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Dave Solomon's State House Dome: 'The base is starting to snarl'

By DAVE SOLOMON
May 12. 2018 11:01PM




Gov. Chris Sununu had his own "conscience of a conservative" moment on Thursday at the Bridges House in a meeting with about 30 to 40 leading opinion shapers on the right to report on the legislative and policy accomplishments of the two-year session that's unwinding.

By some accounts, things didn't go quite as well as the governor had hoped.

The session at the historic Concord property with Sununu on PowerPoint did not involve incumbent elected officeholders. Invitees included people like former House Speaker Bill O'Brien, Tea Party organizer and state GOP chair Jack Kimball, incumbent state GOP chair Jeanie Forrester, former gubernatorial and senatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne, and President Trump's N.H. co-chairman Steve Stepanek, to name a few.

According to sources at the closed-door session, it was a mixed reception.

Many attendees expressed appreciation for the work Sununu did on right-to-work and school choice bills, concealed carry and a balanced budget with no new taxes or fees; but there was some anger among social conservatives about his expected signature on a bill adding gender identity to the state's civil rights protections.

His refusal so far to sign the "definition of residency" bill for voting was also a point of contention.

Skip Murphy, co-founder of the conservative GraniteGrok website, summed up his reaction to the session in a post on the site, with the headline: "I was at a meeting this afternoon . add this."

He then goes on to cite passage of the bills banning conversion therapy and extending Medicaid expansion, as well as the defeat of the school choice bill. Republicans "either helped or were the driving force" behind each outcome, writes Murphy. "And they wonder why the base is starting to snarl."

Forrester, who sat next to Murphy in the meeting, said the governor should be commended for holding the session.

"I would say that it was very thoughtful of him to reach out to conservatives, to the thought leaders, the base, to talk with them about the past legislative session," she said. "I'm sure going into it he knew he was going to get some criticism, so it shows in my mind someone who is willing to listen and wants to unify the party."

'Lion' a man of letters

With presidential hopefuls already beating a path to New Hampshire in anticipation of the 2020 first-in-the-nation presidential primary, state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro could not have picked a better time to release his biography and political treatise, "Lion of the New Hampshire Senate: Thoughts for Presidential Hopefuls."

Written by Leominster author Mark Bodanza, from interviews and conversations with the state's longest serving senator, the book is a combination of historic anecdotes, personal experience and political philosophy.

D'Allesandro, who's been winning elections in New Hampshire for 45 years, has quite a story to tell for politicians seeking advice or any fan of historical biography looking for a good read.

Someone who's covered the Manchester senator for many of those years, Union Leader senior staff writer Kevin Landrigan, is among those offering testimonials in the book's opening pages.

"His story is the personification of what's become for many a bygone era of New Hampshire politics, when it was unpretentious, instinctive and close to the people," writes Landrigan. "Future politicos would do well to heed his advice for how to recapture that magic in the Granite State."

D'Allesandro is scheduled for a book signing from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at the Common Man, 25 Water St., Concord.

A real 'hear-o'

The story of Anthony Smith, who is shown here in 2012 at 4 years old, inspired Marvel Comics to team up with hearing aid manufacturer Phonak to create a series of posters designed to encourage kids with hearing impairments. The comic book company created a customized, hearing-aid wearing character, Blue Ear, for Anthony after learning about the deaf little boy's fondness for superheroes. (Courtesy file photo)

The signing will cap an exciting two weeks for "the Lion," whose young grandson, Anthony Smith of Salem, was honored by the national Children's Hearing Institute in New York City on May 10 with the Hearing Hear-O Award.

"No doubt about it . Anthony Smith is the reason Blue Ear was created, and is solely responsible for putting smiles on the faces of children with hearing loss all around the world," according to the program for the event.

Blue Ear is a fictional superhero created by Marvel Comics after the company was contacted by Anthony's mother (D'Allesandro's daughter) in 2012, when 4-year-old Anthony refused to wear his hearing aid because "superheroes don't wear blue ears."

So Marvel created a superhero, Blue Ear, who made his comic debut in 2014 in a volume called "Sound Effects," featuring Iron Man and Sapheara, a superhero with a cochlear implant.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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