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Editorial: Hassan for U.S. Senate

  • Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Kelly Ayotte listen to a question during an Oct. 3 debate at New England College in Henniker. AP

Published: 10/23/2016 3:05:16 AM

“In my many years, I have come to a
conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress.”

– John Adams

Never has that quote, one of many poking fun at that branch of government, been so true. In a Gallup poll taken last summer, only 6 percent of Americans surveyed said they had confidence in Congress. For the past four years, at a minimum, Congress has been not just dysfunctional but a mean-spirited, fractious graveyard of ideas.

Our fear is that nothing will change unless its membership changes. That’s particularly true of Republicans under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who considers obstruction his party’s chief mission.

Key among those was the Republicans’ refusal to allow the president, with eight months left in his term, to fill a vacant seat on an evenly divided Supreme Court. That is an unprecedented dereliction of duty.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is running for a second term against Gov. Maggie Hassan, is dutifully participating in the blockade. For that reason, and because so many of her positions are at odds with those long held by this paper, our endorsement easily goes to Hassan, who promises to be both more independent-minded yet willing to compromise in the name of good government.

Our decision, however, was not made without debate. Ayotte is down to earth and very likeable, and her position on issues like the Affordable Care Act and need to combat climate change are more moderate than those of her party. Hassan tends to be guarded and evasive. For that reason, the board’s endorsement vote was split 4 to 1.

Some of Ayotte’s actions as senator – participating in the Supreme Court blockade and joining the members of her party who signed a letter telling Iran’s leaders that the United States would not respect a nuclear weapons treaty negotiated by the Obama administration, are unpardonable. So, too, is Ayotte’s support, until just recently, of Donald Trump’s buffoonish pursuit of the presidency. Trump is a civic simpleton with neither the temperament, knowledge, experience or ethics befitting a president. As president he would be a major threat to national security. That Ayotte stuck with him until he as much as confessed to sexual assault speaks volumes about her judgment.

The next Senate will consider nominees to fill at least one and probably several seats on the high court. Hassan would approve nominees who would move the nation forward on matters of civil rights, citizen equality, labor fairness, immigration and environmental regulation. Ayotte, we fear, would continue to act in a completely partisan fashion.

We respect Ayotte’s positions on abortion, she opposes Roe v. Wade, and the death penalty, but we disagree with them. In the former case, women should have the right to control their own bodies and their reproductive destiny. In the latter, the societal prohibition against killing is weakened, not strengthened, when government’s answer to wrong-doing is execution. Hassan both supports a woman’s right to choose and opposes the death penalty.

There is also the matter of gun control. Hassan favors reasonable restrictions that include universal background checks, the closing of the gun-show loophole, and a ban on assault weapons like the one made in New Hampshire that was used in the Orlando nightclub shooting, the deadliest massacre in modern American history.

Hassan is also far more likely than Ayotte to support the decisions necessary to combat climate change, which promises, if unchecked, to make much of coastal America uninhabitable.

Hassan is smart and articulate, with a history of successful bipartisan governing as a state senator and governor. She is clearly the best choice to serve as New Hampshire’s junior senator.

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