The Reagan Speech Preservation Society

New Hampshire Senate Race

Modified: Friday, 19 March 2021 10:16 by admin - Categorized as: Podcasts
The following is a collection of the materials used in creating the second episode of the Citizen Reagan podcast (pending permission from the Reagan Foundation) about the Reagan's Radio Commentaries.





Hello again everyone. Welcome to the Citizen Reagan podcast. Yes, I believe that’s what I’m going to call this little experiment. It seems appropriate since the primary topic of the broadcasts will be the words of Ronald Reagan that he wrote and delivered as a private citizen, not as a politician.

I have previously mentioned the several aspects of Reagan's broadcasts I feel I can discuss, now 40 years after they were given. For today’s podcast, we’re going to look back at an event in history that was current and unresolved while Reagan was writing and broadcasting about it.

According to records, this segment would have been recorded on February 27, 1975 and deals with the 1974 New Hampshire Senate election between John Durkin and Louis Wyman.

Let’s listen to the audio.

Should the voters elect U.S. Senators, or should the U.S. Senate appoint it’s own members? I'll be right back.

On November 5th last year, New Hampshire voters cast their ballots in a race for the United States Senate between congressman Lewis Wyman, a Republican and John Durkin, a Democrat. The election night count showed a margin of 355 votes for Wyman. Under New Hampshire law, this made possible a recount based on the challenge of Mr. Durkin, to be conducted by the New Hampshire Secretary of State. The recount reversed the result, showing Durkin the winner by 10 votes. The law also provided that Wyman would be permitted to appeal his finding to the state's ballot law commission, a nonpartisan body. When the review was complete, the commission ruled Wyman the winner, by two votes. The decision was unanimous among the three members, two Republicans and one Democrat. Durkin's victory certification was rescinded and Wyman's forwarded to Washington.

The case seemed closed. The process of New Hampshire law had run its course and no allegation of vote fraud had been made by either side. But Mr. Durkin wasn't satisfied. He challenged the constitutionality of the ballot law commission in the courts. They unanimously ruled against him finding the state's election laws completely legal. Durkin then decided to appeal the decision to the U.S. Senate, which has the right to, on the quote "qualifications" unquote of its members. The Senate accepted the appeal and his rules committee is now considering the matter. Think of what this means. The New Hampshire election law was not challenged before, in fact, Durkin used it in gaining his initial recount. When it was challenged, its constitutionality was upheld in the courts. Both sides agree the recounts were honestly done. To top it off, the Senate has never before accepted a challenge to a member seating, in the absence of charges of illegality.

The Wyman-Durkin case is a first and not a very encouraging one. When the Senate gets into the business of deciding whether or not to ignore legal and constitutional elections, we'd all better ask our own senators for an explanation. On an almost straight party-line vote, the Senate agreed not only to review the election but to deny New Hampshire its seat pending the outcome. Since January 5th, the Granite State has been without one of its two senators, and the senate majority has made it clear that it won't accept the credentials of an interim senator, appointed by Governor Meldrum Thompson, even if his choice were to be former senator, Norris Cotton, who retired from office last year. The senate's majority has also rebuffed a compromise solution proposed by Governor Thompson and Congressman Wyman for a new election. This is a remarkable proposal to come from the man who legally won the seat. His opponent, Mr Durkin, has rejected the idea saying he prefers the decision of the Senate, controlled by his party, to that of the voters of New Hampshire. So far the senate majority, led by its whip Robert Byrd of West Virginia, has agreed. Unfortunately, that majority shows every sign of continuing its intense partisanship at the expense of constitutional precedent, the law, and fairness. A subcommittee of the Senate rules committee trying to put a facade of legality on this charade has been sifting through some 3,500 ballots which have already been legally certified.

Someone once said that politics is the second oldest profession. I'm beginning to think it bears a resemblance to the first.

This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.
Now is as good a time as any to slip in one of my advertisements. Let’s see if I can sell you another of my restored ebooks. Given the subject matter of Reagan's broadcast, I think the best choice is going to be a 1912 textbook called "First Lessons in Civics". Are we teaching civics anymore? I mean, you ask the average person on the street just about any question relating to government and how it operates and they'll crash and burn. This is a staple of late-night shows and Campus Reform Youtube videos. This book covers more than you might expect. Chapter 2, for instance, is Government of Self. Quoting the book, "A community is composed of individuals, and the character of its government will be like the character of the individuals who compose it. If it contains a large number of rogues, swindlers, idlers, drunkards, then its government will certainly be bad, for the government of a people is never much better than the people themselves." Ponder that. As always, you can find this book and many other through my website, and this book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Back to the podcast.

So, what ultimately happened? Did Durkin end up taking the seat, thanks to the Democrat's Senate majority? Well, sort of, but there’s much more to it.

After being taken up by the full Senate, which was after the Senate Rules Committee deadlocked on their own vote, the Senate... referred the matter right back to the Rules Committee. Some 3,500 questionable ballots were sent to the Senate for evaluation, those which Reagan mentioned. The Rules Committee then sent a report back to the full Senate containing 35 disputed points, which they would go on to debate for six weeks! In the end, they resolved 1 of the 35. On top of it, the Republicans successfully filibustered and added to the delay.

According to the AP's report of Durkin's death in 2012, the Senate required during those 30 days of debate, 32 roll-call votes and 6 cloture votes.

As the Senate’s normal August recess threatened to further delay installation of a New Hampshire senator, Wyman reached out to Durkin to agree to a second election. Durkin eventually would end up agreeing on July 29th. The Senate would vote to vacate the seat and the New Hampshire governor, Meldrim Thomson would appoint the former, retiring senator Norris Cotton to the seat.

That new, second election would take place on September 16, 1975, 10 months after the first election. This time, Durkin would win by over 27,000 votes, 53% to 43%.

Durkin would end up serving only a single term in the Senate, being defeated by Republican Warren Rudman. During that single term, Durkin would successfully get the G.I. Bill extended to include Vietnam War veterans, help with the passage of the Alaska Lands Act and call for a Senate investigation of the Teamsters over their pension fund.

In 2008, Durkin would express how much he disliked the situation he was in, saying he wouldn’t wish it on his worst enemy. He would also share that his daughter, 8-years old at the time, encouraged him to agree to the second election by saying, "Dad, don't you realize they can't make up their mind about anything?" Oh, what slips out of the mouths of babes.

Wyman, meanwhile, would serve as an Associate Justice for the New Hampshire Superior Court from 1978 to 1987.

As I record this, we are several days past a presidential election with no resolution as yet and a campaign, I might add, that has been very polarizing. Four years ago, the polls turned out to be wrong, but at least there were no issues requiring the Senate, House or Supreme Court. The polls could be equally wrong this time around as well.

Let's hope that we never see a repeat of the New Hampshire Senate election of 1974.

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