Elections

Homeowners with Trump Yard Signs Receive Ominous Warning

A Trump lawn sign by the roadside in New Hampshire.
A Trump lawn sign by the roadside in New Hampshire. (Max Ledoux)
Menacing notes are just the latest example of the threats, theft, and electoral shenanigans surrounding the final days of campaign season in New Hampshire.

‘You have been identified by our group as being a Trump supporter.”

Thus begins the text of threatening letters recently sent to homeowners with Trump yard signs in New Hampshire. The letters continue, “We recommend that you check your home insurance policy and make [sure] that it is current and that it has adequate coverage for fire damage. You have been given ‘Fair Warning.’”

The menacing notes are just the latest example of the threats, theft, and electoral shenanigans surrounding the final days of campaign season in New Hampshire, whose elite primary status typically makes it a hub of bare-knuckle politics early in the season — but not as much in the fall, despite its battleground stripes.

Not so in 2020. State and federal law enforcement are investigating the letters, which were sent through the U.S. Postal Service to three homes in Milford and two in Brookline.

Norm Silber, a Republican running for the state House of Representatives, also had one of his signs stolen off public property in his hometown of Gilford in June. “The grandson of one of my supporters saw it happen and wrote down the license plate,” he said. “So I reported it to the police, they ran the plates, called the registered owner, whose name is James Babcock, and he confessed!”

Babcock has been charged with theft by unauthorized taking and an election-law violation of tampering with an election sign. However, there has been no trial, said Silber, because the court has been closed due to COVID. That leaves him fuming. “I find that people on the Left are much more willing to engage in this kind of behavior than the Right,” said Silber.

Silber is a semi-retired attorney and previously served a couple years on New Hampshire’s House election committee. “Under the state constitution,” he pointed out, “if you’re convicted of violating election law, you lose your right to vote.”

Silber’s not the only Republican candidate in the state whose signs have been stolen. “I’ve had a lot of signs that have disappeared or been vandalized,” said Corky Messner, the underdog GOP candidate for U.S. Senate. “I had 4’x8’ signs cut up and destroyed.”

Sign stealing is hardly a new practice, but the threats against Trump supporters are more concerning.

Republican State Representative Glenn Cordelli has received two threatening postcards, both of which he turned over to police and are now being investigated by postal inspectors. “They were profane,” he said. The postcard reads (according to a copy I reviewed):

Ronald Reagan was a failure, like the [sic] Trump he has f—ed over people. It’s time to trash that Republican sh–. Socialism rules. Get your guns out. . . . Donald Trump is Putins [sic] P-ssy. It’s incredible whatever happened to the moral character that you had.

Both postcards — one postmarked Manchester, N.H., the other Boston, Mass. — are seemingly written by the same hand and addressed to his personal post-office box. 

A couple in New Boston, N.H., had their 16-foot-tall wooden “T” (for Trump) vandalized in their front yard. Security-camera footage shows three people spray-painting “Black Lives Matter” on the “T” and throwing toilet paper on it. Police are also investigating a powder found at its base.

With its four electoral votes, New Hampshire is not the most sought-after prize in November but is nevertheless contested. This year, polls continue to show Joe Biden well ahead of President Trump – but his supporters are pressing his case to the end.

More than two-dozen Trump supporters gathered on an overcast, late-October day for a sign-waving event in Wolfeboro. Passing drivers honked their horns in encouragement and flashed the “V” for victory as the sign-holders cheered and waved. Occasionally, someone flipped the bird, usually while driving a Prius.

A defiant streak ran through it, and tensions flared as they have in towns like this all year. A man in his sixties sported a shirt that read, “If you don’t like Trump, you probably won’t like me — and I’m OK with that.” He said he’s opposed to income taxes (New Hampshire has no personal income tax) but he didn’t know much about how government works and was surprised to learn that New Hampshire has a 400-member House of Representatives. Someone suggested he watch Hillsdale College videos on YouTube, and he replied he’s just signed up for PragerU and is looking forward to learning more about the Constitution.

“You’re dumb, you’re dumb, you’re dumb,” said a teenage girl as she walked through the group of Trump supporters, standing on a public sidewalk near Brewster Academy, an elite private boarding school (about $70,000-a-year tuition). The girl and two friends had their phones out, filming the interaction.

“Your mother loved you,” a woman holding a homemade anti-abortion sign told the teen. “She had you. She loves you.”

“At least I’m smart and not stupid like you,” the girl replied. Earlier in the afternoon, the coach of the Brewster girls’ soccer team had the team run near the sign-wavers while chanting “Black Lives Matter.” The coach filmed the girls, making sure to get the Trump supporters in the background.

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