N.H. Turns As Blue as Its Flag

Monday, November 13, 2006

N.H. Turns As Blue as Its Flag

New Hampshire was meltdown central for the Republicans in last Tuesday's election.

The state's popular Democratic governor, John Lynch, cruised to re-election. Both of the state's GOP congressman were defeated, even though neither of them was high on the list of DCCC targets as of Labor Day.

Democrats also took control of both chambers of the state's Legislature. It's the first time in more than 130 years that both N.H. houses are in Democratic hands.

Is New Hampshire's Democratic sweep just a fluke shaped by anti-incumbent attitudes? No way. It's the latest sign that the last red state in New England is strongly trending blue. In 2004, N.H. was the only state that went from red to blue in the presidential election. As one of the state's newspapers reported:

Of the 239 Democrats elected to the House Tuesday, 102 were elected for the first time. Another 15 will be returning to the House, but did not serve during the 2005-06 session.

"Everybody is finding their way right now. It's almost like being in a dark room and trying to remember where the furniture is," said Paul McEachern, D-Portsmouth, a former representative and gubernatorial candidate who was elected again this week.

... "Anybody in the Legislature has found it's hard to identify someone by their political party because it has always been a coalition of people from both parties that gets things done regardless of what is getting done," he said. "I don't think the depth is there on the Democratic side to manage it to the exclusion of the Republicans."

McEachern suggested a number of moderate Republicans would love to have positions of responsibility their party's leadership would not give them. "They had no home," he said.

McEachern should give these moderate Republicans a home by offering them a leadership post if they agree to switch parties. Over the past few decades, this is what the GOP has done in the South and Sunbelt regions.

In the long run, it would have an additional payoff by drawing off moderates and making the New Hampshire GOP look even more extreme on the issues than it already does.

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