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April 20. 2014 11:27PM

Havenstein: 'I'm a pro-choice Republican'


WALT HAVENSTEIN 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walter Havenstein has proclaimed himself a "pro-choice Republican."

In an interview broadcast Sunday, Havenstein said he is a "moderate Republican" in responding to a question about his stand on abortion.

"I'm a pro-choice Republican," Havenstein said. "I deeply respect those whose views are different from mine and I would support reasonable restrictions."

Havenstein said on WMUR's "CloseUP" that he is a fiscal conservative whose campaign would center on economic issues.

"I have very, very strong personal beliefs on (abortion) and on gay marriage but I tend to keep those personal beliefs out of the political spectrum," Havenstein said. "I'm focused on how we get the New Hampshire economy back in shape, how we become the most friendly place to do business in the region, not the most difficult place to do business in the region."

As with his stand on abortion, Havenstein staked out a position on gay marriage that differs from the point of view of many of the state's conservatives.

"My position on same-sex marriage is: We have a law on the books, I support that law," he said.

Asked if he would sign a repeal of the state's same-sex marriage law, Havenstein said, "I would consider it."

The law went into effect Jan. 1, 2010, and has survived all repeal efforts.

Asked to comment on Havenstein's statements, New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn responded via email, writing, "Walt Havenstein is an accomplished business leader and an excellent addition to our outstanding field of gubernatorial candidates. Republicans are looking forward to a positive and productive primary that will produce a fiscally responsible nominee who will defeat Governor Maggie Hassan."

Havenstein campaign manager Henry Goodwin said Saturday that "these are not positions which have designed by advisers."

"These are his beliefs," Goodwin said. "Walt is principled, but he's pragmatic."

Havenstein said he will champion right-to-work legislation that would prohibit mandatory union membership in the state.

Havenstein, who lives in Alton, said he hasn't made up his mind on the Northern Pass transmission lines that would slice through the North Country. The former BAE Systems CEO expressed doubt about whether Northern Pass is the best way to address the state's energy needs. The proposal would bring hydroelectric power from Quebec into the New England grid.

"It's very, very important that we get lower-cost energy," he said. "I'm not sure that Northern Pass can do that.

While critical of the concept of casino gambling in the Granite State, Havenstein said he hasn't decided whether as governor he would veto a casino gambling bill.

"It can't be the cornerstone of our economic development in the state," he said, adding: "I'm disappointed that we haven't developed economic development plans that go well beyond the issue of casino plans."

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has supported allowing a single casino in the state, and included $80 million of casino gaming revenue in her first budget. Efforts to adopt legislation authorizing one casino have failed thus far.

Havenstein also said that he is not personally in favor of legalization of recreational marijuana, but said he would like to see more evidence on the issue.

Democrats have been questioning Havenstein's eligibility to run for governor, given his residence in Maryland in recent years. But, he said, he has considered New Hampshire his home for many years.

"I've been a resident of New Hampshire and domiciled here since 1999," he said. "I've lived here continuously since 1999, I've voted here continuously since 1999 and have voted in no other place," he said. "This has been my home."

Some Democrats have tried to portray Havenstein as either a resident of Maryland for taking a residents-only tax break or a tax cheat.

Havenstein says he is neither.

"Like many New Hampshire residents, I had to commute to work for five years, to the Washington D.C. area and when I commuted for work, I owned a condo apartment in Maryland," he said. "Because statutorily it was my primary residence, I had to pay income tax in Maryland and I was eligible for, and was granted a homestead tax credit, but I met all my obligations for tax purposes in Maryland and every other state."

Secretary of State Bill Gardner is expected to decide on Havenstein's eligibility to run after the Republican files papers to appear on the ballot.

Havenstein said he investigated the issue before becoming a candidate.

"I had attorneys and others make sure the domicile question was unquestioned," he said.

Havenstein faces a GOP primary challenge from conservative activist and entrepreneur Andrew Hemingway of Bristol.

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New Hampshire Union Leader staff reporters Bill Smith, Tim Buckland and Paul Feely contributed to this report.


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