On The Political Front: As Primary Heats Up, Candidates Look To Lock In Supporters

Sep 14, 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Maine Gov. Paul LePage
Credit Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald

On The Political Front is our occasional check-in on all things politics with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. 

Lawmakers get a crack at overriding Governor Hassan’s veto of the state budget veto this week and presidential candidates are thick on the ground. Let’s start there: A very busy weekend with several Republicans getting in a little campaigning before Wednesday’s GOP debate.

Yes. This is time of year is --purportedly -- when voters tend to start paying more attention, and when candidates really look to begin to start locking in supporters. A half-dozen candidates and/or their spouses were in New Hampshire over the weekend. Some, like Lindsey Graham and Chris Christie, brought in high-profile running buddies. John McCain was here for Graham and Sunday night, Maine Governor Paul LePage crossed the border for an event with Christie in Dover.

Carly Fiorina and John Kasich, who have both been gaining momentum here, also made the rounds this weekend. Both hit a GOP picnic at the home of former U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey, and the Seacoast Republican Women’s Chili-fest, at Scamman farm in Stratham. Both Fiorina and Kasich have been scooping up local endorsements. Ruth Griffin, the former executive councilor and longtime ally of the Bush family, threw her backing to Kasich last week. Fiorina’s campaign, meanwhile, rolled out a list of supporters from the North Country.

Both Fiorina and Kasich will get significant attention during the second GOP presidential debate, Wednesday. Lots of their local supporters have said they were drawn to them by how they performed in the first debates. Given how more and more of these campaigns happen on TV – debates and cable appearances – is it fair to question the weight of such endorsements?

Sure, and we’ll see. Very, very few endorsements in either party in New Hampshire really mean much. Get beyond U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, and few if any, actually have the leverage –or political network – that would be guaranteed to deliver a significant number of votes.  But any advantage might count in such a large GOP primary, and with the exit of Rick Perry we now stand at 16,  perception doesn’t hurt either.

At the Statehouse, the budget  – and several other big vetoes—will be up for an override votes. GOP leaders and the governor have both made noises about a deal to resolve the state’s budget. Its been more that 3 months since the veto. How plausible is a resolution at this point?

Gov. Maggie Hassan
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

It’s hard to get past the big point of contention: GOP lawmakers absolutely want business tax cuts. The governor wants any tax reductions offset; both sides have suggested they will bend a bit.  Most recently, the GOP – or at least a few in leadership – have indicated they will accept more modified reductions if the end result is that New Hampshire can claim business taxes here are lower than in Massachusetts. But that’s not been spelled out in any formal proposal.

But that needs to be settled by the Legislature, and the New Hampshire House is controlled by a significant, but divided, GOP majority, so how plausible is any deal here?

You raise a good point. If Democrats stand together, the governor’s veto can’t be overridden. But if a deal were to emerge that the governor supports it might not win the support it needs from Republicans for that very reason -- and it would take a super majority to pass. That means it’s quite possible the budget doesn’t come up at all and we continue on in continuing resolution mode. And if House leadership decides to keep it off the floor this week, and a deal emerges down the line, which is more plausible after final Fiscal Year 2015 budget numbers come out, we could see it in a special session later this fall. Remember, the continuing resolution won’t run until January. And all that isn’t to say a resolution sooner isn’t wanted by the key players, it just might not be had, right now, at least.

Any other significant vetoes to be taken up this week?

Yes. The governor’s veto of the repeal the requirement of people getting a permit to carry a concealed firearm. With Democrats pretty much united against this as a bloc, that override is expected to fail without any suspense. Another big bill, also highly partisan, is a bill that aims to set up a 30-day residency requirement to vote. This bill has no chance given Democratic opposition. Whatever happens, expect these issues to reemerge.