Havenstein, Hemingway spar over Medicaid expansion, economic growth, personal character
FILE - In this April 16, 2014 file photo, former defense contractor and Republican, Walt Havenstein talks with supporters before announcing his intentions to run for governor in Concord, N.H. Havenstein will formally file his campaign paperwork Wednesday, June 11, 2014, to run in a September primary against Andrew Hemingway for the Republican nomination to take on first-term incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
Andrew Hemingway, shown here in June filling out his papers to run for governor, believes New Hampshire would benefit from a 2 percent business flat tax.
Republican gubernatorial candidates Walt Havenstein and Andrew Hemingway sparred over their stances on Medicaid expansion and economic growth yesterday in a radio debate, which became tense when the topic strayed to personal character.
Radio personality Jack Heath and reporter John DiStaso from NH Journal moderated the live, hourlong morning debate on WGIR.
Both candidates said they oppose Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, but debated different approaches going forward. Havenstein said he would have vetoed Medicaid expansion had it come to his desk, but said the fact is now it’s a law. “I am going to face into that problem early on and find a solution . . . that doesn’t put New Hampshire taxpayers on the hook for an unlimited liability,” he said.
Hemingway called Havenstein’s answer “political doublespeak” and something that depends on the audience. “I have delivered from Day One clear answers,” Hemingway said. “My answer on Medicaid expansion is it must be repealed, it has to be repealed.”
Havenstein said the reality is that repealing the law is unlikely given the support it had. “To simply say we’re going to repeal it, not recognizing the fact it’s probably not going to be repealed is irresponsible,” he said.
Both candidates said they don’t support the Northern Pass project as currently proposed. Hemingway said he is open to legalizing marijuana, Havenstein said he is not. Both men trumpeted their separate business plans that they said would help New Hampshire growth.
The debate strayed to personal territory when Hemingway accused Havenstein of giving money to Democrats in part through an SAIC company PAC where Havenstein worked as CEO. Havenstein said he didn’t have control over where the company’s PAC money went.
Hemingway then questioned Havenstein’s role at the company, which came under investigation for a $500 million fraud scandal a few months after Havenstein took over.
“I uncovered a mess and worked diligently with the U.S. district attorney to fix it, and that’s exactly what I did and we moved on,” Havenstein said. “To insinuate for a second that my character is anything less than honorable,” he said is not acceptable.
(This post has been updated. Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)