Sep 29

Quote of the day: Billy bots and Free Staters

New Hampshire State House by zachstern, on Flickr

Image: Zach Stern / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Lee Quandt, the former Republican state representative from Exeter, warns that a number of extremists and Free Staters from the Bill O’Brien era are plotting their return:

On the state rep races some are predicting a 265 republican to democrat majority with, you got it, the famous “Bill the Bully O’Brien” as speaker once again. If you remember the last time he was speaker in two short years he turned the legislature into a cult and by doing that brought down the whole republican agenda and we lost the house.

Many of the same people who the voters rejected during the last election, let’s call them Billy bots because they couldn’t think for themselves, are running again. That includes a number of Free Staters who are still hell bent on taking control of NH and frustrated they can’t. We have Free Staters and Free State backers running in Exeter who are trying to keep a low profile knowing, like Exeter, many communities will not vote for them.

Sep 28

Model projects GOP takeover in N.H. House


Our 2014 forecast model for the New Hampshire House projects Republicans will regain control of the 400-seat chamber with a substantial majority. If the election were held today, the model predicts Republicans would win 244 seats to 156 for Democrats.

The model is based on just two variables, a partisan analysis for each of the state’s 204 House districts and national polls measuring the generic congressional ballot preference.

We create a baseline win probability for each district based on its Partisan Voting Index, which compares the district’s presidential vote over the last two elections with national results. A D+2 district, for example, voted more Democratic than the nation at large by two percentage points. Our model calculates that a generic Democrat running against a generic Republican in that district had about a 60% win probability in 2012.


Our model adjusts the baseline probability to reflect the current national mood as measured by generic congressional ballot polls. Those surveys, in which voters are asked, “Do you plan to vote for a Democratic or a Republican candidate in your congressional district?” are highly predictive of the actual popular vote.

We’ve found three analysts who aggregate results from generic ballot surveys. Their methodologies for calculating the average result differ. Today’s Huffington Post average gives Republicans a 44.0%-43.0% advantage; Talking Points Memo has the GOP up by a 43.7%-41.9% margin; and Real Clear Politics calculates a 46.5%-42.5% lead for Republicans. Our model averages the three for a 2.3% GOP advantage.

For much of the year, generic ballot results have been relatively even between the two parties. As the pollsters transition from surveys measuring all registered voters to “likely voters,” Republicans have now taken a clear lead. The chart below, from the Princeton Election Consortium, shows an ominous (for Democrats) trend over the last two months.


Our model does not attempt to judge the strengths or weaknesses of individual candidates or their campaigns and does not predict results for individual House races. Nor does it make adjustments for any differences in partisan enthusiasm between New Hampshire and the nation at large.

Analysts who do study the individual contests have published estimates ranging from a more modest 209-191 Republican advantage by SNHU’s Dean Spiliotes to a 250-150 prediction by state Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester).

Andy Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, has developed a forecast model based on results from the Survey Center’s generic ballot poll for the New Hampshire House. His latest prediction of a 264-136 Republican advantage is based on a five point lead (37%-32%) for Republicans on the August New Hampshire House generic ballot question.

We’ll be watching for movement in the generic ballot surveys over the course of the election season that could indicate a change in the electorate’s mood. We’ll update our model each week to reflect those changes.

Sep 26

Marilinda Garcia dodges ‘personhood’ questions

Video: NH02RawFootage

2nd District congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia has yet to clarify her position on the controversial “personhood” doctrine that defines a fertilized egg as a human being endowed with the rights of a citizen.

As we noted earlier, Garcia’s position that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits abortion is virtually identical to the “personhood” plank adopted by the New Hampshire GOP last week.

Delegates to the state party convention added language to the platform declaring support for “the pre-born child’s fundamental right to life and personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment, and implement all Constitutional and legal protections.”

The revised party platform now calls for “a Life at Conception Act guaranteeing the protections of Life and Personhood to the pre-born under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

On her 2012 campaign web site, Garcia described her position on abortion as, “Believing that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life and clarifying the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections as applicable to unborn children.”


Pro-life activists leading the “personhood” movement do so with the goal of outlawing all abortions. Opponents say the initiative would also criminalize some birth control, limit in-vitro fertilization and restrict medical options for pregnant cancer patients.

Sep 24

FSP founder Jason Sorens: N.H. could pose “serious secessionist challenge” to U.S. government

Image: / CC BY 3.0

The founder of the Free State Project says New Hampshire could pose a “serious secessionist challenge” to the U.S. government in 30 to 60 years. Even as the group’s president Carla Gericke works to dispel the notion that secession is their endgame, Jason Sorens makes a case for it in the Washington Post:

Consider New Hampshire’s possible future. While the Free State Project does not endorse independence for New Hampshire – or any specific legislation – its “Statement of Intent” endorses government limited strictly to protecting people’s rights. Free Staters generally support more autonomy for the state. If the federal government won’t let New Hampshire opt out of the vast federal Leviathan, then what?

New Hampshire joined the union on condition that it remain a fully sovereign state free to break the tie with the United States if that link were no longer in its interest. Article 7 of the New Hampshire Constitution declares that “the people of this state have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right, pertaining thereto, which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in congress assembled.” Banning secession would break this original agreement.

In his original Free State manifesto, Sorens laid out his secession strategy. Even if we don’t actually secede, we can force the federal government to compromise with us and grant us substantial liberties. … We could use our leverage for liberty," he wrote in 2001. Thirteen years later, Sorens reiterates that strategy:

Even now, independence is not ideal for New Hampshire. We Granite Staters can still hope for broader self-government before anybody discusses striking out on our own.

But 30 or 60 years from now, a U.S. government that had lost military predominance to China and India while keeping up increasingly centralized and sclerotic institutions could well face a serious secessionist challenge from a state such as New Hampshire. To prevent secession, the U.S. government will not use force; it will have to devolve power.

Following publication of this piece, Sorens followed up with a tweet saying he doesn’t believe it is likely that the Granite State will secede in his lifetime — and he would oppose it.

Sep 21

N.H. GOP votes to criminalize abortion, eliminate marriage equality and outlaw Sharia law


Tea Party activists were in firm control of the New Hampshire GOP convention yesterday, adding language to the party platform criminalizing abortion, condemning marriage equality and calling for legislation to outlaw Sharia law.

Delegates strengthened the anti-choice plank in the platform that had expressed support for “the unborn child’s fundamental right to life and implement all possible legal protections.”

The revised language explicitly declares abortion is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution, committing the party to protect “the pre-born child’s fundamental right to life and personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment, and implement all possible Constitutional protections.”

(Incidentally, this language aligns the party with the position expressed by 2nd District congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia. On her 2012 campaign website, Garcia also pointed to “Fourteenth Amendment’s protections” for the unborn child’s “fundamental right to life.”)

By a 241-124 vote, the delegates defeated an amendment proposed by former state Rep. Tammy Simmons (R-Manchester) that would have eliminated the platform’s definition of marriage “as the legal union between one man and one woman.”

Simmons speech in favor of Amendment 43 was described as “a strong, reasonable, well-formed Libertarian - Conservative argument,” by one attendee. “Simmons’s eloquence was clearly wasted on these neanderthals,” complained Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester).

The delegates then approved an amendment condemning marriage equality: “Recognize marriage as the legal and sacred union between one man and one woman as ordained by God, encouraged by the State, traditional to humankind, and the core of the Family.”

The language is “straight out of the playbook of the 19th century Know Nothing Party,” noted Vaillancourt. The vote “clearly showed that two out of three Republicans believe in turning the clock back; in hoping to force gay people back into the closet,” he wrote.

Delegates also approved language committing the party to “take any and all actions possible to protect against the implementation of any part of Sharia law in NH, including legislation outlawing Sharia law.”

"Who would have known that Republicans have become such religious scholars as to single out Sharia law for special condemnation?" Vaillancourt asked. "No wonder Americans are hated by such large segments of the Islamic world; a gratuitous slap from the NH GOP certainly will add to that."

"As I say, it was a sad, sad, sad, sad day for sanity in the state party and the body politic," concluded Vaillancourt.

Sep 20

N.H. GOP convention report: ‘Sh*t show has begun’

Update: If the embedded slideshow is not displaying properly here, you can view the complete series of Tweets from the GOP convention on the Storify site.  

imageAs WMUR’s James Pindell reported on the state Republican Party’s annual convention via Twitter today, one conservative activist inside the auditorium offered commentary:

Sep 17

Losing GOP House candidate blasts winner: ‘If they had met you they never would have voted for you’


Image: Steve Garvie / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Eric Rottenecker won’t be attending the Republican unity breakfast. The Navy veteran from Bristol was one of three Republicans competing to represent Grafton District 9 in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He came up short in the primary, losing to incumbent Jeff Shackett and Free Stater activist Robert Hull.

In a letter to the editor of the Laconia Daily Sun, Rottenecker blasted Hull and declared his intent to wage a write-in campaign for the seat. “Just pick up a pen on Nov. 4,” he wrote. “Mistakes can be corrected:”

Bob Hull, the man nobody knows without those signs, or mailers, or full-page advertising, is a free-stater from the town of Grafton. He lives in a commune of free-staters sharing the same address. For those of you who did vote for him and don’t know what a free-stater is, I’ll clue you in: they had unsuccessfully pushed for a resolution to get Grafton to secede from the United Nations, arguing that the U.N. could potentially obtain the authority to impose its own taxes or invade the town. They don’t believe in government. They would like to do away with the Constitution, and are very big on guns. […]

One question I would like to ask of Mr. Hull: why did you sit in your car in the corner of the parking lot all day at the Bristol polls Tuesday and not stand and greet your voters? I’ll answer it for you. If they had met you they never would have voted for you.

One more thing, as soon as the polls closed he ran inside to see what the count was, picked up his signs and beat feet out of there. This is going to be our next Republican representative for the Newfound Lake Region. People, the next time you vote for someone, if you don’t know anything about the candidate then pass over them. Stop wasting your vote on lawn signs.

Mixed signals from N.H. GOP platform committee


Revisions to the New Hampshire Republican Party platform proposed by the platform committee send a set of contradictory messages.

They propose removing a reference to “traditional families” as the “foundation of strong communities” — but continue to declare marriage is a “legal union between one man and one woman.”

They propose removing language opposing “Sharia Law, the International Baccalaureate Program, UN Agenda 21 or other ‘sustainable development’ programs” — but they oppose the implementation of Obamacare.

They propose removing a reference supporting “organizations who provide alternatives to abortions” — but leave intact a commitment to “implement all possible legal protections” for "the unborn child’s fundamental right to life."

There is dissent. One delegate proposed eliminating the anti-choice language. “This sentence sounds very threatening,” she wrote. “To implement all possible legal protections. I’m concerned that women seeking an abortion, which is their moral choice, good or bad, will be criminalized. The sentence could sound like the war on women the democrats talk about.” The committee rejected her recommendation.

When the Republican State Committee holds its 2014 Convention on Saturday, delegates will be called upon to ratify the platform revisions. The delegates were chosen by Republican voters in last week’s primary election. Tea Party and Free Stater activists had worked to increase their representation at the convention. Saturday, we’ll learn if they were any more successful than their candidates for Governor and the U.S. Senate.

Sep 16

Former White House counsel: Lessig underestimates collateral damage from Stark 360 partnership

Lessig at Netroots Nation 2008 by tombrown91, on Flickr

Image: Tom Brown / CC BY-SA 2.0 

Bob Bauer, former White House counsel to Pres. Obama, notes the single-issue approach to campaign finance reform practiced by Prof. Lawrence Lessig and Mayday.US comes at a considerable cost in means and ends:

It relies on money to achieve its goal; it insists that all other policy objectives should be subordinated to it; and it aims to be the decisive factor in the election of candidates who have tacked campaign finance reform onto platforms consisting of the repeal of health care reform, opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, support for NRA gun rights policies, and serious discussion of impeachment as a means of expressing opposition to the policies of the current administration.

The man Lessig calls “one of the truly great lawyers of our time" says it is fair for progressives — the natural constituency for Lessig’s scheme to reform campaign finance — to ask how much collateral damage is acceptable. Bauer points to Mayday’s New Hampshire partnership with Stark 360, a group with links to the Free State Project, as a case in point. Lessig “underestimates the burden he carries to establish for progressives that the means are well fitted to his ends,” writes Bauer:

In the case of Stark360, Prof. Lessig assigns little significance to the longer-term consequences of aligning Mayday with this organization. For one thing, he has lent it credibility or at least brought to it national attention—not many outside of New Hampshire had heard of it, until Mayday joined forces with it. Stark360 can transfer this fresh political capital to other initiatives progressives energetically oppose. This is politics, after all, and Professor Lessig and Mayday have helped to promote Stark360 overall.

Moreover, it will be little solace to progressives that Stark360, like Mayday, supported Jim Rubens for the United States Senate in New Hampshire. It supported Rubens for entirely different reasons and utterly opposed electing him for the reason motivating Mayday. So if Rubens had been elected, to whom in this alliance would he have owed his allegiance—the organization in the coalition that wants public financing reform, or the one very much against it? It seems this is quite a muddled politics that can only send the candidate Mayday is supporting a mixed message about what level of obligation he actually carries into office as a campaign finance supporter.

Sep 14

Today’s question: Is it best to openly identify with Free State Project or hide the information?


Image: / CC BY 3.0

In its 2014 candidate questionnaire, the New Hampshire chapter of the American Federation of Teachers asked, "Are you a member of the Free State Project or NH Liberty Alliance?"

State House candidate Amanda Bouldin posted a copy of the questionnaire on the NHLA Facebook page. The audience there was not amused.

"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?" wrote FSP president Carla Gericke. “By which we mean: are you a member of ANY union? We should do our own questionnaire. Stark360.”

”# Winning,” wrote Rep. JR Hoell (R-Dunbarton). “When AFT needs to target your group by name, then you know you are being effective.”

Much of the ensuing discussion assumed voters are wary of Free Staters simply because they have moved here from out of state.

House candidate Bill Walker noted former Rep. Seth Cohn “used to have a good list of Democrats that had moved here… it was over half of their reps.”

I didn’t make the list, I can’t recall who did,” replied Cohn. “I’d talk to O’Brien, he might recall who (Greg Moore? Pam Tucker?) put together the list of hometowns for Reps in 2011 when this last was raised.”

One person asked the obvious question: “What answer is best to give?”

" *ahem* I said teachers union," answered Bouldin.

"I meant it more as a general question," he replied. "Is it best to openly identify, come what may re: consequences, or should one hide the information to get into a better position?”

Bouldin dodged the question. “I believe, in general, candidates don’t take surveys that they don’t think they can ‘pass,’ ” she wrote.

Sep 12

Crazy money: Questions arise over Stark 360 payments to company led by PAC chairman



The libertarian super PAC that received over $100,000 in funding from Lawrence Lessig’s Mayday PAC has reported transferring $20,000 to a company headed by its chairman, leading one former lawmaker to question the legality of the action.

DailyKos diarist DocDawg first reported the transfer, which was documented in a FEC filing by Stark 360 PAC. On September 5, Stark made two separate $10,000 payments to ARD Ventures, a company led by Stark chairman Aaron Day. Stark made the independent expenditures on behalf of Marilinda Garcia for Congress and U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens for “GOTV activities.”

"[C]razy money going everywhere," tweeted former GOP state Rep. Jon Richardson (R-Allenstown) when he read reports of the payments, “how is the 20K legal?”

ARD Ventures describes itself as a technology-focused venture capital firm that has “founded, advised, and invested in ground breaking seed and early stage companies” since 1995.

The ARD Ventures website, which has been offline since this story broke, identifies Day as the company’s managing partner and founder. The company’s advisory board includes Matt Philips, who is also on the Stark 360 board of directors, District 18 state Senate nominee Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield) and GOP gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway.

ARD Ventures was also in the news recently when Sheriden Brown, a one-time aide to former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s office accusing Hemingway of willfully concealing a campaign donation from Day. Hemingway reported a June 6, 2014 contribution of $2500 from ARD Ventures but did not include Day’s name in the report. The Hemingway campaign blamed the omission on a software glitch.

Brown’s complaint noted, “No entity or trade name of ‘ARD Ventures’ is filed with the New Hampshire Department of State Corporations Division.” Our search of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Corporate Database indicates ARD Ventures LLC was registered as a Domestic Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Massachusetts on August 29, 2008.

In the filing, Day was identified as the company’s resident agent and only manager. On April 19, 2011, ARD Ventures was formally dissolved by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Sep 10

N.H. House primaries: Highlights and lowlights

I Voted! by Vox Efx, on Flickr

Image: Vox Efx / CC BY 2.0 

The 2014 New Hampshire primaries are in the books. Here are a few of the results from House of Representatives contests that caught our eye.

Goffstown: The center holds

Barbara Griffin and David Pierce, accused by Free Staters and Tea Partiers of being “long-time Democrats and big government apologists,” won handily in the Hillsborough District 6 GOP primary. Free Stater Rep. Calvin Pratt, the only incumbent in the race, and James Butcher, Mark Warden’s protege,” lost.

A Free Stater hat trick for Manchester Democrats

Newcomers Elizabeth Edwards (Manchester Ward 4) and Amada Bouldin (Manchester Ward 5) joined Rep. Tim O’Flahery (Manchester Wards 4-7) as winners representing the Free State Project in Queen City Democratic primaries.

Oops he did it again

Rep. Kyle Tasker, Nottingham, the accidental gun slinger who makes frequent headlines with his impolitic and offensive comments, was the top vote-getter in the Rockingham District 2 GOP primary.

Blasts from the past

David Bates, Windham, best remembered most for “chasing homosexuals” and sponsoring legislation to repeal marriage equality won his Republican primary in Rockingham District 7. As did Jerry Bergevin, Manchester, in Hillsborough District 45. Rep. Bergevin made national headlines in 2012 when he claimed teaching the theory of evolution led to Nazi atrocities and the Columbine school shooting.

To err is human

The Democratic candidate known as human lost his bid for the House after winning his fight with the DMV over his COPSLIE vanity license plate. The Rochester resident received 30 votes in the Strafford District 22 primary.