Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce
November 7th, 2014 
Live Free Or Die!

On Tuesday, the voters of New Hampshire once again showed that they are very hard to categorize. Although the voters returned Democrats to office in the races for Governor, US Senator, and in one of the two Congressional races, the voters also returned a large Republican majority to the House of Representatives, expanded the Republican majority in the State Senate, and flipped the Executive Council to the "R" side. That is not sea-sickness you feel; it's just  the boat of New Hampshire state government rocking back and forth (this is the 4th time in the last 5 elections that the House has seen a substantial shift from one party to the other). 

Welcome To Senator Avard; Good-Bye & Thank-You To Senator Gilmour 

In one of the most closely contested Senate elections in the state this year, Republican Kevin Avard defeated incumbent Senator Peggy Gilmour in Senate District 12 by a margin of about 300 votes. This results in a one-vote expansion of the Republican hold on the State Senate, where there will now be a margin of 14 Republicans to 10 Democrats. We look forward to a close working relationship with our new Senator over the course of the coming years. The Nashua dynamic will be an interesting one, because for the first time in many years the two Nashua Senators will be from different parties (Democrat Senator Bette Lasky won her race). But the Nashua legislative delegation has always been a strong advocate for the Nashua region, regardless of party affiliation, and we expect that Senator Avard and Senator Lasky will continue in that long tradition.


As we offer our congratulations to Senator Avard, we also say good-bye and thank-you to Senator Peggy Gilmour. Senator Gilmour has been a tireless champion for the Nashua business community, and as we have told you many times both she and Senator Lasky have been regular and active participants in the monthly meetings of the Chamber's State Advocacy Committee. Senator Gilmour could always be counted on to approach every issue rationally and fairly, without party prejudice. On more than one occasion she played a critical role in advocating an issue that was important to Nashua's business community, and southern NH was well served by her. We will miss her candor and objectivity in Concord, and we owe Senator Gilmour a debt of gratitude for her work.

The House Changes, Again.

As we said above, this year saw yet another massive shift on the House side, this time back to the R's. Statewide, Republicans picked up around 50 seats (there are still races left to be decided by recounts), and as of today, with some races still not finalized, it looks like the roster will come out to the neighborhood of 240-160 in favor of the Republicans.


Here in Nashua, our delegation is interestingly split almost right down the middle. Our two state senators now represent both the Republican and Democratic perspectives, as described above; and, our city's delegation of 27 House Representatives will now be comprised of 14 Democrats and 13 Republicans. Nashua is often seen as a swing city within a swing state, and this week's elections may have demonstrated that more clearly than ever before. It's been quite some time since Nashua had such an evenly balanced distribution of partisanship within its state delegation, and we hope this portends a lot of healthy and productive conversations between both sides of the political aisle when it comes to representing Nashua's interests rather than partisan interests. 


The swing of control within the House also means of course that there will be a new Speaker of the House. At this point, three Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring: former Speakers Bill O'Brien of Mount Vernon and Gene Chandler of Bartlett, and Rep. Laurie Sanborn of Bedford, who is the chair of the House Business Caucus. We will see that race crystallize in the coming week, and the House Republican caucus likely will have its choice made within the next two weeks, well before the House actually elects a new Speaker in early December. The choice that House Republicans make will be an important, early sign of the direction the House wants to take. The three candidates offer quite distinct differences. Does the House want to return to the aggressive and contentious style of the O'Brien era? Does it want to bring back the old-school and fairly genial approach of the Chandler tenure? Or does it want to pave a new road by going with a person who has never before served as Speaker and who wants to see a vigorous focus on business-related issues? 

David Wheeler To Replace Deb Pignatelli On Executive Council

Although much of the attention in this election was focused on the national races and upon the state races for the corner office and the state legislature, one race that received far less attention will have significant implications over the next two years. That race took place here in our own backyard, as Republican David Wheeler defeated Nashua Alderman-at-Large Diane Sheehan in the race to replace outgoing Executive Councilor Deb Pignatelli. (Councilor Wheeler thus succeeds the person who had earlier ousted him in 2012).


The reason that this result is so important is that it changes the Council from a 3-2 Democratic majority to a 3-2 Republican majority. Remember that the Executive Council has the power to review and approve state contracts as well as all judgeships and top-level appointments to state office. Thus, the fact that the balance of power in the Council rests with a party different than the Governor's is likely to make things more difficult for Governor Hassan over the next two years. And don't forget that among the many contracts that will be before the Council in the coming months will be the contracts to revise and extend Medicaid managed care in the state. When the State's contracts with the managed care providers first went before the Council during Councilor Wheeler's last term there, he voted against approval of those items (which were the most expensive state contracts in the history of New Hampshire). Those contracts squeaked by on 3-2 votes. So, this election will make for some interesting dynamics on the second floor of the State House between now and 2016.

That's it for now.

To our new and current legislators, and to all of those who are departing, thank you for your service on behalf of the people of the Nashua region and the State of New Hampshire. It is your commitment and dedication that makes our state government what it is and really sets New Hampshire apart from any other state in the country. Good luck over the next two years. 

Coming Up ...

The Advocate will return on a weekly basis beginning in January to keep you up to speed on what is happening in Concord. In the meantime, as we always do, we encourage members of the Chamber to keep us informed regarding issues that are of importance to you.

Sponsored by
Devine Millimet

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Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce | (603) 881-8333 |
142 Main St.
5th Floor
Nashua, NH 03060