Democrats pledge end to “tyranny” of William O’Brien in fall election
CONCORD – House and Senate Democratic leaders say the “simple tyranny” of Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, will lead to losses for Republicans at the polls this November.
House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, said O’Brien pushed a tea party agenda that was anti-women, anti-union and disrespectful of rank-and-file legislators.
“His actions now and over the last 17 months are simple tyranny,” Norelli told reporters Tuesday. “I look forward to November when the people will have the last word on Speaker O’Brien and his tea party majority.”
Norelli blames many House GOP members for enabling O’Brien to be an autocratic leader.
“I don’t believe this is just about Speaker O’Brien but about this Republican majority,” Norelli said.
House Majority Leader Peter Silva, R-Nashua said the voters will not return Democrats to power this fall because that would lead to higher taxes and more spending and state regulation.
Silva called it “classless” that the state Democratic Party media event was held at the same time as the funeral for 11-term Rep. Leo Pepino, R-Manchester.
Sen. Molly Kelly, D-Keene, recalled the 45 percent cut in state aid to four-year colleges, a first-ever reduction in the state tax on cigarettes and a relaxing of rules to permit the public to carry guns into the Statehouse.
“Simply put, this tea party Legislature has made it easier to break the law and buy cigarettes but made it harder for kids to get a quality education,” Kelly said.
Rep. Gary Richardson, D-Hopkinton, faulted O’Brien for eliminating Democratic membership on key committees and being too aggressive with his authority while running the House.
“There was no mandate for this lack of respect, no mandate for this lack of civility or the level of hostility that has marked the past two years,” Richardson said.
In 2010, voters replaced Democratic control with 3-1 Republican majorities in the House of Representatives and state Senate.
Four years earlier, the Democrats had taken charge of all levers of political power in the state for the first time in more than a century.
Norelli said national events led to the demise for state Democrats two years ago but local politics here could lead to Democratic victories.
“The public is very concerned abut the process that is happening in the Legislature,” Norelli said. “The public does not want to see that kind of radical agenda, this kind of dismissive attitude.”
Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said legislative leaders stayed focused on balancing the budget and helping families get through a difficult economy.
“Republicans’ top priorities were to balance the budget, protect taxpayers and create jobs for working families. We made the difficult but necessary decisions to accomplish this, and the contrast between the Democrats is clear.”
Among the accomplishments touted by Bragdon and Bradley were resolving an $800 million budget deficit and passing Medicaid reform.
Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).