NH Democrats Celebrate 2017 Victories, Look Ahead To 2018, 2020
Hollis -- The New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual fall fundraising dinner was part celebration of this year’s victories by state Democrats and part pep-rally for the bigger electoral fights ahead in 2018.
The dinner was also an early screen test for two 2020 Democratic White House hopefuls.
And the annual Kennedy-Clinton dinner also came with some controversy, as hours before the gathering the chair of the New Hampshire GOP called for former President Bill Clinton’s name to be dropped from the event, because of the revived sexual misconduct debate over the former president.
The dinner was held just a week and a half after the party enjoyed a big night in municipal elections. Joyce Craig the first woman ever and the first Democrat in 14 years to win a Manchester mayoral election. Democrats also swept the field in Nashua’s elections for board of aldermen and was victorious in both state House of Representatives special elections, flipping one of the seats from red to blue.
“While we have plenty of work to do, New Hampshire Democrats have a lot to celebrate,” said longtime state party Chairman Ray Buckley.
Buckley praised Craig’s victory and raved that “in Nashua, sweet Nashua, we pulled off a clean sweep.”
With the party hoping to win back majorities in the state House, state Senate, and the five member Executive Council, Buckley asked “is everyone clear what our mission is the next 11 months.”
The party would also like to recapture the Corner Office from Chris Sununu, the state’s first GOP governor in a dozen years.
“We need to make Chris Sununu a one term governor,” Buckley urged.
Sen. Maggie Hassan, Sununu’s predecessor as governor, echoed Buckley’s message, saying “next year we’ll have an opportunity to keep our congressional delegation blue and to turn the Statehouse and the governor’s office blue.”
That appears to be a tough task, as Sununu passed most of his agenda through the Statehouse this year and currently enjoys an approval rating of around 60% in the most recent public opinion polls.
The dinner was headlined by three Democrats in the U.S. House, Reps. Grace Meng of New York, Tim Ryan of Ohio, and John Delaney of Maryland.
This past summer Delaney said he wouldn’t run for re-election and instead announced he was running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Delaney, making his second trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state this month, took aim at President Donald Trump, saying “hyper partisan politics is tearing our country apart. Hyper partisan politics prevents us from getting anything done.”
“What we really need a president to do is to bring us together, to restore civility in politics, and respect in public service. To begin a dialogue about the things we agree on.
The Democratic Party can do it . Donald Trump can never do it,” he declared. “But we can and this is our moment.”
Ryan, who says it’s important to keep the focus on the 2018 midterms rather than the 2020 presidential race, urged that “the Democratic Party’s got to be the party that builds the new system.”
“We need to build systems that put people first,” he added.
Ryan’s considered a potential contender for the next Democratic presidential nomination.
The dinner was held one day after Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota was accused of kissing and groping a female radio news anchor without her consent during a U.S.O. tour in the Middle East in 2006. The Franken news came as the sexual misconduct controversy over Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore continue to dominate national headlines.
Hours before the event, state Republican Party chair Jeanie Forrester took aim at the dinner, which is named for Clinton and former President John F. Kennedy.
“Tonight, New Hampshire Democrats will gather to honor the President Clinton. At a time when Harvey Weinstein and Senator Al Franken have had credible allegations of sexual assault, and as liberals across the country start to finally denounce Bill Clinton for his past lewd behavior, the New Hampshire Democrats should immediately denounce and remove the name of a sexual predator from their main fundraising dinner,” Forrester wrote.
Asked by NH1 News the state party should have a conversation regarding taking Clinton’s name off the dinner, Buckley said “I think it would be an interesting conversation right after we see the resignation of Donald Trump.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple women accused Trump of past sexual misconduct, harassment and assault. Trump repeatedly denied the claims. And weeks before last year’s election, a leaked “Access Hollywood” recording from a decade earlier that showed Trump bragging of sexual assault nearly derailed his campaign.
Asked again, Buckley responded that “I think that once we see the Republican Party really stands up and represent the real values of America, I think we can have a number of other conversations about other officials. But right now this country, this world, is under assault by Donald Trump and that’s really the most pressing issue.”
No other state party officials or Democratic activists at the dinner wanted to talk on the record about whether Clinton’s name should be removed from the dinner. But the issue could possibly come up with the state party holds a major meeting on December 2.
Fox News and other conservative outlets have repeatedly targeted Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky and the allegations by other women of sexual misconduct. And women such as Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey have long accused the former President of sexually harassing them years ago.
But Thursday, a prominent Democrat questioned Clinton’s behavior. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York, going where no Democrat had really gone before, said she believed that Clinton should have stepped down from the presidency over the allegations he faced.