Republican candidates for Governor, Walt Havenstein and Andrew Hemingway, squared off Wednesday morning on WGIR. Their debate was heated and, at times, personal.
While this race remains tough to call, in this debate, Andrew Hemingway acted the part of underdog. He went after Walt Havenstein repeatedly, hoping to turn what Havenstein says is his strength—his experience leading billion dollar defense companies—into an example of how moneyed interests use campaign contributions to get their way at tax payers’ expense.
“This sort of a model, in Washington and around Washington, is what breeds corruption. This is what is wrong with a huge part of what is wrong with Washington today. This is not something we want to bring to New Hampshire.”
Havenstein was most recently the head of Maryland-based Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC. Hemingway said Havenstein directed money to Democrats like Jeanne Shaheen through a company-controlled PAC.
Havenstein called that a lie. And bristled at the suggestion that he had anything less than what he called ‘impeccable’ character.
“WH: Ask the people of SAIC, to include the board of directors, whether Walt Havenstein has character.
AH: We would ask the board members of SAIC but they all have gag orders. Because when you left SAIC two years early in your contract, a five year contract, you left after three years, under which the US District Attorney deemed this time period a, quote, colossal fraud.”
Havenstein was never named in the scandal which involved kickbacks and gouging the city of New York. He also said he helped uncover the fraud and struck an almost parental tone as he scolded the much younger Hemingway for suggesting he was part of it.
“I gotta tell you that is very disturbing. I’m so disappointed in you, in doing that.”
Both candidates expressed plenty of disappointment in Governor Maggie Hassan.
AH: “Governor Hassan has tried for a year and a half here to be John Lynch. We all knew John Lynch and quite frankly, Governor Maggie Hassan is no John Lynch.”
WH:“Whether it’s on the budget, whether it’s on the performance of spending in the state, time and time again, people are questioning now her transparency.”
They also agreed it was wrong for the state to raise the gas tax. But they also displayed some big policy differences. Hemingway wants to repeal expanded Medicaid while Havenstein doesn’t.
Havenstein said he wouldn’t pursue roll backs on social issues. Hemingway, meanwhile, said he’s pro-life and wants to defund Planned Parenthood.
Hemingway said he would repeal the death penalty, and was open to expanded gambling and legalizing marijuana. Havenstein is opposed to all three.
The candidates also tussled over what it will take to win the party’s nomination. Havenstein used the debate to break the news that his campaign has raised about $2 million and has broad support from national GOP figures and key state Republicans.
“Over 200 grassroots supporters in Hillsborough County alone.”
Hemingway dismissed Havenstein’s fundraising as a quote, ‘nonstory’ and said core Republican activists will respect his conservative credentials.
“And when they go to the polls, they will be casting a vote for expanding freedom. They know that I’m the conservative candidate who’s going to limit government.”
The candidates will meet and debate five more times before the September 9th primary.