Beating the (Political) Heat

In the steamy dog days of August we need to find a way to beat the heat, to dodge the wicked glare of Mother Nature as she sets her magnifying glass on us and watches us squirm. For those who toil in the political fields, summer heat comes from other sources but can be just as tough to bear. So who could use some political SPF 50 about now? Here’s a short list:

The N.H. GOP has been wilting lately, from the campaign funding problems of former House Speaker Chandler to the legacy of the 2000 “Phone Jamming Scandal” to the abrupt departure of Warren Henderson as party chairman (ever heard a sonic boom?). Now, August sees the GOP lacking sufficient candidates for the House and Senate races, and facing the likelihood of losing seats in the House this fall.

Regardless of whether or not Gary Dodds’ First Congressional District race had a chance in the first place, his strange “Deliverance” adventure in April, following an auto accident near the coast, has left him the subject of police questions and public worries about his integrity. Despite his brush with hypothermia, he must wish he could escape to a cooler political climate.

Kathy Sullivan, the head of the N.H. Democratic Party, is still sweating out reports of the theft of Guinta-for-Mayor campaign signs by a Baines-for-Mayor campaign worker. The culprit allegedly took the signs to her house, and complaints have been filed. Sullivan is getting burned by political opponents, even as she gears up for the brisk fall election season.

Some just stay cooler than others. Last year at this time, Governor John Lynch was hiding from the hot gaze of the public over the “E-Z Pass Scandal.” Lynch was seeking ways that the state could continue selling E-Z Pass transponders for $5 — $19 less than what was stipulated by a law that had just been passed. It should have been difficult for the governor to beat the heat on the issue, but the state’s media must have been drinking Kool-Aid in the shade. They let the story drop, like the setting August sun.

The first-term representative Jim Coburn has a long road ahead of him to reach the corner office in Concord, and the glare is on for him to find substantive and resonant issues to offer the electorate. He has made up a lot of lost ground, but he’ll have to turn up the heat to surpass the totemic John Lynch. Look for Coburn to be visiting a cookout near you in his quest to get more name recognition and more voters on his side.

The presidential trail may lead through the snows of New Hampshire, but in the heat of the summer other states are nudging their presidential caucuses a little too close for comfort. And on our campaign front, Senator John McCain, the darling of N.H. in the 2000 presidential primary, has encountered some dissatisfaction among people who once hopped aboard his “Straight Talk Express.” In particular, his stance on immigration has caused some blood to boil. Although he is still the front-runner for the next presidential race, he will have more than a few heated questions to answer from Granite State residents.

Finally, there is Doug Scamman, the N.H. House Speaker, who recently announced his intention to leave the Legislature and return to his farm. He plans to raise crops and spend time with his grandchildren. Best wishes to Mr. Scamman. He seems to have found just the right way to keep cool in New Hampshire politics. NH

Gardner Goldsmith is a local radio talk show host (WNTK), a libertarian political pundit, a devotee of punk rock music and a former “Writer’s Guild Fellow” with the script team for “Star Trek: Voyager.”