Primary Source: Former Gov. Lynch concerned by talk of socialism  

  • John P. Gregg. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/8/2019 9:18:02 PM
Modified: 5/8/2019 9:46:25 PM

With more than 20 candidates running in the Democratic presidential primary at this point, it’s hard enough to keep track of who is in the field, much less what’s at stake.

But what’s clear is there’s going to be a fierce fight over the direction of the party, with progressives concerned about social justice and climate change clashing with more moderate Democrats who want to make sure the strongest general election candidate is nominated.

The polling average on Wednesday showed former Vice President Joe Biden with 20.3% support, essentially tied with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at 19.3%, in New Hampshire. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the only other candidate in double-digits, with about 12.7% backing in the Granite State.

Biden, who is expected to campaign in New Hampshire on Monday and Tuesday, won an unexpected endorsement late last month from former Gov. John Lynch, a Democratic centrist who served a record four terms in office in Concord.

Lynch, the former CEO of the Knoll furniture company, said in a phone interview on Wednesday that Biden is a “very decent and authentic person” who is in the best position to “reunify America.”

“I also believe he is more moderate and has a better chance of beating President Trump,” said Lynch, who said Biden can appeal to independents and moderate Republicans who are uncomfortable with Trump.

Though he didn’t identify Sanders by name, Lynch made clear that he thinks the self-identified democratic socialist from Vermont and some other candidates are trying to drag the party too far left.

“I think that people in the middle, which is I think where most of us are, don’t like discussions that appear to be pushing America toward socialism, and some have said that’s what they do, and are doing,” said Lynch, a clinical professor at the Tuck School of Business who has been teaching at Dartmouth for six years, including courses on leadership.

Lynch also said social media and other new channels of information have created the impression that the party is drifting leftward, but he doesn’t think that to be the case nationwide.

“The noise has changed, but I don’t think we as a party have changed,” Lynch said.

For his part, Sanders continued to espouse union solidarity, abortion rights and greater income equality on Twitter on Wednesday, such as a shout out to striking Lyft and Uber drivers.

“Uber is not a poor company. It paid its top five executives $143 million in compensation last year, including $45 million to its CEO,” Sanders wrote. “So why are Uber drivers struggling to put food on the table?”

Granite State residents are about to see a rush of candidates, some in the Upper Valley.

On Thursday, former entrepreneur Andrew Yang is speaking at Dartmouth’s Beta House at 5:30 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. meet and greet at the Taylor Street gazebo in downtown Lebanon. Yang also is holding a meet and greet on Saturday morning at 9 at the Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center on South Street in Claremont.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, is swinging through on Friday, with a town hall at noon at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, a 3:30 p.m. town hall in Hanover at the Top of the Hop at Dartmouth College, and a visit to a smaller house party in Lebanon late in the day.

On the GOP side, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, R-Mass., who is challenging Trump, will be speaking at a forum on Saturday afternoon in White River Junction. The event, co-sponsored by and the Valley News, will be at 3 p.m. at Hartford High School.

Finally, though details about a venue and public attendance have not been released, Buttigieg is holding a Fox News town hall in Claremont on the evening of May 19.

Another candidate, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., was on the Dartmouth campus over the weekend, speaking at a Tuck School class on economic revitalization and the future of capitalism.

Though not a candidate, Trump administration Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also recently spoke to students at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth.

Azar was a 1988 classmate of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic presidential candidate from New York.

Azar, a former chairman of Dartmouth Republicans who later worked as a lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, said Trump has less of a corporate structure than Bush did.

“President Trump follows more of the FDR/LBJ approach. It’s very much a direct interaction,” Azar said, according to an account of his campus visit on the Dartmouth website.

Trooper stepping down

The first active Vermont state trooper to be elected to the Vermont House has left his law enforcement job. State Rep. Nader Hashim, D-Dummerston, who was elected last fall, said in an email to constituents that he resigned from state police on Monday and will be taking a job with a law firm in Brattleboro, Vt.

“Unfortunately, geographic restrictions were placed on me after I won the primary election,” Hashim wrote, “and it would have become unfeasible for me to remain employed with VSP and also be physically present in the Windham-4 District,” which includes Putney, Dummerston and Westminster.

Hashim, 30, worked as a trooper for seven years and is active on civil liberty issues in Montpelier.

John P. Gregg can be reached at

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