The night started off with a bang, as my phone buzzed with a text from a friend, with the cryptic “FTW”, which I confirmed quickly to mean he’d been elected as NH State Representative. Not bad for what started as a write-in campaign during the Republican Primary, and grew quickly with his being attacked in the press for being a freestater.
Would Election Eve be full of this sort of awesome news? I hoped so. Would Romney lead a strong Republican coat tail to help the NHGOP retain control of the House and Senate and maybe gain the Governor’s office too? Or would Obama’s organizers sweep in and help the NH Dems into victories, perhaps only some, perhaps by a great deal.
The tide was clear, though, when a sitting Republican Rep lost in a seat I figured was very safe. The bad news of loss after loss of “good” reasonably proliberty Republican Reps was bad enough, but then even not so good R Reps were losing… the “blue tide” was back.
In 2004, a blue tide slowly began crept into NH’s State House, taking over the Governor’s office and enough House Democrats to skew the House to the moderate middle for even control of the leadership. In 2006, the blue tide rose higher, and washed nearly every R who expected a easy win off the map, leaving the Democrats in firm control of both House and Senate with the popular incumbent Governor Lynch on top. 2008 remained much the same, though some pro-liberty Republicans returned, despite national Blue wins with Obama (a good sign that the tide was perhaps receding here). The fiscal woes, taxes and fees, social changes (some for the better, IMHO, like same sex marriage passing) and the many many Nanny State bills passed into law, finally caused the electorate to rethink sending so many Democrats to Concord, the New Hampshire capital, and instead send a huge Red wave of Republicans. Me among them, and thus I spent the last two years in Concord, fighting for freedom.
The 2011-2012 legislature was strongly split in many ways, with a conservative bent majority, and some holding a desire for social backlash, and others of a more libertarian mindset. The 25% Democrat section held on tight to the backseat, unable to do much but complain. And complain they did. They crafted a narrative, and spent 2 years building it up.
Strong polarizing legislation affecting unions (Right to Work), teachers (education reform), state workers (a record $1 billion cut from the 2 year state budget, 12%), attempts to repeal marriage equality, redistricting fights, abortion restrictions, gun de-control, and more, lead by Speaker William O’Brien, caused the seeds of a statewide backlash… and tonight was the night.
Romney’s inability to get a majority among Republicans, and the alienation of the Ron Paul crowd, set the stage. The Gubernatorial candidate, a multi-time previous loser (for Governor and other high offices), with a social conservative track record, who embraced the worst parts of the GOP, cemented the problem firmly in place, and the lighting rod of the current make up of the House sparked the fire.
So what happened in New Hampshire? Where is the influence of the vaunted Free State Project? Ah, that’s the tale I am here to share… because the FSPers, despite the tide, remained above it, floated to at least remain reasonably level, keeping perhaps roughly the same number of representatives, and in essence, showing that Liberty can’t be that easily stopped merely by a tidal shift left or right.
With roughly a dozen freestaters in 2010/2011, all Republicans, and a strong tidal shift back toward the left (from a SuperMajority of almost 300 Rs, to a Minority of roughly 175 R), we’d expect to have lost major ground. And yet, we didn’t.
The number of freestaters elected: 11! (and those are the ones who are either public about their participation, or were publicly ‘outted’ by others targeting them. Could be more!)
That number 11 is just the starting point though, increased by the many other pro-liberty Representatives elected or re-elected. The board of the Natural Rights Council (a non-partisan NH Constitution Article 2 supporting group of legislators) had 6 of 7 board members re-elected, and many other prominent and active members re-elected as well. Look for this group to include more Democrats in 2012, all focused on the Constitutional protection of ALL rights.
By some counts, perhaps 66 pro-liberty candidates were elected. (Also in some cases, Libertarians candidates got enough votes to be the margin of victory, and send the message that if you aren’t pro-liberty enough, you might well lose our votes.)
A few recounts are possible, so the final numbers aren’t ready yet, but we have a good idea overall.
Some highlights of the proliberty victories:
Senators Andy Sanborn, Sam Cataldo, and John Reagan, all will likely be voices of liberty in the Senate, which remained barely (pending recounts) in Republican control.
The House went roughly 225 D to 175 R (final numbers pending, this is a rough number).
Michael Sylvia and Emily Sandblade, both elected as “freestater freshmen”, as Republicans. Also re-elected, Joel Winters, as a Democrat, for his 3rd term. (Emily and Joel both won in the same district!)
Other returning FreeStaters include Cal Pratt, Keith Murphy (+ his wife, a native and freshman), Laura Jones, Carol and Dan McGuire, and Mark Warden. Mark was heavily targeted as ‘one of the most important races for Democrats to win nationally’, and in a 3 way race, despite a true capital L Libertarian also on the ballot (she also did quite well!), Mark still won easily.
Democrats elected include Joel, mentioned above, but also Tim O’Flaherty, who won a seat by a large margin, after winning a tied primary in a recount that showed 1 vote in his favor, and then many attacks from both Republicans and Democrats, including a writein campaign by some for the primary’s loser.
There is no denying that the Democratic machine worked overtime and brought huge numbers of people to the polls, and the blue tide washed a lot of good proliberty people out, but the Free State Project has attracted many good effective and active people, despite there being just over 1100 movers at this point in time. Imagine having the activist potential of 10,000 movers, and more folks working hard…, would it be 10x the result? Now, double that and imagine 20,000? We wouldn’t be just maintaining numbers, we’d be growing, despite the national tide. The Democrats and Republicans here both know that… and many are concerned – if they aren’t pro-liberty, they’d better be concerned. We aren’t going away. Ever.
Look at your local results… Don’t like what you see? Tired of being an oppressed minority of liberty where ever you are? Consider coming to New Hampshire (and if you are here already, get involved!). Move now, and in 2+ years, you might be surprised at what you could be elected to… Ask Michael Sylvia, who never figured he’d be elected this quickly. Ask Tim O’Flaherty, who ran an openly anarchist-leaning but friendly and positive campaign, as a Democrat, and got elected despite those who tried to stop him. Are you next?