This Week in N.H. News: Here Comes The General...

Sep 16, 2016

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T-minus 52 days 'Til the November Elections...

And after Tuesday’s primary, we now have a much better sense of what the matchups in November are going to look like. (Even if it took a while to get there, in some cases.)

Maybe you were in the (very small) minority of New Hampshire voters who participated in this year's state primaries, or maybe you're in that larger slice of the electorate who tuned things out. Either way, there were plenty of important contests up for grabs that could have a big impact on the future of the state. Here’s a rundown of where things stand, after all the votes were counted:

  • Colin Van Ostern won the Democratic primary for governor without much drama — scoring more than half the vote, the race was called early in the night.
  • The Republican gubernatorial primary, on the other hand, took much longer to decide — thanks, in part, to a surprisingly strong showing from first-term Rep. Frank Edelblut against Executive Councilor Chris Sununu.  In the end, Sununu eked out a victory by less than one percentage point. (Fun fact: The last time a Republican gubernatorial primary was this close, it was when Sununu’s father ran back in 1982.) 
  • The first Congressional District matchup between incumbent Rep. Frank Guinta and businessman Rich Ashooh was similarly without a clear winner by the end of the night Tuesday.  But once all the results were tallied, Guinta prevailed — meaning that he’ll face off against Democrat Carol Shea-Porter for the fourth consecutive race in a row. 
  • In the second Congressional District, Republican Jim Lawrence emerged with both a victory for the night and a historic milestone for the state: He’s the first black candidate ever nominated for a major statewide office in New Hampshire, on either ticket. 
  • On the U.S. Senate front, Sen. Kelly Ayotte beat out primary challenger Jim Rubens by a landslide — then again, she and Gov. Maggie Hassan have effectively already been acting like they were officially opponents for months.
  • And in the state Senate, the primaries set the stage for a potential shift in power in that chamber, where one-third of the 24 seats are up for grabs. 

Get to Know Your Next Governor

The day after each of their respective races were locked up, the new Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominees sat down for conversations with NHPR’s Morning Edition about the race ahead and what they hope to bring to the position. Listen to the full interviews with Democrat Colin Van Ostern and Republican Chris Sununu

Keep in mind, though, that New Hampshire’s governorship is actually pretty limited — “not one of the weakest governorships, it is the weakest governorship,” according to one expert. Here’s more on the constraints placed on the person in the Statehouse corner office.

You'll have a chance to hear more from the candidates soon, too: We're co-hosting a forum with Sununu and Van Ostern next week, Sept. 21. Got questions you'd like them to answer? Let us know here.

In Other News...
Credit University of New Hampshire

Scoreboard Purchase Costs UNH a Few PR Points

News that late librarian Robert Morin left the University of New Hampshire $4 million has been hailed as a symbol of Morin's dedication and generosity. But the school's decision to spend $1 million of that money on a new video scoreboard for the football stadium is, well, not going over quite so well

The school, in response to the backlash, says they "respect and acknowledge" the feedback they've received — but they're sticking by their purchase. Gov. Maggie Hassan, meanwhile, also weighed in on Friday — called UNH's use of the donation toward the scoreboard "concerning and perplexing."

Tradition, Schmadition

This week, the Union Leader did something unusual: It endorsed a presidential candidate who wasn’t a Republican, something that hasn’t happened for as long as its publisher can remember. NHPR’s Peter Biello caught up with that publisher, Joe McQuaid, about the paper’s decision to buck the two major party nominees in favor of LIbertarian Gary Johnson.

From Forester to “Father”

In Nashua, one church recently revived the traditional Latin Mass. NHPR’s Sean Hurley paid a visit, and introduces us to a priest with a unique backstory who’ll be presiding over the services.

Crisis Among the Cows

Things are getting pretty dire for New Hampshire’s dairy industry: This year alone, 19 of the state’s 120 wholesale dairy farms have closed, milk prices are falling and costs, all the while, continue to pile up. To give us a sense of what this means for both the farmers and the rest of us who count on those farms for milk, state Department of Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill joined NHPR’s Morning Edition for a conversation on the crisis.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Layoffs Stir Mistrust With State Officials

Barely a few days after the health system finalized a major (highly contentious) contract to provide psychiatric services to the state hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock announced plans to potentially lay off hundreds of employees. Needless to say, several of the executive councilors in charge of signing off on that multi-million-dollar state contract weren’t pleased with this news.

Corey’s Comeback?

Politico had a story this week that might be especially interesting to #NHpolitics followers — given the cameos from a few (named and unnamed) local sources — about the resurgence of ousted campaign manager and New Hampshire resident Corey Lewandowski within the Trump network. One of the reporters who worked on that story, Ben Schreckinger, joined NHPR’s Morning Edition to catch us up on what Lewandowski’s been up to lately.

Remembering Mark

Mark Handley, NHPR’s President and General Manager from 1990 until 2005, passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. He was 74.

Mark was NHPR’s third, and longest serving, chief executive. He oversaw NHPR during a period of tremendous growth, overseeing the expansion of NHPR’s broadcast signal to Keene, Hanover, Berlin, Nashua, and Jackson. Membership grew from 5,000 in 1990 to nearly 15,000 in 2005.

Mark was the driving force behind NHPR’s transition to an all-news and information format. He hired former NPR newscaster, and Keene native, Laura Knoy to host The Exchange in 1995 and invested in NHPR’s first website in the late 1990s. The effort culminated in 2001 when the broadcast of classical music was eliminated from NHPR’s program schedule, replaced by news and information programming.

During the early 2000s, Mark served on the Board of Directors of NPR, including a term as chair was the chair of the Board. He also served on the boards of Leadership New Hampshire and the Station Resource Group.

Following his retirement in 2005, Mark and his wife Judy sailed around the world on their 42-foot sailboat, Windbird. As Judy said in announcing his passing, “Mark was a man of dreams and he made those dreams come true.”

Listen in as NHPR's Scott McPherson and Laura Knoy share their memories of Mark with All Things Considered host Peter Biello.

Also Worth A Click...
Laetitia Soulier, The Square Roots 1, from the series titled The Fractal Architectures, 2013, C-print. Courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery and the artist.

...And a visit.

The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College is opening a new gallery space on Main Street in Hanover. The museum itself is closed until 2019 while it undergoes a major expansion project, but Director John Stromberg and his staff came up with a way to keep the Hood engaged in the community. 

Located in a highly visible storefront adjacent to the Nugget Theater, the appropriately dubbed “Hood Downtown” will show global contemporary art, with the stated goal of “bringing art from around the world” to Hanover. The first exhibit features work by contemporary French photographer Laetitia Soulier.