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Author Topic: NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP  (Read 8483 times)

Michelle

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NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« on: July 02, 2003, 09:54:57 am »

Governor Benson Welcomes Free State Members
Amanda Phillips
6/30/03

New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson is a rare breed of politician ...
he's the kind who keeps his promises even after the campaign is over.
I met him the day after he vetoed an $8.8 billion budget, stamping
the budget with a custom-made 2-by-4 red VETO stamp that his staff
had purchased for him. The budget would have resulted in a $200
million deficit, which would eventually have to be paid down with tax
increases. With his budget veto, he kept his campaign promise to keep
taxes low and reign in state expenditures in the Granite State.

The entire state is buzzing with the news of his veto. Many in the
media are comparing him with Mel Thomson, who similarly butted heads
with the legislature by vetoing over-spent budgets. Thomson ran for
governor on the platform, "ax the tax." Though lawmakers may have
been frustrated with Thomson, he was a favorite with New Hampshire
taxpayers who re-elected him twice. It appears that Governor Benson
also admires Thomson; a prominent portrait of Mel Thomson with the
quote "Low taxes are the result of low spending" greets all visitors
to the Governor's office. Granite (and Free) Staters can expect him
to continue to follow Thomson's fiscally responsible lead.

The budget veto wasn't the only promise Benson kept last week.
Despite the extraordinary demands on his time from lawmakers, media,
aides, counsel, and cheering taxpayers, he kept his appointment with
around 20 members of the Free State Project (FSP). Free Staters are
evaluating the "Live Free Or Die" state as a leading candidate for
the migration of 20,000 liberty-oriented activists whose goal is to
build upon and expand the existing freedoms in the chosen state.
Instrumental in arranging the meeting was John Babiarz, FSP member,
Chair of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire (LPNH), and Benson's
appointee to New Hampshire's Efficiency in Government Commission.
That we could have access to the Governor on one of his busiest days
is a testament to the political savvy of both Babiarz and the LPNH.

Benson greeted Free Staters visiting from Oregon, Nevada, Texas,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and New
Hampshire with grace and a natural charm... as busy as he was that
day, he was genuinely happy to see us. I congratulated him on his
bold move in vetoing the budget, and asked him how he thought the
situation would play out. He candidly replied, "Nobody likes that
budget... It has become a political game of `me beating you,' and
that's unfortunate. All I can say is `Do the right thing.'" Later in
the conversation he shook his head and added, "I see these bills come
across my desk, and I wonder `Where do they come up with these
things?'" As refreshing as it is to encounter a statesman who doesn't
want to play political games, it's even more refreshing to note the
many New Hampshire legislators supporting him on his budget veto.
Today they managed to sustain Benson's veto, despite strong
opposition, and passed a continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown
and allow time for a new budget to be written.

Keith Murphy asked the all-important question on every Free Stater's
mind, "Governor, how would you feel about 20,000 libertarian
activists moving to New Hampshire." Smiling broadly, Benson
replied, "Come on up. We'd love to have you! I probably have more in
common with Libertarians than with my own Republican colleagues."
Contrast Governor Benson's response with those of the other candidate
states' governors. Montana's governor advised us to choose Idaho,
while Idaho's governor advised us to go elsewhere. New Hampshire's
Governor Benson not only welcomed us. He welcomed us
enthusiastically. He is the only governor who has done so.

As the rest of the group soaked in this happy news, I followed up
with, "Would you consider becoming a Friend of the Free State
Project?" Benson replied, "I'd love to be. I'll be a part of anything
that John (Babiarz) is a part of.... Send it to my office; we'll look
over it and consider it." Babiarz had campaigned against Benson in
the governor's race, but you'd never know that they were once
political opponents. Benson added, "John and I had a great time
campaigning. We agreed on everything. We had a nice conversation
during the debates."

James Maynard, who is running for Keene City Council, chatted with
the Governor about how "We share another distinction. In yesterday's
(6/27/03) issue of the Keene Sentinel, they spent half their op-ed
page attacking you, and the other half attacking us." The Governor
smiled and commented, "Then you are in good company." Maynard also
thanked the Governor for vetoing the proposed budget, calling
it "both bold, and the right thing to do."

As we continued to chat about various issues, Benson asked us to call
him Craig. Dave Mincin jovially commented, "I've never been on a
first-name basis with a governor before." Benson was very candid with
us, at one point commenting "I'm trying to put myself out of a job."
When was the last time you heard that from an elected politician?

Devera Morgan asked him about his position on victimless crime, to
which he replied, "We would have to look at those one issue at a
time."

Toward the end of our conversation, I asked Benson which issues he
thought were "low-hanging fruit" for libertarian activists in his
state. He mentioned the next two items on his agenda are a Taxpayer
Bill of Rights and School Choice. I couldn't have been more pleased
with his answer.

After a few more minutes of chatting, an aide informed the Governor
that he needed to keep another appointment. Benson had been gracious,
welcoming, and generous with our entire group. After smiles,
goodbyes, and hearty handshakes, I left the meeting with no doubt in
my mind that New Hampshire should be the Free State. It's already
most of the way there, and we have an ally in the state's highest
office.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2003, 10:01:26 am by Michelle »
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Michelle

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2003, 11:01:44 am »

Just a quick comment.

I did not attend this meeting because space was limited, I've met Governor Benson in the past, and I'll hear him speak at the LPNH convention in the fall. I knew intuitively that this meeting would go well, but here it was Friday, an extraordinarily successful week behind us at Escape, and I couldn't help biting my nails all day, waiting for the attendees to come back to the campground. After all, I knew this budget veto was causing extraordinary demands on the Governor's time and it would be understandable if he couldn't keep his meeting with FSP members.

But wow! Whenever the group got back and told me how it went...it was beyond my greatest hope. Those of us who have met the Governor and know his style know he is an extremely no-nonsense, efficient person and his meetings are succinct. We expected five minutes. Yet, those who attended said he gave them about 30 minutes! By his own statements, Governor Benson made it clear that he identifies himself with the libertarians and his welcome to the FSP was unmistakeable.

Amanda is right - the Free State Project has a friend and ally in New Hampshire's highest office. Those of us supporting NH have been working hard to lay the framework for immediate FSP progress and success in NH, and by meeting with us and giving us his open-armed welcome, Governor Craig Benson has helped to give the FSP even more credibility in New Hampshire. I sincerely hope we don't waste this opportunity.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2003, 02:00:23 pm by Michelle »
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Number_6

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2003, 01:58:40 pm »

This is important.  The governors of every other state under consideration have either made negative comments or ignored the FSP entirely.
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jenlee

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2003, 02:14:08 pm »

Could you post facts to prove this?  And who contacted the governors?  Frank from Alaska or Tony before him I am sure gave the short ignore.

This is important.  The governors of every other state under consideration have either made negative comments or ignored the FSP entirely.
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Michelle

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2003, 02:32:20 pm »

Could you post facts to prove this?  And who contacted the governors?  Frank from Alaska or Tony before him I am sure gave the short ignore.

This is from my report. Anyone remember which article the ID/MT comments were from? I think it ran in a MT newspaper. In any case, it is listed in the articles section of the FSP website:

Mark Snider, spokesman for Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, said he was sorry to learn that Idaho was a candidate state. ... "It does not sound as though this group is in line with what the majority of Idahoans want."

Chuck Butler, a spokesman for Montana Gov. Judy Martz, said Montana is a huge state that welcomes newcomers. But he encouraged the Free Staters to take a closer look at Idaho. "Idaho is more inviting," Butler said.

The mayor of Burlington VT (in the NPR interview & report) suggested the FSP look across the Connecticut River to New Hampshire as the place to locate.

The governor of Wyoming basically skirted the issue by saying that we would be free to move anywhere we want so long as we recognize we are bound by the same federal and state laws as everyone else. This was in a Stateline.org article.

I should note that in this same article, the chair of the New Hampshire GOP, Jayne Millerick, was welcoming to the Free State Project and indicated that the group would be happy with the political activity in the state. From a Stateline.org article: "If these individuals choose to come to New Hampshire they'll find an atmosphere that's very open to grassroots activities and very strong and independent voter participation."

I don't think any of the other states besides New Hampshire have even tried to get comments or thoughts from the governors, never mind a meeting!
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jgmaynard

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2003, 02:42:45 pm »

I read a few days ago (I don't remember where, but it was a major news source somewhere during our last media blitz - will dig if asked), that Vermont's Governor's office just commented on the FSP a couple days ago saying (IIRC) 'There is a state to our east they should consider."

JM
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Michelle

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2003, 06:12:09 pm »

I read a few days ago (I don't remember where, but it was a major news source somewhere during our last media blitz - will dig if asked), that Vermont's Governor's office just commented on the FSP a couple days ago saying (IIRC) 'There is a state to our east they should consider."
JM

I don't doubt it, but haven't seen that quote. If you do happen to find it, I'd love to see it.
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jgmaynard

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2003, 06:40:34 pm »

Found it. Mother Jones magazine.

"We have a neighbor to the east they could consider," suggests Jason Gibbs, press secretary to Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont.

http://freestateproject.org/media_archives/0056.htm
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pghpat26

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2003, 06:54:32 pm »

With news like that coming out of NH it sure sounds like the Free State to be. Well westerners heres your chance. Can you top this from any state?
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StevenN

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2003, 07:20:04 pm »

...and the LP gubernatorial candidate for Wyoming said that he didn't think the FSP would succeed in WY.
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Dave Mincin

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2003, 07:48:09 pm »

I was there!

I tend to look at what is going on body language, facial expressions, body movement and such, try to gage things other than what someone says.

After the tour of the capital building John B (won't try and spell his name seem to always say it wrong so hope you know who I mean)  took us all back down to the dinning area.  Could see that John was really tense.  Me I'm thinking with all that Craig is dealing with, this meeting is not going to happen.  Dam...oh well shit happens!

Next thing I know we are back upstairs in the in the executive council's office, the only room in the place that has air conditioning, I like that.  The House room has nothing to cool you, the Senate chamber has nothing but a couple fans, and it is hot as hell.  Somehow I see that as a good idea, keep them uncomfortable and they won't hang around passing stupid laws.  Get what has to be done, done and go home.  For a $100 a year not sure that I would want to stay any longer than necessary either.

Anyway back to the story!  We are in the outer office wondering what's up?  Is the governor in there?  Hell we don't know, can hear that the are swearing in an assistant attorney general, someone much wiser than I thinks to ask the secretary in the outer office is the governor in there?  Yes she says!!!!  Next thing I know he is in the outer office talking to us,  at that moment I truly realized, "Porcupines are cool, we are for real, and we are going to create a free state."  Devera asked the first question..." ah..mm..senator, ah I mean governor." He smiled and said call me Craig, and Devera proceed to ask her question.

Hello  fellow porcupines we are for real, credible, and the governor of NH as told us so.  The governor of NH has recognized us as a political force, and we are not even there yet. This speaks to me so much more than statistics!

Look, listen, see, what is going on, can there be anywhere but the Granite State as our new home?

Dave


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Sebastian

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2003, 07:51:38 pm »

New Hampshire is starting to sound attractive. As my priority is a low number of voters, Wyoming is still number one, but New Hampshire is a close second.

Anyone know how much longer Governor Benson could remain in office?
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Dave Mincin

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2003, 08:11:08 pm »

Thanks Sebastion so much for your fair council.  Just so much wish some of you folks out west could have been at the Getaway.  It was incredible people with different ideas, different thoughts, LISTENING to each other, showing respect, and genuine affection for each other.  I know if the rest of you folks are like the ones I met at the Getway we will for certain create a Free State!

Dave
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Sebastian

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2003, 09:18:50 pm »

I think NH just inched in front of WY. My wife is very taken by New Hampshire and wasn't looking forward to WY. The low number of voters is still attractive in WY, but perhaps with people like Governor Benson, it'll be easy to attract people from to NH to the FSP movement. That would offset the higher population somewhat. The price of housing also initially turned me off, but I've already found some houses around $150,000 in Manchester that would be perfectly fine for the two of us. It's also only 50 miles (right?) away from Boston, and I'm a huge Patriots fan. Yeah, I'm selfish :)

The weather in NH isn't much of an issue to me. I'm originally from Holland and still remember delivering Chinese food on a scooter while the entire city was covered by snow. Christmas day and some people didn't even tip on $49 orders :(

I've only recently started focusing on states, so I still have a long way to go before making up my mind. But I'm now able to somewhat see past statistics (at first, I was opposed to NH because of the high average price of housing).

Next, I want to study Idaho.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2003, 09:20:58 pm by Sebastian »
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jenlee

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Re:NH Governor Benson Welcomes FSP
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2003, 09:59:17 pm »

Me too. Would make things easier. And I must admit that I have always preferred the west side of the US. Not Cal you know but states like  ;D Alaska  ;D

I wish I had the time to make a short trip to NH. Just a few days, to see for myself how the state was/is.

But.........NH is no longer number 10 with me. East coast. Oh boy!

Anything for real and true freedom!

Thanks Sebastion so much for your fair council.  Just so much wish some of you folks out west could have been at the Getaway.  It was incredible people with different ideas, different thoughts, LISTENING to each other, showing respect, and genuine affection for each other.  I know if the rest of you folks are like the ones I met at the Getway we will for certain create a Free State!

Dave
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