As we sat waiting, Bob Guida, a candidate for US House of Representatives, greeted us (he even said good afternoon ladies!) and handed us a bio sheet so we could have more information about him to take away with us. He was the only candidate to approach us. The other candidates had materials but never reached us for whatever reason. Before the event started, I saw Omer Ahearn pull aside a gentleman that I think was the Chair of the group and they were talking and looking up at us, so I began to suspect we were going to get a change of heart and asked to leave. It turns out (at least in part) that they saw Kathy showing me photos she had taken earlier on our digital camera and the gentleman who spoke with Mr. Ahearn came over and stated that they "prefer no cameras or recording devices. We have our own sanctioned photographer." We respected their wishes and put away the camera. Mr. Ahearn came up to me to talk to me about my work, which I admit I'm not fond of happening outside of my work time but it's pretty much inescapable in a small town as a public employee. I imagine it happens to lots of people, and no doubt I've done it myself to others.
The first candidate to speak was Kelly Ayotte, former NH Attorney General currently running in the primaries to face Paul Hodes for US Senate (Judd Gregg's former seat). Of all the candidates, this was the one I was most interested in hearing. I have been watching her as a candidate and contemplated voting for her in the primaries. She seemed very worked up. Kathy thought it was sort of a Glenn Beck "I just love my gosh darn country so much" fake emotion thing, but I think it seemed more like what happens to me when I speak in public: nervous and shaky and on the edge of clamming up. I found it a bit odd for a former Attorney General. As for her stances on issues, I'll start with our common ground: we both think civics are important for our school children to learn and this subject needs more focus, we both harbor some resentment for the bailouts (though we differ on who is at fault), and we both disagree with the mandated coverage in the current health care bill. We agree that our Senators and Representatives should have the same health care that they vote in for all of us, not the special deluxe plan health care plan they have now, and I liked that she said enthusiastically that she would expect and want to live that by example. She spoke a lot about being accountable to the people and having open government, and I agree we need more of both, but I found it ironic since we were informed not to use a recording device and told we would have to leave after the candidates speaking because the meeting became private.
There was a lot I heard that really bothered me. I know this was a Republican meeting so there's going to be a lot of talking it up for the audience, but I was severely disappointed in the great amount of Democrat demonizing I heard from her. I would have liked to hear more about some common ground she has with Democrats. Unfortunately Ian awoke during her Q&A session just after her speech so I couldn't ask her about this. She did talk about issues, but she didn't elaborate much on how her position differed from Paul Hodes' positions on the issues, but more that they (Republicans in attendance) had to do what they could to make sure Hodes doesn't get elected because he's for running this country into the ground with more government and more spending. I also caught her in an outright deception. She stated she would have Town Hall style meetings up and down the state if she were elected, unlike Paul Hodes. As someone who has attended at least two of Paul Hodes' Listening Sessions (essentially Town Hall style meetings), I know Hodes does them and it was one thing about him as a Representative that I liked. As I mentioned, I came into this meeting favoring her for the Republican nomination to the position, but I left pretty much feeling I would not vote for her, neither in the primaries nor in the actual election should she get the nomination. I'm glad I got the opportunity to hear her speak for herself! The press I read of her presented her a lot more favorable than the impression I got from hearing her first-hand. Another thing that irked me: during the Q&A an audience member mentioned sunsetting and a few government agencies he would like to get rid of had he the choice, and asked her which she might like to see go away.
During this one of the people present (later I saw him leave and his license plate said something about being the senior assistant Republican Leader in the state legislature) muttered "The Judicial System." Ummm, no thanks. I kinda like having courts, especially when they can clear up disagreements about vague or wide-open legislation.
We didn't get to stay for the rest of the candidates. I would have liked to hear Bob Guida speak. His information sheet was interesting, though there were a couple of points that were unsettling. I already know I won't be voting for Fran Wendelboe. She's arrogant and disrespectful, and perfectly willing to use insulting, disrespectful, vitriolic remarks to defame certain groups amo0ng her own constituency. I'm ashamed to admit I ever voted for her as a former New Hampton resident and I don't intend to make that mistake again, especially in light of her horrible remarks regarding same-sex marriage and transgender non-discrimination laws last year both in the legislature during session and as guest host of the public access television program Political Chowder (I believe it was in May or July of 2009 but I'll have to double check that). I can't remember who the other candidate was.
In all I'm grateful that the Grafton County Republican Committee allowed us as guests to sit in on the candidates portion of the meeting. As an independent voter I am very concerned with hearing directly from the candidates as much as possible, and I found in the last election that both the Republican and Democrat offices were of very little help in getting honest answers and information about their respective candidates. The Republicans wanted to talk me into becoming Republican and didn't have much in the way of printed information on their candidates, and the Democrats, while having an abundance of printed materials, wanted to talk me out of my own recollections of their candidates, especially Jeanne Shaheen.