Candidates set to debate 
at FPU

Last modified: 8/12/2014 8:37:39 AM
A series of debates to be held at Franklin Pierce University in coming weeks will bring some state and national political candidates to Rindge to discuss their platforms and answer the tough questions. The Monadnock Debates, co-sponsored by the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, New Hampshire Public Radio and FPU’s Fitzwater Center For Communication, will take place on Aug. 12, Aug. 19 and Aug. 21 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in FPU’s Spagnuolo Hall. The public is invited to attend these free events.

The first debate, coming this Tuesday, will feature three candidates who are in the running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination — Walt Havenstein, Andrew Hemingway and Jonathan Smolin. All three are vying for a shot at the GOP nomination on Sept. 9, and the right to take on incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, in the November election.

Havenstein of Alton is a businessman with decades of experience in the aerospace and defense industry; he’s running on a platform largely centered around the economy and job creation. Havenstein recently rolled out his “8.15.17” plan, which he says would create 25,000 new jobs in New Hampshire by Aug. 15, 2017, by reducing the business profits tax to encourage economic growth. According to Havenstein’s plan, this would reduce state revenue by $49 million over the next two years, but as he recently told the Concord Monitor, he thinks that revenue loss would be offset by the economic growth tax cuts would create.

“Rather than think about it as what are you going to cut, let’s make sure we have fiscally conservative policies to make sure our spending is not exceeding our growth,” Havenstein is quoted as saying in Wednesday’s Concord Monitor.

Havenstein has come under fire several times since he announced his candidacy; first, he was embroiled in a legal battle to establish his eligibility to run in New Hampshire, as he holds residences in both Alton and Maryland. That question was resolved on June 30 when the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission ruled he was, in fact, eligible. Then, he took criticism when it was reported that his Virginia-based company, SAIC, received over $5 million in federal contracts for helping roll out the Affordable Care Act — the “Obamacare” act which Havenstein, like most Republicans, is vehemently opposed to. But, as Havenstein told the Nashua Telegraph last week, he thinks that seeming contradiction is actually an example of his business acumen and ability to make financial decisions, without personal politics get in the way. Havenstein can also boast high-profile endorsements from presidential hopefuls past and future in Chris Christie and Mitt Romney.

Bristol’s Andrew Hemingway, similarly, is running on a campaign platform centered around economic growth and business development. His plan, however, is for a radical restructuring of New Hampshire’s tax code, ridding the state of the business profits tax altogether — along with the business enterprise tax and the Medicaid expansion tax — in favor of a 2-percent flat tax on all employers. “It’s a big change to what our current tax structure is. I think we really have to be aggressive about this,” the libertarian-leaning Hemingway told the Concord Monitor’s editorial board on Tuesday. “It’s time for some real change and some real reform, and I believe that my plan does that.”

Only 32 years old, Hemingway, who bills himself as an entrepreneur, is best known for running Newt Gingrich’s 2012 Presidential campaign in New Hampshire. If elected, he’d be the youngest governor in state history; Styles Bridges and Hugh Gregg were both 36 years old when they took office.

Hemingway was recently tagged by WMUR for a fundraising plan that involves auctioning off a gun, in celebration of the Second Amendment.

Jonathan Smolin of Alton isn’t as well-known as Hemingway and Havenstein; in fact, the Monadnock Debates is the only debate he’s been invited to so far this campaign season, according to his Facebook page. But while the other candidates may be garnering all the headlines, the blue-collar Smolin is still plugging away. “I will never give up the fight,” Smolin posted on his “Jonathan Smolin for NH Governor” Facebook page. “ don’t need to be connected or rich. I believe you just need to be in touch with the common person of this great state to become governor.”

Smolin hangs his hat on the Second Amendment, but beyond gun rights, he’s also for legalized gambling, he’s against the Common Core education system, income and sales tax — and he’s pro-choice. “Let’s get someone in the Governor’s Office that understands the majority, and is not a career politician or a wealthy businessman who flips his spots for money and power,” Smolin posted on Monday. “Isn’t it time a commoner helps the common citizens of this great state?”

The Aug. 19 debate will feature candidates for the Republican Congressional District II seat. The candidates participating are Marilinda Garcia, Gary Lambert and Jim Lawrence. On Aug. 21, the debate will feature some of those seeking to become the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. The candidates participating are Robert D’Arcy, Mark Farnham, Bob Hegmann and Walt Kelly.

Candidates in all of the above races were invited to participate.

The debates will be moderated by JR Davis, an attorney with the Keene law firm Sheldon, Davis, Wells & Hockensmith, P.C., who served as moderator for the New Hampshire State Senate debates hosted by Franklin Pierce in 2012. The panelists will include journalists from the Ledger-Transcript and Concord Monitor, FPU’s Derek Scalia, and other representatives of the community.

The goal of the Monadnock Debates is to give residents of the Monadnock region a chance to ask questions about critical issues that concern those in this part of the state. The Ledger-Transcript is asking readers to send in their questions to, with “debates” in the subject line, or mail them to P.O. Box 36, Peterborough, NH, 03458. Include your name and town of residence, as well as a phone number where you can be reached.

To reserve a seat at any of these free debates, visit


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