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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Campaigns taking shape in 1st Congressional District race

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 26. 2017 10:25AM




It will be three weeks from tomorrow since Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, D-Rochester, announced that she’s not running for re-election in 2018.

Despite action on the Democratic side, there has not been a whiff of talk about any new Republicans entering this race.

Sen. Andy Sanborn and former state liquor law enforcement chief Eddie Edwards of Dover are the only GOP candidates.

And so far the fundraising by both has not done much to convince national GOP figures that all is set on their side.

Here are the up-to-date numbers for both as of Sept. 30 as reported to the Federal Election Commission.

• Edwards: He’s raised a total of $151,012 and spent $64, 413 leaving him with $86,598. But in the past three months, only $27,630 came in.

Prominent donors to Edwards include $3,000 from Portsmouth businessman Michael Kane; $5,400 each from York, Maine, Dr. Lisa Bald and Exeter CPA Raymond Bald; $10,000 from family members; $2,700 from AutoFair executive Andy Crews of Bedford; $5,650 from prominent GOP fundraiser Renee Plummer and husband, Dan, of Portsmouth. and $2,700 from New Zealand Ambassador Scott Brown’s political action committee.

•Sanborn: He’s raised $137,940 this year and has $175,524 in the bank. But Sanborn’s biggest donor is himself, $61,216 in total loans that included $25,000 each at the end of the past two quarters on June 29 and Sept. 30.

Other individuals backing Sanborn include $2,700 from Andy Crews’ wife, Melissa; $2,500 from the Citizens United Political Fund; $5,000 from Rand Paul’s political action committee; $2,700 from Manchester retiree Thomas Sweeney; $1,700 from Augusta Petrone, wife of former ambassador Joseph Petrone of Dublin, and $2,600 from Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center CEO Susan Majewski.

As for paid media, Edwards became the first candidate with an ad, a 30-second radio spot that has only aired during the Howie Carr program on five New England stations including WFEA-AM and FM in Manchester and WTSN in Dover.

“Eddie will root out the insider games and abuse of our tax dollars,” the announcer says.

But Sanborn has at least laid some groundwork for his media campaign spending $10,000 with Red Print Strategy of Herndon, Va., in mid-August on a “TV shoot.”

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MEANWHILE, the list of potential Democratic hopefuls for the 1st Congressional District seat keeps getting longer.

The latest is Rich DiPentima of Portsmouth who had a 30-year career in health care that included working as deputy public health director for the Manchester health department, and chief of communicable disease epidemiology and assistant director of public health for the state Division of Public Health Services.

DiPentima, 72, is a New York native who earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Oklahoma.

He served in the House for four years ending in 2012 as a member of the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. He sponsored the state law that banned the sale of e-cigarettes in the state to anyone under 18 years old.

He also served 28 years in the Air Force; 10 years on active duty, six years in the inactive reserves and 12 years with the New Hampshire Air National Guard from which he retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1996.

He vowed to stress support for reproductive rights along with “common sense” gun control.

“The failure of the Republican-controlled Congress to address the ongoing gun violence epidemic in our nation is disgraceful,” DiPentima said.

He’ll take the “next few weeks” to consult with friends and associates before making any decision about the campaign.

Jim Splaine, a well-known representative, said he could vouch for DiPentima as qualified to run should he decide to take the plunge.

“He is a courageous, smart man with a great background,” Splaine said.

Many hopefuls who lack either independent wealth or solid name recognition won’t be able to wait too long before pulling the trigger on a campaign or pulling out of consideration.

One of the best known and well-liked options, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, is expected to get into this race by mid-November and this will speed up the timetable for many others like DiPentima to make up their minds.

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BY ANY objective measure, House Deputy Speaker Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, is seen as a leading contender to replace House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, should the Executive Council confirm Jasper as commissioner of agriculture.

Chandler is in his 18th term in the House and was speaker for several terms before he stepped aside after the House reprimanded him for accepting excessive cash gifts through annual corn roast fundraisers.

Apparently, time has sufficiently passed. As the second in command, Chandler has often been a buffer between Jasper’s sometimes blunt management style and Chandler’s more delicate, deliberate touch.

At any rate, some veterans have come to Chandler and urged him to form a “consensus” leadership team that would combine members of the various tribes in the Republican caucus.

House Majority Leader Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack, is well-liked among his peers but some are urging Chandler to move him off that critical partisan role and put him in as deputy.

Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, has been identified as someone who as majority leader could help Chandler win over fiscal and social conservatives in the GOP ranks.

Another name that surfaces as a potential leader in the Republican caucus is Rep. Carol McGuire, R-Epsom, who mounted her own bid for speaker last year.

But to this point, Chandler has resisted making such pronouncements.

In Chandler’s view, making them now could come across to many who will be voting for speaker as too presumptuous.

There’s little question Rep. Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, remains the wild card candidate.

Last November, she lost the GOP vote to Jasper by a whisker.

But much has changed since then including that her husband, State Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, is now running for Congress.

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MEANWHILE, Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, is credited with putting together the candidate forum for the House Freedom Caucus set for Nov. 2.

All seven Republican candidates have said they would attend.

This includes Rep. Barbara Griffin of Goffstown who has said she is only considering running. Along with Chandler and Griffin, the field includes House Transportation Committee Chairman Steven Smith and Reps. Laurie Sanborn, Al Baldasaro, John Burt and Jim McConnell.

"Giving these candidates a forum with a panel of distinguished experts allows each of them to get their message out to those who will be voting later in November," Hoell said. "While we don't anticipate that the Freedom Caucus will endorse any candidate, we want all members to go into this vote with a clear sense of what 2018 might bring."

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, has also been invited but hasn't indicated whether he will attend.

The forum is at the Holiday Inn in Concord starting at 2 p.m. or 15 minutes after the House finishes its session that day.

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Maine Gov. Paul LePage is one who is not impressed with New Hampshire's Medicaid expansion.

He's fighting legislative attempts in his own state to readopt it and during a weekly radio address this week, he cited New Hampshire's experience in a negative way.

"Next door in New Hampshire, Medicaid expenses increased a whopping 253 percent between 2014 and 2015. Other states facing financial disasters from Medicaid expansion include Illinois, California, West Virginia, New York and Hawaii," LePage said.

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THE BOOK has been largely closed on the Federal Election Commission complaints brought against former Congressman Frank Guinta, R-N.H.

The FEC recently dismissed the last two complaints the New Hampshire Democratic Party and former Republican Party Executive Director Fergus Cullen lodged about how Guinta resolved the FEC judgment against him on his use of $355,000 in family loans to his 2010 campaign.

Cullen and the Democrats challenged Guinta's right for his campaign committee to return $355,000 to the Guinta Family Fund even though Guinta had personal access to the account along with other family members.

Guinta had agreed to repay the $355,000 to the family account and a $15,000 fine in order to put the matter behind him, but always maintained that the money in checks written by his parents was his own.

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THE CURRENT HEAD of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers, Ed Naile of Deering, has endorsed Nashua Republican Steve Negron's bid for Congress in the Second District.

"Steve Negron has proven himself to be a champion of self discipline, integrity and commitment. From his work to secure our electoral process, or a watchdog of our family's tax dollars, to his unwavering patriotism in public service as a veteran of our armed forces, his brand of representation is a breath of fresh air for New Hampshire," Naile said.

klandrigan@unionleader.com


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