By Andrew Sasser
Facing questions about his residency after losing spring housing at Dartmouth due to the remote term, New Hampshire state representative Garrett Muscatel ’20 (D-Hanover) resigned his Grafton County District 12 seat on Monday. Muscatel had previously announced that he would retire from the legislature upon graduation from Dartmouth.
Muscatel confirmed to The Dartmouth that because he does not intend to return to Hanover in the “near future,” he had to resign after losing his New Hampshire domicile when his housing for spring term was canceled. Muscatel declined to comment regarding whether he had faced any pressure to resign from members of the legislature.
New Hampshire GOP spokesperson Joe Sweeney said to WMUR that his party had “called upon Rep. Muscatel to clarify his living situation” in advance of the latest House session on June 11. He added that the public deserves to know whether members of the House of Representatives can legally serve.
Muscatel had initially told WMUR on May 29 that he would “continue to be a New Hampshire resident” through the end of his term and criticized the New Hampshire GOP for “attacking college students with spurious accusations.”
In a letter sent to New Hampshire Speaker of the House Steve Shurtleff (D-Concord) on Monday, New Hampshire GOP chairman Stephen Stepanek said that Muscatel had appeared to have “moved out of his district in March to move back to California.” Stepanek also called upon Muscatel to resign his seat prior to the next session of the House.
Stepanek said in an email statement to The Dartmouth after Muscatel’s resignation that he “applauded Rep. Muscatel for making the right decision by resigning in order to uphold the integrity of the New Hampshire House.”
Muscatel was elected to the NH state legislature in 2018. During his time in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, he proposed bills to cap the cost of insulin for some patients and to allow student-athletes to sign endorsement deals, both of which the House voted to pass. Muscatel was also one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that challenged Senate Bill 3, a state law that tightened requirements for establishing New Hampshire residency and the right to vote.
Muscatel said that it was an “honor to serve” in the state House but added that he did not find it a “very receptive place to young people” due to “arcane rules.” He also said that he hopes more young people will serve in the state House in the future.
“I’m hopeful that this seat will continue to be represented by a Dartmouth student,” Muscatel said. “While I’m sad that my term ended this way, I am glad to have served as a reminder that college students from out of state deserve to have a say in how they’re governed.”
Riley Gordon ’22, another Dartmouth student, announced his candidacy for a seat in the New Hampshire House in April.
In addition to Muscatel, Hanover representatives Rep. Polly Kent Campion (D-Etna) and Rep. Mary Jane Mulligan (D-Hanover) are retiring this year, meaning that Rep. Sharon Nordgren (D-Hanover) will be the only incumbent Hanover representative running for re-election this fall. The filing period for candidacy for Hanover and Lyme’s four state House seats ended on June 5.
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