Frank Edleblut and Jeanie Forrester sign AFP pledge to cut taxes, oppose Medicaid expansion

Monitor staff
Published: 8/4/2016 12:09:29 AM

Two of the four Republican candidates for governor have signed a pledge promising to pass right-to-work legislation, cut taxes and oppose all forms of the Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid expansion.

Meredith Sen. Jeanie Forrester and Wilton Rep. Frank Edelblut signed the Americans for Prosperity pledge Tuesday. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and Executive Councilor Chris Sununu did not, saying they hope to find a state solution on Medicaid expansion.

The pledge originated with former New Hampshire governor Mel Thompson as a promise to veto a state income or sales tax. It has since expanded, and is now put on by the state chapter of AFP, a conservative advocacy group founded by billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch. Director Greg Moore said more than 200 candidates for state office signed the AFP pledge this year.

The pledge has sparked the ire of Democrats who say it ties candidates hands before they ever get into office.

Democratic Senate candidate Jeanne Dietsch and state Rep. Ivy Vann burned a copy of the pledge in protest Tuesday in Peterborough, according to Dietsch spokesman Sam Blair.

“This pledge seeks to deny our hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding and kick 48,000 New Hampshire residents off Medicaid,” Dietsch said in a statement. The Peterborough Democrat is challenging incumbant Republican Sen. Andy Sanborn, of Bedford.  She faces a primary race against Lee Nyquist of New Boston. “The only patriotic thing to do with this pledge is to burn it,” Dietsch said.

Forrester and Edelblut said the pledge is meant to inform voters, and it wouldn’t affect their ability to find state solutions if elected governor. AFP held a signing ceremony at the Barley House in Concord Tuesday.

“It’s important for the people of New Hampshire to understand where the candidates stand on the issue of taxes,” said Forrester, who has signed the pledge in the past. Forrester voted to expand Medicaid in 2014, but voted against a reauthorization bill this year saying the work requirement for enrollees wasn’t strong enough.

The pledge “reflects the things that are important to me. I really want to be transparent with the voters so they know the things that I stand on,” said Edelblut, a first-term representative who also voted against this year’s Medicaid expansion bill.

Both Gatsas and Sununu did not sign the pledge because of Medicaid expansion. Gatsas wants to find a “New Hampshire based solution to expand insurance coverage for residents,” said spokesman Nate Lamb. “Once this New Hampshire solution is in place for the 46,000 people currently insured under Medicaid Expansion, we can then repeal Medicaid Expansion.”

Sununu said the state should consider a way to expand Medicaid with a work requirement.

“Chris has not signed the pledge because as governor he will work with the Legislature to achieve an affordable long-term solution for continued access to quality health care, with all ideas on the table, including Medicaid expansion with a work requirement,” said spokesman David Abrams. “Chris is not prepared to abandon 41,000 New Hampshire people while those alternatives for affordable health care are considered.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta and primary challenger Rich Ashooh both signed the AFP pledge. Jim Lawrence and Republican Rep. Jack Flanagan also signed the pledge. They are running in the 2nd Congressional district.

The pledge requires signatories “work tirelessly” to cut taxes and fees, oppose any tax increases, cut spending and size of government, pass a right-to-work law in the state, oppose all forms of Obamacare and uphold the Constitution.

(This post has been updated to correctly reflect which senate seat Dietsch is seeking. Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com)




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