Primary Source: Welch Says Voters Want Trump to ‘Tone It Down’

  • Valley News political columnist and news editor John Gregg in West Lebanon, N.H., on September 20, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen

Published: 11/7/2018 11:50:55 PM
Modified: 11/7/2018 11:51:00 PM

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., likes the House results in Tuesday’s elections, saying Democrats must now curb the excesses of the Trump administration and also work with GOP colleagues to pass meaningful legislation.

Welch, a Norwich resident who has served in Congress for 12 years, said the election clearly was “all about Trump” and that the message to the president with Democratic gains in the House is “tone it down.”

“I believe that this was absolutely vital for our democracy, that we can have a Democratic House that can be a check and balance on the worst of the Trump policies,” Welch said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “No. 1, you won’t have a repeal of the (Affordable Care Act). No. 2, you will be able to do oversight when someone like (former EPA Administrator) Scott Pruitt and (Interior Secretary) Ryan Zinke appear to be abusing their authority and abusing taxpayer money.”

Welch, who serves on both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Democrats should now fashion legislation that “can bring more unity to politics” while also showing voters they can govern.

He suggested bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and working on an infrastructure bill that also can bring more broadband coverage to rural America as two priorities.

“That’s good for Trump voters and Hillary (Clinton) voters. They need to be done, and will benefit all Americans,” Welch said.

He also said “we can’t compete with President Trump on the tweet wars,” and that Democrats should avoid divisive tactics while, at the same time, not ruling out impeachment.

“No one is above the law, including the president, and we’ve got to maintain the integrity and the independence of the Mueller investigation,” Welch said.

As for whether former Speaker Nancy Pelosi will regain that post, Welch said whoever does so must ensure that power is returned to policy-making committees, saying too much was centralized in the House under Republican Speaker Paul Ryan. And Welch also said lawmakers will want “more transparency and openness in the process,” including allowing amendments to be proposed by the minority party.

“I have enormous respect for Nancy Pelosi, but we have to reform Congress, and that’s going to be the bottom-line question for me, to her or anyone else considering wanting to lead the caucus.”

Fourth Time’s the Charm

Former Grafton County Commissioner Mike Cryans unseated Republican Executive Councilor Joe Kenney in the District 1 seat representing the North Country and the Upper Valley. Cryans had 50.6 percent of the vote, to 47.1 percent to Kenney and 2.2 percent to Newport Libertarian Tobin Menard.

“Having finished on the other side, it’s a wonderful feeling (to win), and I’m thankful for all the people who worked on my behalf,” said Cryans, a Hanover Democrat.

He and Kenney have faced off four times since longtime Executive Councilor Ray Burton, R-Bath, died in 2013. “Someone said there’s a new saying, ‘three times plus one is the lucky charm,’ ” Cryans said.

In other races undetermined by deadline on Tuesday night, state Sen. Bob Giuda, R-Warren, turned back a challenge from Plymouth Democrat Bill Bolton for the Haverhill-area seat, 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent.

And state Sen. Ruth Ward, R-Stoddard, defeated Sutton Democrat Jenn Alford-Teaster by 3 percentage points in her Newport-area Senate seat.

Still, Democrats said they have picked up at least four seats in Concord, which would give them a 14-10 majority in the New Hampshire Senate. Democrats also retook the New Hampshire House, setting up a split government in Concord with the re-election of Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

State Rep. Susan Almy, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said priorities likely will include raising the minimum wage, repealing the death penalty (a Sununu veto this year on that front was narrowly sustained) and protecting funding priorities, especially if the economy slows or stalls.

Almy said Democrats will have to talk about their strategy, and perhaps work collaboratively with Sununu on key issues, “because anything that we do that Chris Sununu doesn’t like is likely to get vetoed.”

Briefly Noted

■Vermont state Rep. Annmarie Christensen, a Perkinsville Democrat who represents Weathersfield and Cavendish in the Vermont House, faced a write-in challenge, but won handily. Cavendish resident Michael Kell, a retired U.S. Army Infantry officer who had served at one point as principal of Windsor High School, sought to unseat Christensen and launched his bid last month. Christensen won a second-term, 1,204-212.

■Would-be presidential candidates are headed this way. Former Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, will be at Burlington’s Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 9 as part of his “American Promise Tour.”

John Gregg can be reached at

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