The Republican leadership of the New Hampshire House taught state voters a lesson during the Sept. 18-19 House votes on Gov. Chris Sununu’s vetoes: “Your vote doesn’t count if it was a preference for bipartisan lawmaking.” This is the case whether you cast that hopeful vote for a Democrat, Republican or Libertarian. It was ignored by the minority Republican leadership in the House, preferring a win for the governor and a loss to you on all bills with bipartisan support, but one.
The governor set the stage for this lesson, handing down 55 vetoes. One-third of the vetoes blocked bills with bipartisan sponsorship. Over 50% of his vetoes jettisoned legislation that passed by a bipartisan majority in both the House and the Senate. Over 75% of them sank bills that had passed with bipartisan support in at least one chamber.
The minority leadership used this stage to drive the lesson home with what the governor called a “unified voting strategy.” Such a neutral description for governance dependent on party-line partisan voting to flatten bipartisanship in its midst.
The characteristics of this strategy are evident in the examples of three vetoed bills: House bills 198, 409 and 365. Each was ultimately defeated by Republican partisanship squashing existing bipartisan votes within the caucus. The governor had said he was “left with no choice” other than vetoes because the Democrats had “passed so many extreme bills.” Evidently, the Republican bipartisanship responsible for many of the bills coming forward had not tempered their “extreme” nature.