Dartmouth student looks to keep NH House seat Big Green

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/8/2020 9:14:03 PM
Modified: 4/8/2020 9:23:53 PM

HANOVER — A former president of the Dartmouth College Democrats intends to seek a New Hampshire House seat representing Hanover and Lyme.

Riley Gordon, a college sophomore studying government at Dartmouth, launched his bid for a Grafton District 12 seat on social media Monday.

He said his campaign will focus on student voting rights, an issue he’s advocated for at Dartmouth and as political director of the New Hampshire College Democrats.

“Ultimately, this process happens in the Legislature, and students need a seat at the table because that’s where we can most effectively stand up for the things that we believe in,” Gordon, who grew up in New York, said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Gordon hopes to succeed state Rep. Garrett Muscatel, D-Hanover, a fellow Dartmouth student who is graduating this year.

He has helped Muscatel craft several bills, including measures to implement a carbon tax and require businesses to disclose gender pay disparities.

“It’s been a great process because I’ve really gotten to immerse myself in the laws of New Hampshire and identify specific ways I can nudge improvements on,” Gordon said.

Deb Nelson, chairwoman of the Hanover/Lyme Democrats, credited Gordon with helping to bridge the divide between college and town Democrats.

Nelson said Gordon, as well as the district’s three other incumbent lawmakers — Sharon Nordgren, Mary Jane Mulligan and Polly Campion — will likely see a primary this year. People were energized by Democratic gains made in 2018 and are interested in contributing at the Statehouse, she said.

North Country race kicks off

A North Country Senate seat held for six years by former Democratic Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn before being flipped in the 2018 election may again prove competitive after longtime state Rep. Sue Ford, D-Easton, announced her candidacy on Tuesday.

Ford, a former teacher and school administrator, was elected in 2018 to represent the towns of Orford, Piermont, Bath, Benton, Landaff and Warren.

She also represented the swing district from 2002 to 2012, and again from 2014 to 2016.

Ford hopes to challenge Sen. David Starr, R-Franconia, a former retired engineer and former Air Force captain who defeated Woodburn in a race that focused heavily on sexual assault allegations against the self-styled “Jeffersonian agrarian.”

Woodburn pleaded not guilty in 2018 to nine charges, including simple assault, domestic violence and criminal mischief. He is accused of slapping his then-partner and punching her in the stomach, as well as biting her once on the hand, and on another occasion, on the forearm. His trial was expected to begin this summer.

Ford said that it’s time to move on from the division resulting from Woodburn’s arrest.

“Democrats think we need to take a different look at the rural aspect of Coos and northern Grafton County,” she said in a phone interview.

Emails seeking comment from Starr were not returned Wednesday.

Senate race shakeup

The Republican primary to challenge two-term Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. is down to two contenders after former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien dropped out of the race last week.

O’Brien endorsed former rival Bryant ‘Corky’ Messner, a retired Army Ranger and corporate attorney who moved to the Granite State from Colorado about two years ago, the Concord Monitor reported.

Retired Gen. Don Bolduc, a Laconia, N.H. native, also remains in the race.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

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