In a Democratic primary race for N.H. Executive Council being held exclusively between Concord-area lawyers up to this point, state Rep. Craig Thompson, D-Harrisville, is throwing his hat into the ring.
Thompson, a freshman in the Statehouse and co-owner of the Mayfair Farm in Harrisville, said he thinks the council’s 2nd District seat — set to be vacated at the end of 2020 by Andru Volinsky, who is running for governor — should have someone from the Monadnock Region in it, given that the bulk of its turf lies west of New Hampshire’s capitol.
The meandering district cuts across the Granite State, starting in the southwest corner of Hinsdale and Chesterfield, going all the way along Route 9 through Concord and ending in Rochester and Dover to the east.
The Executive Council has five members elected to two-year terms, providing a check on the governor through veto power over department nominations, pardons and state contracts worth $10,000 and greater.
The Republican side of the race has yet to shape up, but three candidates have already emerged on the Democratic side: Concord lawyers Cinde Warmington and Jay Surdukowski, and Leah Plunkett, an author and associate dean of the University of New Hampshire law school in Concord.
“Eighty percent of this district lies outside of Concord, you know, and I think it’s important for those of us who live out here in the hill towns and the villages and the cities other than Concord to have a voice,” Thompson said. “Issues that are important to so many of us, particularly in the Monadnock Region, don’t resonate inside Concord.”
Thompson joked that having to conduct the interview with The Sentinel over a landline phone is just one example of how broadband connectivity and other more rural issues in the district can differ from what affects the more densely populated area around Concord.
The freshman state representative had high praise for Volinsky, a lawyer and longtime education advocate from Concord who took over the seat from Colin Van Ostern, also a Concord Democrat.
“First, we have to acknowledge that Andru’s decision to run for governor leaves a huge void on the Executive Council,” Thompson said. “Because he has been an adamant bulwark against [Republican Gov. Chris Sununu]’s worst instincts.”
Thompson added that voters should consider the likelihood that Sununu wins re-election in 2020 because of his name recognition, and pick someone who would serve as a strong check against the governor on issues like climate change and in the nomination process for key statewide positions.
To get there, Thompson said he’s going to hit the pavement and get his name out to voters the old-fashioned way ahead of the primary on Sept. 8.
“As far as winning this race goes, for somebody who’s not a Concord attorney, it’s hard to raise money, and it’s hard to gain name recognition,” he said. “To me, that points to the need for lots of knocking on doors.
“I am a huge believer in canvassing and door knocking and meeting people face to face,” he continued, “because one of the things I like the most is talking to voters directly, hearing what’s on their mind. That’s a real connection you don’t get to make too often.”