CONCORD — Walter Havenstein of Alton, a retired Marine colonel and corporate executive, yesterday became the second Republican to enter the race for governor.
If he is successful, Havenstein would become the first resident of Belknap County to be elected governor since fellow Republican Henry B. Quinby of Laconia, a champion of the progressive politics of President Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1909 to 1911.
Introduced at the Legislative Office Building by former governor Steve Merrill and accompanied by former governor Craig Benson, Havenstein appears to enjoy the support of what more conservative and populist elements of the GOP deride as the "establishment" in a bid to recapture the corner office, which Democrats have occupied for 16 of the last 18 years.
"New Hampshire is at a crossroads," Havenstein began, noting that after three decades robust growth "our state's economy has stagnated and begun to decline. "We can do better," he continued. "I don't accept the status quo and I will provide the thoughtful leadership necessary to reverse the trends, stop the decline and restore prosperity."
Referring to the administrations of governors John Lynch and Maggie Hassan, Havenstein said that "we've squandered an entire decade and we're falling behind. We can no longer afford bureaucratic medicine for all our economic woes." Likewise, Havenstein dismissed casino gambling, remarking that "I'm terribly disappointed that we have a governor whose conception of economic development is casino gambling." The issue, he stressed. is "how are we going to make all businesses in New Hampshire flourish."
"Government alone cannot lead economic recovery." Havenstein said, calling instead for "limiting the role of government while "relying on our relationships with small business owners and entrepreneurs" and designing that "taxes and regulations that reward success, not punish it."
The high costs of health care and energy, he claimed, are weighing on the economy. Describing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as neither care or affordable, he said that "one-size fits all is not what New Hampshire is all about." Citing a survey of insurance brokers by Morgan-Stanley that reported health insurance premiums have risen 90-percent, Havenstein said "make no mistake. That's an income tax."
He questioned the plan to use Medicaid funds to extend health insurance to those earning up to 138-percent of the federal poverty level. "We should be getting people off government programs," he said, "not on them."
While acknowledging the need to "recapitalize and improve our infrastructure," Havenstein shrank for supporting an increase in the gas tax. "I'm not convinced we're spending what we take in effectively," he said, "and economic stagnation is not the time to raise a tax on anyone."
Questioned about a sales or income tax, he snapped "forget it."
Havenstein said that he favored a so-called "right-to-work" law, explaining "I believe in the nobility of work and the freedom of individuals to work without being required to belong to a union."
"I'll be working for prosperity," Havenstein said, adding "for a balanced prosperity. "We must fund critical services without bankrupting the state and overburdening its citizens."
Touting his experience, Havenstein said that he has demonstrated leadership as a military officer, business executive and philanthropist. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a degree in aerospace engineering, Havenstein served in the United States Marine Corps from 1971 to 1999, including 12 years on active duty , where he specialized in tactical communications and systems acquisition management, before retiring with the rank of colonel.
Havenstein began his career in the private sector the aerospace and communications division of ITT Corporation and later held a handful of executive positions with the Raythen Company. In 1999 he joined Sanders Associates of Nashua, then a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Aerospace Electronic Systems, serving as president of the firm, which when it was acquired by BAE Systems a year later.
At BAE Systems, Havenstein was president of two operating groups between 2000 and 2003 when he became executive vice-president of BAE Systems North America. When the company reorganized in 2005 he became president of the Electronics & Integrated Solutions Operating Group and two years later was named president and CEO of BAE Systems, Inc,where he managed an annual budget three times that of the state. Havenstein left BAE Systems, Inc. in 2009 to join Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a contractor for government services and information technology, where he served as president and CEO until 2012 when he retired.
Havenstein serves on the board of the Whittemore School of Busienss at the University of New Hampshire and is the vice-chairman of FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology), the non-profit organization founded by Dean Kamen, the inventor and entrepreneur, to foster interest in scientific and technical careers among young people. He was vice-chair of the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund and, with his wife Judy, has supported the Juveniles Diabetes Research Foundation for the past 30 years.
Calling himself "an experienced decision maker," Havenstein emphasized that he is not guided by "abstractions and theory" but reaches "practical decisions based on the facts." Asked about his view of the GOP platform, he confessed "I don't know what the Republican platform is today." Then he noted that his wife served on the platform committee and helped "reign in the platform from being a series of litmus tests. It's all about job creation and economic growth."
Questioned that he may have impaired his eligibility for the governorship by in 2008 designating Maryland as his primary residence, which qualified him for tax relief on the purchase and ownership of a condominium when he worked for SAIC, Havenstein insisted New Hampshire has been his home for the past 15 years. "I have voted here and no place else," he said. "This is my home." He expressed confidence that he has complied with the laws of both New Hampshire and Maryland.
The N.H. Constitution requires that governors live in the state for seven years before serving.
Havenstein described Hassan as "a good person," but said her policies and actions were having adverse impacts. The election, he suggested, will pose a choice between "Maggie Hassan's good intentions and my know-how. Who is best suited to end the stagnation. I look forward to governing."
Andrew Hemingway of Bristol, a 31 year-old, self-described entrepreneur who chaired the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, is the only other GOP candidate for governor at the point. The official filing period is in June.