Kelly, Marchand Square Off in N.H. Debate

  • New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial candidates Steve Marchand and Molly Kelly laugh as moderator Charles Wheelan, right, a senior lecturer at Dartmouth College, extends their time limit to one to two minutes to respond to a complicated issue during a forum at the college in Hanover, N.H., on Aug. 13, 2018. The winner in the Sept. 11 primary will challenge Republican incumbent Chris Sununu in the general election. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Geoff Hansen

  • New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial candidates Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand participate in a forum at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., on Aug. 13, 2018, in advance of their Sept. 11 primary. The winner will challenge Republican incumbent Chris Sununu in the general election. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 8/13/2018 11:25:59 PM
Modified: 8/14/2018 6:11:49 PM

Hanover — Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand took aim at each other as well as targeting Republican Gov. Chris Sununu as they shared the same stage for a Democratic gubernatorial forum on Monday at Dartmouth College.

Picking up where they left off at their last showdown nearly two weeks ago in Exeter, the two candidates hoping to face off against Sununu in November’s general election clashed repeatedly over energy policy.

The two candidates also traded fire over fossil fuel industry contributions during the forum, which was hosted by Dartmouth’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and held in a packed Alumni Hall at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.

“I am the only candidate running for governor who’s not accepted in this governor’s race one dollar from corporations or from executives from fossil fuel,” said Kelly, a former state senator from Harrisville who represented the southwest corner of New Hampshire for a decade before deciding against running for re-election in 2016.

Marchand, a former Portsmouth mayor who is making his second straight run for governor, countered that “I’m the only candidate who’s never taken a dime from Eversource or what used to be PSNH,” referring to the state’s largest electric utility.

The Kelly campaign disputed Marchand’s claim that he never accepted contributions from the fossil fuel industry, pointing to what they said were more than $6,000 in contributions from fossil fuel corporations and executives, including Constellation Energy and the New England Power Generators Association.

And Kelly, pushing back against Marchand’s charge that she took contributions from PSNH earlier this decade, argued that the money didn’t influence her votes on energy bills.

“Let me tell you how I stood up to PSNH,” she recounted. “They were not happy with me. I passed the first net metering bill that has propelled solar and hydro in the state. You asked would you stand up to them. I did.”

Kelly highlighted that bill multiple times during the forum, but Marchand questioned the effectiveness of the measure, saying New Hampshire is only “half of one percent renewable five years after Molly’s bill.”

While both candidates criticized Sununu for his vetoes this summer of two measures that would have aided the renewable energy industry, they clashed over the proposed Northern Pass hydroelectric power lines that would run through much of the state from the Canadian border. The project, supported by Sununu and Eversource, was dealt a severe regulatory setback this year.

“You voted the wrong way on Northern Pass,” Marchand asserted.

 “I have never supported Northern Pass. Never,” Kelly responded.

Following the forum, Marchand said that he was referring to Kelly’s vote in 2011 against HB648, a bill that would have limited the state’s ability to take land for the Northern Pass project. But the Kelly campaign said that the senator voted with the majority to limit what opponents of the project described as a land grab.

The two candidates also disagreed over the so-called Granite Bridge project, a proposed natural gas pipeline from the Seacoast to Manchester along Route 101.

In explaining why she hasn’t taken a stance yet on the project, Kelly said “we need to look at all of the pieces before we make a final decision on a particular project and we don’t have all of the information yet.”

But she added that she won’t “support a project that does not lower our carbon footprint.”

Marchand quickly responded that “I do have enough information to have an opinion on it. I oppose the Granite Bridge project.”

Marchand and Kelly also didn’t see eye to eye on how to increase bipartisan cooperation at the Statehouse.

In promoting a forceful agenda, Marchand argued that “the way to get progressive solutions is not by persuading Sununu and (President Donald) Trump.”

Instead, he argued “it comes by replacing them.”

While agreeing that “we need to defeat and unseat Chris Sununu,” Kelly said that “we need to be able to listen to each other” while “never, never compromising our values.”

Late in the forum, which was held four weeks before the Sept. 11 primary, Kelly said she was “very proud of many of the endorsements that I have received.” She then listed her high profile endorsements from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, all D-N.H., as well as the political arm of Planned Parenthood, the Teamsters union, and two of the top teachers unions in New Hampshire.

Marchand said that “we worry a lot less about who and we worry a lot more about how many.”

He then said that he’s “done almost 300 meet-and-greet events and thousands of conversations and over 30,000 people have committed to supporting us” as he said that his campaign is “the most grassroots effort in the history of gubernatorial politics in this state.”

The two candidates also discussed efforts to battle the state’s opioid epidemic, gun reform legislation, taxes and women’s reproductive rights during the forum.

Paul Steinhauser can be reached at

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