The political landscape is not as pretty as the first snow

By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org

A little snow on the ground cleans up.

The brown grass disappears and a thin layer of white accentuates the cold, gray lines of the trees.

The dirty streets were gone with the first snow, but only until the snowplows appeared as unwelcome visitors to sleep.

These snowplows look like the coming election year with more anxiety than usual.

Not only are Democrats and Republicans divided almost evenly in New Hampshire, although the two outnumber undeclared voters, often referred to as independents, but there will be new political boundaries to navigate from congressional races to commissioners. county and even up to district delegates for the Republican convention.

And to date, only the House Special Redistricting Committee has approved plans to present to the House in January. The House sets the boundaries of the two Congressional Districts, its Districts, County Commissioners Districts for nine of the 10 counties, Strafford elects Commissioners General and Republican Congress Districts.

The Special Senate Redistribution Committee will set its own boundaries and the five district parameters of the Executive Council.

The House and Senate generally agree not to make changes to the House-approved division plan or the Senate-approved division plan, but the others – Congress, Executive Council, and County Commissioners – are fair well. that sitting advisers and US officials often have a say. .

This year, however, with two Democrats taking the seats in Congress and Republican majorities drawing the cards, the incumbents will have little to say, while the four Republican executive advisers will have influence on the council district’s map.

This is why political parties go out of their way to win elections when the year ends with 0 because who wins draws the cards, which Republicans have been doing for most of the last century.

The way Democrats have moved from control of the House, Senate and Executive Council to a minority party indicates a significantly missed opportunity.

At present, only incumbent Governor Chris Sununu and US Senator Maggie Hassan, both of whom are statewide candidates, know what their districts will be when they run for re-election.

Everyone will have to wait until the final maps are approved by the House and Senate and the governor’s actions or absence, to know what the political landscape will be less than a year from the critical 2022 elections.

But there is really less time than many think to make decisions and set up an organization if you want to run for office. The state primary is September 13, the last date it can take place under current law, and the general election is November 8, leaving just eight weeks between primary and general elections.

The filing period for state and federal offices runs from June 1 to 10, so decisions will need to be made quickly if a candidate plans to show up at an important office.

Despite all the speculation from political experts, Sununu withdrew from the U.S. Senate race against incumbent Democrat Hassan, which sent many scrambling as several senators and state officials set their sights on what ‘they thought they were a free seat. on the second floor of the governor, office area of ​​the State House.

Instead, some try to decide what they want to do and what they might consider.

But others will have to wait and see what happens with the redistribution of political borders.

And the political borders could be very different from what they are now.

For example, the state’s two representative US districts, which have changed little over the years with some adjustments here and there to adjust for population changes. This usually meant moving a city or two or three from one district to another to live under the direction of one man, one voice.

But not this time if the House Republicans’ plan is approved.

Instead of moving a city as the Democrats have proposed, the Republican plan is moving 75 polling stations or about 360,000 residents, or about a quarter of the state’s population from one district to another.

The plan creates a thumbs-up in the middle of the state, Democrats would say a third finger, while stretching District 2 from the southwest corner of the state to the southeast corner with a strong Republican bubble in the middle.

Former Nashua City Clerk and current Democratic Representative Paul Bergeron said what many thought the day the committee voted on the plan.

“I don’t know what it’s going to be called,” Bergeron said, “but it’s going to become a 2021 symbol for gerrymandering.”

It would be hard not to consider such a massive change in the district as gerrymandering to give Republicans a seat in the US House of Representatives.

He is moving a number of strongly GOP-oriented towns on the southern border with Massachusetts into Borough 1 while moving Democratic strongholds from the Coastal Zone to Borough 2.

The end result will be a strong 1st Republican District and a strong 2nd Democratic District.

While the current representative of the 1st Democratic District of the United States, Chris Pappas, has said he intends to run for office, he faces an uphill battle to keep his post, which is not not impossible, but the numbers are against him.

And that’s what gerrymandering, wrapping and stacking, wrapping the voter for one party in one district so you can stack the other districts for the other party.

Although the governor said there was no gerrymandering in New Hampshire when he twice vetoed the bills forming independent redistribution commissions, he did not have to look at what is. now Executive Council District 2 which also stretches from the southwestern corner of the state to the southeast while picking up Democratic Strongholds along the Keene Road in Concord to Dover and Durham.

While this district has received a lot of attention for its form and blatant gerrymandering, watch for a redistribution of the district to include Upper Valley, another Democratic stronghold to get the same consolidation of Democratic voters into one district.

Michael Cryans, D-Hanover, was in the first District Executive Council seat for the 2019-20 term and has already announced that he plans to run again, but he might not be in the same district and could face a Democratic incumbent in the primary if he does.

Likewise, State Senator Harold French R-Canterbury has all but announced that he will run for the United States in the 2nd Congressional District, which is fine now, but if the Republican plan is approved. , Canterbury would be in the 1st district. A state resident can report to a district they do not live in, but their chances are usually not good.

The sooner the ridings are settled, the better it will be for candidates and incumbents, but it is unlikely to happen as quickly as the majority party would like.

Only new congressional districts will be challenged in court and even with a fairly quick resolution there will be major disruption.

There are other issues as well, as many cities, which by a recent state constitutional amendment should have their own districts but do not have one, are likely to challenge any approved plan that does not grant them their right. constitutional.

Redistribution is political, and when it comes to controlling government here in New Hampshire or Washington, it’s always a battle without mercy. And with the changes proposed for the Granite State, it won’t be quick, easy, or trouble-free.

Garry Rayno can be contacted at garry.rayno@yahoo.com.

Distant Dome by veteran journalist Garry Rayno explores a broader perspective on State House and state events for InDepthNH.org. During his three-decade career, Rayno covered the NH State House for Union leader New Hampshire and Foster’s Daily Democrat. During his career, his coverage has spanned the spectrum of news, from local planning, schools and school boards to national issues such as deregulation of the electrical industry and presidential primaries. Rayno lives with his wife Carolyn in New London.


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