Candidate filing precedes busy election season

By RICK GREEN

The Keene Sentinel

Published: 06-20-2024 9:56 AM

With open positions for governor and in the U.S. House, this should be a busy political season leading to the Sept. 10 primary and the Nov. 5 general election.

The 10-day candidate filing period, which ended June 14, also showed that most incumbents in the Monadnock Region’s Democrat-heavy delegation to the state Legislature are running for reelection.

Three Democrats and six Republicans declared their candidacies for governor after Republican incumbent Chris Sununu announced he would not seek a fifth term. 

Republican gubernatorial candidates Chuck Morse and Kelly Ayotte are both leaning into the argument that people entering the U.S. in violation of immigration laws pose significant danger.

“We have felt the effects of the Mexican drug cartels exploiting America’s weak immigration laws to provide cover to their illicit operations,” Morse says on his website.

“Fentanyl, smuggled across our southern border into the U.S. has become a major problem throughout New Hampshire.”

The Cato Institute, a nonpartisan research institution in Washington, D.C., has found that fentanyl is actually generally smuggled not by undocumented migrants, but by U.S. citizens for use by U.S. citizens. 

Morse, of Salem, is a former president of the N.H. Senate. He lost to Don Bolduc in the 2022 GOP primary for U.S. Senate. Sen. Maggie Hassan then defeated Bolduc in the general election.

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Ayotte, of Nashua, a former U.S. senator and New Hampshire's former attorney general, says on her website that, if elected, she “will strictly enforce immigration laws throughout our state and provide additional resources for northern law enforcement to aid in immigration enforcement.”

Both assert that Democratic President Joe Biden is to blame for an upsurge in illegal border crossings. Biden backed a bipartisan immigration reform plan earlier this year, but the proposal died in Congress amid opposition from former President Donald Trump.

Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington and former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig are among those running for governor on the Democratic side. Both emphasize the need to protect abortion rights.

“Reproductive freedom is under attack in New Hampshire and across the country from extreme anti-choice Republicans like Kelly Ayotte, Chuck Morse and Donald Trump,” Craig says on her website. “Despite the escalating national attacks, New Hampshire remains the only state in New England that does not guarantee the right to abortion.”

Abortion remains legal in New Hampshire up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After that, it is permitted under state law only if the fetus has fatal defects or if there is a danger to the woman's life. The Republican-controlled state Legislature has resisted attempts to enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution.

“As the only Democrat on the Executive Council and the highest-ranking Democrat in state government, Cinde has been the last line of defense against Republican overreach,” her website says. “She has stood strong to fund Planned Parenthood, protect public schools, and expand job development, affordable housing, and childcare services across New Hampshire.”

Warmington, of Concord, is vacating an Executive Council district that takes in most of the Monadnock Region. The council shares executive power with the governor and decides on state expenditures and appointments.

Seeking to replace her on the Democratic side are Michael Liberty of New London and Karen Liot Hill of Lebanon. Republican candidates for the position are Mary Rose Deak of Concord and Kim Strathdee of Plymouth.

Republican Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler of Milford, whose district includes several Monadnock Region towns, is running for reelection. Shoshanna Kelly of Nashua and Melanie Levesque of Brookline are running on the Democratic side.

Meanwhile, the 2nd District congressional seat went up for grabs after six-term Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster of Hopkinton decided not to seek reelection.

Kuster has endorsed former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern of Concord as her potential successor. Maggie Tamposi Goodlander, a former White House official who lives in Nashua, is also vying for Kuster’s seat. Thirteen Republicans are also running. 

In the state Legislature, Sen. Donovan Fenton, D-Keene, is facing no Democratic opposition in his run for a second term in the Senate. Rick Merkt of Westmoreland is running on the Republican side.

Fifteen incumbent Cheshire County state representatives are also seeking reelection.