Rising Stars of the Northeast

Whether one is a Republican or Democrat, there are new, young faces that represent their respective parties. From far-left Progressives to Trumpian Republicans, there are representatives of every ideological thought.

Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH)

A lovable moderate Republican from the Granite State, Governor Chris Sununu has been able to successfully straddle the Trump base while simultaneously securing votes from both Independents and moderate Democrats. Running as a social moderate and economic conservative/libertarian in 2016, Sununu was able to rally disaffected Obama voters into joining his voting coalition and beat his opponent, Colin van Ostern 49% to 46.7%, a healthy 17,000 votes. In addition, he was able to run ahead of then-President-elect Trump by 2.5 percentage points, laying the groundwork for New England Republicans who will run for office in the near future. His crossover appeal is one of his biggest assets, as is his record as governor. The most important of his executive actions have been met with widespread approval, including when it comes to addressing the COVID pandemic. According to the most recent UNH survey, Governor Sununu has a 71% approval rating on COVID, and a 69% overall approval, netting him the #5 spot of most approved governors in the nation. 

It is uncertain what the future holds for him, as rumors have been circulating as to whether he will run for Senate in 2022, return to the governorship, or even be a VP contender in 2024.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)

Whether you love her or despise her, it is undeniable AOC has taken Washington DC by storm. Winning unexpectedly during New York’s 14th District primary race immediately launched her into the spotlight, for various reasons. First, her opponent Joe Crowley was the 4th highest-ranking Democrat in the House and was rumored to be next in line for the speakership, a title very few have had the privilege of holding. Running to the left of a Hillary Clinton surrogate after 2016 in one of the most liberal districts in the country was a bet that paid off for Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez. Now a 2-term member of Congress with a lot of media exposure, expect AOC to push for more reforms and more power in varying committees for herself and other progressive members.

It is also worthy to note that AOC has not ruled out a Senate primary of Chuck Schumer in 2022, which could be potentially catastrophic for Democrats if they are matched with a viable Republican contender. Although New York is a solid-D state, nominating a far-left Progressive would definitely put the seat in jeopardy, with potential Independents and moderate-leaning Democrats willing to vote Republican.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY)

Elected in the 2014 “red wave”, Congresswoman Stefanik has quietly but surely become one of the GOP’s rising stars in Congress. Running as a moderate Republican from Upstate NY, Stefanik cruised through her primary and general, winning by a healthy 20.5% margin. Pro-life and a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment, Stefanik has been a strong voice for social conservatives, even speaking during a primetime spot at the 2020 RNC Convention. At only 36 years old, the sky’s the limit for this young Congresswoman.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-CT)

A young progressive elected in 2018’s “blue wave”, Congresswoman Hayes, a former Connecticut Teacher of the Year recipient, won by 11% in Connecticut’s 5th district. With a compelling story and an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, Hayes cruised through the primaries and general election against former Mayor of Meriden, Manny Santos. Since taking office, she has voted with the Progressive Caucus on many issues, including debt relief to those most at risk of falling into poverty. At 47 years old, there is a lot more to be expected from this experienced educator.

UNH Survey Center, “Sununu’s NH Job Approval Remains High; Handling of COVID-19 Falls 12/2/2020” (2020). All UNH Survey Center Polls. 628. 

“Governor Rankings.” Morning Consult, 4 Jan. 2021, morningconsult.com/governor-rankings/

 “Jahana Hayes.” Ballotpedia, 2020, ballotpedia.org/Jahana_Hayes. 

“Elise Stefanik.” Ballotpedia, 2020, ballotpedia.org/Elise_Stefanik. 

“Chris Sununu.” Ballotpedia, 2020, ballotpedia.org/Chris_Sununu. 

Stagnone Opposes Efforts to Strip Students of Right to Vote in NH

Perhaps our greatest expectation of higher education should be that our colleges help to shape citizens who are actively and purposefully engaged in the communities which they choose to be a part of throughout their lives. The institutions of higher learning here in New Hampshire are rather exceptional at this. As a student at Saint Anselm, I have been proud to tell friends and family that my college is ranked #5 in the nation for community service by The Princeton Review, and that each year, more than 900 Saint A’s students provide over 18,000 hours of service in the Manchester area. Our college likewise prides itself on being a hub for political activity, and while frequent events and debates on campus are highly attended, myself and many of my peers have gone above and beyond to volunteer on local campaigns, intern in constituent services for New Hampshire’s elected officials, and get involved in activism.

A number of out-of-state college students around New Hampshire have off-campus jobs and internships. Students live in the state for at least nine months out of the year, where they shop, dine, rent apartments, and otherwise contribute to the economy. They have collectively donated tens of thousands of hours volunteering in New Hampshire’s schools, hospitals, prisons, youth programs, and nursing homes. Out-of-state college students are even counted in the state’s census, which forms the basis for federal aid and the makeup of voting districts. The point I wish to make is that New Hampshire’s college students are a part of the communities surrounding their schools in just about every way possible, and their contributions to these communities are extremely meaningful. It is only reasonable that they be allowed to vote here, and as was established in Symm v. United States (1979), it is their constitutional right.

Some of New Hampshire’s lawmakers wish to exclude these students from having a voice their communities. Recently, the New Hampshire Senate voted to pass HB 1264, a bill that would change voting eligibility standards in the state. While HB 1264 only makes a small change in language to existing law, this change would mean that out-of-state college students voting in New Hampshire would have sixty days to become New Hampshire residents and pay the associated fees, or else face misdemeanor charges. Purchasing a New Hampshire driver’s license costs $50, and additional state and municipal fees could end up totaling hundreds of dollars. In a time when we should be doing all that we can to attract passionate young people to our state and keep them here, lawmakers are instead asking them to pay a fee– a poll tax– to participate in our democracy. They are telling young adults who live, study, work, volunteer, and set an example of civic engagement in our communities that their voices are not welcome.

HB 1264 comes in the wake of other similar bills, promoted by lawmakers who argue that we need to restore integrity to New Hampshire’s voting system and crack down on perceived voter fraud by creating stricter eligibility requirements. However, evidence shows that voter fraud in New Hampshire and across the country is extremely rare. Not to mention, there is nothing fraudulent whatsoever about college students voting in the state they live in for the majority of the year. The way I see it, our lawmakers are smart enough to understand that voter fraud is not a pressing issue in New Hampshire. They are also smart enough to be aware of the demographics that are more or less likely to vote for a particular party, and this is why they are targeting college students, who are often perceived as being more liberal. HB 1264 is not about election integrity but rather is an effort to intentionally shape a constituency to benefit the Republican Party.

Rather than attacking their voting rights, we should be encouraging civic engagement among college students and acknowledging with gratitude the immense value that they bring to our New Hampshire communities. Governor Chris Sununu has promised to veto any bill that would infringe upon college student’s voting rights, and students across New Hampshire will be waiting with expectations that he keeps his word.

Photo taken from Market Watch.

Saint Anselm Students Could Lose Right to Vote from School

Ashley Motta ’17 (left), Sarah King ’18 (center), and Garrett Meyer ’18 (right) after voting in Goffstown in the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives recently voted to pass HB 1264, a bill that would change the eligibility standards for voting in New Hampshire. The bill is expected to pass the Senate, and at that point, it will be up to the governor to determine whether or not the legislation becomes law. Sununu’s record on voting rights for college students is mixed, and there is concern among Democrats and college students that he will sign the legislation. Sununu has remained opposed to HB 372, a similar bill that would have restricted college students’ access to voting.

The bill that most recently passed by the House of Representatives makes a four-word change to the voting requirements in New Hampshire. The four words are “for the indefinite future.” Without these words, Democratic legislators say that college students could have their right to vote where they go to school threatened. College students who choose to still vote in New Hampshire would then have about two months to become New Hampshire residents or face criminal charges.

Voting where one goes to school is a constitutional right. In Symm v. United States (1979), the United States Supreme Court affirmed a student’s right to register and vote in the town they go to school. However, state-by-state efforts to disenfranchise students have persisted.

Democratic legislators, including state senator Donna Soucy, an alum of Saint Anselm College, argue that the legislation is a direct affront to college students. However, their opposition is deeper than that. Senators Soucy and Jeff Woodburn argue that the legislation would make New Hampshire less appealing to younger residents, hurting the state’s economy.

New Hampshire College Democrats President Olivia Teixeira ’20 spoke passionately against HB 1264. In opposing the legislation, she tied the issue of voting rights with core tenets of Saint Anselm’s Benedictine values. “Especially here at Saint Anselm,” she said, “we are dedicated to serving our surrounding community and leaving it better than when we came, and having a part in electing local legislators for the area is no different.”

Saint Anselm students are eligible to vote in Goffstown municipal elections in addition to the state and federal races that get more attention. In the past municipal race in Goffstown, one Saint Anselm alum, Joe Alexander ’18, won an election to the Goffstown Budget Committee.

Teixeira, who also serves as the president of the Saint Anselm College chapter of the College Democrats, said she was impressed with how much students on campus have been involved with the issue. “Over the past few months, I have seen the true power of student voices speaking out against these bills in the State House and fighting for their right to vote in a place that in every other sense has been accepted as our home,” Teixeira said.

Saint Anselm students have been active voters in the area for years. In the 2016 election, various campus clubs organized rides to the polls for students – a service that both Democrats and Republicans took advantage of. However, Tim Madsen ’19, the president of the Saint Anselm College Republicans, declined to comment on the legislation.

Vice President of the Saint Anselm College Democrats Haley Bragdon-Clements ’21 stressed that the issue of voting rights is not, in her mind, a partisan issue. “When the right for students to vote comes under attack it is our job to come together in opposition of such bills. This should not be a partisan issue as all of us are at risk of losing our voice,” she explained. Bragdon-Clements went on, “I would love for the College Democrats to work with the College Republicans. This is a time where we can come together and fight for something that is absolutely essential to our democracy, our right to vote.”

Whether or not the campus Republicans join the campus Democrats in opposing HB 1264 and similar measures, it will ultimately be Governor Sununu’s decision if the bill passes the Senate as expected. Sununu has maintained a general opposition to disenfranchising students but has avoided commenting specifically on whether or not he will veto HB 1264 if it gets to his desk. Without a definitive statement from the governor, the fate of students’ access to voting in New Hampshire remains uncertain.

Cover image taken from Granite State Progress; in-text photo courtesy of Sarah King ’18.