As MAGA extremism has become the status quo of the Republican Party, the GOP has put its support behind increasingly dangerous and outrageous state legislative candidates across the country.
New Hampshire is home to a number of Republican candidates who are determined to attack abortion rights and public schools while refusing to enact commonsense gun reforms that could save thousands of lives. These current and potential legislators are not afraid to speak their minds – even when that means pedaling prejudice, misogyny, and misinformation.
Here are a few of these extremists on the ballot in New Hampshire this fall, who are representative of the MAGA candidates running across the country – and how Democrats can stop them.
New Hampshire’s worst of the worst
Kevin Avard, NH SD-12
Kevin Avard is a current New Hampshire senator from Nashua. He is running for reelection to keep pushing his far-right agenda – including policies to diminish reproductive rights, weaken gun safety regulations, and restrict who has access to state resources.
- Avard is a member of seven Facebook groups classified as “far-right” by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, three of which are categorized as “constitutionally-constructed nationalism” groups.
- Avard is hostile to abortion rights. He has described himself as “100% pro-life” and has repeatedly voted in favor of abortion bans and against exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and fatal fetal diagnoses. He was the only one in a committee to vote to allow pharmacists and providers to refuse to provide abortion, sterilization or contraception, ironically claiming, “I really think that we’re seeing a lot of our rights in jeopardy, and a right of conscience, I think, is pretty essential to liberty” just two months before half of the country lost the federally-protected right to an abortion.
- Avard voted against banning the use of conversion therapy on minors, claiming it a violation of religious freedom that threatens conversion therapists’ “God-given gift” for counseling. He voted to repeal same-sex marriage in the state and against prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
- Avard has been endorsed by the NRA, who spent to support his campaign, and has supported several NRA-backed pieces of anti-gun safety legislation, including those which would prohibit state agencies from performing background checks, remove licensing and permit requirements for concealed carry, and prohibit public and private entities from enforcing bans on firearm possession.
- Avard introduced a bill to reduce eligibility for the state’s food assistance program, which could have disqualified 17,000 Granite Staters. He admitted to having “some help” with the legislation from a Florida lobbyist group’s model-policy template, which Avard’s bill is nearly identical to. The bill would require enforcement of child support payments for receipt of benefits — in a previous campaign, Avard was attacked for alleged delinquency on his child support.
This November, Avard is running against Democrat Melanie Levesque, New Hampshire’s first Black senator who spent four terms in the General Court fighting to protect abortion access, expand health care options, and champion economic prosperity.
Gary Daniels, NH SD-11
Gary Daniels has spent more than twenty years in the New Hampshire General Court working to pass legislation that significantly reduces public school funding, strips access to reproductive health care and makes communities less safe by failing to pass commonsense gun safety policies. Bills that Daniels has sponsored and passed during his time in both the House and Senate were initially drafted by an organization whose work has been described as “wish lists” for special interest groups.
- Daniels is a former board member and current New Hampshire chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that USA Today described as “offer[ing] conservative Republican elected officials a social network, access to campaign donors and a blueprint for how to accelerate their political careers.” ALEC provides ready-made, fill-in-the-blank “model” legislation that “amount to wish lists for special interests” for state legislators to introduce in their respective statehouses.
- Daniels has sponsored and helped to pass several pieces of ALEC model legislation or legislation with similar goals, including a bill to restrict a college’s ability to limit hate speech on campus, a bill to attack collective bargaining efforts, laws to shield donors to 501(c)s, a resolution affirming New Hampshire’s friendship with Taiwan, and an education plan that threatens millions of dollars in public school funding. ALEC praised Daniels’ efforts.
- Daniels sponsored anti-union legislation in 2017 and 2021, which state Democrats successfully fought against and defeated.
- Daniels is endorsed by the NRA with an A rating and has consistently voted against common sense gun safety regulations. He has voted or sponsored legislation to authorize weapons on public property and remove licensing and permit requirements.
- Despite his claims of wanting to limit government power, Daniels has repeatedly opposed abortion rights, including cosponsoring legislation to ban health care entities that receive public funding from providing abortion services and allowing protestors outside abortion clinics. He was the only vote against allocating funds to a low-income reproductive health care center, because they could potentially refer patients to abortion providers. Daniels also advocated for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, pushing for the justice who would ultimately vote to end federal abortion rights protections.
- Daniels has voted against rights for the LGBTQ+ community throughout his legislative career. He has voted against same-sex marriage, against banning conversion therapy use on minors, and to allow discrimination based on gender identity.
- Daniels has voted against both legalization and decriminalization of marijuana despite nearly 75% of Granite Staters supporting legalization. He said that the “last thing we need is to tell our citizens it is OK to use a little marijuana.”
This November, Daniels is running against former senator Shannon Chandley, who is ready to return to the General Court to protect abortion rights, fully fund public schools, and ensure every New Hampshirite has the resources they need to thrive.
Lou Gargiulo, NH SD-24
Louis “Lou” Gargiulo is a former state representative from Hampton Falls who lost in his 2020 bid for the New Hampshire Senate and is running again. Though he attempts to market himself as a moderate, Gargiulo’s record of misogynistic statements and unwavering support for Donald Trump hints at the extremism of his politics. From restricting abortion rights, opposing LGBTQ+ freedom, and championing unrestricted gun ownership, Lou has shown himself to be a parrot of the right’s most extreme positions.
- Gargiulo expressed his support for a Florida-style “Don’t Say Gay” bill and when asked in a July 2011 interview for Seacoastonline what his stance on gay marriage was, he stated that “For thousands of years the term marriage has been reserved as a union between a man and women. That historic significance should not be lost. I believe that gay couples should have the same legal rights and protections that we all have, but the term marriage should continue to be reserved as a union between a man and a woman.” He also opposed adding sexual orientation to New Hampshire’s anti-discrimination laws.
- Gargiulo is a threat to abortion rights. He is against guaranteeing the right to an abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy. To add insult to injury, he appears to be comfortable changing his position when it’s convenient. In a 2020 survey, Gargiulo claimed to be undecided on a 24-week abortion ban – but this year, admitted that he supports banning abortion after 24 weeks. In that same survey, he claimed to be “undecided” at what point during pregnancy he thinks abortion should be banned. He feels much more open in Facebook groups, where he has bizarrely attacked his Democratic opponent for supporting “full-term” abortion.
- Gargiulo, an NRA member, has said that he will “oppose any legislation that infringes” on the Second Amendment; to quote him directly: “HELL YES, I SUPPORT THE 2nd AMENDMENT AND CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY!” He has called background checks and extreme risk protection orders a “radical position” and said that he was a “proud member” of the NRA.
- Gargiulo was one of the first aboard the Trump train. He agreed Trump’s infamous comments about New Hampshire being a “drug-infested den,” as reported by the Union-Leader on 8/7/17: “With the nation watching, ‘it looked like we were,’ she said, referring to the now infamous ‘drug-infested den’ line. Lou Gargiulo, who was Rockingham County co-chairman for Trump in 2016, said he would not have chosen such words. But, with nearly 500 drug overdose deaths last year, he said it is not incorrect.” Gargiulo went on CNN to defend Trump in the wake of the Charlottesville rally in a segment that reportedly devolved into a shouting match and defended Trump’s actions with Ukraine President Zelenskyy, claiming there were “clearly issues in Ukraine with corruption.”
- He has called both Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton “nasty hag[s]” and Warren a “nasty miserable bi**h”
- Gargiulo would be a disaster for New Hampshire’s middle class. He opposes expanded health care access, calling the Affordable Care Act “ludicrous, regressive, and whacked” in an interview with the Portsmouth Herald on 7/14/10; he warned “If [Republicans] fail to deliver on repealing Obamacare, you can be sure they will pay dearly in 2018.” Gargiulo saw “no benefit” to raising the minimum wage and said he would support legislation to undermine collective bargaining. Gargiulo called for education spending cuts and backed a plan that would threaten public school funding.
- Lou has voiced his opposition to student debt forgiveness — but he had a nearly $1 million in PPP loan forgiven for his company.
Carrie Gendreau, NH SD-1
Carrie Gendreau is running for the New Hampshire Senate. Gendreau is eager to push her extreme conservative agenda in a number of policy areas – from gutting reproductive rights to injecting religion into government to championing sending public money to private schools.
- Gendreau is anti-abortion. On September 6, 2022, the Caledonian-Record reported: “Asked to explain her position on abortion, Gendreau explained that she believes ‘in the sanctity of life.’ Remarried with a daughter and two stepdaughters, Gendreau said, ‘It’s not that I haven’t had sympathy. I had a miscarriage, it was one of those natural things. But I never questioned that life began at conception. I just always knew that.’ She added, ‘I strongly believe a nation is judged by the way it treats its helpless. That’s children and those in the womb. The infirm, the disabled and the elderly. We as a nation will be judged. I don’t necessarily mean God’s judgment, although I think that’s a part of it. But if we don’t value life. I think we’re in trouble.’ Asked if she would support efforts to roll back New Hampshire’s abortion law, and whether she would support exceptions for specific situations, she said, ‘Right now the state has decided that a woman can get an abortion at up to 24 weeks. Until [legislative changes are proposed] the law is the law. In the meantime, if we could continue to change hearts and thinking…’” Given that she believes that life begins at conception — an extreme position that even threatens commonly-used methods of birth control and in-vitro fertilization — and that she declined to say whether she supported exceptions, Granite Staters can be sure Gendreau will be hostile to reproductive rights if she wins this November — she’ll march lock-step with the GOP’s nationwide anti-abortion agenda.
- Gendreau has mixed church and state and is likely to force her personal morals on her constituents. Just days before launching her campaign in early May, Gendreau began pushing for prayer before townselect board meetings — an agenda item that was not included in the public notice for the April 25th meeting. In a June 17, 2022 article the Caledonian-Record reported: “Raising the topic during the board’s April 25 meeting was Select Board member and New Hampshire Senate-1 candidate Carrie Gendreau, who said the week before she had the privilege of attending a Senate session in Concord, where a clergy member gave a prayer before the session….Gendreau said clergy opening meetings with prayer at Littleton Select Board meetings would be clergy members in the town and represent an established church. Prayer could begin at the board’s next meeting, on June 27, she said. ‘I have spoken with a few people willing to come and pray,’ said Gendreau. ‘It would be we do the Pledge of Allegiance then a prayer and then our meeting. I do have some people lined up.’ Giving a hypothetical, Gendreau said Cowal cited an example of a satanic church wanting to pray at a Littleton Select Board meeting, she said. ‘Unless they are established here in Littleton, we do not have to allow that,’ said Gendreau. ‘That was based on a case two years ago in Boston, where a satanic church went to an establishment in Boston and they wanted to pray and the court turned it down because they had no presence in Boston.’” Gendreau acknowledged the prayer was divisive in a 9/6/22 article by the Caledonian-Record: “As Littleton’s Select Board Chair, she spearheaded efforts to institute prayer before meetings…The situation revealed to her divided public opinion on the relationship of church and state. “Several times, people have said to me ‘Thank you for introducing prayer at the Board of Selectman’s meeting.’ I’ve also had the opposite side too, where there’s been a lot of comments on the [Littleton New Hampshire Open Forum on Facebook] or email stuff. It’s been a little bit of both,” she said.” In 2020, the same paper reported about a selectmen vote to allow sports betting: “Gendreau said she was the selectman who voted against the article out of a moral concern with gambling and a concern about bringing it into the area. ‘Personally, I don’t want to see it in our town,’ she said.”
- Mike Pence endorsed Carrie Gendreau, likely because of her anti-abortion credentials and desire to mix church and state. They’ve been photographed together, including with a Gendreau yard sign. Pence praised Gendreau as a “proud Conservative fighter” and Gendreau returned the favor, calling him a “man of God.”
- Gendreau holds a number of other conservative positions, including being anti-gun safety, anti-worker and anti-public education. A leaked fundraising letter revealed Gendreau is hostile to commonsense gun reforms, blasted her opponent’s “WOKE progressive, Washington-style agenda,” and pledged to keep the district “in conservative hands.” A Caledonian-Record article from July 28th, 2014 detailed her opposition to raising the minimum wage and hope to urge Congressmembers to vote against it: “Gendreau has some specific concerns that she hopes she’ll have an opportunity to speak about with the congressional representatives. ‘One thing that’s a big concern for me is if they up the minimum wage. That’s going to have an impact,’ she said. ‘What’s that going to mean? Charging higher prices to the customers just to keep the business going. Can the customers pay more? No! Because we’re all in the same boat.” Gendreau’s education position would undermine public education funding; a Caledonian-Record article posted 5/2/22 reported: “In a statement on her campaign website, www.carrieforsenate.com, she wrote, Family, faith, hard work and commitment to my community are my guiding principles. Protecting our personal freedoms, improving education, school choice, parental rights, and standing up for small businesses in order to strengthen our economy are my top priorities.” That statement no longer appears to be on her website.
This November, Gendreau is running against Democratic Representative Edith Tucker, an experienced legislator who is pro-choice, pro-public schools, and committed to improving the lives of everyday Granite Staters.
Combating GOP Extremism
MAGA Republicans hell-bent on taking away our rights are not unique to New Hampshire, and there are state Democrats across the country standing against the same extremist policies and rhetoric. But together, we can stop them. That’s why the DLCC has put together the Combating GOP Extremism slate — 18 state candidates running against some of the worst GOP extremists.
As right-wing extremism, MAGA militants, and Christian nationalists continue to take over the Republican Party, it’s critical that state Democrats are there to fight for our fundamental freedoms and preserve our democracy.
Abortion bans, gun violence, and anti-LGBTQ bills affect millions of lives – and their outcome will be largely decided by the legislators sent to statehouses across the country this November. These are the stakes in these highly competitive races, and these 18 Democrats need your help to win.