Majority of Republicans in N.H. Senate endorse Havenstein for governor
Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein has the backing of a majority of Republican state senators, with seven of the caucus’ 13 members formally endorsing him this week.
The list covers the spectrum of ideology within the party, ranging from the more moderate Sen. Bob Odell of New London to libertarian Sen. John Reagan of Deerfield, and Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford, who has crafted himself as one of the Senate’s most conservative voices. Sens. Russell Prescott of Kingston and Sharon Carson of Londonderry also put their support behind Havenstein, as did Senate leaders Jeb Bradley and Chuck Morse, who stood behind Havenstein at his announcement last month.
“I’m delighted to announce the support of so many members of New Hampshire’s Senate,” Havenstein said in a statement. “While Maggie Hassan has been leading from behind, it is Republicans in the Senate who have been working to meet New Hampshire’s challenges. I look forward to working with them as governor.”
These endorsements are a big grab for Havenstein, a former chief executive officer of defense company BAE Systems, and further cement the perception that he is the “establishment” candidate. His rival, 31-year-old entrepreneur and activist Andrew Hemingway, announced his bid for the corner office in January but failed to gather wide support from prominent state Republicans, many of whom were waiting to see whether another candidate would emerge. Hemingway, for his part, has been gathering support from state representatives and party activists. One of the most prominent names on his side, however, is former U.S. senator Gordon Humphrey, who left elected office in the 1990s.
The primary is Sept. 9.
In his campaign so far, Havenstein has sought to define himself as an experienced businessman who understands which levers to pull in order to help the state’s economy grow and businesses thrive. He’s hit Hassan for crafting her initial budget around nonexistent casino revenue and said she hasn’t done enough to grow the state’s “stagnant” economy.
Notably, he has come out against some of the bipartisan proposals supported or driven by Senate Republicans, including the Medicaid expansion plan crafted in part by Odell, Bradley and Morse. Despite that difference of opinion, all three are supporting Havenstein.
“I’m proud to endorse Walt for governor,” Morse said in a statement. “We need someone in the corner office who will be proactive in setting the agenda, and I know Walt will do that. He is exactly the leader New Hampshire needs to address the challenges we face.”
He also does not support a gas tax increase to fix roads and bridges, a bill submitted by Republican Sen. Jim Rausch. Although Rausch stood behind Havenstein at his announcement, his name was not on this week’s list of endorsements.
Carson, a third-term senator who also served eight years in the House, pointed to Havenstein’s service in the Marine Corps and his business background as reasons for supporting him.
“Walt’s 40 years of military and business leadership experience will be a real asset to New Hampshire,” she said in a statement. “We are facing tough economic and fiscal problems and I know he can solve them.”
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)