“Like many Granite Staters, I fear that we are one election away from turning into Massachusetts.” – New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte

For gawd’s sake, Granite Staters – give it a freakin’ rest!

Are we the only ones fed up to here with our neighbors’ endless fetishization of their imaginary superiority? It’s tiresome, obnoxious and false.

Just ask Kelly Ayotte, who fled paradise after high school to pursue her education in the well-known garden spots of University Park and Villanova, Pennsylvania. Just like Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, who bolted to attend Harvard. Couldn’t get into UNH, we guess.

Here let’s pause to try to deflect some of the misspelled hate e-mail surely coming our way after this column is read aloud to Granite Staters. Your state is home to many wonderful people (mostly transplants from Massachusetts, but still). Beautiful scenery abounds. And you sure do have a lot of greasy-spoon diners available to be used as photo ops for presidential candidates.


But let’s start with that presidential primary of yours, a cute little political fantasy tableau that merits the animatronic treatment at Disneyland right next to the talking Abe Lincoln. We understand you’re all worked up over Joe Biden booting you out of the primary leadoff spot in favor of states with voting demographics that resemble America. How dare he diss your pristine crucible of democracy, where flinty voters carefully kick the tires after extensive personal contact with the candidates?

But as no less an authority than Andy Smith, longtime director of the UNH polling shop, points out, “campaigning here a lot is not going to win you the nomination.” Money, TV ads, debate performances and money are the ticket in New Hampshire just like everywhere else. But if you’re lucky, your picture might wind up adorning a booth at the Red Arrow Diner, the better to get spattered with egg yolk by obese customers with bad aim.

But we digress. The pride of Nashua is appalled at the prospect of New Hampshire resembling Massachusetts, check. Ayotte doesn’t want her constituents enjoying better air quality (Mass. ranks 37th, NH 48th). Higher median property taxes, the fastest rising electricity bills in New England, near-zero access to public transportation – tell us again all about your financial haven!

And while local alcoholics and sad sacks who can’t score a partner by closing time complain bitterly about how early Boston nightlife shuts down, a long weekend in ManchVegas will put things in perspective. A newly-relocated friend once asked a longtime Manchester resident where to go for fun at night. The answer: “Depends what you’re looking for – [a vulgar euphemism for the female anatomy] or getting the [bleep] kicked out of ya.” So many choices, so little time!

Ayotte’s idiotic remark may well help her marshal support among the like-minded. Perhaps she can tout New Hampshire’s stature as possessor of the fourth most lenient gun laws in the nation. So vastly preferable to Massachusetts which has the fourth toughest.

After all, it’s right there in the state slogan: Live Free And Die!

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Jon Keller has been reporting and commenting on local politics since 1978. A graduate of Brandeis University, he worked in radio as a producer and talk-show host before moving into print journalism at The Tab newspapers and the Boston Phoenix. Freelance credits include the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Boston Magazine, the New Republic and the Washington Post. Since 1991 his "Keller At Large" commentaries and interviews have been a fixture on Boston TV, first on WLVI-TV and, since 2005, on WBZ-TV. He is a 12-time Emmy Award winner for political reporting and commentary. He began his Massterlist column in March 2020.