Hennessey Faces Low-Profile Challenger for Upper Valley Senate Seat

  • Martha Hennessey

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/15/2018 12:32:30 AM
Modified: 10/15/2018 11:55:01 AM

Lebanon — Voters in New Hampshire’s Senate District 5 will be asked to choose between state Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, and Claremont Republican Patrick Lozito to represent nine Upper Valley communities in November.

Hennessey, a 64-year-old psychologist who represented Hanover in the New Hampshire House for two years, is seeking her second term in the Senate.

She is co-chairwoman of a legislative caucus on gun violence and hopes to continue advocating for gun control efforts, particularly those seeking to protect schools and children.

“A major priority is gun-free zones, which would include, for me at least, school buildings and school grounds,” she said.

Hennessey sponsored an amendment this year that would have given school districts and towns the ability to enact their own firearms regulations.

Although the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act bans weapons within 1,000 feet of a school, local police cannot enforce it because of a state law that gives the New Hampshire Legislature sole authority to regulate firearms. Schools can prohibit teachers and students from bringing guns on school property.

Voting rights will also be a focus of the campaign, said Hennessey, who opposed HB 1264, a law that Democrats argued targeted out-of-state college students who wish to vote in New Hampshire. The law requires college students who want to register to vote in New Hampshire to meet all residency requirements, such as obtaining a state driver’s licenses.

“I think it was targeted at making it harder for college students to vote, and I think it’s a critical piece of our democracy that college students be able to vote,” Hennessey said.

Hennessey supports legislation to establish a paid family and medical leave, and to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour.

She also opposes school choice efforts, such as a bill that sought to allow low-income parents to withdraw their child from a public school and use state adequacy money to fund a private or parochial education.

Lozito, who declined interview requests last week, moved to New Hampshire from Long Island in 2008. He is the husband of Marie Lozito, who ran unsuccessfully on the Republican ticket for the District 5 seat in 2016.

The Lozitos have been labeled as supporters of the libertarian Free State Project by Granite State Progress, a liberal advocacy group that published a “Free State Project Watch” list ahead of the 2014 and 2016 elections.

As evidence, Granite State Progress cited a 2008 posting by Patrick Lozito, who went by “Pat the Gunsmith” on the Free State Project Forum, announcing the couple had moved to Claremont.

“We really feel it is escaping to freedom from an ‘occupied’ country, i.e. New York,” said the post, which ended with “Our best wishes to all! Pat and Marie Lozito.”

Marie Lozito, who was asked about the post in 2016, said she didn’t identify as a libertarian, and argued she planned to move to New Hampshire before the Free State Project was founded.

“My husband definitely identified with the Free State Project’s plan to create a freedom-minded majority in the state of NH,” she wrote at the time in an email to the Valley News.

The district represents Canaan, Charlestown, Claremont, Cornish, Enfield, Hanover, Lebanon, Lyme, and Plainfield.

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

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