The candidates for New Hampshire governor clashed one final time before Election Day, offering different visions on social and fiscal issues in their televised debate Nov. 1 at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on the campus of Saint Anselm College.
Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from Exeter, and Ovide Lamontagne, a Republican from Manchester, debated abortion, public kindergarten, public safety, tax policy and expanded gambling during the hour-long debate on WMUR.
Lamontagne said he supported a right-to-work bill, while Hassan opposed it, saying it amounted to the state interferring between employers and employees.
They also differed on the ballot question that proposes implementing a ban on a state income tax into the New Hampshire Constitution. Hassan, who pledged to veto an income tax, said the state should not make fiscal policy via the Constitution. Lamontagne noted she supported an income tax when she was a former state senator.
The two began the debate by talking about the role of the executive office during a crisis like the former Hurricane Sandy. Both said that public safety is the first job of the governor.
Hassan, a former state senator, and Lamontagne, a former state Board of Education chairman who also ran for governor in 1996, are vying to succeed four-term Gov. John Lynch, D-Hopkinton, who decided not to run for a fifth term.
Lamontagne said he would work across the aisle and he promised to sign or veto any bill that landed on his desk – a veiled shot at Lynch, who was confronted this past term by a Republican-controlled Legislature.
Regardless of the outcome Tuesday, the next governor will support some limited expansion of casino gambling. Hassan said she supports "a highly regulated casino near the border," and she criticized Lamontagne for having "preselected" Rockingham Park, a client of his law firm's, as a possible site.
Lamontagne said Rockingham Park in Salem is a good choice, given that site's historic place for racing and gaming, and that a casino should not be just anywhere in the state.
"It doesn't instill confidence in a candidate to have him say that he has preselected a site," Hassan said.
Hassan said Lamontagne wanted to eliminate public kindergarten statewide, to which Lamontagne accused her of misrepresenting his record. He said he was for choice in education, including protecting local control.
Asked by a debate panel, Lamontagne said that, as governor, he was bound to uphold the laws of the country, including Roe V. Wade, and "that's not going to change."
Hassan said Lamontagne wasn't "being straight-forward" with the viewers. She said he would erode a woman's right to choose abortion.
"Ovide has supported the defunding of Planned Parenthood," Hassan said, "that's radically different and that would take us backward."
Lamontagne responded, "Let me tell you what's extreme," noting she voted against parental notification for abortion.