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'Show up, Democrats'

Last modified: 10/11/2011 12:00:00 AM
Newt Gingrich will be there. So will Herman Cain. Ditto for Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Gary Johnson.

Our advice to New Hampshire's Democratic legislators: It may not be your kind of crowd, but make sure you're there too.

Speaker Bill O'Brien has invited the presidential candidates to address the New Hampshire House tomorrow. This is a terrific opportunity for the candidates and the lawmakers, of course, but what might the impact be on the other business of the day? After all, O'Brien has made it clear that the chair (read, O'Brien) sets the agenda, and the chair is not limited to the printed schedule. In other words, nearly anything can come up at any time. Just last month, O'Brien called an unexpected vote to override one of the most controversial bills of the session - legislation expanding the legal use of deadly force - with no notice to the public or to Democratic leaders.

O'Brien's notion of fair play and transparency leaves much to be desired, but Democrats should consider themselves warned.

Will the presence of so many speechifying Republicans tomorrow encourage Democrats to call in sick? Will their absence give O'Brien just the votes he needs to, say, override Gov. John Lynch's veto on right-to-work legislation? What a coup, after all, to pass the bill in the presence of candidates who have touted the anti-union measure from the campaign trail.

Cynical? Perhaps. But if Democrats are savvy, they'll show up tomorrow - prepared to listen politely to the candidates, prepared to sustain the veto. Better safe than sorry.


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