Manchester Local 2320 member Kevin Cavanaugh, with campaign staff and supporters on the steps of the New Hampshire state capitol after filing official paperwork declaring his candidacy. 

In New Hampshire, momentum is building for Kevin Cavanaugh, an alderman and assistant business manager for Manchester Local 2320 who is running in a special election for the state Senate.

Cavanaugh addressing the New Hampshire AFL-CIO convention in early May. He faces a primary election on June 6.
Photos courtesy Friends of Kevin Cavanaugh.

On May 15, Cavanaugh picked up the endorsement of influential state leader Andru Volinsky and former Democratic nominee for governor Colin Van Ostern. Earlier this month, Cavanaugh announced support from a slew of Democratic elected officials, including fellow aldermen, state representatives, labor and party leaders.

“We’re getting a lot of support… the response has been great,” said Cavanaugh, who is on leave from his job as a service splice technician at FairPoint Communications during his term as assistant business manager.

Alongside brothers and sisters from Local 2320 and volunteers from all over the district, Cavanaugh has been knocking on doors, holding house parties and attending to the other duties of a candidate in a state famous for its retail style of politics.

“I really love getting out and meeting people,” said Cavanaugh, who is a year and a half into his first term as an alderman from New Hampshire’s largest city, Manchester. “I’m a guy from a blue-collar background. I identify with people who work for a living, and I want to be their voice in the state Senate.”

The 16th Senate district, which encompasses parts of Manchester and several towns to the north and east, is open because Scott McGilvray, former president of the New Hampshire National Education Association, passed away in office in March.

“Scott was a labor guy, and I think it’s important to have that perspective continue to be represented in Concord,” Cavanaugh said, referring to the state capital.

Because the job pays just $100 per year, the New Hampshire state Senate has often been jokingly called “The Millionaire’s Club,” because the only people who have traditionally been able to afford the time commitment are the independently wealthy and the self-employed.

“At the IBEW, I see the battles working people go through every day,” Cavanaugh said. “Someone gets cancer and the company wants to take away their health care because they’ve been out of work too long, or gets hurt on the job and their employer wants to reduce their benefits. I have a unique perspective that I can bring to the state Senate.”

New Hampshire government is currently under one-party rule, with a Republican governor and GOP majorities in both legislative chambers. Defending the Democratic seat in District 16 is an important first step to challenging those majorities in November 2018. In February, the state narrowly avoided passing harmful right-to-work legislation thanks to the defection of a handful of Republicans in the House.

His first test is a Democratic primary on June 6, where Cavanaugh will face well-known Manchester attorney James Normand. The winner of that race will square off against former Republican state senator David Boutin and Libertarian Jason Dubrow on July 25.

“Running for elected office takes a gigantic personal sacrifice,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson, “but we hope more members around the U.S. and Canada will be willing to take that risk to stand up for working families.”

Brother Cavanaugh encourages IBEW brothers and sisters all over the U.S. to visit his campaign website, and he has set up a special fundraising page for members who’d like to support his effort financially.