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Independent Shawn O'Connor makes debate cut

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 21. 2016 5:06PM
Congressional hopeful Shawn O'Connor takes part in an interview Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, at the New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester. 

MANCHESTER — The final schedule of televised debates co-sponsored by WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader was set Friday and marks a big lift to the independent congressional candidacy of Shawn O’Connor of Bedford.

The self-made businessman and former Democratic hopeful O’Connor was chosen to join the First Congressional District debate along with Congressman Frank Guinta, R-NH, and former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of Rochester, a Democrat.

The move came after the latest WMUR-University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll gave O’Connor 10 percent support.

“WMUR has made a news judgment to include independent candidate for Congress in the First District, Shawn O’Connor, in our Nov. 3 debate,” WMUR said in a statement.

“Mr. O’Connor has, in our view, been running an active campaign — meeting with voters and holding and appearing at events.”

A decisive factor in the decision was this race — the fourth showdown between Guinta and Shea-Porter — remains very fluid.

“This one poll shows that 14 percent of the voters are still undecided in this race, so based on our news judgment, we have decided that we should allow those voters to hear from Shawn O’Connor,” WMUR added.

The debate schedule kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 1 with the race for governor with Democrat Colin Van Ostern of Concord facing Newfields Republican Chris Sununu.

The much-watched, U.S. Senate race follows on Nov. 2 with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, up against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

After the First District debate on Nov. 3, the schedule concludes the next night with the Second District race with two-term, Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster opposed by Hudson Republican Jim Lawrence.

All debates will air live on WMUR from 7-8 p.m. at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on the campus of St. Anselm College.

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