Keene’s lone Libertarian representative resigns from Legislature

By Keene Sentinel

Keene’s delegation to the N.H. House of Representatives has lost its only Libertarian.

State Rep. Joseph P. Stallcop, L-Keene, submitted his letter of resignation to the N.H. House Clerk’s Office Aug. 6, according to House Communications Director James E. Rivers.

Stallcop, 22, represented Cheshire District 4, which covers Keene’sWard 1.

The Libertarian was elected to the House in 2016 as a Democrat during his junior year at Keene State College. He ran unopposed.

In an interview Tuesday, Stallcop said he’d intended to stay for just one term, noting that those two years coincided with the remainder of his time at Keene State.

After graduating in May, Stallcop said he moved to Dover because of better job opportunities in the Seacoast region.

“Coming out of college, I don’t have the luxury to devote all of my time and efforts towards politics,” Stallcop said. “My big goal is to be able to get into the workforce and pay off student loans.”

He said he hadn’t been aware he needed to submit a letter of resignation until recently, believing that his term had come to a close with the end of the normal legislative session on May 23.

Stallcop did not attend the Legislature’s special session in July, which Gov. Chris Sununu requested in response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that affects online sales tax. The House ultimately gutted a bill intended to deter other states from collecting sales tax in New Hampshire, despite unanimous approval in the Senate.

State Rep. William A. Pearson, D-Keene, said he was struck to hear Stallcop’s name called during the special session, knowing that he had moved to Dover.

“If anything, I’m surprised the resignation came so late,” Pearson said.

In a 2017 interview with The Sentinel, Stallcop credited Pearson — a student at the University of New Hampshire School of Law in Concord — as an inspiration for his decision to run for office while attending college.

On Tuesday, Pearson referenced an early conversation between the two and said there appeared to be some parallels between his political career and Stallcop’s.

“I was managing a course load while serving in the Legislature, and he was doing the same thing at Keene State,” Pearson said, citing shared support for issues like marijuana legalization and Medicaid expansion.

However, Pearson said he was caught off guard by Stallcop’s decision to switch parties.

“Obviously, there were some differences that came out,” he added. “I think that was a surprise to everyone.”

In May 2017, Stallcop announced on the steps of the Statehouse in Concord that he had changed his political affiliation, saying he no longer felt welcome in the Democratic Party.

The change did not affect his ability to serve out his term, which was set to end later this year.

Stallcop did not file for re-election in June. Democrat David Morrill and Libertarian David Crawford are both running for the seat.

Rivers said it’s not uncommon for representatives to issue resignation letters when they don’t plan to run for re-election. He said six representatives have resigned since June 1, noting that Stallcop is the only one of those representatives from Cheshire County.

According to House Clerk Paul C. Smith, Stallcop’s letter of resignation will be read aloud when the Legislature convenes Sept. 13 for “veto day.”

“It’s too bad I had to go,” Stallcop said Tuesday. “At the same time, sometimes we all have to make these tough choices.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.