Governor Lynch Visits Dartmouth

By J.P. Harrington

 

Lynch, speaking to the mood of the moment, criticized Washington spending, implicitly breaking with his party’s national leadership.On the evening of October 18th, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch visited Dartmouth College for an informal meeting with around thirty Dartmouth students. As students gorged on free pizza, Governor Lynch confidently urged them to gather round the stage. A familial air pervaded the entire event. The governor’s daughter Julia Lynch ’11 provided a short introduction before the governor began describing his wandering path to Harvard Business School and dispensing fatherly advice about careers and majors.  He spoke of his unusual path from a college student who “had no interest in business” to the Director of Admission of Harvard Business School. Later on, his wife Dr. Lynch spoke briefly about her work as a pediatrician. 

Though it was a seemingly relaxed event, Governor Lynch took a great deal of time to mention some statistical measures of his performance as governor. He was very proud of New Hampshire’s 5.5% unemployment rate, which (he noted) is well below the national rate of 9.6%. 

At the same time, Lynch bemoaned the fact that not everyone had a job, stating that his “top priority is getting people back to work,” and touting renewable energy as a possible growth industry.  Lynch declared that he hopes for 25% of New Hampshire’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2025. While he rattled off a few more statistics about how New Hampshire has improved under his past three terms, he particularly emphasized that New Hampshire will enjoy a $70 million surplus this year. 

Along with discussing New Hampshire’s fiscal status, Lynch discussed his hope that the renewable energy sector would provide more jobs in New Hampshire. On that front, Lynch touted his creation of a Green Jobs Initiative, a scheme by which citizens and businesses can apply to several funds for money to install renewable energy or improve energy efficiency in their homes or buildings.  The initiative will also provide training for jobs in the renewable energy field. Hitting a familiar note, Lynch claimed that this would benefit New Hampshire in the long run by creating more jobs. 

This, he claimed, was in contrast to the proposed policies of his current gubernatorial election opponent, John Stephen. Stephen favors the common Republican policy of cutting taxes and avoiding too much government intervention in the realm of economic growth.

Once the question and answer period began, the discussion turned to the national level of politics.  Students seemed worried about the economy, voicing concerns about the stimulus as well as the national debt. Governor Lynch said that he thought the stimulus was a “step in the right direction” and found it unfortunate that is had become a political issue. He argued that the stimulus had prevented higher unemployment in New Hampshire, as well as provided funding for projects that hired new workers. Lynch also defended healthcare reform, saying that it really “had to be addressed on a national level.” Repeatedly, Lynch denounced the backroom politics of Washington, D.C. saying that New Hampshire is more efficient and that “the country needs to get more fiscally responsible, just like we are here in New Hampshire. It works.” 

While Governor Lynch portrayed himself as a fiscal conservative during his brief appearance at Dartmouth, his opponent’s campaign paints a very different picture of Lynch’s administration. 

The Republican candidate, John Stephen, is a former consultant who cut billions of dollars from state budgets across the country. More recently, he was the Commissioner of Health and Human Services in New Hampshire where he worked to improve efficiency and saved over $143 million. He claims that the Granite State’s finances now display many cracks thanks to Lynch’s policies. 

Stephen has attacked Lynch for expanding the state’s budget by 24% in the past two years, and argues that the state faces a budget deficit of $650 million in the next fiscal year. He also maintains that many of the state’s pension funds are in imminent danger of running out of money. 

Voters, however, do not seem immensely concerned with these criticisms, as polls indicate that Lynch should easily secure reelection, if not by the same massive margins he has in the past. In this regard, Lynch is fortunate, as few Democrats in politically competitive states have had his level of job security. 

Of course, if Stephen’s fiscal criticisms end up being true, Lynch and his Democratic Party may not have that security for long.