General election candidates set for N.H.

The dust has settled on the Granite State’s primary election. Most New Hampshire House incumbents with strong records on recent life-issue bills did well and will be on the ballot in November.

Let’s follow up on recent posts regarding candidates for Governor, Senate (parts one and two), and House.


From June 2016: Executive Councilors and gubernatorial candidates Chris Sununu (with contracts) and Colin VanOstern (at right).
From June 2016: Executive Councilors and gubernatorial candidates Chris Sununu (with contracts) and Colin VanOstern (at right).

Republican Chris Sununu will go up against Democrat Colin Van Ostern. Both men as Executive Councilors have voted to grant state contracts to abortion providers, with Sununu making one exception in August of 2015. Planned Parenthood has already endorsed Van Ostern.

Sununu survived what proved to be an astonishing primary challenge from pro-life Rep. Frank Edelblut, an underdog who finished well ahead of candidates Ted Gatsas and Jeanie Forrester. Edelblut was in a position to ask for a recount, but he quickly threw his support to Sununu and turned his attention to the general election.  On Facebook, Edelblut addressed his supporters: “We came very close to victory and I cannot thank you enough for your tireless efforts. But please stay tuned; I have more in store for this great state.”

State Senate

In State Senate district 1, Rep. Leon Rideout of Lancaster lost narrowly to Dolly McPhaul for the GOP nomination – and fetal homicide legislation thus lost a committed supporter in the House. McPhaul will go up against incumbent Democrat Jeff Woodburn. The day after the primary, Rideout wrote, “I will continue to work to find ways to serve my community and the North Country. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I ask each of you to please do what you can to help defeat Jeff Woodburn.”

In State Senate district 2, former Rep. Bob Giuda of Warren won the GOP nomination over Rep. Brian Gallagher. Both have pro-life voting records. Giuda will go up against Democrat Charlie Chandler in November.

Republican Ruth Ward prevailed over Jim Beard in a recount for the nomination in district 8. Her November opponents will be Democrat John Garvey and independent John Jeskevicius.

Two Democrats supporting public funding of abortion providers contended in district 9, with Lee Nyquist beating Jeanne Dietsch. Nyquist will now have a rematch with Republican Sen. Andy Sanborn, whose life-issue voting record is encouraging.

Jay Kahn won a three-way Democratic primary in district 10 and will face Republican Chester Lapointe in the general election.

Senator Sharon Carson of Londonderry (district 14) had no trouble winning her primary. Carson has been among other things an outspoken opponent of efforts to discourage peaceful pro-life witness via the buffer zone law. Tammy Siekmann will challenge Carson from the Democratic side in November.

In district 16, Democrat Scott McGilvray will meet Republican Joe Duarte.

A recount is pending on the Republican side in district 18 (Litchfield and part of Manchester) between former Reps. George Lambert and Ross Terrio. [Update 9/20/16: Terrio won in the recount.] Rep. Ralph Boehm finished third on that side. The winner will face buffer zone sponsor Sen. Donna Soucy.

Rep. Bill Gannon of Sandown prevailed in a four-way primary in district 23. . Gannon has a good pro-life voting record. His Democratic opponent is Rep. Alexis Simpson, who in the past two years has voted against a personhood bill, a post-20-week abortion restriction, conscience rights for health care providers, and an end to tax funding of abortion providers.

On the Seacoast in district 24, Republican Dan Innis will meet Democratic Rep. Tom Sherman. Innis won a four-way primary.

State Representatives

Looking solely at the incumbent representatives featured in my earlier post, here are the primary victors, by county, with districts in parentheses:

  • Carroll County: Frank McCarthy (2), Glenn Cordelli (4).
  • Hillsborough County: Rick Christie (6), Linda Gould and Keith Murphy (7), Joe Lachance (8), Mark McLean (15), Josh Moore and Jeanine Notter (21), Eric Eastman and Carl Seidel (28), and Jordan Ulery (37). Ulery’s district will be recounted tomorrow, but his margin is safe.
  • Merrimack County: J.R. Hoell (23).
  • Rockingham County: James Spillane (2), Chris True (4), Al Baldasaro (5), and John Sytek (8).

A few of the featured incumbent reps fell short, and I hope their public service will continue one way or another:  Rockingham County’s Jeffrey Harris and Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien, and Strafford County’s Robert Knowles.

In the coming weeks, as candidates reveal more about their views, I’ll keep you posted. If you know of a local candidate you want to support, offer now to help with the campaign. This is especially true in state rep races, where simple things like sign waves and pollstanding can have a big effect.


A few minutes with Frank Edelblut

Frank Edelblut meeting voters outside the NH State House. (Ellen Kolb photo)
Frank Edelblut meeting voters outside the NH State House. (Ellen Kolb photo)

The New Hampshire Right to Life PAC has announced its endorsement of Frank Edelblut for New Hampshire Governor, calling him “a steadfast advocate of the pro-life cause.”

On his own campaign web site is this statement: “Frank knows life is truly a gift from God and he believes the New Hampshire Constitution guarantees ‘life’ and ‘liberty’ for every soul in New Hampshire.” Edelblut’s pro-life votes from the House session just ended are already on record (see my digest of 2016 votes here).

Before I spoke with Edelblut after June’s Executive Council meeting, I had a longer interview with him at his Manchester campaign office. He is one of several Republican candidates who will be on the September 13 primary ballot.

What sets you apart from the other candidates? What do you bring that they don’t? Their experience ranges from business management to legislative politics to mayoral politics.

I’m a job creator, not a politician. I’ve served in the legislature one term, long enough to see how it works and where the problems are and not long enough to be the problem. I’ve not spent my entire life calculating moves, trying to figure out a way that would build up to [being] governor.

I’ve been involved in business. I think the mood of the electorate is that we need an outsider, we need someone who isn’t part of the system in order to try and make a difference. I’m on the outside, a business guy who thinks he can try to  make the government work for the people again.

You’re a first-term state representative. When you ran in 2012, you were the top vote-getter in your ten-town district by one vote. What made the difference for you?

The beautiful thing about winning by one vote is that every single person who even thought about my campaign was responsible for my win. If you put a sign up, it was because of you that I got one vote. If you made a phone call, or attended a rally, it was because of you that I got one vote. People helped. And I ran a campaign. I did lots of phone calling, lots of door-knocking.

You were present when the Executive Council voted to send taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood. Your thoughts?

I think that it is such a controversial subject. There are people with good intentions, I know, on both sides. I  just think it makes no sense that taxpayer money should go anywhere near funding abortion. We need to separate those two activities [abortion and non-abortion work], and it becomes very difficult. I’m an accountant. I know how moneys flow in an organization. When you have an organization that is both providing services to women, as well as providing abortion services, those funds become commingled and become really difficult to separate. So why don’t we just say, if you’re going to be in the abortion business, then you don’t need to have any state funding in there. That allows organizations that want to provide women’s health services to provide health services without the risk and the perception that that money is somehow going across into an activity that many people in this state find abhorrent.

In private life, away from politics, you and your wife are longtime CareNet supporters. Tell me about the kind of work you’re supporting there.

The main issue there is comprehensive care for women. That’s the goal. When  a woman is pregnant, and it is unplanned, it is a crisis. We need to make sure she has the full scope of options, and not kind of force her down a certain path. Most of the time, the decisions being made are not about the pregnancy. They’re about what happens after the pregnancy. There’s all this pressure [on the woman]: what happens when I have the baby? Employment, housing, can I be a good mom? What about the dad, how can I engage him? [CareNet is] not just taking you through your pregnancy. We’re taking you through your parenting. We bring men in and help them learn how to be good dads. Probably half the ministry over there is what to do after the kids are born, to help them get a good launch in life. And this is all done with private funding. 

Here’s an op-ed by Rep. Edelblut from last April in which he outlines his pro-life views and how they are consistent with a governor’s constitutional responsibilities.

To learn more about Frank Edelblut, go to

Preliminary situation report: N.H. House

Defense of pro-life seats in the New Hampshire House is underway, believe it or not. I have some numbers for you. No names yet; those will follow later. For now, here’s a quick look at the lay of the land.

I compared the list of candidates (available on the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s web site) with my list of some significant 2016 House votes. On this first pass, I looked only at candidates running for re-election to the House who scored what in my opinion was 100% positive OR 100% negative AND who showed up for every vote.  In other words, these results are subjective and incomplete.

Among candidates who got all the votes right (in my humble opinion), 25 are running for re-election. Fourteen of those face primaries just to get to the general election in November. That includes two reps who have chosen to run for state Senate.

Among candidates who went the other way, 45 are running for re-election. Seventeen of those have NO competition: no primary, and then no candidate from the other party in the general election.

So… at least seventeen people with awful voting records on the life issues are a lock for re-election. At least fourteen people with good voting records have to spend the summer campaigning just to stand out from the competitors on their own side of the ticket for the September primary. Both of those numbers will go up when I factor in the reps who missed some of the votes I tracked but whose life-issue leanings are apparent.

As the sign in my office says: No Whining Allowed. It’s time to get your game face on.


A note on covering elections

Candidates are filing for office, and the November election is only a little over five months away. I’ll watch, report, opine, and otherwise keep an eye on what’s happening.

And I won’t think for one minute that politics is the most important pro-life work out there.

I know that the most basic pro-life work is love and personal ministry. Our lives – yours, mine, people who’ll never hear of this blog – are spent caring for and respecting kids and parents and partners and neighbors in ways that never make headlines.

I love meeting the people who provide direct support to women in crisis pregnancies and who continue to support families after the babies arrive. I am in awe of the post-abortive women who now counsel other women who regret abortions. I’ll continue to write about people who go to abortion facilities to give peaceful witness for life.

Even so, politics is going to get a lot of attention from me in the coming months. Longtime readers will not be surprised by this. New readers (welcome!) might wonder why I’m drawn to the messiness of public policy.

Political decisions affect lives, that’s why. The very right to life is in dispute among elected officials. The debates that helped inspire the creation of this blog are as sharp as ever.

So fair warning: I’m in election mode.

The filing period for state and federal offices in New Hampshire begins today and runs through June 10. The primary is scheduled for September 13; the general election will be November 8.

Let the campaigns begin.


Thinking of running? The time for discernment is now

State House, Concord NH (Ellen Kolb photo)
State House, Concord NH (Ellen Kolb photo)

Have you ever thought about running for state representative? Or senator, or councilor, or anything else beyond the local level? Now’s the time to get serious. The filing period for the fall elections is one month away, June 1 through June 10. This is when people formally declare their candidacies.

Is your state rep’s voting record on the life issues disappointing? Is your senator a buffer zone fan? Is your executive councilor determined to steer your money toward Planned Parenthood? Is one of your elected officials a real credit to the district but is ready to step down?

Perhaps you want to run, or you want to encourage someone else to run. Evaluate the political and practical landscape now, while you have time to consider everything thoughtfully.

You can’t govern if you don’t win. You can’t win unless you run.

Elective office is definitely not for everyone, and there are other ways to build a culture of life. To anyone who has ever thought about running, though, I say don’t yield the arena to the abortion advocates.

For state House and Senate, the pay is lousy ($200 per two-year term) and the hours can be very long during the regular session months, January to June. The party gamesmanship and the grudges that can go along with it are tiresome.  Despite all that, the chance to serve your town or ward is a wonderful thing. No other state legislature is as close to the people as New Hampshire’s, with 400 members in the House.

Executive councilors have a lot of power in New Hampshire. They approve or deny state contracts, and the governor cannot veto those decisions. Ditto for confirming or rejecting the governor’s nominees to executive departments. As for the pay, it’s much higher than for reps and senators, but that’s not saying much. The job is about service.

Running can get expensive in competitive districts. Talk to the incumbents and former candidates for a reality check. Are you prepared to raise money? This is less of a concern for state rep than for higher offices.

How secure are your incumbent reps? Check out the results of the 2014 election for your district (primary as well as general election). You might detect vulnerabilities. Is your town weighted toward one party? Winning the primary might be tantamount to winning the general election.

You can learn more about the process on the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s web site. 

Unsure about running? You have a month to do your homework.