Well, the New Hampshire Republican Senate Primary is still up in the air, with former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte holding a narrow lead over former Education Commissioner and GOP bigwig Ovide Lamontagne, with the other candidates out of it.
And that strikes me as a good excuse for a little treatise on New Hampshire’s political climate.
For generations, New Hampshire was pretty much a solidly Republican state. And like most cases where one party holds sway too long, it was essentially divided into two factions. These were the plutocrats and the ideologues, or as I liked to call them “the arrogant rich” and “the arrogant stupid.”
In the late 1980’s, we had two guys who absolutely epitomized these two factions: Governor John Sununu and Senator Bob Smith. You’d be hard-pressed to find two hard-core assholes who really, really couldn’t stand each other.
Eventually, the Democrats managed to exploit the divisions in the GOP and started winning races. And before most of us realized it, we’d become a blue state.
The Democrats are themselves divided into factions. In the college enclaves around the state (Hanover, Keene, Plymouth, Durham), we got full-blown moonbats. These are the hard left loonies. Then we have the Relocated Massholes. These aren’t necessarily from Massachusetts, but the attitude is the same — they left the hellholes that their home states had become, and now are pushing to institute the very same policies that wrecked their states in the first place.
Our current Representatives in Washington embody these two factions. Carol Shea-Porter is a moonbat, and Paul Hodes is a Relocated Masshole. (That both were born in New York City is an odd coincidence, but not really essential.)
And then there are the old-school native Republicans and Democrats, who look at the idiots who’ve taken over their party and their state and wonder what the hell happened.
But back to the Senate race. On the Republican side, the two leading candidates represented the resurgence of the two major factions. Ayotte was the anointed of the elites, so she bore the standard of the Arrogant Rich. Lamontagne, despite all his years as a state GOP apparatchik, went the populist, ideologically purer road and carried the flag for the Arrogant Stupid.
Again, these labels are sloppy. Ayotte ain’t that rich, and Lamontagne ain’t stupid. But it’s a handy labeling system.
The damnedest thing is, right up until the end, almost everyone saw this as an Ayotte-Binney race. Lamontagne pretty much came out of nowhere and blew Binney away.
Personally, my guy came in third. I figured we could use a guy who knows money well in the Senate, so I held my nose (I really didn’t like his anti-Ayotte attack ads) and went for Bill Binney. So I’ve already lost.
On the other hand, I’d have no problem voting for either Ayotte or Lamontagne over Paul Hodes. Ayotte’s tough — as AG, she took maternity leave and came back to fight two death penalty cases, winning one — and principled and charismatic, as well as a political neophyte — this is the first time she’s ever run for office. She also served as AG under both a Republican and a Democrat (in New Hampshire, the job is a gubernatorial appointee), so she knows how to play nice with others when necessary. Lamontagne, on the other hand, has a broader spread of experience and is more politically savvy, while is closer to the populist “Tea Party” movement and inclined to more fiscal responsibility.
Update: Just as I am about to publish this, the AP calls the election for Ayotte — but with a 1,667 victory margin. That’s more than close enough for Lamontagne to ask for a recount. Either way, I hope the loser give the winner some support — we really, really don’t need Hodes in the Senate. He wasn’t so bad in the House, but that’s only in comparison to Carol Shea-Porter.