From The Left

By Brendan LeRoy

The primary opponent and Republican establishment candidate to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan this fall is Walt Havenstein.

Like many of the other Republican challengers to Democratic incumbents this year, Havenstein is only a part-time resident of New Hampshire; he is a Maryland billionaire who has made his wealth being a CEO of several successful companies.
The businessman challenger has started his campaign on two issues: He is a supporter of the Second Amendment, which theoretically implies his opposition to gun reform and his pledge to jump-start what he describes as New Hampshire’s “walking dead” economy. He certainly has promoted these issues with a plethora of Internet advertisements depicting him shooting off a rifle and a spooky empty yard with gray filter portraying how desolate New Hampshire’s economy is.

The gun issue is quite self-explanatory and New Hampshire has a record of responsible gun ownership and support from both political parties. After reverting back to sensible gun laws after legalizing firearms on college campuses and in public buildings by the Tea Party legislature of 2010-11, there is no indication that laws should be changed and no changes have been suggested by the incumbent governor. It appears this promotion is simply a political tactic to gather support from the conservative Republican base.

Havenstein, on the other hand, has repeatedly suggested that the state’s economy is frozen by the current administration. New Hampshire has a lower economic growth rate than neighboring Vermont and Massachusetts, failing to mention that New Hampshire’s economy is growing at a similar rate of the other three New England states. A reasonable explanation as to why New Hampshire’s growth rate is slow lies in the fact that the Recession did not impact the state as severely as our neighbors.

New Hampshire’s highest unemployment rate was only 6 percent as opposed to the national 10 percent. As the current national unemployment rate rests slightly over 6 percent, New Hampshire’s is 4 percent. New Hampshire has witnessed one of the lowest declines in overall income, which on a national scale has decreased significantly. Vermont and Massachusetts were both impacted by the Recession worse than New Hampshire. The logical explanation why New Hampshire’s growth rate has been slower than our neighbors is that our economy never crashed.

New Hampshire sustained a positive economy and the growth rate reflects that a significant rebound was never to be expected.

Even so, Havenstein’s argument is that New Hampshire’s economy should grow as fast or faster than Vermont and Massachusetts. It is ironic that the Republican challenger suggests that New Hampshire emulate the policies of two of the most liberal states in the nation. He doesn’t suggest growing as fast as conservative states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona or Utah whose economic growth has been astronomical. Rather, he advocates to emulate one state whose legislature is 90 percent Democratic under the leadership of a Democratic governor and another state who elects the only self-described socialist US Senator in America with two-thirds the vote.

Perhaps Havenstein’s vision for New Hampshire is to slash college tuition fees, increase Social Security and Medicaid benefits, increase welfare programs, implement a sales and income tax, strengthen the state’s universal health care system, increase unemployment benefits, strengthen the state’s labor unions, stop hiring private contractors for government projects and hire government workers, double or triple the salaries of teachers and police officers, implement public preschool and daycare… or maybe we could start at mandatory full-day kindergarten.

Surely, to rise to the beacons of economic success in the region is to emulate their method of governing. Havenstein has made it clear he wants to bring New Hampshire to the level of liberal havens. It appears Havenstein should be running as a Democrat but the more likely case is that this is only another political tactic to rile up the conservatives. A very funny and ironic way to rile up conservatives.

Does Havenstein have any actual suggestions that would make New Hampshire more successful under his leadership than under that of the incumbent governor Maggie Hassan? So far I’ve heard none.

Brendan LeRoy is a junior majoring in linguistics.