Havenstein takes aim at Hassan during N.H. gubernatorial announcement
Republican Walt Havenstein kicked off his gubernatorial campaign this morning by introducing himself as an experienced businessman who can end years of economic stagnation under Democratic governors.
“We have squandered an entire decade and we’re falling behind,” Havenstein said. “We can either ignore those trends and hope that we can maintain the status quo or we can elect a leader who will end the stagnation, restore confidence and put New Hampshire on a path to economic growth.”
Havenstein will face entrepreneur Andrew Hemingway in the Republican primary. But Havenstein set his sights squarely on Hassan today, saying her pursuit of policies such as Medicaid expansion and casino gambling are ineffective means of growing the economy. If elected, Havenstein said he’d push for smaller government and policies that incentivize private businesses to create jobs.
Although his speech focused largely on generalities and themes of small government, Havenstein took clear positions on several major issues facing the Legislature when asked by reporters. He is opposed to expanded gambling, the bipartisan agreement to accept new federal Medicaid dollars and repealing the death penalty. On an increase in the gas tax, he said he’s not convinced the state is using the money it already takes in effectively and doesn’t think now is the right time to impose tax increases. On a broad base tax, which has not been proposed this session, his answer was simple: “Forget it.”
Havenstein, 64, lives in Alton with his wife Judy. He is the former chief executive officer of BAE Systems, a defense systems company that employees 4,000 people in southern New Hampshire, and SAIC, a Fortune 250 science, engineering and technology company. As CEO of BAE Systems, Havenstein said he was in charge of managing a budget that’s three time’s the size of New Hampshire’s $10.7 billion budget.
“I understand the challenges of large, complex organization and I know how to control costs,” he said. “As CEO, I saw first hand the role that government can play, both good and bad, and what it can do to help or hurt a company and the economy.”
For weeks, Democrats have been questioning Havenstein’s claim to New Hampshire residency. From 2008 to 2011, Havenstein worked in Maryland and owned a condominium on which he received a tax exemption designed for people’s primary residence. The New Hampshire Democratic Party says this shows Havenstein either isn’t eligible to run or unfairly took a tax break.
“Walt Havenstein has made it abundantly clear that he thinks he’s above the rules that apply to the rest of us,” party Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement.
Havenstein firmly addressed the eligibility question today, saying New Hampshire has been his domicile since 1999 and he has not voted in any other state during that time period. He said he is confident that he has met all of his tax obligations in Maryland and elsewhere, but said he would not release his tax information when asked by a reporter. Once Havenstein’s name is on the ballot in June, anyone can bring a challenge regarding his eligibility before the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission.
Read tomorrow’s Concord Monitor for a full story on Havenstein’s announcement.
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)