Ep. 45 NH-01: Who will stand up?

LINCOLN SOLDATI: Then we had the whole farce that went on in North Korea. You know, I mean that whole scene with the American flag.

HEATHER ATWOOD: That's Democratic candidate Lincoln Soldati, who's running for the U.S. House of Representatives in New Hampshire's first congressional district.

SOLDATI: Our flag stands for something. You know, it stands for values. It stands for what our constitution represents and it stands for you know all those who have fight and given up their lives for the values that this country represents. And I'm sorry, but the North Korean flag represents the exact opposite.

HEATHER: "Standing" is our theme in this episode. What something stands for, standing for something, standing up. [MidPod theme music]

HEATHER: This is the MidPod. I'm Heather Atwood, with Nicie Panetta. We're two moms traveling America to chronicle key congressional races anticipating the 2018 mid-term elections. These elections will be the most important in our lifetime. In this episode we visit New Hampshire's first congressional district. So this race is unusual for us. It's close. Just a short drive from our Massachusetts homes and in the past we've tried to introduce you to races and candidates you might not know about so that you might consider supporting particular candidates, particularly those who put country over party. The New Hampshire-1 primary isn't until September 11th and there are a bunch of people running. So here we want you to simply meet seven of the 11 Democrats. We want you to get a sense of the district and we have a "made for the movies" story to tell you about some people in this district who stood up to one of the world's richest men and won. We want you to think about standing up. Who does? Who doesn't? Standing for something is no longer just a good line in a song or a history book. It's going to be more and more critical if we want to preserve the United States Constitution.

GOOGLE MAPS: Starting route to New Hampshire.

HEATHER: Chapter 1. This Very Swingy District. New Hampshire's 1st congressional district is one of two in this sliver of a state. The first district attaches to the 20 miles of New Hampshire seacoast like a barnacle to a rock and then extends north, clinging upward against the Maine border as far as North Conway, a revered old time New England skiing and resort town of the White Mountains. The 1st district includes the seacoast city of Portsmouth, home to the now-closed Pease Air Force Base. It includes the Lakes District around Lake Winnipesaukee, and the district includes the University of New Hampshire in Durham. People come here to swim, boat, hike, ski, and study. The district's largest city is Manchester, which is also the largest New England city after Boston. It's a former mill town having a fresh economic wave. In 2009 Money Magazine named Manchester number 13 of the 100 best places in America to live and launch a business. There are 19 candidates running in this race, 11 Democrats, six Republicans, one Libertarian, and one Independent. It's considered one of the most competitive districts in the country. New Hampshire Public Radio's weekday program, The Exchange, is interviewing all 19 candidates in a series they call "Race to the First." We spoke to the program's host Laura Knoy about state politics and the district.

 NHPR with Laura Knoy

NHPR with Laura Knoy

LAURA KNOY: Even when I first started my radio career here, when I started the show in 1995, we were a very Republican state and that has definitely changed. Now New Hampshire has voted for the Democratic candidate for president the last at least three elections, so Obama twice and Hillary Clinton. And also our congressional delegation is all-female and all-Democratic but our governor and our State House and State Senate and Executive Council are all run by Republicans, so very purple.

HEATHER: Knoy gave us a short history of the district's politics.

KNOY: We have two districts and the First District is really very varied politically. It has gone back and forth between Republican and Democrat for more than a decade. Now for at least a decade and maybe 12 years it has been shared by two candidates, Republican Frank Guinta and Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, who's the incumbent and literally the two of them have traded back and forth depending on which wave we were seeing that year. If it's a Democratic wave year, Carol Shea-Porter gets it. If it's a Republican wave year Frank Guinta gets it. But this time around both of them said, "Nah, not interested." So it's not only a wide open seat. It's a really really wide open seat because neither of these two sort of old reliables decided to run again.

KNOY: There are so many candidates for this wide open seat in this very swingy district, which as I said has gone back and forth back and forth back and forth for more than a decade, that we decided to take the last 15 minutes of our show every single Monday and interview one of these candidates. 15 minutes in my world is lightning fast. I'm used to having an hour with people. But we decided that there were so many candidates that if we devoted an hour to every single candidate we would literally be here for three weeks. [laughs]

HEATHER: Of the 11 Democratic candidates, seven agreed to meet with us. The Republicans never responded to any of our queries. We'll have a link on themidpod.com resource page to The Exchange where you can hear all of the candidate interviews.

GOOGLE MAPS: Starting route to Manchester.

HEATHER: Chapter two. Democrats Stand Up. We'll start with Lincoln Soldati, who we heard of the beginning of the show. Soldati was a county attorney in the district for 18 years in Strafford County. In the 1980s, he helped create important policy to better protect victims of sexual abuse long before the #MeToo movement. More recently, he's been in private practice but the results of the 2016 election sent him into despair. As solace, he traveled west to help Native Americans, The Sioux, fight for their water rights. He says there he learned the Native American concept, to be of use. On that principle, he decided to run for Congress.

SOLDATI: You know, it's like Martin Luther King's concept of the fierce urgency of now. You know, when I look at the issues that are important, many of these we can't wait two years, four years, six years, or whatever to begin to take action. There is such an imperative to take action that we have to do something now. So I'm not concerned about my reelection, I'm concerned about changing things today. Changing things from day one. Having my voice heard, having Democratic voices heard, having Democrats stand up, speak out, speak loudly, speak often.

HEATHER: Chris Pappas grew up with presidential candidates often stopping in to dine at his family's restaurant, The Puritan Backroom in Manchester. The Puritan Backroom is a landmark for anyone trying to win New Hampshire voters in this country's first presidential primary of each cycle. The restaurant was started by Pappas's great-grandfather and has been owned and run by the family for 101 years. Even if you're not interested in politics this place is worth the trip just for the homemade ice cream and the chicken tenders. Pappas once saw John McCain snitch a chicken tender from a stranger's plate. Pappas now co-owns and manages the 230-employee business but at 38 he's also served two terms in the state legislature and for the past five years, on New Hampshire's Executive Council, a check and balance on the governor. Pappas describes how he got his start on the Executive Council. We spoke with him at the Bridge Cafe in Manchester.

CHRIS PAPPAS: I ran in the first place because the council defunded Planned Parenthood health centers and our state was resisting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid, which is really essential, especially as the state grapples with the opioid crisis. So those are two issues that I've really dug into as a member of the Council and tried to take the ideology and politics out of it and just focus on results and focus on the people in the district that are benefited by those programs.

HEATHER: Pappas repeated, things have really changed in what used to be a very Republican state.

PAPPAS: You don't have to look back too far to find a time when we had to beg a Democrat to run for federal office in New Hampshire because there was really no hope they could win the election. So this is a different dynamic at work right now. I think it's a product of people wanting to be a part of the discussion, wanting to be off the sidelines and be in the arena. So I think that's exciting and it's going to make for a much stronger general election candidate for whoever wins this primary. For me, you know I'd be the first LGBT member of Congress from New Hampshire. So that's something that interests a lot of people. And I think it gives me the perspective of having, you know, questioned my position in this community and whether or not I could live here as an adult, openly, in a way that makes me really excited to try to look out for others who may be on the margins of our community and of our country to try to bring them into the heart and soul of what America is all about. I'm also a local business owner and so I can talk to a lot of voters out there that maybe most Democrats can't reach and it doesn't mean that I shy away from what I believe as a progressive. But I think it means that I have an ability to have a conversation and communicate with business owners and people on Main Street in a significant way and that's allowed me to win in a district for Executive Council the last three elections that voted for Trump and Romney and lots of other Republicans.

HEATHER: Terence O'Rourke was an assistant U.S. attorney for two years and is now the city attorney for Rochester, New Hampshire. He's also a third generation Bronze Star Army veteran. In the 18th Field Artillery Brigade in Iraq, O'Rourke coordinated artillery, air, and ground forces between the Iraqi and American armies. But O'Rourke is angry now at what he sees as generations of America's endless wars. He sees this as Congress's abdication of its constitutional responsibility to declare war, allowing presidents increasingly more and more power as Commanders-in-Chief. We spoke with her work at the Fresh Vibes Café in Rochester.

O’ROURKE: And there's no better example than what Trump just did with his bombings in Syria. He had absolutely no authority to do that at all. You can't even justify it under the Afghanistan Authorization because Syria, while you may disagree with them, is not a terrorist organization and Authorization for Use of Force in Iraq wouldn't have applied to Syria. So we just had a president launching a war against a sovereign nation. Absolutely no authorization. Congress declares war. Congress raises armies, raises navies, pays for them, decides when and where they go to war. The President is supposed to just be the head admiral of the Navy, head General of the Army. But what has happened over the years, particularly after World War II, is that we've seen Congress abdicate that authority and essentially the president decides when and where we go to war, when it ends, when it doesn't end. And it's particularly acute when you start thinking about the Authorization of Use of Military Force that got us into Afghanistan. It doesn't just talk about Afghanistan. It talks about: we're going to fight, essentially, terrorism everywhere. But it's the President who says who the terrorists are and he decides there are terrorists in Niger and he's going to send American soldiers or he's going to build an Air Force Base. Well that's not the way the system is supposed to work. Congress needs to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and then not commit troops to foreign wars again without a actual declaration of war. That's another thing I've been told by my campaign is: we've not had a declaration of war since World War II. But we've been at war constantly since World War II. As a congressman I would never vote for a war unless it was a declaration of war.

HEATHER: Deaglan McEachern is a world champion rower, an oarsman. He's also the co-founder of New Hampshire for Amazon and he's a tech entrepreneur. We interviewed MacEachern at the start of the Portsmouth Pride Parade.

DEAGLAN MCEACHERN: So if I wasn't doing this I would be a dad to a two-year-old and I'd be making a lot more dump runs and I would be working outside. But I would be fighting for some things that I believe in and what sparked this for me is the system didn't work for my wife and I before we had our daughter. She got sick, woke up one day and said she couldn't feel her arms or legs. We went to the hospital and immediately I was asked to pay five thousand dollars. I was lucky because I had insurance. I didn't have a checking account, I didn't have a savings account with that much money in it. But I had a credit card. And in America you're lucky if you have insurance and a credit card to cover a deductible. That's not right. I believe that we need a single-payer system in this country. I am fighting for that because it's a personal issue to me. It's also a business issue. We need people to be entrepreneurs. We need people to start businesses. And as a prerequisite to starting a business it shouldn't be that you're married to somebody with benefits and a, you know, a full time gig.

HEATHER: We couldn't resist asking how much rowing wisdom he brings to this race.

MCEACHERN: You learn how to lose when you're a rower. Any athlete. And it took a while to learn but you lose every day because in practice and competition you're holding up a view of yourself and what you need higher than you have at the moment and you need that strength and determination to keep going, to keep losing for the ultimate victory and that's going to be on, first, September 11th for us and then November 6. That's the kind of tenacity that I bring to this race that the other candidates don't have because I spent a lot of time in a boat losing to the person that I wanted to be. And I spend a lot of days on the campaign trail trying to be the candidate that this district represents and deserves.

HEATHER: Now a State Representative, Mark Mackenzie retired as captain of the Manchester Firefighters after 27 years. He served for 25 years as president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. He fought "right to work," the legislation that undermines workers' collective bargaining strength, 17 times in New Hampshire. When we were with him in early June, Mackenzie anticipated the Supreme Court decision, Janus vs AFSCME, would rule in favor of "right to work," and he was right. But he's hopeful. He sees workers in this country finding new ways to fight. We interviewed Mackenzie at a very beautiful park in Manchester. It's called Wagner Park.

MARK MACKENZIE: There are worker centers that are rising up. There are different ways that people are coming together to fight for the benefits. I think one of the great examples of it was a Walmart effort. In the Walmart effort people from all walks of life decide to start taking on Walmart. And as a result the Walmart wages have kicked up, the benefits have kicked up. Now, we're not inside. But certainly the labor movement has put a great deal of pressure on that. That's the future I think. And work has changed, work is different and we're trying to adjust to that. The AFL-CIO did for years. In the end we're all workers and we've got to find ways to get together. And you know, it's not only about being in the union workers can demonstrate and fight in a lot of different ways and that's what we're hoping will do.

HEATHER: Mackenzie explained what distinguishes him from the other 10 Democrats.

 Candidate Mark MacKenzie talking to Waring kids

Candidate Mark MacKenzie talking to Waring kids

MACKENZIE: One of the things that I bring to this campaign is the history that I have in advocating for people. I signed up for the progressive movement, I often say the progressive movement, and that's a great thing to study because a labor movement is really the cornerstone of the progressive movement. The heart and soul of the progressive movement. And if you think of the labor movement, they are the ones that have done the majority of work for public education and Social Security and all of the benefits that many of us share. So I started this many years ago, advocating for working families. I've done this at the collective bargaining table, I've done it at the city level, I've done it at the state and the federal level, advocating for working families. Nobody in this race has the background, the experience that I have in terms of doing this work.

HEATHER: Recently a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report rated New Hampshire number one in the country for pediatric cancers, 816 cases between 2003 and 2014. The second highest was the nation's capital, which had 306 cases in total. In 2014 Mindi Messmer's 10 year old son told his mother that kids in his school were getting cancer. Messmer is an environmental scientist. She knew almost immediately she was hearing about a cancer cluster, similar cancers found in a similar age group at the same time in the same area. Two years later the state of New Hampshire told Messmer the CDC confirmed her suspicions; this was a cancer cluster but the state wasn't going to do anything about it except watch it. That was not okay with Messmer. She sent an anonymous letter to local newspapers which broke this alarming story to the public. Since then several children in that community have died and some are holding on. There are two suspected sources: Teflon compounds once used in plane crashes at Pease Air Force Base and an unlined Superfund site, both close by. In 2016 New Hampshire U.S. Senator Maggie Hassen appointed Messmer to a task force on the seacoast cancer cluster. The task force then became a commission, making it more difficult for a new governor to disband, which had been a concern. Then Messmer successfully ran for State Representative. Now she's running for Congress. Here's Messmer talking about this cancer cluster.

MINDI MESSMER: We don't know what the cause is. It's very difficult to tie causes to environmental issues or triggers. Since that time we've identified the fact that there are these PFAS compounds in many of the drinking water supplies at the Seacoast and there's a big issue at Pease Air Force Base where it was open to the public and kids from two day care centers as well as adults that went to work at the base after it was opened to the public have been drinking water that's highly contaminated with PFAS compounds, these Teflon compounds. It's from these AFFF foams that they use on air bases to put out fires for airport crashes. So it ended up in the drinking water supply and then it's also for some reason, we don't know exactly why, but we think it could have been related to the Air Force dumping at this Coakley Landfill Superfund Site where it's a dump without a liner underneath it. And over time, you know, people living around this were adding, you know, private water supplies and things around the landfill and it's starting to drag the contamination out from under the landfill into public and private drinking water sources. So this is something that's a national issue. I think they just said 611 bases across the United States have the same type of drinking water contamination. So when you think about that and how many millions of people that might be impacting right now, you know, this is a large national issue and when you consider that sea level rise is going to be much more part of our lives because of climate change, you really have to protect our drinking water if you're going to start seeing seawater encroachment from sea level rise coming into these drinking water systems. So it's going to be vitally important to make sure we protect our drinking water supplies.

HEATHER: A retired captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, Maura Sullivan served in the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. Sullivan trained in South Korea and fought in Fallujah in Iraq.

MAURA SULLIVAN: When I was in the Marines, nobody ever asked what political party you were a part of. I mean, people barely even asked where you are from. We had a mission and that mission was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to take care of our fellow Marines. And in that same spirit I'm running and campaigning to go to work for the people of New Hampshire and to go fight on their behalf. You know, I'm met a 9 year old boy in Manchester over the weekend who was worried about his dad being deported. There was a 10 year old girl named Mira I met on the Seacoast who's got involved in our campaign and she was worried about going to school because of gun violence. You know, I met a teacher in Epping who was in tears worried about how she was going to -- if somebody, a shooter came into her classroom how she was going to specifically get the Special Ed kids in her class moved out of her way. I met a mom in Portsmouth who said, "you know, Maura, I hear you talk about the military being the best decision you made, but my son's thinking about it and I'm worried about him joining you know because of our president's erratic behavior."

HEATHER: Sullivan talked to me about her work at the V.A.

SULLIVAN: The V.A., which I was very proud to serve on the leadership team of under President Obama, as you know, Heather, is the largest integrated health care system in the United States. So while serving on that team I learned a lot about the challenges of access to care and cost of care and the barriers to what can be at times providing good care. Saw it firsthand all over the country. Ultimately my north star is making sure that every Granite Stater or every person in this country can access affordable quality care. Period. In one of the many things I learned from my time at the department was that if you make healthcare hard for people to access, either due to convenience or cost, people don't go and they don't get the care that they need. And what I stand for is principled leadership, restoring integrity to government and ultimately representing the people of New Hampshire and keeping our kids safe.

HEATHER: Chapter 3. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to ride a bus. Nicie and I both live in Massachusetts. In a Sarah Palin moment, we will tell you that we can basically see New Hampshire from our homes. When we began to hear the Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, had set up checkpoints in New Hampshire and Vermont and Maine, we knew something was changing. Then we interviewed a young man who had fled Colombia with his family when he was a young child. The family settled in New Hampshire, where he grew up undocumented from the age of five. He's now in his early 20s and attends an Ivy League university. But his parents recently left New Hampshire because they've begun to feel unsafe in this state that had been their home for 15 years. We spoke to Jeanne Hruska, Policy Director for the ACLU of New Hampshire. And we asked her what is changing. She said they're now seeing ramifications from the Trump Administration's zero tolerance immigration policy throughout New Hampshire.

JEANNE HRUSKA: One of the biggest cases that's been relevant to New Hampshire is that we have an Indonesian Christian community on our Seacoast who, because of their Christian faith, would be persecuted if they were to return to Indonesia. And they have been here for years and being very productive members of the community. People know them and they had a voluntary agreement with ICE where they were regularly checking in that so long as they continued to check and they could stay here. And then it wasn't long after the 2016 election that when they checked in, ICE said, "next time you show up you have to have a ticket back to Indonesia." And so many of them are now going through the process of seeking asylum when they didn't have to do that officially because of their previous arrangement with ICE. And the governor did speak out in support of that community, our congressional delegation spoke out in support of that community, and we helped litigate that issue. Because of the litigation they have been given more time to seek asylum. But that was one of the first incidences where we could see the approach to immigration change.

HEATHER: Hruska talked with us about those checkpoints run by Customs and Border Protection.

HRUSKA: CBP sees their jurisdiction as 100 miles from any border, meaning the Canadian border or the coastal border. So given that New Hampshire has a very small but still has a coastal border and then obviously we border Canada, all of New Hampshire is covered by CBP jurisdiction. So in theory they can run immigration checkpoints anywhere in New Hampshire despite the fact that there is no indication that we have a high prevalence of immigrants coming into New Hampshire from our Seacoast border or from the Canadian border. But they're running checkpoints that -- they did one over Memorial Day weekend, did one over Father's Day weekend. They're choosing times where there are high traffic, where we expect significant tourism, which is what New Hampshire relies on and finding very, very few people who don't have the correct immigration status to be here.

HEATHER: Hruska says CBP is claiming people must respond to questions at the checkpoints.

HRUSKA: And if they don't answer their questions they will be detained for the duration of the checkpoint which could be several hours. And one of your most basic rights when you're going through these checkpoints is you don't have to answer questions. You can choose to remain silent. And so for these agents to say, "nope if you stay silent we're going to detain you indefinitely." That's wrong.

HEATHER: In the rapid-blur of asylum news, border crossing violation news, checkpoint news, events many Americans have never experienced before, people are getting confused about their rights. It's intimidating to have a large man in a uniform approach you and demand to know if you're a U.S. citizen. Hruska told us about another kind of CBP activity happening here, this time with a New Hampshire bus line.

HRUSKA: There’s a bus line that runs through New Hampshire called Concord Coach and we've seen federal agents show up at the bus stations. And while passengers are waiting in line to board the bus federal agents have walked up and down the line asking bus passengers whether they're U.S. citizens. Which gives you the impression that you have to be a citizen to board the bus. And we actually have a video of a passenger asking a driver of the bus, “do you have to be a U.S. citizen to ride the bus?” and the driver says yes. Which is, again, obviously wrong.

HEATHER: Here’s some audio of ICE officers asking people waiting to board a bus if they are U.S. citizens. It was recorded by someone in line and assembled in a video on the ACLU's website.

VIDEO RECORDING:

US Citizens?

I'm not answering that question, sir.

ICE's use of a bus station to conduct immigration enforcement is morally repugnant.

Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to take this bus?

What was that?

Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to take this bus?

Yes.

You have to be a U.S. citizen to take this bus?

I doubt that.

Concord Coach is a private company. It has no obligation to comply with ICE. And yet, as you've just seen and as you just heard, the bus driver said that only U.S. citizens could board this bus. In response to this video The ACLU New Hampshire and Maine are seeking a meeting with Concord Coach to discuss its complicity in the immigration enforcement with ICE.

Are you a citizen of the United States?

I don't have to answer that.

Have a nice day.

Thank you, you too.

You have a right to refuse to answer any questions about your citizenship in circumstances like these. You have the right to remain silent. And when in doubt, don't enjoy my citizenship or immigration status, or sign any paperwork without the advice of a lawyer.

HEATHER: We asked her Hruska why she thinks CBP is targeting New Hampshire so aggressively.

HRUSKA: The biggest contrast is with Vermont. In Vermont Senator Leahy has confronted these checkpoints when they tried to do them in Vermont and has been very, very vocal against these checkpoints in Vermont. Our congressional delegation has been silent as to these checkpoints. They have not spoken out against them. They have not condemned them. They have not called on CBP to stop them, which is concerning to us. We find these checkpoints highly problematic. So we've been trying to get our congressional delegation, what we've been saying is, if you don't want to speak out against that the checkpoints are happening, at least speak out against how they're mischaracterizing the law. That's an egregious act of coercion. And so far we haven't seen that. And so I think CBP feels very comfortable operating in New Hampshire because they've got no political resistance here.

GOOGLE MAPS: Starting route to Portsmouth Yacht Club.

HEATHER: Chapter 4. I just wish they would stand up. In 1973, black Lincoln Continentals began pulling into people's driveways along the New Hampshire Seacoast. Men in dark suits would step out of the cars armed with information on the family, their taxes, their situations. The men wanted to buy properties and they had a number of stories behind the efforts, from representing a wealthy anonymous source who wanted isolation, to a nature sanctuary. In fact, three real estate concerns were moving quickly through the Seacoast, buying up property as fast as they could. Dudley Dudley, yes her first name is Dudley and she married Tom Dudley, had just been elected to the New Hampshire State Legislature. She played a starring role in this drama. Nicie and I met with Dudley recently at the Portsmouth Yacht Club. We looked out at dark rain clouds piled heavily over the silvery tidal estuary while she told the story of how this beautiful New England vista was almost destroyed.

DUDLEY DUDLEY: In 1973 when this realtor came to try to get people to auction off their land, he would not say what the land was going to be used for. It was a total secret and he eventually managed to get one third of all of the land in Durham optioned. He got land at the Isles of Shoals optioned because they needed any deep water port for their oil refinery. The real purpose of all of this was that Aristotle Onassis had a large number of very large crude carriers which were empty. His finances weren't great at the time so he wanted to build an oil refinery and it was going to be the world's largest oil refinery, not just an oil refinery. It would have been bigger than the Exxon refinery in Texas. It would have rivaled the whole area of Newark, New Jersey and it would have been a terrible thing for the Seacoast of New Hampshire.

HEATHER: Citizen activists stood up.

DUDLEY: Chief among them, I would say, would be Nancy Sandberg, who organized Save our Shores and she did all of the political things that we know how to do, although she was a very young mother and had no experience whatsoever in that sort of thing. But she gathered petitions, she got people together, she formed committees that did research and in fact the committees that did research learned that Durham would not be the beneficiary of any cut in taxes because the only thing taxable about a refinery is the administration building, the office building. Not all of those acres and acres and acres of tanks.

HEATHER: We asked Dudley what the opposition looked like.

DUDLEY: For one thing they had the governor on their side. He was an absolute staunch advocate and in fact I think he probably initiated the proposal. They had the editor of the only statewide newspaper who was punching out editorials almost on a daily basis saying what a great thing it was and what bozos those little ladies in Durham are. Accused the little ladies of Durham of beating their little breasts in opposition. [laughs] They had hired the former Speaker of the House and the former President of the Senate. So it was pretty well stacked against us.

HEATHER: At one point, Onassis's marketing team held a reception where Onassis would speak to the entire state legislature except Dudley. Her invitation never arrived.

DUDLEY: That day, as Onassis was flying over in his helicopter, Nancy Sandberg had troops out on Durham Point tramping in the snow saying, "Ari go home" and "no refinery here" and painting that into the snow so that it could be seen from the air.

HEATHER: Education, petition signatures, education. Sandberg and her team had interviewed citizens and leaders in other refinery cities like Newark, New Jersey to learn what it was like to live with oil refineries. These were the tactics Sandberg and her group used. The Onassis reps did agree to a community meeting where they would answer questions about the project. Dudley described what she saw on the fieldhouse stage at the University of New Hampshire.

DUDLEY: Mr. Green from Texas Instruments was sort of the leader of the consultants and he asked for questions and there were lots of questions. But my favorite I think was asked by a woman named Cliff Horrigan, who was a graduate hydrology student, and she stood there that February night in her L.L. Bean boots and her red and black L.L. Bean jacket and she said, "Please tell us, where are you going to get 6,000 gallons of fresh water a minute?" And Mr. Green looked startled but he said, "just a second" and he turned and he went back to confer with the people sitting behind him in their fancy suits and captain's chairs and he returned to the microphone and he said, "Well, we realize we only need 3,000 gallons of fresh water a minute." And the crowd moaned of course and then Cliff said, "Well, where are you going to get 3,000 gallons of fresh water a minute?" He turned around to the people behind him and asked again and came back with happy news that now they only needed fifteen hundred. So there were no believers left in the room.

HEATHER: As a first-year a State Representative, Dudley had learned about an effective legislative tool called Home Rule. So when the oil refinery plan began to heat up, she had the vision to ask Legislative Services to draft a bill which would require, before any refinery could be built in any town, that town must give its approval. Meanwhile Sandberg's petitions had successfully put the refinery question on the Durham Town Meeting ballot.

DUDLEY: That was the only issue that was voted on at our town meeting and it was a huge event for our small town and the vote was 9 to 1 in opposition to a refinery. The next day, as serendipity would have it, the New Hampshire Legislature voted on my bill and the very night that the vote happened in the Legislature after the 9 to 1 vote in the town meeting, that very night after my bill had passed, luckily, we went out to dinner, a group of us who had been working in opposition, to this restaurant in Concord and across the room, who did we see, but all the Onassis, Purvin & Gertz, Texas Instruments, all the men. And they stood up and came over to our table and I was thinking, "Oh my goodness, here they come. They're going to tell us they're going to do it in Newmarket or Rochester or Sanford, Maine." It would have been the same. But they put out their hands to shake hands and to say we want you to know that we know the right side won.

[Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land]

HEATHER: We asked Dudley if she had anything to say about the sacrifices people make when they enter public office.

DUDLEY: I don't know. I'm so mad at most of the people who are serving. I am hard pressed to feel sorry for them in any way. I just wish they would stand up.

HEATHER: Chapter 5. Advice for when a big wave is coming. After we left Dudley we met Mike Comeau, the Dockmaster at the Portsmouth Yacht Club. Comeau grew up in New Hampshire, moved around a bit, and has lived in the district for 30 years. Instead of a man-on-the-street interview, Comeau became our man-on-the-dock interview for New Hampshire's first Congressional District.

MIKE COMEAU: A Libertarian is what I am. So a Libertarian, in case you're not sure, is a balance between Republican Conservative values, where there should be a small federal government that's managed correctly with a smaller budget, with limited funds so that they just don't overspend. And I also believe in social liberalism. In other words Libertarians believe in a woman's right to choose but a Republican might not believe that. So I believe in a woman's right to choose because I don't want the government to tell us what to do very much. I believe in a small federal government who doesn't have a lot of oversight in my life.

HEATHER: We asked Comeau where he gets his news.

COMEAU: Fox. A lot of your listeners are going to say, "Fox, oh that figures." Like Dudley. Yesterday we had a little debate. She said "you probably listen to Fox News." I said, "Yeah, and you probably are addicted to MSNBC, right?" So there's two sides now. There really is. And you're either glued to one or the other and you believe everything you hear on the one or the other. I go to CNN and I go to MSNBC also to see what they're saying. But since I am more of a small government, limited government thinker I believe more in the conservative platform which is represented on Fox even though some of the things I hear on Fox, I go, "Oh come on. They're cheerleading for Trump a little too much sometimes." And I see that. So I listen to all sources and then I try to make up my own mind based on the simple philosophy of, are you going to take care of yourself and be responsible or are you going to look for a government handout of some kind? And so I think much less power in the federal government like our founders intended. They really wanted a small limited government. That's why they came here to get away from massive power up top, right? And they wanted the states, if you read the Constitution, you're going to find out there's a lot of power in the states, as it should be, you know? Local. So vote local, which we really don't do anymore because we are persuaded that all government really is from the President down through Congress. We forget about our local power here.

HEATHER: We had to ask Comeau if he can apply any of his sailing wisdom to real life.

COMEAU: When a big wave is coming at the boat, I just slow down. Take my time, take a breath, but I go right through the wave anyway because I have to get over to the other side.

HEATHER: Chapter 6. Will someone please stand up for the Constitution? Our New Hampshire-1 potluck dinner was held in a rambling house down a long dirt road deep in the woods. We had 13 guests, most from around Durham. There was a beautiful puff pastry asparagus tart and a chunky tomato salad. And our hostess, who confessed her obsession with rhubarb, had created rhubarb cheesecake. One of our guests was the daughter of Dudley Dudley. Here's Morgan Dudley talking about growing up here.

MORGAN DUDLEY: For anybody who grows up in New Hampshire in a political family you assume that if someone's running for president they visit you at home. [laughs] So I would come home from school with my backpack and have to make my way around George McGovern's legs to get to the kitchen or Mark Udall lived in our house for six months while his father was running for president and so he slept in a sleeping bag in the living room. And they all were part of our lives and it was amazing and so inspiring just to be around people who were interested in the future of the country. And one of my treasured possessions is a letter from George McGovern written to thank me for stuffing envelopes for his campaign and saying how unfortunate it was that I was only in eighth grade and I couldn't vote but it was very nice of me to help out anyway.

HEATHER:The standing theme, which has run through this episode, first emerged around our potluck table. We asked guests to consider how they learned to stand up for something. The evening ended after a lot of conversation, including a kind of fiery argument over whether or not a vote for Trump was rational. Then we heard this plea from Rachel Canel.

RACHEL: I was a child in Watergate so I can't say that I understand the dynamics of what was happening there but at some point folks realized that the Constitution of the United States was the most important thing, period, end of sentence. And maybe we're not at such a dire place yet. We were talking earlier about how it took a long time for some folks to finally sort of cave in under Nixon and we're not close to being there. But what I am seeing is I'm seeing politicians, elected officials at lower levels, being very willing to be riding this out for the sake of their own political power. And that angers me and sincerely disappoints me because I do seem to remember as a young person that politicians could find common ground in certain respects even if they had different interpretations of the Constitution, the Constitution was the Constitution. I think Donald Trump knows that frankly Capitol Hill -- I know there are a number of good people but there are cowards there. And so what do we do about that but get out that vote and see where that takes us next? Donald Trump is huge but his enablers are incredible to me.

NICIE PANETTA: I'm just going to pause and say that Ruth made rhubarb cheesecake. I think we should pause and savor it because I'm ready to just jump onto it.

[This Land Is My Land]

HEATHER: We realize seven candidates is a lot to keep straight and there are 12 more including four Democrats. Maura Sullivan has raised the most money in this race, followed by Republican Andy Sanborn and then Chris Pappas. We have the entire list of funds raised for these candidates on our resource page. The primary is September 11th. This will be a dramatic one to watch and we promise to be tweeting hard that night. We're going to leave you with activist advice from Dudley Dudley, the woman who stood up to Aristotle Onassis and won.

DUDLEY: Don't take vacations. Don't go on long cruises. Don't take time off. Spend your time making those phone calls. And don't be embarrassed to ask your friends to help. And give money and write postcards, hold signs, do it because you may not get a chance again.

HEATHER: That’s it for this week's show. Find us on Twitter and Facebook @TheMidPod and please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. Our theme music is Wake Up Call by Cercie Miller, performed by the Cercie Miller Quartet. The MidPod is a production of Bird on the Wing Media. The Executive Producer is Helen Barrington and the mix engineer and sound wizard is James Donahue. The program is produced at Whiskey Lane Productions in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. We leave you this week with Woody Guthrie. We need Woody Guthrie.

[This Land Is Your Land]

HEATHER: We want to recommend a brand new podcast to you. It's called Midterminal, or Mid-term in AL or Mid-term in Al because it's about the midterm elections in Alabama. We spent some time in Alabama last fall to cover the contentious special election that led to Democrat Doug Jones being elected to replace now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. There are lots of exciting races to follow and the two hosts live and work in Alabama. They know a lot about Alabama state politics and they will be your guides. You can find Midterminal on Twitter and Facebook @Midterminal or at midterminal.com.

Eunice Panetta