A state representative from Keene has been making waves after she called a pro-liberty group New Hampshire’s largest threat.
Rep. Cynthia Chase, who represents Keene’s Ward 5, wrote last month on the Democratic blog Blue Hampshire that “In the opinion of this Democrat, Free Staters are the single biggest threat the state is facing today.”
The Free State Project, which supports lower taxes, pro-gun laws and the legalization of marijuana, among other issues, announced in 2003 that New Hampshire had been chosen by its members as their future home. The project aims to bring 20,000 liberty-minded people to the “Live Free or Die” state.
The Keene area has had an active Free State presence, along with another organization with libertarian ideals, Free Keene.
Chase also wrote that there is nothing legislators could do legally to prevent Free Staters from moving to New Hampshire, but people could create an unwelcoming environment for them. She also said a way to make it unwelcoming here is “to pass measures that will restrict the ‘freedoms’ that they think they will find here.”
Since making her remarks, Chase said she has received threats and fears for the safety of her family, which is why she has not spoken about her posting. She declined further comment, but said she may be able to talk more in the future.
Her blog post has also gone viral, with news organizations throughout the state and radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh discussing her viewpoint.
The posting has not sat well with officials from the Free State Project.
Spokesman Varrin Swearingen, a Keene resident, said he found Chase’s comments offensive.
“Representative Chase is threatening to destroy freedom for everyone in New Hampshire in order to make our state so unwelcoming I might want to leave,” said Swearingen, who lives in Chase’s House district.
Swearingen, who has been in New Hampshire since 2004, said he has never felt shut out in the state.
Carla Gericke, president of the Free State Project, she said was also “shocked” by Chase’s statements, and she hopes Chase doesn’t introduce legislation that will discriminate against Free Staters.
Gericke also said interest in the Free State Project has increased since Chase’s comments, and the group is considering giving her the “Golden Porcupine,” awarded to those who recruit Free Staters to the Granite State.
The project’s website says at least 10,000 Free Staters have moved to New Hampshire since the project began.
Jacqueline Palochko can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JPalochkoKS.