GOP Senate candidate skipped 61% of votes in a single year as state lawmaker

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Yet Kevin Smith is calling New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan an 'absent senator.'

A New Hampshire Republican is accusing the Democratic incumbent he hopes to challenge in November of being an absentee U.S. senator. To judge by their respective attendance records in the U.S. Senate and the New Hampshire House of Representatives, though, Sen. Maggie Hassan's is stellar, while Kevin Smith's own as a state legislator apparently was not.

Smith, who served one term in the New Hampshire House in the 1990s, announced in January that he will resign from his job as Londonderry town manager and seek his party's nomination for Hassan's Senate seat. His campaign site says that he "is seen by national and local media as being one of the most influential conservatives in the Granite State."

On Jan. 25, Smith tweeted from his campaign account, "@Maggie_Hassan has been an absent Senator. We deserve a Senator who cares more about what's on the minds of hard working Granite Staters than kowtowing to the party bosses in Washington. #MaggieHasnt - I will. #NHSen #NHpolitics."

Smith also shared a tweet by the right-wing NH Journal quoting his own comment that morning on a local radio show: "After #COVID19 hit, we heard many times from @SenatorShaheen. We didn't hear once from Maggie Hassan in two years, asking about how Londonderry was doing during the pandemic."

Hassan told Manchester TV station WMUR on Monday in response to criticism from Smith that she has frequently communicated with many officials from his hometown and others across New Hampshire throughout her term: "I had roundtables and was in constant contact with municipal leaders, mayors and town managers across the state. Sometimes those roundtables included people from Londonderry."

While Smith did not specify what he meant in accusing Hassan of being "absent," if one looks at her attendance record as a senator, the term hardly applies.

Since being elected to the Senate in 2016, Hassan's attendance record has been close to perfect. According to ProPublica's missed votes database, Hassan missed just 0.7% of the Senate's votes in 2021-2022, 0.1% of votes in 2019-2020, and 0.5% of votes in 2017-2018. This put her consistently in the top third of senators with the best attendance.

According to a new analysis by the progressive research group American Bridge 21st Century, Smith's attendance record as a legislator was not nearly as good. Their review of the New Hampshire House journal from the last year of his two-year term found that he missed 61% of floor votes in 1998.

Among those Smith skipped were votes on legislation concerning consumer protections, medical cannabis, air pollution, nursing home reimbursement, and education funding.

The Smith campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Smith is one of a several announced GOP candidates hoping to face Hassan, according to Politics1.com.

National Republicans had heavily recruited Gov. Chris Sununu to run for the seat, but he announced in November that he would instead seek reelection. Former GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who narrowly lost to Hassan six years ago, also declined to join the race.

In his explanation for opting against a run, Sununu candidly noted that the GOP senators urging him to run appeared generally "content with the speed at which they weren't doing anything," saying, "OK, so I'm just going to be a roadblock for two years. That's not what I do."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.