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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Death penalty repeal is supported by House, deadlocked in Senate

Kevin Landrigan

So what are the prospects in the future for repealing the death penalty?

That’s what advocates have to ponder now that the 2014 campaign for repeal is dead with the state Senate refusing to take a second shot at the issue. ...

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So what are the prospects in the future for repealing the death penalty?

That’s what advocates have to ponder now that the 2014 campaign for repeal is dead with the state Senate refusing to take a second shot at the issue.

The answer is not bad. Gov. Maggie Hassan is a supporter as long as it is not used to take Michael “Stix” Addison off death row for the 2006 murder of Manchester Patrolman Michael Briggs.

Bipartisan support in the House of Representatives is so overwhelming that there should be a positive vote from that chamber no matter which party is in control after November.

Meanwhile, there will be some changes in the state Senate where the issue deadlocked 12-12.

Among the three Senate Republicans who have announced their retirements, two of them supported the death penalty (Sens. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, and Jim Rausch, R-Derry) while the third (Sen. Robert Odell, R-New London) favored repeal.

It’s logical to presume there could be as many as four to six new senators after the elections; that’s a little higher than the typical turnover in the 24-person body.

But this is not a typical year when it’s clear there are several interest groups already working hard to recruit conservative candidates to oppose GOP senators in primaries this September.

This kind of shake-up certainly will change the outlook for the repeal of the death penalty.

Trade mission to Turkey

The fiscally conservative Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire is going after Hassan for her plans to take a trade mission to Turkey in June after signing a freeze on out-of-state travel last week. Officials with the Department of Resources and Economic Development told the group $15,000 in state dollars would be used for this trip. In response, CSNH has filed a Right-to-Know request seeking additional information about the trip.

“Like most Granite Staters, we understand the importance of expanding international trade and attracting businesses to invest in New Hampshire,” said Matthew Murphy, the group’s executive director. “We also certainly support curtailing wasteful spending. However, considering her upcoming costly trip to Turkey, it is more than fair to inquire whether Governor Maggie Hassan’s executive order banning all out of state travel funding is nothing more than political posturing.”

Hassan had announced that she would lead the trade mission set for June 20-27 more than a month before she called for the state budget cutting moves.

Compelling race

It’s nice to have conventional wisdom here confirmed in the Beltway. The National Journal this week ranked New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District as the ninth most-compelling race in the nation this fall.

Given the seat has gone back and forth between both parties three times in the past four elections, that shouldn’t come as a great shock.

“If there’s a GOP wave in November, Shea-Porter will be one of the first members of Congress to feel it. The congresswoman who ran on an antiwar platform was elected in the Democratic sweep of 2006 and then was ushered out of office four years later when Republicans retook control of the House,” The Journal wrote of current seat holder Carol Shea-Porter.

“On the heels of Obama’s re-election in 2012, she won back her old seat but is facing another tough contest in 2014.”

According to its analysis, the GOP primary is “competitive” though former Congressman Frank Guinta is the “early favorite” against former UNH business school dean Dan Innis.

State senators plan forum

Nashua’s two state senators will co-host a town hall-style forum Thursday night at the Nashua Public Library.

State Sens. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, and Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis, said this will be the first of several attempts to solicit public comment on what the Legislature did in the 2014 session.

“Making sure we are available and responsive to the people of our districts has been and remains one of our top priorities. We always welcome the opportunity to talk to constituents and we are looking forward to a great discussion,” Gilmour and Lasky said in a statement.

Democrats hold summits

State Democrats completed the last of 12 grass-roots summits in Meredith. Chairman Raymond Buckley said these events in all 10 counties, Nashua and Manchester brought together more than 500 activists who have signed up to help with get out the vote activities.

Given this is a state election year, which produces a lower turnout, this kind of political organizational work could pay big dividends this fall.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).