The New Hampshire Democratic Party is mounting an aggressive campaign against nine Republican legislators who party leaders charge have been linked to controversies.
The effort, dubbed “Must Resign Nine,” targets GOP lawmakers who made controversial comments or ran into problems with the law.
A website with details will go live Monday.
“Not only are these GOP legislators out of touch, but they’re completely out of bounds,” said Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley. “These Republican legislators do not represent the views of Granite Staters. They should not represent anyone in the State House, and voters will hold them accountable in November.”
The New Hampshire Republican State Committee did not respond to a request for comment.
Among the lawmakers:
• Rep. Werner Horn, R-Franklin, posted on Facebook in the fall of 2019 that “owning slaves doesn’t make you racist” and that slavery was a “business decision.” Horn maintained that slave ownership wasn’t based on race but on the economics of needing cheap labor.
Gov. Chris Sununu, a two-term Republican, condemned Horn’s comments and called upon him to quit.
• Rep. Jordan Ulery, R-Hudson, told reporters in 2011 that “when you do not participate in your society around you, and when you become different, you become subject to what the Nazis did to the Jews.”Ulery added, “When you establish a ghetto, you’re leaving yourself open to what happened to the Jews in Eastern Europe because you’re setting yourself up to be different.”
Ulery has won reelection to the House in four straight elections since making those remarks. Republicans hold all 10 of the seats in his district, which includes Hudson and Pelham.
• Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said during the 2016 presidential campaign that Hillary Clinton should be “shot for treason” for her role in responding to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Baldasaro also serves in a GOP-dominated House district and has won election seven times.
• Rep. Howard Pearl, R-Loudon, had been charged with sexual assault on a 15-year-old, but the charges ultimately were dismissed.
• Rep. Ken Weyler, R-Kingston, had said providing food stamps to Muslim-Americans was “treason.” In 2011, he suggested that cutting spending on mental health could help cure people because providers want these sick people to be “patients for life.”
Weyler, in his 16th term, also serves in a heavily Republican district.
• Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, in 2017 responded to a video about sexual assault on Facebook, “I agree with NO is NO. ‘But,’ you share in that crime just a little if you put yourself in that spot.”
Burt is completing his fifth term.
• Rep. James Spillane, R-Deerfield, pleaded guilty to two charges and received a 12-month suspended jail term after his indictment for strangling his partner and causing a car crash in 2010. He pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and drunken driving charges.
• State Sen. David Starr, R-Franconia, in a 2019 blog post commented about the movie “Black Panther.” “They had Darkman working the camera giving us a lot of pure black scenes with only mumbled dialogue to clue us in. Since the cast was all black, nothing showed up in the dark scenes; not even an eyeball. At least in Game of Thrones, you could see a white face or two barely visible in the black.”
• Rep. Betsy McKinney, R-Londonderry, was censured for failing to attend a mandatory sexual harassment prevention training session. Last February she joked she would be “extremely flattered” if her State House seatmate harassed her.
“The Republican legislators who make up the ‘Must Resign Nine’ have embarrassed their constituents, have spouted racist and sexist slurs, and have done things that should disqualify them from office,” Buckley said.
“It’s past time for these nine Republicans to resign, and if they refuse, voters will take matters into their own hands at the ballot box this November.”
Officials at the Republican State Committee declined to respond to a request for comment.
The website address and more details are at www.MustResignNine.com.
Sununu slams inaction
The governor has largely stayed out of the legislative process that winds down at the end of this month.
But last Thursday, Sununu lashed out especially at Senate Democrats for failing to act on three of his pet issues: student debt assistance, a change to sexual assault laws, and protection for pregnant women in the workplace.
The sex assault change arose from the case of Howie Leung, who was charged last year in Massachusetts for rape and was accused of having improper relationships with students at Concord High, where he was a special education teacher.
”It was obvious to folks that students in a school setting, with someone that is in a position of authority, needed to be protected,” Sununu said.
”There were several bills. The Democrats wouldn’t let any of them come back. I was floored by that one.”
Senate Republican leaders noted the failure of the Senate to compromise was linked to their desire to have their own version of legislation taken up.
Sununu said he thought preventing pregnant women from being discriminated against was a no-brainer.
”That’s kind of obvious stuff to me. Again, wouldn’t even bring it up for a vote.
”I was shocked by it. I will get a better Legislature next time, and I’ll get that one done.”
Senate leadership said neither Sununu nor a member of his staff talked to Senate President Donna Soucy or the Senate majority office about these issues.
”It is deeply disappointing that House Republicans put politics before the people of New Hampshire and killed many good bills when they refused to reasonably amend the deadlines to ensure the House could fulfill their obligations to the citizens of this state,” said Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”Fortunately, Senate Democrats led bipartisan efforts to preserve many important initiatives, including a package of bills that make New Hampshire safer and more just for all by enhancing sexual assault prevention education, strengthening protections for survivors, and eliminating the civil statute of limitations for sexual assault.”
Camp owners seek relief
The Legislative Advisory Board last week heard dire warnings about the future of many summer camps that will not be opening in 2020.
Ken Robbins, president of the New Hampshire Camp Directors Association, said a survey of roughly half of the 160 licensed camps determined that 17% of them might not open in 2021 and could go out of business.
About half the camps have yet to move to reopen this summer, Robbins said.
The state’s rules permit day camps to open on Monday and overnight camps to open June 28.
”The guidelines are extraordinarily challenging,” said Robbins, who runs Camp Kabeyun, a summer camp for boys in Alton Bay.
”They are necessary and they are prudent but for all of us, they present a real dilemma. Everyone has been wrestling with this for months.”
This is the first year Camp Kabeyun will be closed, he said. The state’s restrictions keep the camp from being financially viable.
Sununu said for-profit camps could have applied for grants from the Main Street Fund, and non-profit camps are eligible to seek part of the $60 million grant program for that sector.
”Camps aren’t looking for a bailout. They are looking to stay strong and be present,” Robbins said.
”We know that getting to 2021 is going to be a serious challenge.”
Last week, Sununu did not rule out a “future opportunity” (read new grant program) to help these struggling camps.
Dems have money edge
The first campaign finance reports for the 2020 election cycle revealed that Democratic political action committees enjoy a sizable cash advantage over their Republican counterparts.
For example, as of mid-June, the Democratic State Committee had more than $572,000 in cash on hand. The Republican State Committee had almost $212,000 in the bank.
The House Committee to Elect Republicans was in better shape, with more than $65,000 left over. The Committee to Elect House Democrats had $107,000.GOP senator has most cash
Senate Republican Leader Chuck Morse of Salem serves in one of the safest GOP seats in the 24-person Senate and has never faced a stiff challenge.
This reality and his past as Senate president are why Morse has the biggest war chest of any senator, with more than $311,000.
Following him is Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, who ended mid-June with $197,000.
Outgoing senator chooses
State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, is not seeking an eighth two-year term, but she’s decided to play a role in the primary election for her seat.
Clark has given the maximum $7,000 donation to former Portsmouth City Councilor Rebecca Perkins Kwoka.
This primary features Kwoka and Deaglan McEachern. McEachern ran in the crowded 2018 1st Congressional District primary that U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas won.
Perkins Kwoka already has raised $54,300. McEachern has reported $9,000 in donations.
The other competitive Democratic Senate primary is in District 5, where Suzanne Prentiss of Lebanon and Beatriz Pastor of Lyme are vying to replace Martha Hennessey of Hanover, who has decided to retire this fall.
Democrats have another contested race in Executive Council District 4, with the winner facing off against Councilor Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester.
The candidates are former AFL-CIO President and ex-State Rep. Mark MacKenzie of Manchester, lawyer Jerome Duval of Manchester and Kola Adewumi of Hooksett.
Young Dems choose chair
Last Thursday, the New Hampshire Young Democrats held an online election to pick a new chairperson.
Ashley Marcoux won the race over Mackenzie Murphy of Merrimack.
Marcoux replaces Lucas Meyer, who stepped down from that post to work full-time on Chris Pappas’ reelection campaign.
Marcoux previously was constituent services director for U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and also worked as a staff organizer for Hillary Clinton for President and the New Hampshire Democratic Party.