My Turn: Fundamental rights at stake in Executive Council race

For the Monitor
Published: 5/22/2020 6:00:28 AM
Modified: 5/22/2020 6:00:17 AM

Last week, at the first candidate forum of the Executive Council District 2 race, I made my case for why we need an experienced, proven leader in this seat who will be ready on day one to take on the work of rebuilding from this public health and economic crisis. One clear point that came out of the forum is that there are distinct differences between the candidates, both in terms of experience and substance.

Most significant is the position of one particular candidate with respect to the nomination of Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to be chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Jay Surdukowski made a serious error in judgment last year. He not only supported the nomination of Gordon MacDonald as chief justice – reasonable people may have disagreed on that – but he forcefully championed MacDonald’s nomination.

When presented with concerns about MacDonald’s anti-choice history and the real threat his nomination would present to reproductive rights, Surdukowski not only persisted but also attempted to discredit those raising concerns. Fortunately, the Executive Council rejected MacDonald’s nomination, however, the governor has left the chief justice seat empty and has made subsequent efforts to resurrect the nomination.

The wisdom of the Executive Council’s decision has been borne out since last summer. During this pandemic, Gordon MacDonald‘s actions make it clear that he serves as attorney general for the governor and the Republican Party, and not the people of New Hampshire. He has persistently and aggressively pursued the litigation of voter suppression laws to benefit Republican interests at taxpayer expense.

Most recently, he supported the governor in his actions to usurp the power of the Legislature, a co-equal branch of government, by bypassing the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee in overseeing the expenditure of $1.25 billion in CARES Act funds.

The confirmation of Gordon MacDonald would present a direct threat to our right to choose, our right to vote and to the integrity of our democracy. Despite this growing mountain of evidence, Surdukowski did not retract his support for MacDonald at the forum, but rather doubled-down.

The governor is looking for a third vote on the Executive Council to support the confirmation of MacDonald to the Supreme Court. There is no doubt that the election of Jay Surdukowski would provide Sununu with that vote. Voters need to be aware of this important policy distinction between the candidates.

As executive councilor, I will speak up, stand up and ask the tough questions. I will not approve a nomination to the New Hampshire Supreme Court of any nominee who will not commit to upholding our fundamental rights. The people of District 2 deserve that.

(Cinde Warmington is a health care attorney at the law firm of Shaheen & Gordon and a candidate for the District 2 Executive Council seat.)

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