Manchester, NH – Lou D’Allesandro, the venerable Italian-American warhorse of Granite State politics whose phone calls are answered by the likes of former Vice President Al Gore, celebrated his 75th birthday surrounded by family and friends, colleagues and supporters at the Athens Restaurant on Central Street. The celebration is an annual event and doubles as a fundraiser.
Standing with two and sometimes three and then again two grandsons, the long-serving New Hampshire State Senator listened to birthday best wishes from Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Hassan had served with her fellow Democrat D’Allesaandro in the State Senate.
“Liberal Lou” as he was dubbed by his erstwhile opponent, former State Representative Phil Greazzo, was once a Republican who memorably switched parties. A former member of the New Hampshire Executive Council from 1975 to 1981, Lou also served in the State House of Representatives for one term from 1996 to 1998, after which he moved up to the State Senate. He has represented the 20th Senate District for 15 years.
The very embodiment of a public servant, D’Allesandro also served on the Manchester School Committee for 10 years. Before becoming the consummate politician, he gave back to the community in that most important of roles, teacher. (His stint as a basketball coach was referenced during the birthday party.) D’Allesandro also served as president of Daniel Webster College.
Not Where It Should Be
After acknowledging old friends and supporters in the audience, D’Allesandro made some brief remarks about the state of the city. They echoed the campaign theme of Alderman Patrick Arnold, who was in attendance at the event and was acknowledged by Lou. Arnold is taking on incumbent Ted Gatsas in the upcoming mayoral election.
“This city is not where it should be, from an educational stand and from the way the city is managed. We really need some changes,” D’Allessandro said. “I talk to my friends about it. I visit stores, I visit people.”
He expressed concern for life in the Queen City.
“There’s a problem. We don’t have that same pride in out city that we did before. We’re not doing enough to make our city better.”
D’Allesandro said that at the state level, progress was being made to improve conditions. Ultimately, it was people, individually and collectively, who improved the quality of life of the city and the state.
“Together, we make the difference,” D’Allessandro said. “It’s all of us working together that make a difference in the lives of the people we support and the things we want to have done.”
During the 2012 campaign, the anti-government Greazzo, currently embroiled in a regulatory wrangle over non-compliance with city building codes for a restaurant that hosts Republican fund-raisers, actually criticized D’Allesandro for having been a “public servant” for so many years.
Greazzo told the New Hampshire Union Leader, “Lou has been a paid employee with taxpayer dollars his whole career.”
Aside from insulting public school teachers, Greazzo mischaracterized D’Allessandro. He actually taught primarily at private schools, including those affiliated with the Catholic Church. His children were educated by Manchester’s public school system.
Lou responded to Greazzo by saying, “I run to be a public servant, to do good things for this city, state and hopefully my country.”
The voters of the 20th Senate District agreed.
In their November 2012 match-up, D’Allesandro crushed Greazzo . Lou not only racked up nearly twice as many votes as Greazzo, but defeated Greazzo’s libertarian Republican allies Tammy Simmons and Matt Swank in Manchester’s nonpartisan election for the new City Charter Commission.
“Liberal Lou” became “Landslide Lou.”
Simmons, a former Republican member of the State House of Representatives who styled herself as a libertarian gadfly before cloaking herself with the Tea Party banner, had incorrectly criticized D’Allesandro’s birthday party as a $1,000 a seat event. Actually, the Democrat’s party was a democratic affair, with a small d.
D’Allesandro greeted guests at the door. Everyone was welcome, even those not bearing gifts for the Greek-American solon.
In May, Simmons paid $10,000 to be one of the sponsors of the New Hampshire Republican Party’s first “Liberty Dinner”, headlined by Rand Paul, whom she supports.
A Liberty Dinner had been held by the New Hampshire Libertarian Party in 2012. State GOP Chair Jennifer Horn co-opted the event in an attempt to rein in the Tea Party and rebrand it after the overwhelming rejection of libertarian-Republican officeholders by New Hampshire voters in the 2012 general election. The five-figure donation gave Simmons the privilege of giving the benediction to a crowd of Republican Fat Cats scrambling to leave the banquet hall after Rand Paul had split the scene.
In a field of 62 candidates vying for the nine seats on the Manchester Charter Commission, Lou came in first with 15,398 votes. He bested Simmons and Swank by 10,036 and 12,910 votes, respectively, who came in 27th and 42nd.
It was a bad November for the anti-Liberal Lou libertarian brigade. In addition to Greazzo giving up his seat in the New Hampshire House to vie for D’Allessandro’s Senate seat, Simmons and Swank were swept from state office.
The dual elections seemed to say that if anyone is said to be truly representative of Manchester and the 20th Senate District, it was Lou D’Allesandro.