State senate primaries 2016: Districts 1, 2, 8

Part one of a review of state senate primaries

The 2016 primary election in New Hampshire will be Tuesday, September 13. You can obtain a sample ballot from your town clerk or from the Secretary of State’s web site under “Election Information.”

Of the 24 state senate races, nine have primary contests in one or both parties. I haven’t surveyed or interviewed the candidates, but there are voting records available for those who are incumbents or who have held office before. Here’s a look at state senate primary races, with voting records on some life-issue bills I’ve followed in the 2015-2016 session. If one of your local candidates has no record to go by, it’s time for you to reach out with friendly questions. September 13 is coming up quickly.

Find selected 2016 life-issue votes at this link. 

Find selected 2015 life-issue votes at this link.

I am counting on New Hampshire readers to let me know if there are candidates I have mistakenly listed as not having held state office before. I’ll make corrections as needed.

District 1:  There is a Republican primary between Rep. Leon Rideout and Dolly McPhaul. The incumbent senator, Jeff Woodburn, is unchallenged on the Democratic side. McPhaul has no voting record on the life issues of which I’m aware.

Rideout has been a leader on fetal homicide legislation. (For more about Griffin’s Law and other fetal homicide bills, see this page with links to coverage of hearings.) He has a pro-life voting record. Look for his results at the links above, under Coos County district 7.

District 2:  There is a Republican primary between Rep. Brian Gallagher and former Rep. Bob Giuda. Both have pro-life voting records. Gallagher has a very strong pro-life voting record over the past two years for Belknap County district 4 (see links above).

Giuda served in the House from 2001 to 2006, and during that time he supported parental notification for minors seeking abortion (voting against an “inexpedient to legislate” motion on HB 1380, 2/15/02; and then voting “ought to pass” on HB 763, 3/25/03); he supported a partial-birth abortion ban (voting against an “inexpedient to legislate” motion on HB 1220, 3/17/04); he opposed public funding of abortion (voting against an “inexpedient to legislate” motion on HB 1253, 2/19/04); and he supported effective informed consent for abortion (HB 1340, 3/17/04; HB 399, 3/9/05). In 2001, he voted to abolish New Hampshire’s death penalty (HB 171, 4/5/01; the bill failed by fewer than 10 votes).

District 2 is an open seat, with incumbent Jeanie Forrester now running for Governor.

District 8: There is a Republican primary between Jim Beard and Ruth Ward, neither of whom has a State House voting record. Neither candidate’s web site mentions any stand on the right to life. District 8 is an open seat, as former Senator Jerry Little has been appointed New Hampshire’s Banking Commissioner.

Dist. 23 State Senate candidate has notable 2016 voting record

Re. William Gannon (photo from NH House web site)
Re. William Gannon (photo from NH House web site)

The New Hampshire Senate seat for district 23 is open for the 2016 election, with incumbent Russell Prescott having announced that he will run for Executive Council. While the official filing period for candidates is not until June, Senate hopefuls are already announcing their intentions. One, William Gannon of Sandown, is an incumbent state representative with a voting record worth noting.

As reported last month on this blog, Gannon was among thirty-one representatives with encouraging votes on eleven 2016 bills of pro-life interest. Among other votes, Gannon voted against “inexpedient to legislate” motions on bills to limit mid- and late-term abortions, to limit eugenic abortion, to provide care for children born alive after attempted abortion, and to subject abortion facilities to the same licensing requirements faced by ambulatory care facilities and walk-in clinics.  He also voted to repeal New Hampshire’s buffer zone law.

Gannon is in his first House term representing the towns of Auburn, Chester and Sandown.

No other announced district 23 candidate is an incumbent state representative. As formal campaigning begins in June, I will report on the positions articulated by other candidates, on voting records, and on campaign expenditures made by life-issue advocacy groups in this and other Senate races.


State senators need to hear from you on abortion stats

New Hampshire is moving closer to an abortion statistics bill, but the effort has apparently not yet attracted support from the 13 senators required to send the bill to Governor Hassan. Several sources have reported to me that thirteen votes for “ought to pass” on HB 629 are far from assured. The bill has not yet been scheduled for floor action.

Please contact state senators as soon as possible and urge support for HB 629. It’s time for New Hampshire to join almost all of its sister states in collecting and reporting abortion statistics to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Find all Senators’ contact information HERE. The phone numbers at that link go to the Senate offices.  At this point, calls will be more effective than emails or letters. Make a special effort to contact your own senator via phone or in person. Find your district HERE. Each senator needs to know that voters care enough about women’s health to insist on passage of HB 629. 

Privacy concerns recently expressed by at least one House opponent of the bill are a red herring. The confidentiality of a woman’s identity is preserved under the terms of stats laws nationwide and in HB 629 itself.  About four dozen other states have already served as a lab for this.

At least one House member has raised questions about the cost of the bill, estimated by the Division of Vital Records to be up to (not “at least”) $130,000. This is NOT a budget-buster. If the current budget has no room for this public health measure, the line item can be included in the next budget, if House and Senate agree for the bill to go into effect concurrent with the next fiscal year.

I was one of the non-legislators who participated in the 2015 meetings of a House study subcommittee that looked at abortion-statistics legislation. The committee’s work resulted in HB 629, introduced in January of this year. The chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Bill Nelson, reported to his colleagues on the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee that all stakeholders in the study agreed with the findings that led to HB 629. Representative Nelson then worked with Rep. Thomas Sherman to amend the bill to accommodate concerns of members of the full committee.  The committee passed the amended bill 12-1, and the House passed it on a voice vote. That’s about as non-controversial as a bill gets.

Here’s the House committee report by Rep. Nelson, who after studying abortion statistics laws for a year certainly understood questions about privacy and funding: “As amended, this bill provides statistical information that brings New Hampshire in line with 48 other states. The committee took care to be sure the identity of the patient is confidential and follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols. All stakeholders agreed to the final version of the bill.”

This bill has been in the works for a long time. It has bipartisan sponsorship from eight state representatives and two senators. It’s the result of painstaking study by legislators, representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, an expert from the Division of Vital Records, and members of the public.

All the senators need to hear from you: YES on HB 629. Take no vote for granted.

stats history

RELATED POST on an earlier stats bill: Putting Down a Marker for Women’s Health

(Senate photo by Rep. Leon Rideout.)


Senate committee OK’s amended fetal homicide bill

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee has recommended passage for HB 560, the fetal homicide bill introduced as “Griffin’s Law” last year by Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) – but with an amendment that reportedly substitutes language similar to last year’s SB 40. (The amendment, 3011-S, is not yet on the docket for the bill available for viewing, as of the time this is being posted.)

Committee chair Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry) said that she had consulted Rideout about the amended language. Rideout confirmed that information to me after the hearing, saying that while he hasn’t yet seen the text of the amendment, he wants conversation about fetal homicide legislation to continue.

Referring to last session’s failure of a conference committee on SB 40, Carson said, “I know we’re divided on this issue. We can try again.”

The committee vote of Ought to Pass with Amendment was 3-2 along party lines, with Sens. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), Gary Daniels (R-Milford) and Sam Cataldo (R-Farmington) in favor. Senators David Pierce (D-Lebanon) and Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) voted no.

[Click on Topics on the blog’s header for coverage of last year’s fetal homicide bills.]



Regina Birdsell, NH State Senate District 19

Regina Birdsell, candidate for NH state senate (photo:
Regina Birdsell, candidate for NH state senate (photo:

Derry, Windham and Hampstead are electing a new state senator next month. On the ballot are Democrat Kristi St. Laurent – local Dem town committee chair, planning board member, owner of a Facebook page nearly issue-free except to say she likes teachers’ unions and dislikes right-to-work – and Republican Regina Birdsell. Regina’s a two-term state rep from Hampstead. I’ve seen her in action at the State House. I hope she gets to come back as a senator.

A few things you ought to know about Regina:

  • She supported the language of Griffin’s Law as it was introduced – a genuine fetal homicide bill.
  • She voted against the buffer zone and its attempt to nullify the First Amendment
  • She voted yes on parental notification, yes on the partial-birth abortion ban, yes on death penalty repeal.

Her opponent? No record on “buffering” the First Amendment, parental involvement, or late-term abortion.

Regina’s campaign web site: