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Republican Havenstein enters N.H. governor’s race despite eligibility questions

Republican businessman Walter Havenstein announced his intention to run for governor yesterday, giving Republicans new hope in their mission to take back the governor’s mansion this fall.

But Democrats quickly attempted to halt any momentum by questioning whether Havenstein is legally eligible to run because he received a tax break designed for state residents on a condo he owned in Maryland several years ago.

Havenstein, 64, is the former chief executive officer of BAE Systems Inc., the state’s largest manufacturing employer. He’s been a major donor in Republican circles for years, but this is his first run for elected office. He filed paperwork to form a campaign committee yesterday and plans to make a formal announcement in two weeks.

“Our state is at a critical juncture, and I believe my experience, ideas, and leadership are what is needed to address the many challenges facing New Hampshire,” he said in a statement. He was not available for further comment.

Although Democrats were quick to raise questions about Havenstein’s eligibility to run, his adviser, Jamie Burnett, said yesterday that Havenstein is eligible to run based on New Hampshire law.

At this time, the New Hampshire Democratic Party has no plans to legally challenge Havenstein’s eligibility, Communications Director Julie McClain said. But, she said, Havenstein has important questions to answer about his eligibility and tax payments.

Is he eligible?

State law says a gubernatorial candidate must be domiciled in New Hampshire for the seven years leading up to his or her candidacy. Domicile is defined as the primary place where someone has established a physical presence and intends to hold a continuous presence there for domestic, social and civil purposes. People can leave the state temporarily yet still consider themselves domiciled here.

Havenstein and his wife, Judy, moved to New Hampshire in 1999 and own a home in Alton. He has been registered to vote here since at least 2004, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Havenstein did own a condo in Bethesda, Md., for several years beginning in 2008, when he was transferred there for his job with BAE Systems, Burnett said.

His work remained in Maryland when he left BAE Systems and became chief executive officer of Science Applications International Corp. While employed full time in Maryland, Havenstein lived there during the week and traveled home to Alton on the weekends, Burnett said. Havenstein retired from SAIC in 2011 and sold his Maryland property.

Under Maryland law, anyone who is in the state for more than 183 days a year is considered a statutory resident for income tax purposes. Maryland law acknowledges that someone may be a resident in Maryland for tax purposes yet domiciled somewhere else.

Democrats are saying that if Havenstein was domiciled in New Hampshire, making him eligible to run for governor, he falsely received a tax credit on his Maryland property. Maryland homeowners are eligible for a “homestead exemption” on their property taxes if they fill out a form declaring a piece of property as their principal residence.

Maryland law defines “principal” residence as the “one dwelling where the homeowner regularly resides and is the location designated by the owner for the legal purposes of voting, obtaining a driver’s license, and filing income tax returns.”

It is unclear from the application whether someone must meet each piece of this criteria to be eligible. A representative from Maryland’s Department of Assessments and Taxation did not return a message asking for comment clarifying the requirements for receiving the exemption.

Challenges to a candidate’s eligibility can be filed through the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission once the candidate signs an affidavit placing his or her name on the ballot in June.

In a 2000 case, the commission found a Democratic candidate for state senator was eligible to run even though he had lived in and been registered to vote in California within the seven years leading up to his candidacy. The candidate, Leonard Foy, had lived in California for work and employment purposes, and the ballot commission ruled he was eligible to run because he had always intended to return to New Hampshire. After that ruling, however, the Legislature enacted a law saying registering to vote in another state would remove someone’s domicile in New Hampshire.

Havenstein never registered to vote in Maryland during the time he lived there for work.

Strong business ties

Despite these questions from Democrats, Republicans expressed excitement yesterday over Havenstein’s decision to enter the race. Andrew Hemingway, 31, is the other Republican candidate in the primary.

Havenstein is a candidate with deep pockets and a strong business background, both of which will make him a serious contender in the primary and the general election, Republican strategist Jim Merrill said. Both Havenstein and Scott Brown, who is likely to run for U.S. Senate, will have to fight through primaries, but the potential of a GOP ticket topped by Havenstein and Brown this fall will draw national eyes and money to New Hampshire from groups such as the Republican Governors Association and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Merrill said.

“Their interest in New Hampshire has certainly spiked in the last 48 hours,” he said.

The New Hampshire Republican Party does not take a position in primaries, but said Gov. Maggie Hassan’s support for the Affordable Care Act and an increase in the gas tax will make her vulnerable this fall.

Burnett, Havenstein’s adviser, said Havenstein’s executive experience in the business world makes him a strong candidate to lead the state.

“This race is about leadership and the ability to create a competitive environment for job growth. New Hampshire is at an economic crossroads, and this campaign will be about who is best suited to ensure that this state remains a great place in which to live, work and raise a family,” he said.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

Legacy Comments14

I think questions about Havenstein's eligibility are nonsense. He sounds eminently qualified to run for any office. But he may not be "pure" enough for the radical right that has tried to control the party in this state--Jack Kimball, Bully O'Brien, and others.

The radicals in American Politics are the liberal progressive socialist democrats. The so called "radical right" that are always demonized by the democrats want nothing more than a adherence to the tried and true Constitution, It is the radical liberal progressive socialist democrats that are always passing some new hair brained idea like NObamaaKare trying to impose some untried utopia, Responsible Republicans try to restore the lost heritage of America that had been eroded, undermined, or just plain sold out by the liberal progressive socialist democrats. Liberals have destroyed everything they have touched especially the monopoly they have on the zip code based union run radical institutions of public indoctrination aka - public schools.

New Hampshire Governor Havenstein...Governor Havenstein...Hey, Governor Havenstein...Guv Havenstein, buddy...Guv It just doesn't sound right. He hasn't got a snowball's chance.

It started with the freestaters. The married couple we have in our town, moved to NH and ran for Reps the same year. What could they possible have known about NH in that time, but they had their agenda. I remember the days when you where always a "newcomer" until you had been here at least 20 years. That might have been over doing it, but some one should at least be here long enough to meet the people and know how to find their way to the town dump.

Hassan was in NH a very short time before Shaheen appointed her to some hack position. Shortly after she ran for office. But you probably knew that and were outraged.

Hassen was elected three times to the Senate. She knows NH and the politics. She didn't decide to start at the top.

Hassan lives in a TAX FREE mansion - yea - she knows NH.... NOT

She lives in housing provided by Phillips Exeter Academy, where her husband is headmaster. But you're right--the over-reliance on the property tax, of which I'm sure Hassan is aware, epitomizes one of the first things everyone learns about NH.

While it's quite obvious that he has has vast business experience, that is not necessarily the skill set that public service needs. I would just temper any enthusiasm with a two word reminder - Craig Benson.

That's a good point. Benson tried to run NH as if he was CEO, and it wasn't pretty. In full disclosure, I worked for BAE while Havenstein was there. He was truly loved by all the employees. He often ate in the cafe, sitting down at random table to talk about the company, baseball, whatever. I've never worked for any company where the CEO was as much of a leader as this guy. I would expect that most BAE employees during his tenure will vote for him, Republican or Democrat. In our case, we'd be voting for the man. His character, honesty, passion, and integrity go far beyond the (R) or (D) at the end of his name.

Brown from Massachusetts, Smith from Florida running for Senate and now Havenstein from Maryland. Do the Republicans plan on running anyone from New Hampshire?

Unfortunately, it appears that the sole criteria needed to run in NH is to represent the GOP and not the people of NH whether they be republican or democrat. We should elect people to represent us, the residents of this State, not someone to represent outside agendas. We need a state agenda first and foremost, then perhaps a national one. I know a silly dream. Do Bloomberg, Soros, Rove, the Koch Brothers or PAC's really know or even care what is right for New Hampshire.

I know it's awfully tough to read all the words in multi-paragraph articles like this, but Havenstein has been living primarily in NH since 1999, where he led one of the largest private employers in the state, putting thousands of "working class" people like yourself to work.. The Maryland condo was clearly explained as a place to lay his head while working for BAE, then SAIC. He sold the place as soon as he retired. Do the Democrats plan on debating any real issues or is it more fun to stick with petty little "You're not NH enough" arguments?

Sounds like he has already got his first campaign worker.

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