GOFFSTOWN — A state Democratic Party already looking ahead not only to the 2016 election, but also to the 2018 midterms, unanimously reelected its current officers to new two-year terms at its winter meeting this morning.
The state committee cast a single unanimous vote for chairman Raymond Buckley, who was reelected to a fifth term, as well as for state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark for first vice chair, also for a fifth term; Dorothy Solomon for second vice chair, for a fourth term; state Sen. Bette Lasky for a third term as secretary; Brian Rapp for a second term as treasurer; and Dan McKenna for a second term as legal counsel.
The committee also elected members of its rules committee: Mike Rollo, Pam Jorgenson, Jackie Weatherspoon, Ryan Mahoney, Esther Dickinson, Sean Downey and Dan McKenna.
At the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on the campus of Saint Anselm College, Buckley talked about “an amazing transformation for our party over the past several elections. Every election the state gets a little bluer and a little bluer and a little bluer.”
The New Hampshire Democratic State Committee observes a
moment of silence on the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma
at the start of today’s meeting
Buckley said the party performed strongly in the midterm elections, resisting a Republican “wave” that occurred in most of the country, thanks he said to the fact that “we had 30,000 more Democrats turn out” than in the last midterm election in 2010.
He said that while presidential election years are traditionally strong for Democrats in New Hampshire, “if we can add another 30,000 Democrats in 2018 on top of the 30,000 we had last year, we are not going to have a bad off-year election.”
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff praised the current slate of officers saying it is “an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The leadership worked tirelessly for us.”
Treasurer Rapp said that as a union firefighter and a school board member from Claremont, “it is an honor and a privilege to be on the leadership team, which stands for education and unions and workers.”
Party political director Ian Moskowitz urged the members to continue to work to build grassroots organizations in as many cities and towns as possible, especially in areas that currently lean Republican. He said the results of the 2014 midterm elections showed that “volunteer density” played a key role in results.
Essentially, Moskowitz said, Democratic candidates, including Sen. Jeanne Shaheen performed better in town in which there were more party volunteers per capita than in those with fewer volunteers in comparison to the population.
He said the grassroots organizing will be important not only to the 2016 presidential election year, but especially to the 2018 midterms.
In a statement following the meeting, Buckley said, “I am grateful to the members of the New Hampshire Democratic State Committee for once again placing their trust in me and our dedicated group of officers as we prepare for victory in 2016. 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for New Hampshire Democrats, and today’s turnout was a clear sign that New Hampshire Democrats are ready to work hard together this year so we can celebrate great victories next November.”
Concern, but support for Hillary
The Democrats met as their party’s unannounced presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, is under political fire as a result of the disclosure that she used a private email account for government business while Secretary of State. She has turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department. Instead of using a State Department email account, she used her own “clintonemail.com” address through a private address through a private server in her New York home.
Republicans have hit Clinton with strong criticism while some Democrats have pressed their own concern about a potential impact on the presidential race.
“I don’t think it will derail her being a candidate, but it’s concerning,” said veteran New Hampshire Democrat Bob Backus of Manchester. “We want our government leaders to be very transparent, especially these days. It seems to be a key requirement, and having a private email list is not the most transparent way to do business.”
“My understanding is that no laws were broken,” said Rockingham County Democratic Committee Chairman Larry Drake of Portsmouth. “And I don’t think that it’s going to be something that’s going to disqualify her. I think she’s going to be OK. “
“I think most people are going to say that which email account she used wasn’t really that important, she was still the Secretary of State,” Drake said. “I don’t think that it’s going to hurt her in the long run.”
Drake said that as a county chairman, however, he would be neutral in the primary.
State Sen. Donna Soucy of Manchester said that given Clinton’s “long history” in New Hampshire, she expect that voters in the state will remain open to hearing her message.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley wrapped up a two-day visit to New Hampshire prior to today’s state committee meeting by speaking at a fundraiser at the home of Executive Council Chris Pappas.
He received positive reviews.
“I like the fact that he ended the death penalty in Maryland,” said Backus.
Drake said that O’Malley has “a great record, and I think he would be a good candidate too.”
At the start of the meeting, the state committee observed a moment of silence for the victims of the attack 50 years ago on marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.
Buckley, prior to his election as State Chair, served four terms as a NHDP Vice Chair and in the New Hampshire House of Representatives for 18 years. Buckley held several staff positions at the NHDP office, including four years as Executive Director and two cycles as Coordinated Campaign Director. He is also currently President of the Association of State Democratic Chairs and Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Fuller Clark is currently serving as the Assistant Democratic Leader in her fifth term in the NH Senate following six terms in the New Hampshire House. Senator Fuller Clark is a member of the Democratic National Committee, serving on the resolutions committee.
Solomon is a former County Commissioner representing Carroll County. She was previously elected NHDP Secretary and served for many years as the Carroll County Democratic Chair.
Lasky was elected in November to her third term as state senator, following five terms in the New Hampshire House. She has been the Chairman of the Nashua City Planning Board, a Nashua City Selectman, and Vice Chair of the Nashua Democratic City Committee. She has been a member of the Board of Directors for Girls Inc., the Disabilities Rights Center, and the NH Association for the Blind. Lasky also serves as the Democratic Whip in the senate.
McKenna is an attorney at the firm of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC. He formerly served one term in the New Hampshire House, currently serves as a member of the Derry School board and is on the Board of Directors for Southern New Hampshire Services. McKenna was a member of the 2012 and 2014 Democratic Voter Protection Legal Team.