When voters in New Hampshire go to the polls this November, it will be the first time in eight years that Gov. John Lynch's name will not be on the ballot. This year's choice: former Democratic state legislator Maggie Hassan or Manchester-based lawyer Ovide Lamontagne.
"We depend on each other. We depend of local control. We depend on local decision-making and private organizations, not only businesses, but the civic and charitable sector. We work together," said Ovide Lamontagne, Republican for N.H. governor. "I believe that there is more opportunity for New Hampshire to move forward if we put our faith in ourselves. My opponent believes in government."
"This is the difference who believes in my case, we can come together and invest together in our future, or somebody who believes in this go on your own, go by yourself backwards vision," said Maggie Hassan, Democrat for N.H. governor.
Traveling the state talking to voters, both candidates are focusing on the economy.
"I hear three things: jobs, jobs and jobs," Lamontagne said.
Lamontagne wants to appoint a business advocate to help job creators cut through red tape. If elected, he also wants to cut taxes and impose a 90-day moratorium on new regulations.
"I am going to propose lowering the business tax, increasing some tax credits and tax incentives for job creation. So there is essentially a tax holiday for new jobs that are created in the state," he said.
Hassan, on the other hand, says while she supports targeted tax credits, the key to a strong economy is a highly trained workforce.
"I have a plan to start restoring funding for our university system, for our community colleges, but at the same time freezing tuition," she said. "So our families and young people can afford college in New Hampshire."
Hassan also highlights social issues like gay marriage.
"Things that my opponent opposes and I think it is really important that we invite all people of talent and energy to our state so that we can grow, innovate, so that we can have a strong economy and opportunities for our families," Hassan said.
Gay marriage is just one of many issues that have divided Concord over the last several years, where a Republican-controlled Statehouse is often at odds with Lynch and the Democratic minority.
"I am going to serve all of the people and I am going to check my party label at the Statehouse door and be a people governor," Lamontagne said. "Whoever comes to the office who has a solution or a problem, I will be there to work with them and I won't apply label that will either a speed pass to access or a barrier to entry."
"This is really about whether we are going to move forward together as a state or allow a governor who sides with this Legislature and really take us backward with an extremely divisive agenda," Hassan said.
And while they disagree on many issues, both-- without hesitation-- take the Granite State pledge.
"I've got granite in my backbone and I've got an anti-broad-based tax in my genes. I've never had any doubts about the fact that New Hampshire's advantage is based in large part because we don't have a broad-based sales or income tax," Lamontagne said.
"I oppose an income or sales tax and I would certainly veto it if it came to my desk," Hassan said. "We have an economy structured around not having a sales or income tax."
Because this is a presidential election as well, Dartmouth College political expert Linda Fowler says that contest may have implications in the governor's race as well. She says a Romney win would bode well for Lamontagne and an Obama victory may seal the deal for Hassan.
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