Friday, October 1, 2010

Out in Left Field

There wasn't much going on for the recent primary on the Dem side of things, so I haven't had much to chew on.  But the morning after, I was listening to Dante on NHPR as I always do for election results, and something he said has stuck with me.  He was talking about Annie Kuster's 71% win over Katrina Swett in the NH CD 02 Democratic primary.  Now neither woman is new to NH politics, but Katrina had much greater name recognition, as both the daughter of and wife of former Congressmen and a former candidate herself.  He got my attention when he said, "Kuster put together the best campaign in NH this election cycle.  It had everything"...meaning: money, passion, and a great, grassroots field organization.  That was quite a compliment, and it stuck in my head. What did Annie have and how can it be replicated?

Shortly thereafter, and very randomly, a UNH student who pens a political column for our campus paper, TNH, posted a request for ideas on his Facebook page.  Kaitlyn Dowling, former UNH Dems president and current intern in DC with Rock The Vote, stated one simple idea that he should tackle:  "The importance of grassroots in fostering democracy, and the right's lack of field."

The topic popped up a third time, in the form of conversation at my house party for State Senator Amanda Merrill.  Turnout was small, and mostly political junkies, so we all just hung out on my patio and talked shop.  Mandy explained the NH Executive Council to me (finally, I get it!), then was asking questions of me and the UNH students in attendance.  I was telling her all about the interns I send to DC, and how I have to use different recruitment tactics to recruit students from the left vs. the right.  In doing so I came to this conclusion: Today's NH Democrats are really good at genuinely mentoring youth who in turn become their very loyal, very dedicated field staff.

Three points make a data set.  That's what my physicist friend Prof. Martina Belz Arndt likes to say.

Someone once told me that working on the Shaheen for Senate campaign was wonderful because Jeanne is a former field staffer, so she "gets it."  But, what makes a good field organization?  I looked to my two favorites:  Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, both excellent examples of the "under the radar" approach.  Old school knocking on doors and calling your neighbors.  Letters to the editor of small, local, print newspapers.  Hand written post cards and house parties at the homes of average, middle class community leaders and regular people.  Viz in your own downtown, waving to your neighbors and friends as they go about their Saturday errands.  Hanging out at the town recycling center.  It's not very glamourous, and it cannot be delegated. But clearly it can be the game changer when you are up against big out-of-state money, celebrity candidates, and national endorsements.  Small donations vs. huge PAC contributions.  Local newspaper endorsements vs. TV ads.  Inclusion vs. exclusivity. Investing in youth vs. top-down. 

Left vs. Right.

In New Hampshire, all politics is still local.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Next Senator

Here's what I learned about Paul Hodes when I heard him speak last night in Dover NH:
  • He has good taste in women's earrings
  • He's learning to play the mandolin
  • His first professional job interview was the David Souter
  • He used to work for Shaheen & Gordon
Paul is currently the Congressman for NH-02, and is running for Senate to replace Senator Gregg.  He doesn't have a Democratic primary, but there are a jillion people running in a Republican primary which is taking place very soon.  A small community event was held in Dover last night at the McConnell Center, so I went to hear what he had to say and see who would come out.  It was a nice way to easy back into election season.

I learned other, more relevant things, about Paul as well, but you can probably find those during any Google search. I prefer the more interesting things, for this blog anyway.  Oh, and his wife Peggo has great shoes, once again!  I of course liked what I heard, but when it comes time to volunteer for a campaign, I have to admit that Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has first dibs on my time.

Anyway, I sat at a table with a woman named Doris who is on Dover City Council AND is running for State Rep.  And, she's not even retired!  She teaches at SNHU part-time, as well.  Pretty impressive, and illustrative of how accessible politics can be in NH. 

As an aside, I have to say I love it that both my State Rep and my State Senator know me by first name (bother were in attendance last night).  I'm thinking of hosting a small house party for my State Senator, Amanda Merrill, in the fall.  Her campaign director is a former student/intern of mine and former President of the UNH College Dems, Brittany Weaver.  How could I say no to her?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Palin & PPP Poll

Since former Gov. Palin stuck her nose into the NH Senate race seemingly uninvited, it appears that I'm not the only one wondering what her true intentions are, and what her chances would be in a NH Primary race. has this great piece (h/t to BH as usual).  And a new poll is showing that she's running fifth in NH.  I do like those numbers.

While I want to see her join the race sheerly for the spectacle of it all, I am reassured that my need for an exciting and entertaining race won't come back to bite me!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Early Action, Iowa v. New Hampshire

My dear old friends and colleagues, Kevin & Julie, are visiting from Iowa this week.  I was so happy to see them again; if it weren't for Julie I'd never understand the caucus system.  Naturally, I couldn't wait to corner Julie ask her if any presidential potentials have been showing up at small GOP events around the state, like Rudy's surprise visit-gimmick at the PHS graduation in June.  From what she has seen, nothing yet.  Of course, no one in the room knew that anyone was showing up in NH either, so I am still wondering about Iowa.

But there's no doubt action is picking up in NH:  Santorum is coming to NH to fundraise, supposedly, and tour TURBOCAM International in Barrington (a very successful, Christian-based tech business next door to Dover NH).  If they have a Google Alert on their name, well, howdy neighbors!  Welcome to my blog.

Half way through Game Change, still enjoying it.  Stay tuned for a full review.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Palin: The Gift That Keeps Giving

This is so TOTALLY New Hampshire...

I'm no fan of the Manchester Union Leader, but today I actually got a good laugh out of it.  Seems that the editors don't take kindly to Governor Palin poking her head into our business, telling Granite Staters who to vote for, when she's only been here once.  And on page one, above the fold no less! Butt out, basically.

So, 2012 contenders on both sides of the aisle should take note.  That's just how it works here.  Don't get all chummy and act like you know New Hampshirites.  You don't, especially if you are a candidate who hasn't spent much time here.  We are very full of ourselves, but I would like to think that most voters wouldn't like to be told by out-of-state pols what to do.  Ayotte's entire campaign seems to have been managed by outsiders from the start, and I'm guessing that the message was intended to tell her that the opponents aren't the only ones who think this is not cool.

Confession:  I am finally getting around to reading Game Change.  I started it today while at the beach (not this beach).  I'm loving it so far, and reliving some fond memories.  It reminded me how much I love NH Primary Politics, and how much I am looking forward to 2012.  But it's also serving to remind me how crucial NH & Iowa really are, whether you like it or not.

(Note on the link: I'd rather not link to the MUL if I don't have to, and HuffPo was my first source, so they get the link.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Palin Endorses Ayotte in NH Senate Race!

Sarah says Kelly is a "Granite Grizzly".  Please tell me this means she's going to come to NH.  Pretty please!

The comments on Blue Hampshire regarding this are rather humorous.  But one linked to a new site I hadn't heard of, so I had to click.  Check it out:  Miscellany Blue.  Looks like my kinda blog!  Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Told Ya...

I love how this always seems to work out for me.  I post a random rambling, something that has been stewing around in my head but I have absolutely no facts to support it, other than my gut, to make the case.

Then voila, the interwebs provide me with plenty of support to prove I'm not just making things up.  Two cases in point:

  1. Further evidence that New Hampshire Republicans are not to be confused with Bible Belt Repubs.   Turns out that NH is the least god-fearing state in the union.  Drop dead last.  Add this to my growing list of things for which NH is either #1 or #50.  And furthering the argument that we just cannot be mediocre; we always have to be best or worst, FIRST or dead last!  (For the record, you will also see at this link that NH is #1 in alcohol sales, which may or may not be related to our godlessness.  Personally, I think it has more to do with our state run liquor outlet stores on the borders with MA and ME.)
  2. Then, folks in Iowa make the same point I made a few days ago, about feeling entitled to some face time with potential candidates. Being first may be a privelige, but it's also a huge responsibility. Granite Staters and Iowans do not take this task lightly.  Sarah Palin, beware!
Just sayin'.