Paul Hodes

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Recovering Politician

THEN: United States Congressman (NH), 2007-2001 NOW: Founder and Principal, Northern Connection, LLC Full Biography: link

Paul Hodes: No Time For Celebration

I am bone-weary and hugely relieved at the outcome of the 2012 election. Some keep asking how a Republican Party so devoid of ideas could mount such a strong Presidential challenge and maintain control of the House. Beyond the simple answer; “It’s the economy, stupid”, something deeper is at work. The deeper issues warrant serious thought and immediate action.

Paul Hodes

My son, Max, is a brilliant out-of the box thinker who has always marched to his own beat. He is 29 and thoroughly disillusioned with our political system. Despite my service as a Democratic United States Congressman, or perhaps because of it, he sees no difference between the two major parties. On Election Day, he cast a reluctant vote for Barack Obama.

My sister-in-law, Trisha is a conservative home-maker who lives in Virginia. She leans strongly Republican, grieves over what she perceives as her loss of any real voice in our political system. I have no doubt that she cast her vote for Mitt Romney.

I am a determined Democrat. I first ran for office in 2004 to try to change the direction of the country which I saw as controlled by ideologues, embroiled in an unnecessary war and headed for damaging deficits generated by fiscally irresponsible tax and economic policies.  Having served as a member of the House I developed new respect for the institutions of our democracy. And, from my own experience, I think I have a good idea of why both Max and Trisha are disillusioned.

Our democracy is challenged by the pervasive influence of power brokers and corporate kingdoms which both overtly and covertly seem to hold policy-makers in their thrall. Whether through outsized campaign contributions and spending or playing the inside game in Washington; their influence is undeniable. A central challenge of any political institution, and especially for my beloved Democratic former colleagues, is to accept the challenge of change wholeheartedly. Real change takes commitment and persistence.  It takes brutal honesty and probably some discomfort. I hope that leaders in both the House and the Senate are up to the task.

For example, in the Senate, filibuster rules must be changed. In the House, the antiquated seniority system is an impediment to progress. Looking outside the institutions, promoting change in our campaign finance system and, taking aim at influence peddling are fundamental to the future electoral success of the Democratic Party and the country.

The President’s narrow popular vote margin should give Democrats real pause. We re-elected a President but could not achieve a mandate for a unified Government. The President is personally popular. I’m not at all sure that Democrats generally can bask in the same glow. Democrats see the differences between the parties clearly. But, at least half of the America which votes either don’t get what we’re about or believe the brand the Republicans have foisted upon us:  we’re the party of high taxes and hand-outs

The antidote is fundamental re-examination and refocusing. We must adopt, pursue communicate and message a progressive agenda for economic growth as the focus of our Party: Education, Innovation and Infrastructure. With a consistent focus and the right messaging we can create a more solid foundation for electoral success over the long haul. Without refocusing and “rebranding”, we will continue to struggle to convince Americans that we can be trusted to govern a dynamic and diverse country in a new century.

The Economic Innovation Action Fund works to focus and rebrand current Democratic issues into clear and potent message about a core economic agenda for growth and innovation consistent with progressive values.

Join us as

Paul Hodes: A Message About the Democratic Narrative

We believe in Freedom and Equal Opportunity. We are optimists. We are idealists, not ideologues. We believe in American ingenuity.

As this election season draws towards its conclusion, Democrats need to talk about our beliefs, our moral values, and what and who we care about.

At our recent Democratic National Convention, Democrats delivered moving messages based on moral values. The diversity of the speakers and participants emphasized over and over: “We’re all in this together.” The stories on-stage supported “We care about each other.” The economic theme emphasized “middle class expansion, not top down” and was based on the moral value, “equal opportunity.” The Convention was purposely short on policy, and long on visual images complete with verbal cues that emotionally touched the American people.

We, Democrats, in our hearts understand that no one makes it on his own without help from all of us. The stories around health care, women’s rights, sexual preference, discrimination — all spoke to our belief in the core values of Freedom and Equal opportunity: freedom from insurance company abuse, freedom from government intrusion into personal lives, freedom and equal opportunity to love and be loved.

Democrats love policy. We believe that if we simply explain issues, folks will understand. What we need now is to inspire people. What President Obama did when he made that historic run for President – stir the heart and soul of people who fundamentally believe in freedom, opportunity, ingenuity and optimism.

Here at the Economic Innovation Action Fund, we believe that a progressive economic agenda of growth and innovation and public-private partnerships is based on moral values. Education, Innovation and Infrastructure are not just policies. They are the foundation for the rebirth of our Democratic Party:

 We believe in a better, more secure economic future;

 We believe that every child should have an equal opportunity for a decent education;

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Paul Hodes: A Message About the Democratic Narrative

The RPs Predict the New Hampshire Primary

OK, folks, round two of the 2012 GOP presidential primary, which means round two of the fearless predictions of our recovering politicians.

Last week, our RPs boldly made their Iowa caucus prognostications, and with the exception of RP staffer Zack Adams (who predicted the correct finish of the top 6 candidates) and Artur Davis (the only contributing RP to predict the correct order of the top 3), well…let’s say they are lucky to get a second chance. But this web site is all about second acts, right?

And we ask you to join them in the comments section as well.  No fun prizes, but instant fame and glory to the reader who is the closest.

So, here goes the New Hampshire experiment:

The RP: Romney 39; Paul 19;  Huntsman 17; Santorum 12; Gingrich 11; Roemer 1; Perry less than 1%. Ron Paul let me down — big time — last week, but I still have confidence that the independents will keep him in a solid second place.  And I predict that the media darling, John Huntsman, will underperform. And my big surprise:  Buddy Roemer ekes out 6th place from under Rick Perry’s nose.  Oh, yeah, and Mitt Romney wins big. Yawn.

Paul Hodes (contributing RP and former New Hampshire Congressman): Here goes from the Granite State…Romney 34; Huntsman 19; Paul 18; Gingrich 14; Santorum 12; Perry 3

Zac Byer (RP Staff): 1st – Mitt Romney (32%); 2nd – Ron Paul (19%); 3rd – Jon Huntsman (15%). [Click here to read his Zac’s full report from Manchester, New Hampshire.]

Jason Grill: 1. Romney (Needs at least 35% or a 10 point win); 2. Huntsman (The candidate with the best chance to beat President Obama in the general); 3. Paul (Another third place finish, but still relevant); 4. Gingrich (Edges out Rick, but Tick…Tick…Tick…SC is next. Boom); 5. Santorum (No Iowa magic tonight); 6. Perry (Already hunkered down in SC for his last stand)

Greg HarrisRomney – 35; Huntsman – 21; Santorum – 16; Paul – 13; Gingrich – 11; Perry – 4

Steve Schulman: With apologies to Frank Sinatra…Mitt Romney – If he can’t win it here, he can’t win it anywhere…Ron Paul – He’ll do it his way…Jon Huntsman – Strangers in the night…Rick Santorum – Please don’t talk about him when he’s gone…Newt Gingrich – Fly him to the moon, let him play among the stars…Rick Perry – Ain’t that a kick in the head…And too bad Michele Bachmann dropped out … that lady is a tramp!

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The RPs Predict the New Hampshire Primary

Paul Hodes: A Public Apology to My Son, The Wall Street Protestor

I got a call recently from a staffer at the New Hampshire Democratic party.
It went something like this:

“Congressman Hodes?”


“We’re getting calls from the Press. What do you want us to say?”

“Press calls? What about?”

“You don’t know?”

“No, what’s going on?”

“I can’t believe I’m the one telling you this. It’s about your son.”

“What about my son?”

“Well, he’s been arrested on Wall Street. You didn’t see the story in the Wall Street Journal?

When someone calls and says they have news that you should have known about your son, all kinds of things go through your mind. In this case, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Arrested on Wall Street? Piece ‘o’ cake compared to the other possibilities that cascaded through my mind.

It turns out Max was arrested for wearing a mask while demonstrating, under an ordinance dating to 1845 banning masked gatherings in New York City. He was held for a couple of hours and charged with loitering.

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Paul Hodes: A Public Apology to My Son, The Wall Street Protestor

Paul Hodes: Our Desperate Need for Campaign Finance Reform


For as long as I can remember, complaints about “dysfunctional” government have permeated the public dialogue about Washington.


I was swept into congress in 2006 on a tide of “change” and swept out in 2011 as the pendulum swung the other way. During my time as a candidate and as a member I was enmeshed in a system that prized raising money above all as the key to credibility, power and effectiveness.


I was good at raising money. I set fundraising records in my small home state both as a candidate for the House and during my Senate run. I loved my work and my colleagues. I worked with high-minded people who wanted to do the best they could for the American people.


I also saw that or campaign financing system had developed into a system which was often at odds with the best interests of the people who we served. “Money talks, nobody walks” was an advertisement from my youth. In our system, money talks and those with it ride comfortably while those without walk behind. The power of money gives disproportionate power to those who have it and threatens the fabric of our democracy.


I felt first hand the deleterious effects of the abhorrent Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case as unnamed corporate interests barraged my state’s airwaves with millions of dollars in ads tearing me down. The money and the pursuit of it subtly corrode even the most principaled representative. The first time a member thinks to him or herself “If I vote this way, I’ll lose X”, that subtle corrosion is at work.


I was privileged the other day to sit on a panel with former Republican Senator Larry Pressler at the screening of a film titled “Priceless”. Go see the film. Think about how much easier it would be to get things done with a change in our campaign finance system.


Visit the website of Americans for Campaign Reform. I believe changing the way we finance elections is at the core of ensuring the future of our representative democracy.

Paul Hodes: Honoring My Namesake

As a member of congress, It was both obligatory and an honor to attend Memorial Day celebrations in my district.

In New Hampshire, we have a beautiful Veteran’s cemetary and events are well attended.  Often sitting in bright sunshine, sometimes in a late spring cloudy chill under a blanket, the World War II veterans who were residents at the nearby Veterans Home were always given front row seats. Many were in wheelchairs, some required constant attendance. Some came in uniform and some just came.  

Having never experienced the horror of war myself, I sometimes struggled to convey my deep gratitude to thank those who served and died for their country.  At first, it was intimidating to be in the company of so many former and present military personnel. 

I later became comfortable with my role and theirs. I always tried to say something different and meaningful, something that went beyond the ritualistic expressions of gratitude. After a time, I came to appreciate the rituals and the importance of the repetition of those ritualistic expressions. But, here’s something I never talked about and I don’t know why.

I was named for a distant cousin. When I was a child my grandparents told me that Paul was a sweet, brilliant, handsome man destined for greatness. He died during World War II flying a combat mission. I carry his name and his legacy. He died in service to his country as did so many others.

So, on this Memorial Day, I am honored to remember him and thank him for his service and his sacrifice.

Cousin Paul, I thank you for your life, your service and your name. My own service, of a different kind, is the living proof that you did not die in vain. This great country with all its greatness and its flaws, endures thanks to you.

Paul Hodes: On the Way to Recovery & Renewal

I first ran for office as an ordinary citizen from New Hampshire in 2004. My hope when I ran was to help change the course of the nation and to effectively represent the people of my state with independence, integrity and imagination. I was fortunate to meet those goals before joining the ranks of The Recovering Politician.

I was part of a historic new majority in the House of Representatives and was chosen by my peers as President of the Freshman Class of 2006. I served on the Oversight and Government reform committee and the Financial Services committee during a period of unprecedented activity.

As a freshman congressman from the first in the nation primary state, I was courted by Presidential candidates. I believed that the wave of change that swept me into office was not finished and that business as usual in Washington needed some shaking up. Against all odds, I decided to support a long-shot candidate for whom change was a theme, Barack Obama. I had the honor of serving as a national co-chair for the President’s first campaign.

The wave elections of 2006 and 2008 were countered by the tsunami of 2010 when I decided not to run for my congressional seat; instead I ran, unsuccessfully, for the United States Senate. Politics has a lot to do with timing and luck. You can’t surf a tsunami.  As a musician I should know a bit about timing. Suffice it to say, I had quite a while to confront the idea of political afterlife while I ran for the Senate, a tremendous experience nonetheless.

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Paul Hodes: On the Way to Recovery & Renewal

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of the Diamond

Politics of the Diamond


Francisco Liriano tossed the first no-hitter of 2011 for the Minnesota Twins.  Even though he walked 6 guys, a no hitter is impressive regardless. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

discussed declining attendance at MLB parks in this space before.  While baseball fans may be worried that people aren’t coming out to see the nation’s past time, Bud Selig isn’t. [SI]

The Indians–yes, the ones from Cleveland–are perched atop the AL Central, a full 4.5 games clear of Kansas City–who is in second place.  The AL Central is certainly topsy-turvy this year.  The real question?  Are these Indians as good as the ones from Major League? [The Big Lead]

The Yankee’s accidentally leaked a spreadsheet containing the personal information of 20,000 of their season ticket holders.  Deadspin correctly calls this controversy “Spam Yankees.” [Deadspin]

The Dodgers’ front office gets uglier and uglier by the day.  It now appears that Frank McCourt, the Dodgers owner, doesn’t have the cash to cover payroll past May.  [Yahoo!]