Where Democrats Molly Kelly, Steve Marchand stand on the issues

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidates Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand participate in a forum at Dartmouth College in Hanover earlier this month. Geoff Hansen

  • New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial candidates Steve Marchand and Molly Kelly laugh as moderator Charles Wheelan, right, a senior lecturer at Dartmouth College, extends their time limit to one to two minutes to respond to a complicated issue during a forum at the college in Hanover, N.H., on Aug. 13, 2018. The winner in the Sept. 11 primary will challenge Republican incumbent Chris Sununu in the general election. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

For the Monitor
Published: 8/20/2018 3:38:09 PM

The race for New Hampshire’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination is shaping up as a battle between the man with policy plans versus the woman with the legislative record.

Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand have mostly seen eye to eye on the issues – with some stances that set them apart – during six forums this summer that turned contentious. But when it comes to style, the two candidates running to face off in November against Republican Gov. Chris Sununu are quite different.

Kelly repeatedly highlights her record as a state lawmaker. The longtime Keene resident who, in recent years, moved to nearby Harrisville represented the southwest corner of the state for a decade in the New Hampshire Senate before deciding against running for re-election in 2016.

“I stand on my record. I’m proud of what I’ve done in the Senate and I want to build on that,” she said. “I’ve always stood with public education. I have championed women’s reproductive rights.”

Targeting Marchand, who earlier this decade served as a state director for the centrist organization No Labels, Kelly has said numerous times that “being progressive and being bold is not new to me, it’s what I’ve been doing my entire life.”

Marchand, a former Portsmouth mayor, has rolled out a series of policy plans this year, arguing that voters are searching for “specific terms.”

“Having specific plans after 300 town halls and thousands of conversations in 18-plus months going around the state, it turns out it’s a feature, not a bug,” he added.

While Marchand launched his campaign in April of 2017, a full year before Kelly jumped into the race, she’s the one with the lion’s share of endorsements.

Kelly spotlighted that she’s “very proud of many of the endorsements that I have received.”

She then listed her many high profile backers, including Sens. Jeanne and Maggie Hassan, 2nd Congressional District Rep. Annie Kuster, Planned Parenthood, the Teamsters, and two of the top teachers unions in New Hampshire.

Marchand countered that he is more focused on the people of New Hampshire.

“We’ve done almost 300 meet and greet events and thousands of conversations and over 30,000 people have committed to supporting us” as he claimed that his campaign’s “the most grassroots effort in the history of gubernatorial politics in this state.”

Here’s where the two candidates agree and disagree on some of the most pressing issues.


“Education is very, very important to me,” Kelly declared. “It’s one of the biggest reasons why I ran for the Senate and it will be my priority as well as governor.”

Kelly’s repeatedly railed against Gov. Chris Sununu’s support for educational savings accounts, a voucher like program proposal championed by the governor that she argues would weaken public schools.

When it comes to the high costs of attending the state’s colleges and universities, Kelly said she would “freeze tuition and lower it as well.”

And she’s proposed increasing the state loan repayment program to give students more flexibility in paying their bills.

Marchand laments that “we are one of six states that do not offer state funding for pre-K.”

Such state funding is one part of the plan on public school reforms that he’s proposed.

And taking a shot at Kelly, he’s argued that freezing in-state tuition is not enough, as he’s called for “debt-free college for in-state students who attend post-secondary education.”


Energy policy and politics has been a contentious issue at the Kelly-Marchand forums. While both candidates criticized Sununu for vetoing two bills this summer that would have aided the renewable energy industry, they have sharp disagreements.

When asked about energy, Kelly has repeatedly touted a bill she championed in 2013.

“I passed the first net metering bill that has propelled solar and hydro in the state,” she said.

But Marchand’s questioned the effectiveness of the law, saying New Hampshire is only “half of one percent renewable five years after Molly’s bill.”

He’s pushing for 50 percent renewable energy by the year 2030.

While both candidates say they’ve long opposed the proposed Northern Pass hydro-electric transmission lines that would run from the Canadian border south to the Massachusetts border, they differ on Granite Bridge. That’s the proposed natural gas pipeline from the Seacoast to Manchester along Route 101.

In explaining why she hasn’t taken a stance yet on the project, Kelly said “we need to look at all of the pieces before we make a final decision on a particular project and we don’t have all of the information yet.”

Marchand has argued that “I do have enough information to have an opinion on it. I oppose the Granite Bridge project.”

Kelly countered that it’s important to “make sure you understand all of the issues and make sure you have all of the information in order to make the decision or there will be unintended consequences.”



Both candidates have called for reversing the business tax breaks Sununu signed into law last year. And both advocate for an increase in the state gas tax and legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Marchand has called for additional revenue and rails against the long-standing anti-tax pledge in New Hampshire, getting great applause as he described it as antiquated. But when specifically asked, he’s said he opposes any sales or income tax.

Kelly argues that “I have been clear that I do not support a sales or an income tax. I have been clear about that issue and I want to continue to be clear with you.”



Both candidates have highlighted the issue of women’s reproductive right since late June, when Supreme Court associate justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the high court.

Supporters of women’s reproductive rights are deeply concerned that if President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill Kennedy’s seat, Brett Kavanaugh, is confirmed, it’s the Supreme Court would move to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s the landmark 1973 decision that constitutionally protected a woman’s right to have an abortion.

If Roe v. Wade were in any way undermined by a more conservative-tilted Supreme Court, the states would be responsible for crafting new abortion rules.

Kelly has repeatedly declared that “as governor I will not allow women’s reproductive rights to go backwards. And I promise that all women, regardless of income, will have access to safe legal abortion.”

She also has highlighted that she’s always stood with Planned Parenthood and in recent days has touted her endorsement by the political wing of the powerful national group that provides reproductive health care.

Days after Kennedy’s retirement announcement, Marchand unveiled a three point plan to strengthen abortion protections in New Hampshire, including a call for public funding of abortions.

Voter eligibility andcampaign finance reform

Kelly and Marchand equally knock Sununu for signing into law two voter eligibility bills that they describe as “voter suppression” measures.

But the disagree on how to reform campaign finance laws.

“I am the only candidate certainly in this race, and I suspect in a generation, who believes the only way you’re going to get campaign finance reform is through public funding of elections,” Marchand’s said.

And he claimed that when he released his plan this spring, “Molly and her campaign, she criticized me harder than Chris Sununu.”

Kelly’s said she doesn’t believe Granite Staters should pay for political campaigns and TV ads. But her campaign’s said she would work as governor to end corporate contributions to political campaigns an strengthen campaign finance laws.

Opioid epidemic

Both candidates spend a lot of time talking about the state’s drug crisis.

Without getting into details, Kelly has called for “a comprehensive program that has prevention, treatment, and recovery.”

And she highlights her record, saying “I was one of the first in the Senate to push to get synthetic drugs off the streets.”

Marchand spotlights the “sustainability of the money” as he advocates “moving away from a 28-day recovery period that the insurance companies pay for” and towards a lifetime of treatment of recovery for those battling addiction.

Gun violence


Both advocate for universal background checks and waiting period for gun purchases as they personalize the issues of gun violence and school safety.

“I have four children and seven grandchildren,” Kelly said. “Now I will tell you when my four children were growing up, I never, ever worried about them when they went to school whether they would be affected by gun violence. But I worry every single day about my seven grandchildren.”

Marchand – in pointing out that 93 percent of gun deaths in New Hampshire the past two years were suicide – shares a personal story.

“In the course of this campaign, somebody very close to me who I love very much made an attempt. It has changed everything about my family’s life,” he said. “I believe if there had been a gun in the house, the outcome would have been different.”

And he urged primary voters to “get me on the stage with Chris Sununu in the first few days of November. Let me tell him what I just told you.”


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