Most in New Hampshire politics will be breathing a sigh of relief on making it through a tough 2013. Taking time to reflect on the year's events and resolve to do better in 2014 will likely be on nearly everyone's agenda for New Years Eve.
All-in-all Governor Maggie Hassan had a very good year. It was tough going at times but in the end her first year in office has ended with her report card reflecting more success than failure. And her stand on the marijuana issues endeared her to some in both parties and law enforcement. She will likely be a stronger candidate for re-election in the November 2014 elections. The Republicans have been and will continue to be hard-pressed to nominate a strong opponent for that race.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) managed to make it through a long beating from the anti-gun activists because of her stand against new gun control laws. A serious anti-Ayotte advertising campaign did cause a significant drop in her numbers for several months but she has steadfastly maintained her course and kept promises she made during her campaign and she has recently regained some of her waning support. Her biggest headache for 2014 will probably be based on maintaining her positions without gaining the ire of some of the many extremist groups in New Hampshire that have worked their way into the Republican Party
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) has a mighty and entrenched machine in place as 2013 ends and we can expect probably one of the most negative campaigns in recent history as her senate seat comes up for election this fall.
Scott Brown, former Republican Senator from Massachusetts, has sold his home there and is now a permanent resident of Rye, New Hampshire. With "Live Free or Die" on his license plates, he would be a serious opponent to Senator Shaheen if he chooses to run for election as New Hampshire senator versus Jeanne Shaheen. But, he would also suffer from "not being conservative enough" for many of the extremists within the Republican Party. He has not announced that he will run but his many appearances around New Hampshire in recent months certainly raises the anticipation for an announcement in the near future.
U. S. Representatives Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter (both Democrats) have had rather lack-luster first year terms. Annie Kuster suffered a hugely embarrassing "oops" moment during a speech earlier this year when bumbling through an attempted answer to a question relating to Benghazi. She can only hope that voters suffer from forgetfulness in the 2014 elections.
Perhaps the biggest two stories that we muddled through during 2013 were "Obamacare" and the government shut down. There were many other issues but these two will haunt those of us in politics for quite a while.
Republicans not only tried to play hardball without a ball or bat but then shut down the government and went about pounding fists without a coherent message about why they were acting like that. Democrats were equally to blame but the Republican extremists who were loudly leading the charge to the "fiscal cliff" stole the show and now Republicans will forever bear the blame. It will take enormous effort within the party to bring it back on track with mainstream America. Whether Republicans have the will to do that or allow divisive extremists to rule remains to be seen.
Democrats and President Obama pushed "Obamacare" onto the populous without truly understanding the reams of regulations it imposes. "If you like it you can keep it" is a phrase that will be burned into American jargon for a long time to come. Americans' dislike for Obamacare is still increasing and Republicans would have been much better off to stand aside and say "we told you so" on its implementation and let the country see its effects first hand. No amount of money spent on negative advertising could have had the impact of having everyday people who face impacts from the law see how it effects them.
And so, 2014 arrives with its blank slate of successes and failures. It is a new year and history starts fresh. That has to be a very nice feeling even if it may be only for a few minutes.