My 2012 Primary Campaign Letters

Rep. Timothy Horrigan; August 30, 2012

Letters to the Editor columns are the main media outlet for New Hampshire state representative candidates. Our districts and our budgets are way too small to make it worthwhile to buy paid media (although I suppose one could buy targeted cable TV ads.) We don't get much news coverage unless we screw up really bad— but we can— and do— get Letters to the Editor published. Supposedly, more people read the letters more than the local news coverage anyway. I don't have any hard data, but I have heard that the Letters to the Editor section is the third most read part of the newspaper, after the obituaries and the comics— and just barely ahead of the high school sports coverage. Local news would be in fifth place or even lower, although Foster's Daily Democrat is a locally owned paper which actually does some fairly good local reporting, so its local news is worth reading.

I sent all these letters to the Dover Foster's Daily Democrat (which reliably runs all my stuff) and the Portsmouth Herald (not so reliable.) The context for all these letters is that I am one of six Democratic candidates running in a new five-member state rep district. We have an extra candidate because a long-time rep named Marjorie Smith came out of retirement after a two-year hiatus, when none of the five incumbents was retiring. The dates are the dates I sent the letters off.


To the Editor:

The last two years have been difficult ones for the entire state of New Hampshire, thanks in large part to the reckless antics of the leadership of the New Hampshire House. It was especially difficult for the people of Durham. We pay some of the highest property taxes in the state, and we had to deal with a legislature which was determined to downshift the costs of every essential governmental function to cities and towns. We in Durham value higher education, and the University of New Hampshire is the foundation of our local economy. The Concord Republicans cut the state's share of the University System's budget from 6% (already the lowest in the country) to 3%. Speaker O'Brien and his lackeys also introduced many bills which would have done even more damage to the University System, totally disregarding the interests of those who provide the remaining 97% of the system's funding. (Happily, most of those bills failed.) We in Durham place a high value on maintaining a sustainable community which exists in harmony with our natural surroundings: the House leadership in Concord is actively hostile to sustainability initiatives.

Even though the last two years were difficult, I have enjoyed serving the people of Durham, Lee and Madbury, and I am working very hard to be re-elected. The four of us incumbents from Durham were so eager to come back, we all got together as a team at the Town Offices at 8:00 am on the very first day of the filing period, Wednesday, June 6, 2012. Under the new redistricting plan, we will share Strafford District 6 with Madbury: Janet Wall has also filed for re-election. The five of us, along with Naida Kaen from Lee (which will have its own district beginning this year), have been a very effective team. We have a wide range of viewpoints, but we have worked together tirelessly on behalf our community and our state. Representatives Naida Kaen, Janet Wall, Judith Spang, Jenna Roberts, Phil Ginsburg and myself all worked very hard to keep the damage from being even worse than it was.  We will work just as hard make things better in the future.

Rep. Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham)
7A Faculty Rd; Durham, NH 03824

ph: 603-868-3342


I have served two terms as a member of the old Strafford County District #7 team, representing Durham, Lee and Madbury. Now that the state has been redistricted, Durham and Madbury constitute Strafford County District #6.

One of the Durham delegation's priorities— and one of my priorities— is higher education. UNH is the biggest industry in Durham, and the University System headquarters in Lee and Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth are also major local employers. Even more importantly, higher education is the foundation to our state's economy. New Hampshire is one of the most prosperous states in the union, and not because of our high local property taxes or our low cigarette taxes. We are prosperous because of our highly skilled work force and our innovative high-tech sector. I myself, when I am not being a state representative, currently run a very small high-tech business which could be located almost anywhere on the planet. (More accurately, I could locate my business anywhere that has a functioning government along with reliable electricity and broadband internet access. The O'Brien Republicans in Concord have been undermining all three of those necessities, and many rural towns still lack broadband, but I digress...) The proximity of UNH was a big reason why I ended up living and working in downtown Durham.

In 2011, the University System of New Hampshire already had the lowest level of support of any system in the nation: the previous budget (passed in 2009 by a Democrat-controlled legislature) kicked in about $60 million towards a billion-dollar budget. The Republicans cut that in half.

Just from a purely financial standpoint, the budget cut made no sense. The University System generates $1.4 billion in economic activity, $400 million of which is private-sector activity. Far from being a burden on our state's taxpayers, our public higher education system is the motor which drives our economy. The university system more than pays for itself just from the business and other tax revenues it indirectly generates.

The budget cut wasn't the worst thing which the O'Brien cabal tried to do to the university system. O'Brien and his lackeys insulted the universities and colleges, and the people who run those institutions, at every opportunity. O'Brien set back the relationship between the legislature and the higher education community by at least 50 years. The O'Brienoids tried to impose many undesirable changes with no support at all from the various stakeholders who kick in 97% of the funding. The worst bad idea which succeeded was a bill which forbids UNH from funding Channel 11. O'Brien and his cohorts had many other even worse ideas which failed. They wanted to fire every USNH employee who made more money than the Governor (including— amongst many other educators— our excellent hockey and football coaches.) They also wanted to unilaterally eliminate the Chancellor's office, to force the university to allow guns on campus, to unilaterally cut professors' earnings by taking away their rights to their intellectual property— and the list goes on and on. The best way to stop these bad ideas in the future is to kick the current House and Senate majorities out of office.

I fought hard to protect UNH these past two years as did each one of my fellow incumbents— Judith Spang, Janet Wall, Phil Ginsburg and Jenna Roberts. If you live in Durham or Madbury, please vote for us on September 11 and November 6 so we can continue this and many other fights.

Timothy Horrigan
7A Faculty Road; Durham NH 03824
ph: 603-868-3342


Almost two years ago, after I was re-elected to the New Hampshire House, I was appointed to the controversial new House Redress of Grievances Committee. I took my assignment seriously and my committee work turned out to be of some value. This committee was subjected to some bad press (much of it deserved) and it was badly organized, but my fellow members and I made a sincere attempt to uphold one of the most important articles of the State Constitution.

Part First Article 21 states:

The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble and consult upon the common good, give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by way of petition or remonstrance, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.

One of the weaknesses of the New Hampshire House these past two years, under the reckless leadership of Speaker Bill O'Brien, was that we ignored the people's concerns. Moreover, the people were often treated rudely when they came to "consult upon the common good", both in my committee and in the House generally.

Throughout the last two years, the reckless Republican House leadership ignored the people's real problems while passing many absurd bills which addressed imaginary problems which only a few extremists were worried about.

The low point of the past two years came on the day before April Fools Day 2011, when Speaker O'Brien rammed through a budget bill which slashed essential services despite failing to significantly lower any taxes other than the tobacco tax. (O'Brien picked the one tax which least deserved to be cut.) On March 31, 2011, over 5,000 citizens gathered outside the State House for a rally which followed weeks of smaller actions. The Speaker felt so threatened, he literally locked the people out of their own House, by closing the spectators' gallery. He also effectively locked us state representatives in the House chamber by canceling our usual lunch break and holding us long into the afternoon until the demonstrators had dispersed.

I am not saying my own party is perfect when it comes to budget bills or any other aspect of our legislature's work. My party struggled with difficult choices during my first year as a state representative, 2009.  Our budget cut essential services. Our budget did little to reduce our overly high property and business taxes. That said, we Democrats put together a far more responsible budget than did O'Brien's Republicans.

The next two years will be just as difficult as the last two— but I look forward to meeting the challenges which lie ahead. I ask each and every Democratic voter in Durham and Madbury for their vote in the primary on September 11. And, should I be renominated, I will also ask for everyone else's vote on November 6.

Finally, I must mention my four outstanding fellow Durham/Madbury representatives: Janet Wall, Judith Spang, Phil Ginsburg and Jenna Roberts, as well as Naida Kaen from Lee (which will have its own House district for the next ten years.) Durham and Madbury are blessed with one of the best legislative delegations in the state, and I hope that the five of us from Durham and Madbury can continue working together in 2013 and beyond.

Rep. Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham)
7A Faculty Rd; Durham, NH 03824

ph: 603-868-3342

And finally, I equated Speaker O'Brien with Osama bin-Laden:


New Hampshire's primary election is coming up in a few days, on Tuesday September 11, 2012. There have been spirited governor's races in both major parties. Nevertheless many New Hampshire citizens may not know the date— although sadly it is hard to forget once you know it.

September 11, 2001 was also a Tuesday. It was not an election day here in New Hampshire. I happened to be visiting my sister that day, and it was an election day in her hometown of Needham, Massachusetts. Democracy proved (as it so often does) to be a remarkably resilient thing. Even on that horrific day, the polling booths were open in Needham. My sister and her neighbors were still able to gather at their neighborhood grade school to exercise their right to vote in a free and fair election. Our republic survived 9/11, and our democratic institutions can survive the current political crisis, if we defend them. The most effective way to defend these institutions is simply to get out and vote.

The reckless leadership of the current Concord legislative majority has been trying throughout the past two years to undermine the right to vote by making some extraordinarily misguided changes to our state's election laws. On the next to last day of the legislative session, Speaker O'Brien and his cohorts rammed though a hastily revised voter ID bill without even having the decency to print up copies of the bill in advance. Luckily, the leadership's efforts were not entirely successful, and every citizen over the age of 18 still has the right to vote. I urge every New Hampshire voter to take a few minutes to cast his or her ballot on September 11th, as well as on November 6.

On a more personal note, I am a sitting state rep who is also a candidate on the Democratic side of the September 11 primary, for Strafford County District #6 (Durham and Madbury.) My #1 priority in Concord, should I be re-elected, will be to preserve our democracy (with a small "d") and our republic (with a small "r.")

Rep. Timothy Horrigan

7A Faculty Rd; Durham NH  03824

ph: 603-868-3342

Before rushing off to see President Obama in Portsmouth, I fired off one last letter. Foster's ran it the day after I sent it, under the amusing headline "Horrigan 2016?" (I actually am tempted to run for President someday: it's worth filing just to be on the quadrennial Lesser-Known Candidate Debate show.)


I watched President Obama's acceptance speech at the Memorial Union Building with a crowd of approximately 100 members of the UNH College Democrats. I had a somewhat ulterior motive for choosing that venue: I am a candidate for the New Hampshire House who faces a contested primary, and there was a crowd of voters there who haven't heard much about the local legislative races.

I forgot about my own campaign for an hour or so while watching his extraordinary speech. I remembered that I went to college with him, at Columbia University. Barack Obama was a quiet guy who studied a lot and didn't draw much attention to himself. He seemed much too sensible to do anything as risky as running for President of the United States. He was quite ordinary. But, that's OK: ordinary people can and do accomplish extraordinary things every day.

It is possible that 32 years from now, one of those College Dems will be President. It is quite likely that some of them will serve, as I do in the state legislature. (President Obama himself is a former Illinois State Senator.) One of the great honors of my life has been serving my hometown for the past four years in the New Hampshire, and I ask all my neighbors in Durham and Madbury to vote for me on Sept. 11 in the primary election. If you are not registered yet, we have still have same-day registration in New Hampshire.

I hasten to add that I have no plans to run for President of the United States, even though there will be an open seat in 2016.

Rep. Timothy Horrigan

7A Faculty Rd; Durham NH  03824

ph: 603-868-3342

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The Forgotten Liars

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