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N.H. Democrats Kelly, Marchand target Sununu, each other at candidates forum

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidates Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand meet at a forum in Nashua on Monday evening. The gathering was hosted by the city’s Democratic Party. PAUL STEINHAUSER / For the Monitor

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidates Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand meet at a forum in Nashua on Monday evening. The gathering was hosted by the city’s Democratic Party. PAUL STEINHAUSER / For the Monitor

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidates Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand meet at a forum in Nashua on Monday evening. The gathering was hosted by the city’s Democratic Party. PAUL STEINHAUSER / For the Monitor



For the Monitor
Monday, July 30, 2018

Gubernatorial candidates Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand took aim at Republican Gov. Chris Sununu – but also hit each other in the crossfire – as they teamed up for a forum for just the second time in their race for the Democratic nomination.

As the two candidates faced off at an event in Nashua hosted by the city’s Democrats, Kelly repeatedly touted her decadelong record in the state Senate, while Marchand continually highlighted the policy proposals he’s unveiled during the campaign.

But while the two candidates were mostly on the same page when it came to policy, Kelly twice – without naming him – criticized her Democratic rival.

In pushing for renewable energy, Marchand touted a five-point plan that he released earlier in the day.

“I think that we should join Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and an increasing number of other states for a much more aggressive goal, which is attainable: 50 percent (renewable energy) by 2030,” he said.

Kelly, who has held a number of campaign events on renewable energy over the past two months, took aim at Marchand, saying she’s “not just talking about it but getting it done, by putting forward the first group net-renewable bill that passed.”

“I’ve been there, I’ve done it. And I will continue to move for renewable energy,” she said.

In her closing comments, Kelly launched another thinly veiled attack on Marchand, a farther-left candidate who years earlier served as state director for the centrist No Labels organization.

“I am proud to talk about my record because my values haven’t changed. They were the same then as they are now. Being progressive and being bold is not new to me. I have been fighting for these issues my entire life,” Kelly said.

Marchand, who had already delivered his closing comments, was not allowed to respond.

Earlier in the forum, Kelly targeted Sununu for recently signing into law a controversial voter eligibility bill passed by the GOP-majority state Legislature that Democrats claim is a voter suppression bill. And Marchand said the governor “wrongly vetoed” two renewable energy bills earlier this month.

When asked how to increase bipartisan cooperation in the State House, Marchand argued that “we are not going to get where we want to go by persuading Republican and moderate voters and swing voters.”

“We’ve got to make the argument. We’ve got to do it forcefully. We’ve got to do it thoughtfully. We’ve got to have vision, we’ve got to have confidence. We’ve got to have courage. And if we do that, we get to replace them,” the former Portsmouth mayor said as he argued for an unapologetic Democratic policy.

Kelly also noted issues with government discord.

“We have a problem, don’t we? We’re not listening to each other. We’re not hearing each other,” she said.

But in arguing for bipartisan agreement, she highlighted the importance of the corner office she’s running for.

“There are ways to get things done together and that’s possible. ... The governor leads the way. I can do that. I’ve been there and I’ve done it,” she said.

And she urged “treating people with dignity and respect.” “Democrats are a party of caring people, and don’t forget it and be proud of it,” she said.

The two candidates, who met with just six weeks to go until the Sept. 11 primary, both supported the push for commuter rail from Boston to New Hampshire.

“Being near Boston is an enormous asset if we take advantage of it. We should use commuter rail as the straw to stick into the juicy orange that is the Greater Boston economy,” Marchand said.

Kelly emphasized her state Senate voting record on rail.

“I am proud of the fact that I have been supporting this for many, many years,” she said. “It is necessary for the state to grow its economy.”

The two also agreed that New Hampshire needs a full-service VA hospital to service the state’s veterans. In discussing the issue, Kelly said she would work closely with the state’s congressional delegation and highlighted that she’s been endorsed by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Rep. Annie Kuster in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District.

Marchand quickly responded, saying “I can assure you that after the primary, I will continue to have a wonderful relationship with our congressional delegation.”

On college affordability, Kelly called for freezing tuition at state schools while Marchand highlighted his proposals for debt-free college.

Both Kelly and Marchand highlighted their proposals to reduce gun violence and to fight the state’s opioid epidemic. And both candidates also called for the legalization of recreational marijuana.