Bill Binnie was seemingly the last potential major candidate to opt out of the Republican primary for governor.
That’s not to say someone else can’t emerge, but with Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas opting out and now Binnie, it’s looking more and more like it will be Kevin Smith and Ovide Lamontage ? and only them ? on the Republican side.
It’s interesting that Binnie chose not to run. Whether it was him or someone else, the race still seems to have room for a socially moderate candidate. Binnie, who has decidedly more moderate stances on a number of issues, including abortion, could have filled that role. That’s also not to say he would have been successful. He tried to fill the same socially moderate role in the 2010 GOP primary for Senate, but his candidacy fell apart following a negative back-and-forth of attacks with now-Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
Regardless, Binnie had the prominence and the money to make some waves in this race. Binnie is currently the finance chairman for the state GOP, though reports have suggested he could be leaving that post soon. Actually, a number of reports suggested Binnie would resign from that post to clear the way for a run for governor. Apparently, that’s not the case.
So as of today, it’s still Smith versus Lamontagne. Somebody else could emerge but the clock is definitely ticking louder now.
Now that a potential hurdle has been removed, Lamontagne had this to say about Binnie’s decision:
“I’ve come to know Bill as a man of character and conviction, and I respect his dedication to public service. Bill has shown an impressive commitment to the New Hampshire Republican Party during the past few years as its Finance Chairman. With his new venture at WBIN-TV, Bill is also working to add to the public discourse in our state on the important issues of the day. I look forward to him remaining engaged as an important voice in our Party and our State in the months and years ahead.”
Who is running?
Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina-based polling firm, sees the gubernatorial race in New Hampshire as tight in its most recent poll. It also sees the race as being between a number of largely unknown candidates.
Maggie Hassan and Jackie Cilley are battling for the Democratic nomination, and the poll has them neck and neck in their primary. The poll found that either Hassan or Cilley, both former state senators, would enter the general election more or less tied with Lamontagne, the presumptive GOP frontrunner.
Lamontagne certainly carries the day in terms of name recognition with 62 percent of respondents having an opinion of him. Hassan sits at 31 percent and Cilley is at 27 percent. Kevin Smith sits at 25 percent.
With 57 percent of the electorate undecided, Hassan leads Cilley 23-20. Lamontagne’s lead over Smith is more pronounced at 53-13.
Another dynamic that will continue to play out this summer is just how much support President Barack Obama will receive in New Hampshire. He won New Hampshire fairly easily in 2008, but for a while it looked like he might not even be competitive in the Granite State this time. That appears to have changed. His campaign has noticed, as Vice President Joe Biden has been sent to the Granite State multiple times, including a visit earlier this week.
In a seemingly close gubernatorial race, Obama’s support level will go a long way in determining who the next governor will be.
Banning the income tax
Lawmakers were busy last week on a number of fronts, including a constitutional amendment that would ban a personal income tax. The Senate voted 20-4 to support CACR 13 last week. The House, which passed its own amendment earlier this year, has to sign off on the language before the measure would go on the ballot this fall. If it gets to the ballot, it would take a two-thirds vote to enact it.
From time to time, the issue of an income tax, or a sales tax for that matter, has come up in New Hampshire. Some think it’s a way to, of course, generate more revenue for the state and to do it in a more equitable way. Others say, and this has been the prevailing sentiment in the state so far, that, well, having fewer taxes is better, an income tax is an infringement on the individual and, thank you, the state is doing just fine without it.
Others, such as Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, say the ban could lead to prolonged legal battles. McLynch said it could make it difficult for lawmakers to address the state’s reliance on business and property taxes.
The current legislative makeup and political climate do not suggest an income tax was anywhere close to even being proposed, but nevertheless, it would likely come up again.
“The voters in this state sent a message in the 2010 elections that they supported restricting the government’s ability to raise taxes to fund unnecessary spending,” said Corey Lewandowski, state director of Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire. “We are pleased that our legislators in Concord chose to act responsibly in passing this legislation and returning power to the people they represent.”