To the editor:
Looking for a secure job? Look no further than governor of New Hampshire — that is, as long as you are a Democrat who is pragmatic enough to pledge to veto an income or sales tax, who can exude an air of likability while running a ruthlessly negative campaign, and who can give the appearance of governing from the middle even when you are not.
Jeanne Shaheen: three terms, then left by her own choice to pursue higher office. John Lynch: four terms, then made an early (some would say premature) decision to retire to his dacha in Hopkinton because he didn’t foresee the loss of over one-half of the House Republicans. While, on the other hand, poor Craig Benson — that’s poor in the figurative sense, of course — was retired after one short term spent primarily butting heads with House and Senate Republican leadership, which in part was why he was a one-and-done governor.
So history suggests that, if the New Hampshire GOP wants to stop Maggie Hassan from having a long shelf life, they had better pull out all the stops in 2014.
It should be self-evident after nine elections, and a winning percentage of barely above 10 percent, that the best possible candidate is essential. No sacrificial lambs or sentimental favorites this time. This race, not the United States Senate race or the congressional races, is the most consequential for the future of the New Hampshire GOP and the future of the state.
While it is often said that New Hampshire has a weak governor, the governor still wields a veto and has the power to nominate judges and senior bureaucrats. Despite all the histrionics about a “tea-party legislature” gone wild, 2011-2012 was far from transformative. We still have a fiscally irresponsible defined-benefit retirement plan for public-sector employees, a fiscally irrational education funding system and a plethora of destructive, rent-seeking regulations. And despite an Executive Council consisting of five Republicans, Gov. Lynch succeeded in putting not just a committed Claremontista on the Supreme Court, but a committed Claremontista who made no bones about being a committed Claremontista. The New Hampshire GOP is never going to fundamentally change the political culture of this state without holding the governor’s office.