Michael Gaynor
You betcha, the true conservative (Ovide Lamontagne) can win in New Hampshire!
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By Michael Gaynor
September 9, 2010

Somehow Sarah Palin made a BIG mistake. She thought that Ayotte was a great "pro-life warrior" who had won a great legal victory and endorsed Ayotte as a "Mama Grizzly" early in the race.

Last March, in "It's Ovide Lamontagne Time in New Hampshire" (www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=100330), I celebrated the opportunity of New Hampshire Republicans to give allNew Hampshire voters an opportunity to send a stalwart conservative to the United States Senate, Ovide Lamontagne.

The Obamacare debacle and the sell-outs by Senators Ben Nelson (D. Nebraska) and Mary Landrieu (D. Louisiana) and the now wisely retiring Congressman Bart Stupak (D. Michigan) had emphasized the urgent need for trustworthy candidates to be nominated and voters to know who is a principled person who will stand up to political pressure instead of sell out or surrender.

I pointed out that "[t]he most reliable indicators are a candidate's character and record" and Lamontagne is a stalwart conservative.

I had noticed a piece by Fergus Cullen, a freelance columnist for the New Hampshire Union Leader and a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, titled "Is Lamontagne too good for politics?" (http://ovide2010.com/wp-content/themes/2010_Theme/images/20091113081304.pdf), explaining what kind of person Lamontagne had shown himself to be.

Cullen:

"Ask anyone who knows Ovide Lamontagne personally and you'll hear the same thing over and over: He's a good man. Some add a backhanded caveat: Too good a person for politics.

"It's a political paradox. We lament that politics attracts a disproportionate number of scoundrels and half-wits and not enough selfless community leaders of deep character. Then when good people step into the public square, some dismiss them with the observation: Nice guys finish last.

"Lamontagne formally declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate..., and being the good man in politics isn't the only paradox he brings to the campaign. Another is how someone identified as a strong conservative puts so much time, talent and treasure into social service organizations not thought of as conservative causes.

"Lamontagne is the model of the compassionate conservative. He's been a leader in Easter Seals, Catholic Charities, Court Appointed Special Advocates, the boy Scouts and the list goes on. Whenever a Manchester nonprofit has a capital campaign to fund, they want Ovide on the committee. nonprofit leaders describe him as an invaluable connector and catalyst."

Lamontagne was the most impressive of the possibilities.

Cullen helpfully explained that Lamontagne's personal life explains his charitable efforts:

"These causes are a more personal commitment for Ovide and his wife, Bettie, than many may be aware. After getting married at age 21 the Lamontagnes recently celebrated their 30th anniversary the couple adopted their first child through Catholic Charities. Two years later, they were approached privately on behalf of a young woman who was pregnant, and in time they adopted a second baby.

"In between, a foster child came into their lives. The infant was placed in the Lamontagnes' care after spending several weeks in the hospital during which his natural parents proved unable to care for the baby themselves. At first the boy seemed healthy, but after several months it became apparent he was not developing normally. He was physically and mentally disabled and prone to self-abuse behavior. The Lamontagnes raised the boy as foster parents until he was 6. He never learned to talk and requires 23-hour care, which he receives today as an adult in a community setting. The Lamontagnes have continued as his educational and legal guardians."

By building up treasure in heaven, Lamontagne passed up the opportunity to be able to self-finance his campaign.

Cullen explained:

"Lamontagne's commitment to nonprofit work has contributed to another paradox. At least two of his opponents for the nomination are millionaires expected to self-finance their campaigns. Had Lamontagne, 52, not chosen, to conduct his personal affairs so much like a nonprofit himself over the span of his accomplished legal career at a prominent firm, giving away literally years of billable hours to nonprofits and being a generous donor to countless causes, Lamontagne would probably be in a position to self-finance his campaign, too.

"'Making money was never something that motivated me,' Lamontagne says. 'I'm more interested in the service I do. I told the firm (Devine Millimet), "You have to let me do public service or else I will sudffocate."'

"So instead of getting rich and moving to a big house in Bedford, the Lamontagnes live in the same house in the modest Manchester neighborhood he grew up in. His parents, who raised eight children, live literally next door. The neighborhood has changed over the decades ...violence on Haywood and Wilson Streets occurred a few block away but the Lamontagne family stayed within St. Anthony's parish. His children attended the same parochial school, including Trinity High, that he did. A person who is conservative in such ways in his personal life can be counted on to stay that way in public office."

BUT...could a person who "can be counted on to stay that way in public office" be elected?

The Republican establishment didn't make that a priority. Instead, it touted Kelly Ayotte, who had been appointed New Hampshire's Attorney General by a Republican governor and then reappointed by a liberal pro-choice Democrat governor. Ayotte had the good fortune to inherit the opportunity to defend New Hampshire's parental notification law and even to argue the case, then titled Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood, in the United States Supreme Court.

The United States Supreme Court unanimously sent the case back to the district court to determine if part of the statute could be saved. Ayotte declared victory, but when the decision was released the ACLU and Planned Parenthood celebrated (www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/supreme-court-ruling-ayotte-v-planned-parenthood-recognizes-protections-womens-:) and Susan E. Wills, lawyer and associate director for education at the pro-life office of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, explained that counting the case as a victory "only emphasizes the degree to which precedent set by the courts protects abortion laws" (http://old.nationalreview.com/comment/wills200601230839.asp).

It got worse: the New Hampshire state legislature repealed the law after Ayotte refused to testify in support of it, the district court ruled that Planned Parenthood was the "prevailing party," Ayotte chose not to appeal and instead to quietly pay Planned Parenthood $300,000 of the State of New Hampshire's money and the liberal pro-choice Democrat governor reappointed Ayotte.

Somehow Sarah Palin made a BIG mistake. She thought that Ayotte was a great "pro-life warrior" who had won a great legal victory and endorsed Ayotte as a "Mama Grizzly" early in the race.

On September 8, 2010, Wendy Long, New Hampshire native, former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas and judicial confirmation expert, reviewed the record in an op ed titled "In New Hampshire, Palin made a mother of a mistake" (http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Wendy+Stone+Long%3a+In+New+Hampshire%2c+Palin+made+a+mother+of+a+mistake&articleId=c20432e8-9a41-4876-90e8-db5ea970c258), concluding: "Sarah Palin may know her Alaskan grizzly bears, but she got a bit confused here in New Hampshire, where we have only black bears. If Palin cares about the Constitution and the conservative values that prompted her ill-advised 'mama grizzly' movement, she should admit her mistake and rescind her endorsement of Kelly Ayotte."

Fortunately, whether or not Palin admits her mistake, New Hampshire Republicans have the opportunity to avoid a mistake by voting for Lamontagne.

Last year Laura Ingraham described Lamontagne as "the only true conservative in a very important race."

EXACTLY!

Cullen: "Despite the law partnership, the nonprofit board, a vast personal network, a sunny disposition and being respected and well-liked, Lamontagne has never been the establishment's candidate."

Lamontagne is the people's choice, not a political establishment candidate.

Cullen presciently observed that "Lamontagne understands the political reality that winning the Republican nomination will require someone to give frontrunner Kelly Ayotte a political punch in the nose."

Events favored Lamontagne.

As primary day (September 14) neared, Ayotte and wealthy, self-financing businessman rival Bill Binnie brawled on air and by mail.

It came to be appreciated that as New Hampshire Attorney General, Ayotte provided Republican cover for a Democrat $110,000,000 theft to balance the state budget, stopped only by judges dutifully following the law rather than remaking it to suit a political agenda. See Josh Rodgers, "High Court Rejects State's Claim To JUA Money" (January 28, 2010) (www.nhpr.org/node/29092), reporting that Governor Lynch said he was disappointed by the ruling that blocked using $110,000,000 from a medical malpractice insurance fund to balance the state budget and quoted him claiming to have had "strong advice from the then-Attorney General and the Insurance Commissioner that the money belonged to the taxpayers of NH...."

On September 3, 2010, Ayotte's $300,000 payment to Planned Parenthood finally became news in New Hampshire (http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/statenewengland/842363-227/in-09-ayotte-okd-settling-abortion-case.html).

The Lamontagne campaign has proven over time that he is the only conservative out of four top tier candidates. He has an active and engaged base of conservative supporters who are more certain of their vote and will turn out for him on election day.

Lamontagne has the best ground game of those four candidates, with nearly 500 of the state's top activists publicly identified and working to turn out the vote. This exceeds Ayotte and the other candidates, and includes the best activists from within the pro-life and pro-gun communities, as well as top business leaders.

New Hampshire's leading newspaper, the Union Leader, endorsed Lamontagne, and the importance of that endorsement of the Union Leader cannot be overstated. That newspaper is New Hampshire's only statewide newspaper and its placement of its Lamontagne endorsement front page, above the fold under the publisher's name (no other candidate they have endorsed has enjoyed such treatment) speaks volumes of what they will do for Lamontagne's campaign.

Lamontagne has the momentum. Ayotte, Establishment candidate Ayotte and self-funding multi-millionaire Binnie spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking each other on television, radio and through the mail and thereby turning off New Hampshire voters, who are now looking at Lamontagne a respected community leader, conservative and man of principle as the person they most want to support. New Hampshire voters traditionally break late, usually over the last 3-5 days, and Ayotte and Binnie are losing support.

In 1996, Lamontagne ran for Governor and was pitted against Bill Zeliff in a primary. Zeliff was a moderate incumbent Republican congressman who had significant advantages in name recognition and money. As little as three weeks before the primary, Zeliff led Lamontagne by 17 points. Lamontagne ended up winning by 5 points, propelled by the strength of his message, his personality, and his authentic conservatism. He not only knows how to win tough primaries against the establishment, he's done it!

The political reality is that now is NOT the time for Republicans to nominate a Democrat favorite. Ayotte (1) was kept as New Hampshire's Attorney General by a Democrat governor (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-donahue/if-ayotte-runs-in-nh-its_b_216679.html), (2) refuses to say for whom she voted in several New Hampshire gubernatorial elections, (3) supported the confirmation of La Raza favorite Sonia Sotomayor as a United States Supreme Court Justice, (4) ordered New Hampshire police not to arrest persons not lawfully in America as trespassers and (5) as New Hampshire Attorney General, helped Democrat Governor Lynch with a $110,000,000 Kelo-like taking of public property that the New Hampshire Supreme Court declared unconstitutional and later blamed subordinates and claimed not to have given policy advice.

Palin was right about pro-life, conservative Joe Miller, her fellow Alaskan, but she didn't delve deeply enough into the records of the New Hampshire's Republican Senate hopefuls or else she would have endorsed Lamontagne.

This time "the nice guy" will finish first!

© Michael Gaynor

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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