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Guinta visits Washington as he weighs 2014 options

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 21. 2013 8:16PM

FRANK GOES TO WASHINGTON, AGAIN. Former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta was back in Washington last week, looking into his political options for 2014.

Guinta visited the National Republican Senatorial and Congressional Committees, which help candidates.

We're told Guinta was unfazed by former Sen. John E. Sununu's disclosure on April 12 that he won't seek a rubber match with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

We understand Guinta, like many Republicans, had been expecting Sununu's move.

The senatorial committee is interested in playing hard here next year, believing Shaheen vulnerable. But Guinta remains undecided whether he'll run for the Senate or his former House seat, or, less likely, nothing.


WHY DID McCONNELL CANCEL? At the last minute Friday, we received word that U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had cancelled a planned trip to New Hampshire.

McConnell had been scheduled for a fund-raiser with state Sen. Andy Sanborn and state Rep. Laurie Sanborn at their pub, The Draft, in Concord Friday afternoon. He had also been scheduled for a fund-raiser later with media executive and former U.S. Senate candidate Bill Binnie at Binnie's Wentworth-By-The-Sea Country Club.

Andy Sanborn said he was told by McConnell's staff that McConnell wasn't coming for "security reasons" in Boston associated with law enforcement's pursuit that day of the Boston Marathon bomber.

Other Republicans told the Granite Status the trip was actually cancelled due to a poor ticket sales for the Sanborns' event. Sanborn said that was not true.

He said he had patrons lined up for the event, which was to be co-hosted by the aforementioned Sununu and Guinta.

Two Republicans familiar with Binnie's event said it sold out, but that it was supposed to be a small fund-raiser since its inception.

These Republicans said McConnell's camp felt that it would not be worthwhile for McConnell to travel to New Hampshire for the single, small Binnie event since the Sanborn event had -- allegedly -- failed to attract a satisfactory crowd.

Peter Simmons, McConnell's fund-raising consultant, backed up Andy Sanborn's explanation

Simmons explained that McConnell is assigned four Capitol Hill police officers who had "advanced the trip for him through Boston."

"(They) would not allow him, for security reasons, to fly to Boston."

Simmons said the events "are in the process of being re-scheduled."


SANBORN FOR GOVERNOR? Sanborn on Friday declined to discuss his campaign plans for 2014, but we understand that he was in Washington last week to meet with several groups, including the Republican Governors Association.

It's been long known that he has been eyeing a possible run for governor, but it's unclear at this point under what political circumstances he would, or would not, run.

For instance, would he take on 2012 candidate Kevin Smith, a fellow conservative, in a primary?

Time will tell.


RUDMAN LAUNCH. The official launch of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy was to begin at the UNH Law School with a kickoff dinner last night and will continue today with a conference on "the Federal Budget and the Law," with a star-studded political lineup.

Scheduled to speak at the Sunday night dinner were Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Kelly Ayotte, John McCain and Angus King and former Sens. Judd Gregg, Bob Kerrey and Phil Gramm.

Former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe was to receive the "Inaugural Warren B. Rudman Award."

Also scheduled to speak were Gov. Maggie Hassan, former Gov. Steve Merrill, UNH President Mark Huddleston and UNH Law School dean John Broderick, the former state Supreme Court chief justice.

On tap for today's conference are former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, McCain, Kerrey, Gramm, Ayotte, former Office of Management and Budget Director Alice Rivlin, former Sen. Pete Domenici, Concord Coalition's Robert Bixby, bipartisan Policy Center Senior Vice President William Hoagland, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Pete Peterson and U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster.


BILL OR NO BILL. Veteran Republican media consultant Alicia Preston chalked it up to a misunderstanding.

Last Thursday morning, Preston urged State House reporters to go to a news conference with a group of Republicans supporting the Capitol Hill "Gang of Eight" immigration reform plan. The local group was also supporting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Partnership for a New Economy's effort to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

She told the reporters that among the Republicans who would attend was former Speaker of the House Bill O'Brien.

That came as a bit of a surprise, since O'Brien's politics are not exactly in line with the politics of Bloomberg, or the several in the "Gang of Eight."

When we posted on Twitter that O'Brien would be at the event, some Republicans expressed surprise as well.

And as it turned out, when the news conference began, O'Brien was not on hand.

When we called O'Brien and asked why the Mont Vernon Republican was a no-show, he said he was not a no-show at all. He said he knew nothing of the event.

So what happened?

Preston Friday told us she had been "notified" that O'Brien would be at the news conference. She said her assistant had told her that, and she did not know who had told her assistant that O'Brien would be on hand.

"Sorry," Preston said.

O'Brien said Friday he "wouldn't get involved" in such an event, and "I don't usually gravitate to anything Mayor Bloomberg is doing."

Still, other conservative Republicans were at the event, including O'Brien's former Deputy Speaker, Pam Tucker, former Newt Gingrich presidential primary state campaign director Andrew Hemingway and former gubernatorial candidate Smith.


STAFFER LEAVES NHGOP. Jacob Avery has left the state Republican Party. He had been director of operations after serving as field representative during former chairs Jack Kimball and Wayne MacDonald's terms.

Although he was passed over in NHGOP Chair Jennifer Horn's recent choice for party executive director, we're told the parting was amicable.


John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @jdistaso.

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