Thursday, May 03, 2012

NH Gets a Yeast Infection

A few days ago, Emily's List announced that they were endorsing Maggie Hassan in the NH gubernatorial race. This is noteworthy because EL supports pro-choice women candidates. There are two of them running for governor in NH. Candidate Jackie Cilley is also pro-choice, with a similarly distinguished pedigree. The filing period hasn't opened yet, and the primary is not until September, yet here we have Emily's List choosing sides.

Or, if you prefer: out-of-state special interest groups choosing sides.

Emily's List would not endorse Carol Shea-Porter for Congress until the other pro-choice woman in the race for NH CD-1, Joanne Dowdell, dropped out. Yet here they are, choosing a candidate before the filing period even opens.

One wonders what this is all about. It's true that one of Hassan's staffers is a former Emily's List employee. But, what is the most defining difference between the two candidates?

The Pledge.

The NH "no income tax/no sales tax" pledge, as given to us by the late Union Leader publisher William Loeb and the late Governor Meldrim Thomson. The pledge is a Republican tool to ensure that there's never enough money in the coffers of our state to actually do anything that needs doing. The timid conservadems who run the NH Democratic Party are in favor of the pledge, because it ensures that they continue to consolidate NHDP power in Manchester, which is hardly representative of Democrats throughout the rest of the state. It's unlikely that Emily's List made this decision without input from the NHDP leadership.

This kind of thing is one of the reasons I'm not a registered Democrat anymore. Remember 2006, when Jim Craig was the anointed candidate (by the DCCC and the NHDP) to run against Congressman Jeb Bradley in CD-1? He may be a very nice man, but he was an unimpressive candidate. I heard him speak at a candidate's forum in Sandwich, where he told the assembled throng how happy he was to be there in "podunk." There were audible sighs from the people standing near me. Sandwich is a small town, it's true. It's a small town where a number of well-to-do college graduates live. Politically savvy and active folks. The kind of people you want on your side. He blew it with the opening line - and went on to cement his fate by having to ask his staffer for answers to questions. This was the guy that the party chose to go up against a multimillionaire Congressman.

Emily's List is deja vu all over again. Emily's List has just joined the Susan G. Komen Foundation in terms of relevance and status in my mental filing cabinet.

This action by Emily's List serves to rip open a wound inflicted during the NH presidential primary in 2008. A group of prominent NH supporters of Hillary Clinton sent out a letter that lied about Obama's votes on choice in Illinois - just before the primary. Those of you who know me will recall that I didn't have a dog in that fight; I was neither a supporter of Clinton or Obama. It was just dirty business, two days before the primary. It created a divide between women in this state, a divide and hard feelings that continue to this very day. I know a couple of women who carry around the email, and a list of all of the signers - in their wallets. To this day. There are still a lot of hard feelings about that letter.

My point? Maggie Hassan signed that letter, and remains unrepentant about having done so.

From the Washington Post:

The other two Clinton supporters who signed both the critical e-mail and the conciliatory one stood more strongly by the initial one. Sen. Hassan said she, too, was unaware of the Illinois Planned Parenthood defense of Obama at the time she signed the critical letter, that she had only been told by the Clinton campaign that the Illinois chapter of NOW had cited concerns about Obama's present votes. She said it was wrong for anyone to suggest that Obama was not pro-choice, and that she was sorry about the upset that the letter had caused.

But Hassan stood by what she said was the main point of the initial e-mail, that Clinton was the most staunchly pro-choice Democrat. "All of the leading Democratic candidates are strongly pro-choice but I think Hillary's record is unparalleled. I stand by what I signed before the election and don't think it's inconsistent with" the new e-mail stating that Obama is strongly pro-choice, Hassan said. "Everybody's going to interpret these letters and e-mails as they want to."

Some of the other signers have apologized for getting hoodwinked into signing the letter.

Deja vu.

Even Foster's Daily Democrat - generally a mouthpiece for the GOP, chimed in with an editorial on this subject.

As Cilley pointed out in a press release following the EMILY'S List announcement: "Whatever the reasons, Emily's List made its choice now, even before formal electoral filing dates and without a discussion with their members in the State."

But if what Cilley also noted is true, it casts a cloud over the endorsement that may cause Hassan more trouble than it is worth.

Cilley: "Only a few weeks ago EMILY'S List advised me that New Hampshire voters would have the chance to choose their preferred candidate at the Primary before any decision being taken regarding endorsement. At no time did we ever sit down and discuss my experience and commitment to women's issues, my campaign plan and the qualifications of my team."

Read the whole piece. Coming from Foster's it is especially remarkable.

I've heard that some women who have been very generous donors to Emily's List in the past have called them to express their ire, and taken the money they might have given EL and donated it to Jackie Cilley.

I do have a dog in the fight this time. I'm supporting Jackie Cilley. Some will choose to dismiss this as sour grapes - but it's all about ethics and interference. I'm sick to death of outside groups coming in to manipulate our elections - ANY groups. They think we're an insignificant state full of hicks who don't know anything.

We're pretty smart hicks, in my opinion. This was a bad decision, and one that may well backfire on Maggie Hassan.


Lucy Edwards said...

Thank you, Susan. I too made the Komen connection in my mind. Too big to fail, NOT, Emily's LIst! This move is a slap in my face and the face of women all over NH. That the staffer who has the EL connection is a man makes it even worse.

Jan Schmidt said...

Emily's list has lost my money.

On their Facebook page they seriously try to defend their decision that I and others believe is unconscionable. Shame on them for this intrusion into NH Democrat's decision.

All Democrats - not just a select few should be making the decision which primary candidate to support.

Caroline L. French said...

It is painful to watch any person or group trying to defend the indefensible. Every day I hear of more NH voters apalled by the cynicism and tap dancing of Emily's List. The action of another national organization trying to co-opt our election process is staggering. Where is their institutional history? The Hillary campaign email and the signers-on must never be forgotten and neither should this heavy handed tossing around of innocent donor's money.

Anonymous said...

Great article again Susan! I have to wonder, isn't this problem indicative of our nation, ie, national politics as a whole? We appear to be a one party "system" beholden only to big money and powerful conglomerates. And since we are not one man one vote, even our ballots at the booth are quite questionable, including the input from the Supremely right wing Court. It's all up for grabs and it's all downhill. Politics is the new capitalism and the new way to make really big money for those who can enter the playing field.