Six candidates file to succeed John Lynch as Governor of New Hampshire
By Lauren Rodgers
CONCORD, New Hampshire: Only one state executive office is up for election in New Hampshire this year: governor. Two years ago, the current governor, John Lynch (who was first elected in 2004) won election to an unprecedented fourth consecutive two-year term. In September of 2011, he announced he would not seek another term in office. He explained: although "for me, being governor of the State of New Hampshire is the best job in the world [and] serving in this role is the highest privilege of my life, democracy demands periodic change. To refresh and revive itself, democracy needs new leaders and new ideas."
Six candidates eager to take Lynch up on his call to "refresh and revive" the Granite State filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State before last week's deadline:
With Lynch's approval rating hovering around 70% for the last four years, the new officeholder has a hard act to follow. Candidates on both sides of the aisle have praised Lynch for his bi-partisan approach to governing and declared him to be "an accessible problem solver who really listens to a lot of different viewpoints." Thus far, the race to replace him seems far less inspiring.
Still, the candidates were enthusiastic after making their candidacies official. Immediately after submitting his paperwork to Secretary of State William Gardner, Lamontagne, who has an ever-so-slight lead in the most recent polls, pledged to Gardner to conduct his campaign with "integrity and decorum and focus on the issues that matter to the people of New Hampshire." Lamontagne then promised to "roll up my sleeves" and work alongside the people of New Hampshire to send a positive, optimistic message about building a New Hampshire for the state's current (and future) families and businesses. Lamontagne is running to "restore the citizens' faith in the state and in the country" and has said he will be a "hands-on" governor who will reduce regulations for businesses.
Like Lamontagne, Kevin Smith (R) distances himself from Lynch by citing the current governor's indecisiveness on key issues. Smith says if he were elected, "you would know there is a leader in the corner office." A former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Smith emphasized the need for the governor to work cooperatively with the state legislature and views this election as "a choice between business as usual and continuing the stale politics of the past, or a new era with new vision." Part of his new vision, he explains, is a detailed plan to make New Hampshire's economy more competitive on a national level - a key part of a campaign he claims all other candidates are lacking. Smith, the former Executive Director of Cornerstone Action, acknowledges the hardest part of running for governor will be the time spent away from his family, but he believes the future of the state is at stake and wants to make sure it moves in a very positive direction.
Democrat Jackie Cilley touts her "working family" roots (she was brought up in poverty in Burlington) and "main street business" experience. A former state Senator and Representative, she has refused to take a pledge to veto any broad-based tax, noting "it is time to have an honest conversation about what our priorities are going to be and how to fund them" - a conversation that should, in her mind, include business leaders, state workers and educators alike. When asked about her campaign theme, Granite Tough, she explained she is "solid as a rock. I am of this state, for this state and I am passionate about this state."
Fellow Democrat Maggie Hassan hopes to follow Lynch's example and be a governor who "listens and brings people together." She has taken the pledge against a sales or income tax, but, like Cilley, is opposed to a constitutional amendment recently passed by the state legislature that would permanently bar an income tax. Hassan is wary of changing the constitution and prefers a more cautious approach to economic recovery: "I think it's important to stay focused on moving the economy forward and not necessarily locking in future generations."
The primary election in New Hampshire will be held September 11th.
- NewHampshire.com, "Governor won't seek corner office again," September 19, 2011
- WMUR Granite State Poll (page 5), Gubernatorial approval," accessed June 18, 2012
- Patch.com, VIDEO: Governor's race heats up," June 14, 2012
- Public Policy Polling Public Policy Polling, May 10-13, 2012
- Union Leader, "Major candidates for NH governor make it official," June 14, 2012
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- Concord Monitor, "Democrat Hassan formally joins the race for NH governor," June 15, 2012