New Hampshirites are seasoned voters. We do not need a major league sports team because politics is our state pastime. Our general elections are our title games, candidates are our “superstars,” and primary campaigns are our pre-seasons. So as summer draws to a close, let the real games begin.
Of all the races, the one that fascinates me the most is the one I am directly involved in, that being my home turf, the 1st Congressional District. There are hundreds of candidates running for various offices throughout the district, but the congressional campaign is the most attention-grabbing. With the retirement of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and absent her frequent opponent, former Congressman Frank Guinta, for the first time in more than 10 years voters are faced with an open seat.
Between the various political affiliations there are approximately 20 candidates running for the seat, 11 of whom are Democrats. To use the Democrats’ own vernacular when describing a crowded political race, the Democratic field is truly a “clown car,” featuring an eclectic group of candidates. In relating what a clown car is, CNN commentator Dana Milbank had a cute way of describing it during the last presidential run – “the absurdity … There are far too many candidates (so many that there are concerns they won’t all fit on a debate stage), and to gain attention they are juggling, tooting horns and blowing slide whistles like so many painted performers emerging from a clown car.”
The Democratic field is a clown car, so much so that few voters can name all the candidates (most can’t name more than two), and all we can do as voters is wait for their juggling and tooting horns. The driver of this clown car, the commander and chief juggler, Democratic State Chairman Ray Buckley, did little to help the situation. No major debates were held, instead closely controlled “public forums” were offered to voters. These events were tightly scripted with the paramount concern being “do no harm” to the party or anointed candidate, Chris Pappas, with little regard to what voters really wanted to ask.
The other fascinating aspect of this race is with one candidate in particular, Maura Sullivan. If Pappas is the preferred choice of the N.H. Democratic Party elites (just look at the endorsements), Sullivan is the choice of the national Democratic establishment (follow the money). Sullivan seems like a nice person, and clearly has the political pedigree the national party desires (Ivy League, served in the Marines, female, worked in President Obama’s administration).
However, there is one small issue. She is not a New Hampshirite, or to use the words of Buckley (as well as the words of many other N.H. Democrats); she is the textbook definition of the modern political “carpetbagger.” The N.H. Democratic Party used it over and over again in 2014 to describe Scott Brown, so if the shoe fits, let’s not be hypocrites.
Unlike a candidate such as Mindi Messmer, who has lived in New Hampshire, raised her family here, served as a state legislator, and has been a tireless activist regarding the Coakley landfill and pediatric cancer cluster, Sullivan went shopping for a congressional district, and landed in the front seat of the Democratic clown car for the 1st District. Barely a year in New Hampshire, with no real roots in our state, Sullivan has the audacity to claim she is one of us. That is just not true.
I would have no problem, and would respect Sullivan more, had she moved to the state, lived here for a few years, worked and participated in civic endeavors alongside real New Hampshirites, and then having had the opportunity to really get to know us, ask for our votes. Her brand of politics may be fitting to the Democratic Party, but it is ill-suited for the hardworking citizens of New Hampshire.
As the occupants of the clown car can attest, almost everyone is entitled to run for this seat, even someone who doesn’t live in the district (Levi Sanders), but of all the candidates undeserving of serving us in Congress, it is the person who doesn’t really know us at all, Sullivan.
And to the state Democrats who unjustly railed against Republican candidate Scott Brown in 2014 (who was born here, lived here in his youth, has owned a home here for many years), and are now supporting Sullivan, you have been exposed as nothing but bunch of political charlatans.
We love elections in New Hampshire, as I said, it is our state pastime. We would just prefer the players be truly part of the “home team,” and not some out-of-state, imported ringer like Maura Sullivan.