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John Gregg: Remembering Judge Billings

Gov. Peter Shumlin has ordered state flags across Vermont to be lowered next Wednesday through Friday to honor the late Franklin S. Billings Jr., the former Vermont House speaker and chief justice of the state Supreme Court who died Sunday in Woodstock. Billings was a monumental figure in Vermont politics, helping preside over the reapportionment of the House that made Vermont more democratic, and Democratic, even though Billings himself was Republican. The 91-year-old Billings died in the house where he was born and lived all

John Gregg: Politics and Parties

The two candidates vying to fill the sprawling District 1 Executive Council seat held by the late Ray Burton are targeting voters in the Upper Valley. Former state Sen. Joe Kenney, R-Wakefield, has scheduled a public forum in Claremont on Feb. 27 to discuss why several hospitals — including Valley Regional Hospital, Alice Peck Day, and Cottage Hospital — were excluded from Anthem’s exchange network under the Affordable Care Act. “Our people do not have a single hospital in Sullivan County that is in the

John Gregg: Marginal Numbers

New Hampshire’s two Democratic members of the U.S. House, Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, are going to have to work hard this year to win re-election. This according to a WMUR Granite State Poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center released this week that says both incumbents face “serious re-election challenges.” Kuster, a first-term congresswoman from Hopkinton whose Second District seat includes the Upper Valley, has only a 30 percent favorability rating. While the two Republicans vying to unseat her, former state Sen.

John Gregg: Looking For Votes

There’s now less than six weeks to go before New Hampshire’s March 11 Town Meeting Day and the special election to fill the vacant District 1 Executive Council seat of the late Ray Burton. In campaign spending reports filed Wednesday, Hanover Democrat Mike Cryans, who was unopposed in last week’s primary, reported almost $60,000 in his campaign war chest, including $1,000 contributions from Friends of Maggie Hassan and the New Hampshire Educators Political Action Committee. Wakefield Republican Joe Kenney, who handily won a three-way primary,

John Gregg: Post-Dean Decade

Monday marks the 10-year anniversary of the 2004 New Hampshire presidential primary, where Democrat John Kerry effectively crushed the White House dreams of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. But Dean’s grassroots campaign — which relied on MeetUps and other then-novel Internet organizing — did bring several Connecticut River Valley residents into the political process. So, where are they now? Norwich native Zephyr Teachout, then a 31-year-old lawyer who became a minor Web celebrity as director of Dean’s Internet organizing and outreach, remains politically active. Now

John Gregg: Uppers and Downers

The New Hampshire House made history yesterday, becoming the first legislative chamber in the country voting to create a legal market for recreational marijuana for adults, according to the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project. But talk about strange twists. Among the supporters were Edmond Gionet, an 82-year-old conservative Republican from Lincoln, while a majority of House lawmakers representing the left-leaning Upper Valley voted against the measure. Among the pro-pot supporters were state Reps. Bernie Benn, D-Hanover; Carol Friedrich, D-Wentworth; Catherine Mulholland, D-Grafton; George Sykes, D-Lebanon; Andy

John Gregg: Replacing Ray

OK, folks, the holidays are over, and we’re in an election year. In fact, most New Hampshire voters in the Upper Valley could head to the polls as early as Jan. 21 for the primary in the District 1 special election to replace the late Ray Burton on the Executive Council. There’s a three-way primary among Republicans, and candidates have already been meeting voters and raising money. Among the GOP, former Belknap County Commissioner Christopher Boothby of Meredith last week reported a campaign warchest of

John Gregg: Road Repairs Ahead

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., toured the flood damage along Slayton Hill Road in Lebanon Wednesday, meeting with residents who praised the city’s response but also expressed frustration that they aren’t getting federal help to repair their private homes. “This is the first time in our lives that we’re asking for assistance, and we’re being turned down,” said Don Bourgeois, who said his Dulac Street home at the Slayton Hill intersection suffered more than $10,000 in damage to landscaping and his driveway. Thomas Dubuque, who

John Gregg: Expect Chaos At N.H. Polls 

There’s a good chance of aggravation and even chaos at the polls in college towns such as Hanover and Plymouth, N.H., come the 2016 New Hampshire primary. House and Senate negotiators in Concord this week have failed to agree on rolling back the second phase of New Hampshire’s Voter ID law — enacted when Tea Party Republicans ran the House — which means by later this year, the acceptable list of identification cards voters may use to vote at the polls will no longer include

John Gregg: Assisting Ayotte

For all the heat U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., has gotten for her vote against expanded background checks for gun purchases, she is rallying support from Republican-leaning law enforcement officials from the Upper Valley. Enfield Police Chief Richard Crate, retired Grantham Police Chief Russ Lary, and former Grafton County Deputy Sheriff Barbara Dutile all appeared in a television ad supporting the first- term lawmaker from the Iowa-based American Future Fund, which promotes “conservative and free-market ideals,” according to its website. In the ad, released earlier