Down-ballot: where the action is

Maybe you plan to vote by absentee ballot. Maybe you’re holding out for the big national election day on November 3. Either way, this one’s for you: pay attention to down-ballot races. Four hundred state representative seats and 24 Senate seats need to be filled. Don’t let anyone else make your choices for you.

I carry no brief for anyone at the top of a party’s ticket. I care deeply, though, about what our state legislature is going to look like. To that end, I offer some thoughts.

How to vote

There are two and only two authoritative sources for information on ballots and voting procedure: your town or city clerk, and the elections division of The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office.

That’s it. Never mind what else someone tells you on Facebook.

Absentee balloting is allowed for COVID concerns. The people who say “if you can go to the grocery store, you can show up to vote” are not the ones who made the law. If they have a problem, they can take it up with the Secretary of State.

Your town or city clerk has the most up-to-date information from the Secretary of State about all election law. The clerk will have a sample ballot, an absentee ballot application and the ballot itself, and information about hours and location for polling on Election Day.

If you have not voted yet, whether you’re planning to vote in person or absentee, the number one thing on your to-do list needs to be get a sample ballot. (Ask your town clerk, or download one from the Secretary of State’s website.) That’s the only way you’ll know who’s on the ballot for all those races below President and Governor.

Know the candidates

We’re getting down to the wire here. There’s not much time to meet your candidates if you don’t know them already. Make the effort, by looking up their information online if not by speaking to them directly. Social media pages and candidates’ own websites can provide useful information.

Are there pro-life candidates?

Some candidates will tell you they’re pro-life, which is always nice to hear, and they’d better be able to back it up. There are incumbent representatives and senators who have already put their beliefs on display.

For the 2019-20 session, state legislators voted on legislation to protect children who survive attempted abortion. (Majority vote: no.) They voted on abortion statistics and on removing the unenforceable buffer zone statute. (Majority vote: no.) They decided whether or not to support Governor Sununu’s veto of a measure to mandate abortion coverage in some health insurance policies. (Yes, because an override needed a two-thirds majority.)

Down-ballot races put each of those people in office.

Hold them accountable.

“All Democrats are alike,” you might sniff. Democrats for Life sees it differently. They found one Democrat to endorse in New Hampshire, Cam Iannalfo, running for state rep in Salem, Rockingham district 8.

“All Republicans are alike,” you might think hopefully. Get over it. Look up their votes.

These earlier posts contain links to the relevant votes.

Where your reps stand: votes 2019-20

Veto sustained on abortion insurance mandate

Notes For Your 2020 Calendar

This is a short list of a few pro-life-related events coming up in New Hampshire (plus one down in DC). I hope this inspires you to pencil in a few things on your calendar. The list is incomplete, but I hope you’ll find something useful. (One frequently-updated source of information is the @nhprolifevents page on Facebook.) I close out this final post of 2019 with a few words about the 2020 elections in New Hampshire.

January 4, Saturday: Epiphany vigil outside Planned Parenthood at 24 Pennacook Street in Manchester, 2:00-3:30 p.m., organized by the Manchester 40 Days for Life team. Bring gifts of diapers, wipes, and baby items for the Pennacook Pregnancy Center. A gathering at the pregnancy center will follow a vigil of prayer and hymns.

January 11, Saturday: New Hampshire March for Life, Concord. The march itself begins at the State House at 11:45 a.m., but that’s only one part of the event. Check out New Hampshire Right to Life’s web page with all the details.

January 18, Saturday: If the abortion advocacy of the New Hampshire Women’s March makes no sense to you, you’re not alone. Pro-lifers had a presence at last year’s march, and a similar gathering is planned for 1/18/20 in Concord.

January 24, Friday: National March for Life in Washington, DC. If you’re going, I hope I’ll see you there. If you’re not, I hope you’ll watch for my report from the march, probably including a brief Facebook Live update.

February 26 (Ash Wednesday) to April 5 (Palm Sunday): the next 40 Days for Life campaign, in three New Hampshire locations: Manchester, Concord, Greenland. Watch this blog’s Facebook page for shared updates from the campaign teams.

Elections: They’re Everywhere

Do you live in Hooksett? Do you know that there’s a special election being held to fill a state rep seat from your town? Well, there is. A three way Republican primary will be held on January 21 (Democrats fielded only one candidate), and the general election will be on March 10. You could ask the candidates something simple like “will you vote for a bill to protect children who survive attempted abortion?”

The New Hampshire First-in-the-Nation presidential primary is coming up on February 11, 2020. It’s no secret that there are lots of Democrats running. You might be surprised to know that a slew of Republicans are running as well. Check with your town clerk for information on sample ballots, absentee voting, and your eligibility to vote.

Your town and school district elections will be in the spring, with dates varying among towns. Don’t neglect these races. Among other things, the people who win in town elections often decide to run for higher office later. They show their form first at the local level. Pay attention.

Every state elective office, from state rep to state senator to Governor and Executive Councilor, PLUS a U.S. Senate seat, will be up for grabs in November, with the primaries for those races to be held in September. Have you ever wished that the New Hampshire House had more pro-life members? Well then, have you considered running? It’s a big decision and not one to take lightly. Don’t let that scare you. The filing period for candidates is in June.

With that thought, I’ll see you in the new year. Make it a good one.

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.

Governor

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 frankedelblut.com.

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.