Pints and Politics
On the heels of WKXL News Radio’s successful Road to the White House series of Republican presidential candidate interviews at the Barley House in Concord, we have kicked off a new political series called Pints and Politics: Conversations with the Candidates. This series will feature tapings at the Barley House with all of the major Republican and Democratic candidates running for statewide office in November.
Today we taped our first show in the series with second district Congressman Charlie Bass. You can listen to the show on WKXL (103.9 FM, 1450 AM) tomorrow at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. In the coming months, I will be sure to give you a heads-up on our candidate schedule so that you can attend the shows at the Barley House. I hope you will join us, as it should be an exciting nine months of political campaigning.
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States Rights Roundup
You can catch me on Wednesday morning as a guest on New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange. We will be discussing the current state of federal-state relations in New Hampshire. You can listen to the show live here at 9 a.m. (rebroadcast at 8 p.m.), or check out the podcast later here.
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Cilley and the (No Tax) Pledge
In an editorial in the Concord Monitor yesterday, the paper took issue with state downshifting of costs and an excessive reliance on property taxes to fund local services. In doing so, the Monitor also gave a tip of the hat to newly-announced Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former state senator Jackie Cilley of Barrington, for refusing to pledge that she would veto any broad-based sales or income tax as governor. Cilley’s only primary opponent at this point, former senate Democratic leader Maggie Hassan of Exeter, has already pledged to veto any such revenue legislation as governor.
While Cilley’s pledge will likely energize New Hampshire progressives who have long argued for the fairness of a statewide income tax, most Granite State political observers already know how this issue will play in a general election. What complicates Cilley’s position further from a campaign perspective is that she is not actually advocating a new broad-based tax, but only wants to retain the freedom in office to have a discussion about all possible legislative options. This is an important bit of nuance that I can almost guarantee will be lost in translation in the heat of a general election campaign. For any Republican running against Cilley, it will be a distinction without a difference. Suffice it to say that Cilley will need to clarify her position on the likelihood of a broad-based tax, if she wants to avoid having her campaign completely derailed by this issue in the coming months.
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Severe Politics Alert
It has been almost a year since former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, and for most of that time he has been largely content to watch the other presidential hopefuls undercut each other in an attempt to become the consensus anti-Romney candidate. But at this past weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Romney finally found himself back where he was in 2008, imploring movement conservatives in the Republican Party to take him seriously as one of them.
I have seen this coming for a while now, and primary and caucus losses in states like Georgia, Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota, have all fed into the narrative that conservatives in the party just don’t trust Romney as their ideological standard-bearer. While the governor will still likely grind out a path to the nomination, the process has been accompanied by increasingly frantic attempts to convince the base of the party that he is a kindred political spirit. This reached a crescendo at CPAC on Friday, where Romney, in one of the oddest political elocutions I have ever heard, referred to himself as a severely conservative governor. The line was apparently ad-libbed, which makes sense, since I can’t imagine any professional speech writer suggesting such a turn of phrase.
I was very tough on Romney back in late 2007 for the same behavior. Although he managed to win the CPAC straw poll this past weekend, I don’t think the strategy sets him up particularly well for a general election bid. It should be abundantly clear to Romney at this point that he will never win these folks over, so he might as well focus on building a coalition that does not depend on them. It’s doable, but as was true in 2008, Romney can’t seem to help himself.
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