A Genteel Rant on Party Unity

Having let this simmer on the back burner for a few weeks, I find it’s still apt, even with the election so close. Therefore, for your consideration:

Remember, I’m not a political action committee, nor do I plan to turn this blog into a mouthpiece for one. It’s election season, though, so forgive me the occasional rant. There’s a campaign phenomenon that drives me nuts: people who campaign for (insert party name here) candidates for the sole reason that they belong to (insert party name here), because “party unity” or some such thing.

I’ve been a campaign staffer on two statewide Republican campaigns, both of which hired me knowing I’m an independent. A generation ago, back when I was a registered Republican, I was involved in platform debates. There’s pressure to support the entire party slate of candidates, top to bottom. That’s true of every party. I get that.

But I don’t think it’s too much to expect for pro-lifers to be pro-life first and (insert party name here) second. When elected officials of a party with a pro-life platform are not united in supporting that plank, and when the right to life is fundamental, then it’s kind of silly to vote a straight (insert party here) ticket.

This rant is prompted by an unconfirmed report to me that a strong pro-life state representative in a large southern New Hampshire town is campaigning for one of his fellow incumbents. The fellow incumbent in question has cancelled out the pro-life rep’s votes on abortion statistics and the viability bill this year, which is to say the two reps voted on opposite sides. (They did manage to find common ground on fetal homicide last year.)

Two bills, you might say. Get a grip, lady.

Yes, only two bills. Still, we’re not talking about biomass subsidies or tax policy or whether five-year-olds should be in school all day. In the case of the viability bill, we’re talking about whether those five-year-olds had any right to protection and medical care five years and two months ago, when they were preborn but viable.

Vote for whomever you want. Just remember that the viability bill was tabled – that is, discussion was terminated- on a vote of 170-163.  That’s a small margin. How many of those 170 votes were cast by people who benefited from the campaign support of pro-lifers, and the support of a “pro-life” (insert party name here) party?

Ask questions of your candidates. They’re probably going to be standing right outside the polling place on Election Day. Abortion’s legal throughout pregnancy in New Hampshire; are you OK with that? Do you know where your nearest pro-life pregnancy care center is, and have you asked for a tour to learn about their work with women and families? For the sake of women’s safety, do you think abortion providers should have medical credentials? (In New Hampshire, anyone – with or without training – may provide abortions.) Do you think children who survive abortion should receive medical care? Do you think New Hampshire should join the forty-some-odd other states who provide the Centers for Disease Control with aggregate statistical public health data on abortion? Do you think abortion facilities ought to meet the same patient-safety standards as ambulatory surgical facilities? What do you think of efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide?

There are plenty of nice people running for office. There are plenty of people you know from the school parking lot and the neighborhood playground and the grocery store. The ballot might be filled with people you’ve known for years. Hooray for all that. But be careful. Plenty of the 170 people who voted to terminate consideration of the viability bill are nice neighbors. Being nice neighbors didn’t prevent them voting to keep abortion unregulated throughout pregnancy.

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 Senate District 11: Maureen Mooney

Maureen Mooney is one of four Republicans vying for the nomination in District 11. This is an open seat, most recently held by Sen. Peter Bragdon (R-Milford). 

Maureen Mooney as a state representative in 2006. Photo: votemooney.com
Maureen Mooney as a state representative in 2006. Photo: votemooney.com

Maureen Mooney showed me an envelope during our interview. “I happen to be on my way to mail my New Hampshire Right to Life personhood affirmation.” She pointed out the design on the stamp. “I purposely put an Equality stamp on the envelope, because I’m working for equality for our unborn.”

No shock there. Maureen used to be one of my state representatives, elected in 2002 and serving three terms. I know she voted pro-life. Since her terms in office, she’s been an active volunteer in the New Hampshire Republican party, and she currently co-chairs U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown’s Women for Brown coalition. Now, she’d like to return to Concord, this time to the Senate. She has entered one of the state’s most competitive primaries. So what sets her apart from a crowded field?

Why she’s running

“I decided to run in June. When I heard that the seat had opened up, I spent an entire month talking with people throughout district 11 for their feedback on my being a candidate, the views of this district, and whether or not I could represent them. I wanted to really see if it was a good fit and if my candidacy was needed and I came to the conclusion Yes.” She added that her decision’s been reaffirmed by the people who agreed to be on her steering committee. It’s a broad-based group, and she adds “I’m very proud of that.”

She mentioned her opponents by name only to speak respectfully of them. Of Gary Daniels, for example: “He should be very proud of his record because it’s outstanding.” Nevertheless, she yields to no one. She noted that unlike two of her opponents, she has never lost a Senate race. “I feel I bring a fresh perspective to the conservative cause. And that’s very important. In addition to that, I’ll be a full-time senator. I do not hold local office, and so I can be fully committed to all the commitments that the job entails. I look forward to that.”

Maureen spoke about supporting Sen. Peter Bragdon before his retirement from the State House. “I backed him very strongly because I knew he’d be an effective advocate. And that’s what I can emulate. I want to say this too: Peter Bragdon, towards the end of his legislative career, found himself in a position to have to excuse himself [from some votes] because of his job [as executive director of HealthTrust]. I won’t have that problem. I don’t anticipate any conflicts of interest.”

She’s confident her experience will pay dividends for her district. “I served with almost half [of the incumbent Senators] when I was in the House. They were colleagues of mine. I have the familiarity with who’s up there now and the ability to advocate for the principles that this district stands for.”

Life issues

“I’m pro-life,” she reminded me. “Always have been. Always will be. I put that right up on my web site.”

She was a first-term representative when New Hampshire’s first parental notification law was passed, and she voted in favor of it.   When a partial-birth abortion ban failed in 2004, she was on the pro-life side. Same year, there was a failed effort to prevent public funds, employees and facilities from being used for abortion; again, Mooney voted pro-life. Ditto for a 2005 informed consent bill and another one in 2007 and a slew of life-issue bills in 2008.

She was glad to see a parental notification law finally get enacted after her House terms. What would she do as a Senator if a repeal effort came up?  “I would build [a coalition against repeal] by pointing to the success other states have had with that law. The success that New Hampshire’s had with the law. The fact that there are so many that support it. Again we’d get into – and this came up when I was up there in the initial debate – how many things out there require parental notification. I’ll never forget a representative standing up during the debate, holding up a paper for a coloring contest that some organization was sponsoring, saying that parental notification was required for a minor to enter the contest. These types of things are very important to rally support.”

She calls the New Hampshire buffer zone law “terrible. It’s a freedom of speech issue on public property. People who have been affected by this buffer zone are peaceful advocates. I know that some advocates pray and silently make their statement. So there’s no threat.” She called the bill an “overreaction” by abortion providers. “What are they afraid of? It’s an attempt to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s part of a very strong pro-choice agenda.”

How about accusations that the GOP is waging war on women? “To me, that is real clever Democratic slogan. It’s catchy, and liberals take an incredible amount of pride in being able to throw it around. But what does it really mean? I’m not quite sure. Here I am, a Republican woman, pro-life, running for the state Senate. I don’t see a war on women at all. They’re trying to label issues as women-specific. I see a lot of issues applying to everybody. For example, getting jobs into the state. That’s not a gender-specific issue. Getting tuitions to be lower, that’s another issue. So I think it’s an attempt to label certain issues as gender-specific, and I’m looking for the greater good for society as a whole.”

Getting to know her district

Maureen Mooney has lived in Merrimack for more than twenty years. District 11 includes not only Merrimack, but Milford, Wilton, and Amherst as well. That’s a lot of new ground for her. How’s she doing? “I’ve been going door-to-door, making phone calls into the district. I’ve been going to events. I’m meeting activists and meeting people who aren’t necessarily involved in politics but who vote. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very enjoyable.”

She knows that Senate races can be expensive. “You have to have the ability to raise funds, which so far I’ve been very successful in doing, and that’s very important not only for the primary but for the general.” She expects Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and the Democratic party to pour money into state Senate races. “Unless you’ve run for state Senate, you wouldn’t know just what a dramatic difference it is from running for state representative. Geography-wise, money-wise, and making contact.”

What are she looking forward to doing that she hasn’t done before? “Getting out there and meeting more and more people, really. Hearing peoples’ stories is something I always look forward to on the campaign trail. It’s the only way to know what the public is thinking. You spend too much time with Republican activists, you become insular, and it’s not always about that. It’s about getting what the voter feels.”

Her web site: www.votemooney.com