First Amendment cases.

This is one race where I have no problem making a choice.