ALTON, N.H. (AP) — Walt Havenstein uses "we" a lot: when he's talking about the partnership with his wife, Judy; when he recalls the "gang of 16" leaders at the defense contractor BAE Systems, where he was CEO; and when he talks about his 28-year Marine Corps career.
At his Lake Winnipesaukee home recently, he said if he's successful in September's Republican primary and is elected governor in November, the word "we" will be heard a lot in Concord.
"All the members of the relationship have to be successful in their aspect of the relationship for the relationship to be successful," he said. "It's not a 'we versus them' or an 'I versus you.'"
Havenstein thinks a team approach is critical in a state like New Hampshire, with 400 representatives, 24 senators, five executive councilors and thousands of state employees.
"That is a huge 'we' issue," he said.
Havenstein, 65, faces entrepreneur Andrew Hemingway in the Sept. 9 primary. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is seeking a second term and is expected to win the party primary.
Havenstein points to his experience leading Marines and large companies as the biggest difference between him and Hemingway.
"You can be effective understanding the contributions each person brings to the mission, and I think that's exactly what we'll need to do," he said. "That's the essence of leadership. That's probably what stands me in contrast with our current governor and others who seek the office this cycle is that's basically what I've been doing for 45 years."
As an example, he points to his economic plan, called 8-15-17. By Aug. 15, 2017, he wants to create 25,000 jobs. It comes from a time at Sanders — later BAE Systems — when the company needed to "reset" its performance. It was working on delivering the electrical systems for the F-22 fighter jet so Havenstein set — and the company met — a completion date of 8-15-00.
"We aligned the company around making sure that priority was met," he said. "We need to do the same thing if we're going to be impactful when it comes to economic growth and job creation."
Dean Spiliotes, a political scientist at Southern New Hampshire University, said Havenstein will have better luck stressing his ability to work with a team.
"The collaborative approach is a lot more effective than the CEO approach," Spiliotes said. "You assume on the face of it, being the chief executive of a company and being the chief executive of a state, there are a lot of similarities. But typically you have a lot more unilateral power as a CEO than you do as a governor, and New Hampshire is no exception."
Havenstein was born into a military family. Both grandfathers served and his father was a Navy pilot. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, he spent nearly three decades in the Marines or reserves, moving 16 times before settling in New Hampshire in 1999.
His address became an issue when Democrats said he should be disqualified because he had lived in Maryland — and gotten a tax break there — for several years. The state's Ballot Law Commission ruled he was qualified because he was only a part-time resident of Maryland, but the issue has dogged him. Last week, Maryland's Montgomery County asked for $9,000 in taxes because Havenstein says he was always a resident of New Hampshire.
Havenstein said he decided to run for governor a year ago when his son, Walter, moved to Texas to work for a defense contractor. Seeing his son move for a job helped focus Havenstein's attention on the economy and job creation.
He said he'd start by rolling back the Business Profits Tax, restoring an exemption to the Real Estate Transfer Tax for small businesses and trimming regulations. He also wants to preserve school choice and work with colleges to realign curriculum to prepare students for high-tech and engineering jobs. He would work to get the state out of the Affordable Care Act and let the free market create a competitive insurance industry.
"Economic growth leads the field for me simply because unless we get that turned around, everything else is more difficult to do," he said.