The Clean Water Blog

Swift River, White Mountain National Forest. Credit: haveseen / Shutterstock

On Being a Clean Water Voter in the Granite State

I moved to New Hampshire in 1989 and have seen many things change since then. In addition to raising two fine young men (with my wife) and enjoying the state’s friendly people and great natural beauty, I’ve gotten to participate first-hand in the grassroots democracy for which the state is also famous.

I’ve voted in six first-in-the-nation Presidential Primary elections and met and spoken with dozens of candidates of both parties up-close and personal. I was selected to ask an environmental debate question of then-candidate Steve Forbes at one of the Republican presidential debates.

I’ve helped friends and neighbors get out the pro-environment vote and get elected to local and state office.

I’ve worked with Clean Water Action’s national and New Hampshire staff, members and volunteers to dig into candidates’ records and positions and recommend endorsements in close races where clean water voters could make a real difference.

Together, we’ve helped elect strong pro-environment members of the state’s first all-women delegation to the U.S. House and Senate. New Hampshire is a state where every vote is counted, and every vote matters. Candidates for statewide office can win or lose by a few thousand or even a few hundred votes, and people running for positions in the state’s very large legislature often win by margins of a few tens of votes.

The Stakes in 2016

This fall for the past few weeks my home has been filled with a dozen Clean Water Action campaigners who have come here from across New England and around the country to help mobilize clean water voters in the closest federal races. By engaging people one on one, educating voters about where the candidates stand, and reminding folks what’s at stake for our water and our health, our campaign will have a potentially decisive impact up and down the ballot.

In partnership with NextGen Climate, Clean Water Action is concentrating its outreach on the Presidential and U.S. Senate race where the organizations are encouraging voters who care about clean water and clean air to turn out in support of Hillary Clinton and Maggie Hassen. Clean Water Action has also endorsed 2nd District U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster for reelection and supports Carol Shea-Porter’s bid to retake her 1st District Congressional seat from anti-environment incumbent, Frank Guinta (awful lifetime voting score of 10% out of a possible 100).

Clean Water Action’s Congressional scorecard spotlights the huge differences between our endorsed candidates for U.S. Senate and House and their anti-environment opponents in New Hampshire. I am excited about helping to elect Hilary Clinton who promises strong leadership on clean water issues, as well as the three other women leaders on our statewide Clean Water ticket, Maggie Hassan for U.S. Senate, Annie Custer (CD2) and Carol Shea-Porter (CD1) for the U.S. House.

Although all of these races are critically important for New Hampshire’s (and the nation’s) clean water future, the one that is the closest as I write this is the contest for U.S. Senate. As a U.S. Senator, the incumbent Kelly Ayotte has been a great disappointment to me. When I have written to her about pressing environmental concerns, I have never received anything but the most cursory of form letters, often only a weak attempt to justify her anti-environment votes and positions.

New England has a long tradition of moderate and independent leadership, especially by women in elective office. Sen. Ayotte has consistently used sophisticated “marketing and branding” techniques to try and persuade me and other voters that she, too is this type of leader. But she is not. Her lifetime voting score from the nonpartisan League of Conservation voters is a disappointing – and failing – 35 percent. They only times she seems to modify her positions and voting seem to be when she is facing a tough election. New Hampshire needs U.S. Senators who will stand up to the polluters, not vote to do their bidding, as Sen. Ayotte has done so often.

It is infuriating to me that as a candidate this time around she has tried so hard to obscure and gloss over her awful Dirty Water voting record. That’s why the opportunity to support Maggie Hassan for U.S. Senate is such a positive one for people who care about clean water and want to see it protected. As Governor, Hassan has been a leader and staunch defender of common sense protections for clean air and clean water. She has helped make New Hampshire a leader in the growing clean energy economy, creating hundreds of good jobs around the state in the process. Those clean energy investments are paying off for our water, too, since a changing climate and fossil fuel pollution both have such harmful water pollution impacts.

On Election Day November 8

If you are a New Hampshire voter this year, I hope you will join me November 8 to elect Hillary Clinton for President, Maggie Hassan for U.S. Senate, Annie Kuster or Carol Shea-Porter for U.S. House and other candidates for local and statewide office who will help lead on the environment. Remember, if you live here and aren’t yet registered, you can still register at your local polling place on Election Day and vote for these candidates.

If you are not in New Hampshire, I hope our successes electing strong women leaders for clean water and clean air from the Granite State will inspire you to do the same where you live. We need more clean water leaders and more clean water voters in every state.