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Who gets to go to the Republican convention?



Last modified: Sunday, December 04, 2011
The presidential candidates have their delegate lists filed at the State House. Of course, some have more delegates listed than others.

The primary election on Jan. 10 will allocate 20 New Hampshire delegates to the Republican convention, and so a full slate this year would list 20 delegates and 20 alternates. That is the number listed by Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Herman Cain. Other major candidates have fewer delegates. Rick Santorum listed 12 delegates and 12 alternates. Newt Gingrich lists 14 delegates and 13 alternates. Michele Bachmann lists 18 delegates and no alternates.

Last time around, all the major Republican candidates listed a full slate of delegates, said Secretary of State Bill Gardner.

'It doesn't happen very often that they don't,' he said. 'I know from 2008 they all had filed' a full slate, 21 delegates that year.

Candidates need to hit 10 percent of the vote to get any delegates, Gardner said. After that, they get 10 percent of the delegates for every 10 percent of the vote.

'The lesser-known candidates, a number of them don't file any, because they might think they won't get 10 percent, or they just couldn't find people,' Gardner said.

Republican strategist Michael Dennehy, who was national political director for John McCain in 2007, said it's unusual for a serious

candidate to submit less than a full slate. Campaigns show the strength of their organization and reward top volunteers through their slate of delegates and alternates, he said.

'I've been in this business 20 years now,' Dennehy said. 'I can't remember a time when I have not seen the candidates submit the full slate.'

State GOP Chairman Wayne MacDonald said that indeed has been the case for big-name candidates.

'Somebody like a Mitt Romney or a Rick Perry or I guess you'd probably say Newt Gingrich - the major candidates - because they have a larger base of support, they tend to be able to find a number of good people able to be delegates for them,' MacDonald said.

Although the state primary allots 20 delegates to go, along with MacDonald, Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey and Republican National Committeewoman Phyllis Woods, to the Republican convention, the scheduling of the primary before February means New Hampshire will face sanctions from the national party.

MacDonald said he has been told by the Republican National Committee that New Hampshire will lose 11 delegates.

In 2008, he said, the state's national committee members were denied delegate status but still attended as 'honored guests.'

Asked about his delegate count during an interview with the Monitor editorial board Friday, Santorum said his team had gathered more than enough delegates to account for the votes they could expect to receive.

'Even if we won and won in a big number, there's no way we'd get 12 delegates,' he said. 'There's just no way. We thought we had more than enough delegates there to be able to fill out whatever we could possibly get, given the apportionment of New Hampshire.'

Santorum said his team is running the campaign to get the job done - not to impress anyone.

'If we end up getting 90 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, I'll feel bad,' he said.

'Then we might come up one delegate or so short. But if that's the case, the last thing I'm going to worry about is having one delegate short in New Hampshire. If I get 90 percent, we're going to be on our way to winning every state everywhere.'

Mattheau LeDuc, state communications director for Gingrich, said in a statement that current Republican National Committee rules require candidates to file only 12 delegates.

'Further, seven of those alternates can be pulled to make up the difference if in fact a campaign needed to, which we don't,' LeDuc said. 'Let us also add that Speaker Gingrich is running a grassroots campaign here in New Hampshire, and this is just one more example, in a growing list, as to how we are running a different type of campaign. We are not looking to file a long list of people, as many other campaigns do, to appear as a 'who's who' of politics.'

Romney's list indeed reads like a who's who of New Hampshire politics, with a former U.S. senator (Judd Gregg), state senators (Jack Barnes, David Boutin, Jeb Bradley, Chuck Morse, Jim Rausch), a former governor (John H. Sununu) and former speakers of the New Hampshire House (Donna Sytek, Doug Scamman).

Perry's list includes Franklin mayor Ken Merrifield, 2010 gubernatorial candidate John Stephen, former congressman Chuck Douglas and Deputy Speaker Pam Tucker of the New Hampshire House.

Delegates for Paul include state senators Jim Forsythe and Andy Sanborn and a number of state representatives, including Jennifer Coffey and Paul Mirski.

Huntsman delegates include state Sen. Nancy Stiles, former state Senate president and House speaker Stewart Lamprey and J. Bonnie Newman, chancellor of the state community colleges and almost-replacement for Gregg, when he was offered a cabinet post in the Obama administration.

Cain and Santorum have a number of state representatives on their lists.

Resignations declined

After the House on Wednesday failed to override Gov. John Lynch's veto of the right-to-work bill, Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt met with his leadership team and 'as a matter of principle' requested the resignations of three assistant majority whips who had supported the veto. On Thursday, Bettencourt said, he received resignations from Rep. Michael McCarthy of Nashua, Rep. John Tholl of Whitefield and Rep. David Welch of Kingston.

But the resignations didn't stick.

'After considerable reflection and feedback from individuals whose judgment I respect, I decided not to accept those resignations,' Bettencourt said in an email. 'I never try to make decisions in the emotional heat of the battle.'

Instead, he sent the lawmakers a letter expressing his disappointment with their decision but noting that he had not observed that they had 'advertised or sought to openly rebel against leadership's position.'

'I am loath to declare that a single issue defines what it means to be a 'good' Republican,' Bettencourt wrote. 'Therefore, while I appreciate your offer to resign, I decline your resignation and would respectfully request that you remain in leadership, should you choose to continue in your role.'

None of the three lawmakers responded to messages seeking comment.

Not every right-to-work dissenter was so lucky.

Rep. Gary Hopper of Weare said in an interview that Speaker William O'Brien had told him during the summer that another vote against right-to-work meant he would be expecting Hopper's resignation as chairman of the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee. So, after Hopper voted to sustain the governor's veto, he submitted a letter of resignation. By the next morning, a different lawmaker was listed as committee chairman on the House website.

'You are appointed as a chairman or to a committee at the discretion of the speaker,' Hopper said. 'If he asks you to withdraw, it's just arrogant to try to resist.'

We're serious!

Also after the Wednesday session, Bettencourt sent a letter to Lynch insisting that the House rejection of the governor's constitutional amendment was part of a serious effort to reform education funding.

'Many political pundits and those in the media were quick to term yesterday's House vote on your constitutional amendment regarding education funding in New Hampshire as a political ploy,' Bettencourt wrote. 'However, the truth of the matter is that House leadership has made a genuine effort on several occasions to reach out to you in an attempt to jumpstart negotiations in hopes of reaching an agreement on a sound bipartisan educational funding amendment.'

Since January, Bettencourt wrote, House leaders have awaited guidance from Lynch on the wording of an amendment.

As evidence of their good faith, Bettencourt pointed out that he himself had voted for Lynch's amendment, along with Speaker Pro Tempore Gene Chandler, Deputy Majority Leader Shawn Jasper and others. With limited time to agree on language before the next election, when voters could approve an amendment, Bettencourt wrote that 'time is of the essence.'

Colin Manning, a spokesman for the governor, said Lynch had expected lawmakers would begin considering his language when the full Legislature convened in January.

'The governor believes amending our Constitution is serious work, and he was expecting the language he proposed would have gone through the normal hearing process,' Manning said. 'Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.'

He said Lynch has had ongoing discussions with legislative leaders since January and has been clear about his position on an amendment.

'The governor has been clear for some time now that he believes the best way to proceed is an amendment that affirms the state's responsibility for education and provides the flexibility to effectively target aid to communities that need it most,' Manning said.

'The governor believes this would provide the best education possible for all of our kids.'

The next step is up to the Legislature, Manning said. But he said Lynch is willing to work with anyone who shares his goals for the amendment.

Union bullying?

The night before the right-to-work vote, O'Brien sent an email to Republican House members encouraging them to help override the veto.

O'Brien wrote that he had become concerned about 'coercion, threats and outright intimidation' suffered by supporters of the right-to-work bill.

He gave five examples of unnamed representatives who he claimed had been warned, implicitly or explicitly, of consequences if they continued to vote for right-to-work. In one, he wrote that an elderly lawmaker had been told that public emergency workers might not respond in a timely manner if the lawmaker voted for right-to-work. In another, he wrote that a lawmaker's daughter had been told she would not be considered to become captain of the basketball team at her public school if her parent voted for right-to-work.

'The power of the union bosses is demonstrated by the fact that the representatives who received these threats felt that they should reconsider their votes, but surely don't want their identities revealed,' O'Brien wrote. 'When the vote for overturning the right-to-work veto comes up, each of those Republican representatives voting red in a sea of green may have, without knowing, one or more of these representatives sitting next to or behind him and wondering why that red-voting representative doesn't see what has been so poignantly demonstrated to those who have been the subject of this bullying.'

O'Brien's office declined to identify any of the lawmakers described, saying they had asked that their names be kept private.

Two agendas

When Kevin Smith announced his run for governor, the conservative activist said his priority would be jobs and the economy. As a former director of the Cornerstone organizations, Smith had been a voice against same-sex marriage, but the new candidate said that while he supported repealing the marriage law, its reversal would not be part of his agenda.

Less than two weeks later, Smith registered to lobby at the State House for the National Organization for Marriage, a group devoted to stopping same-sex marriage. In an interview, he said he's not concerned that voters could be confused.

'Running for governor and also having to make a living at the same time is very different from actually being governor,' Smith said. 'I've set out a very clear agenda for being governor.'

Smith said it shouldn't surprise anyone that he supports the repeal of gay marriage. If a repeal bill came to his desk as governor, he said both last week and on the day of his announcement, he would sign it.

'In terms of what my agenda and my focus would be as governor, that wouldn't be on my agenda,' he said last week.

Smith said he doesn't know whether he actually will lobby at the State House, but wanted to be safe.

He said he is also doing consulting work for clients in the telecommunications and health care technology industries.

And he said he's not surprised that Democrats, who told reporters about the lobbying registration, would want to talk about something other than jobs and the economy.

Dupont on board

A new group working to preserve the state's same-sex marriage law has hired a lobbying firm run by former state Senate president Ed Dupont.

Standing Up for NH Families announced last week it has retained the Dupont Group of Concord to provide strategic and government affairs counsel. The organization said Dupont will join a team of Republican strategists including Christine Baratta, who was communications director for the state GOP under former chairman Jack Kimball.

In the House, Rep. David Bates of Windham has requested the drafting of a proposal for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

Speaking for Obama

Newark mayor Cory Booker is scheduled to speak at Saint Anselm College on Friday morning to campaign for President Obama. Booker is expected to talk about Obama's work on behalf of young people and what the president is doing to create jobs.

Booker will join Organizing for America and the Saint Anselm College Democrats. The mayor was featured in Brick City, a Peabody Award-winning documentary about governing Newark.

Sheriffs for Mitt

Romney has announced the endorsements of three more New Hampshire sheriffs: Sheriff Mike Downing of Rockingham County, Sheriff Craig Wiggin of Belknap County and Sheriff Michael Prozzo of Sullivan County. Romney already had endorsements from Sheriff Scott Hilliard of Merrimack County and Sheriff Douglas Dutile of Grafton County.

(Karen Langley can be reached at 369-3316 or klangley@cmonitor.com. Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com.)