March 9, 2016

Paging Bernie & Liz: Hassan Under Friendly Fire For Picking Bank Lobbyist To Regulate Banks

New Hampshire governor and Senate candidate Maggie Hassan is on defense amid backlash from fellow Democrats, grassroots activists, and left-leaning editorial boards for nominating the longtime head of the New Hampshire Bankers Association as the state’s top bank regulator.

The backlash started when the Nashua Telegraph’s editorial board excoriated Hassan, writing, “This is why people are disgusted with politics.”

Liberal radio host Arnie Arnesen quickly followed with a blistering Concord Monitor column, noting that Bernie Sanders’ anti-bank populist message had led to his landslide New Hampshire primary win:

In politics, as in life, timing is everything. The timing of Gov. Hassan’s announcement choosing Sen. Little is curious. Beyond timing, her pick is particularly tone deaf to the anger and distrust of the voting public.

As the dust settled Tuesday night from the wild and exhausting presidential primary, it was clear that a powerful message was sent to both parties and their party elite. Politics as usual was not going to be accepted by either base.

Spurred by Arnesen’s column, left-wing activist group, which backs Sanders, launched an online petition titled “Demand that New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan end the revolving door of bank lobbying,” which quickly surpassed its goal of 700 signatures.

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The Washington Free Beacon reported that the New Hampshire Bankers Association was a reliable donor to Hassan’s state senate and gubernatorial campaigns:

Hassan has had close ties with the organization during her tenure in the state senate and governor’s mansion. She received nearly $4,000 in contributions from the group’s political arm, NHBA Bank PAC, between 2006 and 2014, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Even Hassan’s close allies in state government turned on her. Democrat Executive Councilor and gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern told NH1 he had “serious doubts” about the nomination last week, and New Hampshire Public Radio reported that the other Democrat on the Executive Council, Chris Pappas, also displayed “resistance.”

The Senate’s top bank basher, Elizabeth Warren, has endorsed Hassan:

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Will Warren stand by Hassan even as she undermines Warren’s core mission? Hassan already faces an uphill climb rallying the grassroots after backing Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders; more headlines like these and she could face an all-out revolt from her base.