Super Secret Stuff

Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH). Photo from
Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH). Photo from

[Update: Shortly after I posted this, an attorney gently inquired of me if the Governor’s action has to wait on formal enrollment of the bill, in addition to the votes. I defer to him on matters like that, and I apologize for any error I made.]

The Governor of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, is a frankly and fully identified “pro-choicer.” The passage of SB 319, the buffer zone law, should be on her desk by now. So when’s the party?

According to her web site, Hassan has issued statements immediately upon the passage of several bills this session: Medicaid expansion, a transportation funding bill, improvements to the state’s domestic violence laws, “paycheck fairness.” Nowhere on the list, at least as of noon today, is a statement on the passage of the buffer zone bill.

Passage of landmark pieces of legislation in areas promoted by the chief executive usually feature a thumbs-up statement as soon as the legislature passes the bill, followed by a signing ceremony with advocates of the bill looking on approvingly. So far, no thumbs-up on the Governor’s web page. No announcement of a signing ceremony (although I’m sure one is in the works). What’s she waiting for?

model signI can’t believe she’ll avoid a ceremonial signing, nor can I believe she’ll let it become law without her signature. She has a few days yet to prove me wrong. Is she just waiting for confirmation from the major abortion providers that their signs are ready to go up? The law will go into effect the moment she signs it, but it can’t be enforced at any abortion facility until the signs are up around it. Perhaps she was hoping yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions would include one upholding Massachusetts’s buffer zone law. No luck there.

The buffer zones, those “no First Amendment for you” signs, will go up any day now. You’d think, though, that there’d be more celebration from an EMILY’s List beneficiary.

Foster, NH AG nominee, opposed parental notification law

Joseph Foster (courtesy McLane law firm web site)
Joseph Foster (courtesy McLane law firm web site)

Gov. Maggie Hassan has nominated Democratic former state senator Joseph Foster to be New Hampshire’s next attorney general. Foster was in the New Hampshire House from 1995 to 1998 and in the New Hampshire Senate from 2002 to 2008. While in the Senate in 2003, he voted against the parental notification law that was defended at the U.S. Supreme Court by then-AG Kelly Ayotte. The Court chose not to overturn the law, and instead remanded it to a lower court for reconsideration of one point.

Before that could be done, the legislature overturned it in 2007 with help from Foster, who was Senate Majority Leader at that time. He was quoted by the Associated Press as calling the law “unconstitutional,” although Justice O’Connor’s majority opinion had noted that there was no need to throw out the law.

A new parental notification law passed in 2011 over Gov. Lynch’s veto, after Foster had left office. If the Executive Council confirms Foster’s nomination to be attorney general, he would be responsible for the state’s legal response to any challenge to the existing law.


To Win a Case, You Have to Argue It First

Predictably, some Republicans declared before 11 p.m. on election night 2012 that the party simply must lay off those nasty divisive social issues. For thirty years, after every serious Republican setback, I’ve heard the same thing. What the complainers refuse to see is that the major GOP candidates DID lay off those issues this year. The Democrats didn’t.

I emerged yesterday from four months’ employment with the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. They took a chance on me, an “undeclared” Republican-leaning voter, and put me to work.  I knew this was not a year to be on the sidelines. I accepted the fact that the message from both the presidential and gubernatorial Republican campaigns was going to be resolutely economic. At no point in my employment was there any confusion about that. The “social issues,” however compelling, were to be downplayed. In New Hampshire, the results are before us. Four days ago, New Hampshire voters chose Democrat Maggie Hassan to be the next governor, spurning Ovide Lamontagne. Democrats now hold a majority in the New Hampshire House. A recount is pending that will likely result in a Senate split right down the middle. [Note: the final tally is a 13-11 GOP majority.] Nationally, the president responsible for the HHS mandate has been re-elected.

Ironically, a Democratic gubernatorial nominee who opposes any regulation of abortion managed to persuade voters that the pro-life Republican nominee was too “extreme,” while the Republican declined to address that as he kept concentrating on jobs and the economy.

There’s a case to be made that Hassan is the one who is dangerously extreme: opposed to parental involvement in an adolescent girl’s decision to abort; in favor of unrestricted abortion at any stage of pregnancy; opposed to gathering morbidity and mortality information on post-abortive women. There’s also a case to be made, locally as well as nationally, for keeping contraception a private choice without compelling other people to pay for it. Extremism reposes in the Obamacare policy that calls contraception “preventive care.”

But first, a candidate has to want to make the case, and then learn to do so effectively to persuade uncommitted voters, just as pro-life voters need to make the case neighbor-to-neighbor. Dismissing these matters as irrelevant “distractions” leads to results like Tuesday’s. We apparently have to learn this anew every few years.

Someone remarked to me the other day that Hassan won because she came across during the campaign as another John Lynch: inoffensive, likable, unthreatening. Let’s see how likable she is when the new Democratic majority in Concord tries to repeal parental notification, which I believe they will do as early as possible next year. The Republicans have yet to choose a minority leader (Speaker O’Brien, while re-elected to his House seat, doesn’t want the job), who will decide if and how a repeal effort should be handled. Not as a distraction, I trust.

EMILY’s List backs Hassan

EMILY’s List has endorsed Maggie Hassan for NH Governor. Does anyone still think the life issues are irrelevant to November’s elections?

“EMILY” is an acronym for Early Money is Like Yeast. This PAC describes itself as “a national organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office.” I have no doubt that the pro-life counterpart, the Susan B. Anthony List (, will be watching New Hampshire intently.