Political Stories of 2011
Moments that helped define the year, from Romney juggernaut to John Lynch's future.
So many 2011 highlights, including Osama bin Laden being killed, the debt-ceiling debate, the continuing influence of the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street protests, and the strength of Gabrielle Giffords. Here are a few from New Hampshire:
10.) Bill O'Brien. The Republican lawyer from Mont Vernon wields a heavy gavel as New Hampshire House Speaker and goes to work trying to repeal achievements made by a previous Democratic majority. He aims to follow-through in 2012 as Democrats husband their resources.
9.) Run Sarah Run. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump both made visits to New Hampshire in 2011, but neither are on the primary ballot. Both remain national voices.
8.) FITN. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner sets the date of the 2012 New Hampshire Primary to Jan. 10, ensuring the state keeps its first-in-the-nation status.
7.) For the Love of the Party: U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, the freshman Republican from Manchester who represents New Hampshire's 1st District, calls for more fiscal austerity and less partisan grid-lock on Capitol Hill. Across the aisle, at least three Democrats are aiming for him in 2012: Joanne Dowdell of Portsmouth, Andrew Hosmer of Laconia, and former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter of Rochester.
6.) It's a Straw. Michele Bachmann wins the Ames Straw Poll on Aug. 13, with Ron Paul a close second. A week later, Paul wins a straw poll held by Young Republicans in New Castle. Was that weekend the peak for the Minnesota congresswoman? Her New Hampshire staff up and quit on her in the fall. And, in the spring, she got her history wrong (or state wrong) when she said, "You're in the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord."
5.) T-Paw TKO'd. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty calls it quits on Aug. 14. He later joins Mitt Romney.
TIE for 5th) Jack Kimball. The businessman from Dover wins election to chairman of the Republican State Committee but is later forced to quit. He later endorses Herman Cain, then Newt Gingrich, and remains a voice for the liberty movement in the state.
4.) U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, continues to see her political star rise. New Hampshire's junior senator is even mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for her candidate, Mitt Romney.
3) Gov. John Lynch, D-Hopkinton, announces he will not seek a fifth term. He's the tiny blue dot but a large check-and-balance in Concord, where Republicans relish majority control of the Legislature and Executive Council. He does not spill his future plans, but he's time to flex his political muscle over the next year, possibly being a big presence in the state for President Obama in the fall.
2.) The Hermanator Implodes. Herman Cain showcases Tea Party support. He rises and rises in the polls until allegations of sexual harassment derail him. He suspended his campaign Dec. 3. Two weeks earlier, in Nashua, he said, the scandal was behind him, "as far as I'm concerned."
1.) Chutes and Ladders: Mitt Romney has led the GOP presidential race but his primary rival has almost changed by the month. Regular musical chairs to be the alternative to Romney: First it was Michele Bachmann, then Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich. Only Ron Paul has stood apart to remain consistent in polls here to be a challenger to Romney. So, New Hampshire, who will it be come Jan. 10?
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