There's something about Salem and GOP royalty
House Majority leader DJ Bettencourt talks with the Monitor during an editorial review board; Friday, March 11, 2011.
Sen. Chuck Morse, left, addresses the senate as Sen. Russell Prescott, right, listens on Wednesday, June 1, 2011, as they worked through budget amendments in the afternoon heat.
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File - Photo dated May 1st 1970 of Irish poet, playwright and Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney. Seamus Heaney, Ireland's foremost poet who won the Nobel literature prize in 1995, has died after a half-century exploring the wild beauty of Ireland and the political torment within the nation's soul. He was 74. Heaney's family and publisher, Faber & Faber, say in a statement that Heaney died Friday in a Dublin hospital. (AP Photo / PA file) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
We’ve all been there – or at least through there on our way to Boston. Salem is home to a big shopping mall, a broken-down race track and, perhaps someday soon, a gambling casino.
But why in the world is Salem consistently home to New Hampshire’s Republican royalty? It’s not big, like Manchester, or full of eager young college kids, like Hanover or Durham. It’s not politics-obsessed, like Concord. It’s not home to the quaint sort of spots that presidential candidates seek out for photo-ops. Heck, sometimes it seems so far south that we forget it’s part of New Hampshire.
The new Senate president, Chuck Morse, is from Salem. Before that, he was chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. And he’s just the tip of the Salem GOP iceberg. Consider:
∎ State Rep. Marilinda Garcia was just named one of the national Republican Party’s five top “Rising Stars.”
∎ Vesta Roy, the state’s first female (acting) governor, came from Salem. (Roy was president of the state Senate before that; she stepped in after the death of Gov. Hugh Gallen.)
∎ Donna Sytek, the state’s first female speaker of the House, lives in Salem too.
∎ Ditto for Joe Delahunty, a recent state Senate president. (Former Senate president Arthur Klemm was technically from Windham, but Salem was part of his district too.)
∎ Former (disgraced) House majority leader D.J. Bettencourt calls Salem home.
∎ Back in 1990, President George H.W. Bush named Elsie Vartanian of Salem to run the Women’s Bureau at the federal Department of Labor.
∎ And don’t forget John H. Sununu, the former governor and chief of staff to Bush, and his political children (raised in Salem): John E. Sununu, the former U.S. senator; and Chris Sununu, the executive councilor.
What gives? We asked Sytek for her view: “Besides the water from Canobie Lake, what most of us have in common is that we came here from Massachusetts to escape taxes, heavy regulation and cronyism. The conventional wisdom is that Massachusetts transplants come to New Hampshire and bring their big city, big government ways with them. I have found quite the opposite here in Salem. We embrace the Live Free or Die attitude and try to preserve it. Fiscal conservatives do well in local and state races, making Salem fertile ground for Republican candidates.”