July 23. 2013 12:11PM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Guinta moves toward 3rd run for 1st CD seat; in 2nd CD, Lambert hires staffer, O'Brien parts ways with his

By John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter


TUESDAY, JULY 23: SHAHEEN: BROWN VISIT = CASH REQUEST. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is sounding an alarm with supporters, trying to turn another planned visit to New Hampshire by former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown into reelection campaign cash.

Brown earlier this year created a stir by not ruling out the possibility of establishing residency in New Hampshire and running against Shaheen next year. He owns a vacation home in Rye.

He visited the state four times and now is apparently planning a fifth visit.

First-term state Rep. Joe Sweeney, R-Salem, says he has booked Brown for a $50-a-person fundraiser on behalf of his own reelection campaign to the state House, scheduled for Aug. 9 at the Derry-Salem Elks in Salem.

Sweeney says he had never met Brown but invited him via email more than a months ago, "and we spoke on the phone a bit and worked it out that he would appear."

Shaheen's reelection campaign email contends Brown's appearance at the Sweeney fundraiser shows, "Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown continues laying groundwork for a run against me in New Hampshire, with (former George W. Bush adviser) Karl Rove urging him on."

She asks for donations "to make sure we're ready for Brown and Rove's attacks."

TUESDAY, JULY 23: "IRS ABUSE" EVENT POSTPONED. Last week we reported on UnionLeader.com that the New Hampshire Republican Leadership Institute and the national Tea Party Patriots will host an event on federal government "abuse," focusing on the IRS, on Thursday (July 25).

Institute executive director Andrew Hemingway told us today the event has been postponed until Aug. 15 at the Raddisson Hotel in downtown Manchester.

MONDAY, JULY 22: GUINTA, LAMBERT, O'BRIEN. There is much activity on the Republican congressional campaign front in New Hampshire today.

We've learned former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta is moving aggressively toward a third run for the 1st District U.S. House seat.

Ethan Zorfas, Guinta's former chief of staff and former campaign manager, is working with him again.

"Frank has begun making calls to donors and to Republican leaders and discuss running again for the U.S. House," Zorfas said Monday.

"He has some family and personal obligations he needs to fulfill," said Zorfas, but he said he expects Guinta to become a candidate in September.

Guinta confirmed in an interview that he has recently "spent time on vacation with my wife and kids and talked about what if anything I should consider for 2014. We came to a decision and I can say that I'll make a formal announcement in about my political plans in September."

At the same time in the 2nd District former state Sen. Gary Lambert is closing in on a run for the 2nd District U.S. House seat and has hired the same Zorfas to organize his effort.

"Ethan will definitely have a part to play in the campaign," said Lambert.

He said he and Zorfas are in Washington, D.C., today at meetings with potential supporters and donors, as well as with officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee. He said he has an "action-packed" day in Washington planned for Tuesday, as well.

"Ethan is going to have a major role in the campaign, if there is one," Lambert said. He said he expects to make a decision on whether to run "sooner rather than later."

But, he said, "It is looking very positive."

Zorfas said his role with Lambert "will not preclude me from working with Frank." He said he expects to have major consulting roles for both.

Lambert's move forward toward a congressional run comes after potential 2nd District Republican primary foe Bill O'Brien, the former New Hampshire House speaker, raised only $42,000 in the second quarter.

O'Brien, we've also learned, has parted ways with the staffer he hired in May to help in fund-raising and other campaign basics -- Andy Demers, a former campaign operative for both Ron and Rand Paul.

O'Brien confirmed Monday the move was "a jointly reached decision."

O'Brien had hired Demers back in May as he geared up his exploratory effort for a possible 2nd District U.S. House run.

Demers worked as a top staffer on the 2010 Senate campaign of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and the 2012 presidential campaign of Ron Paul.

O'Brien did not attribute the departure of Demers to his fundraising total, but did acknowledge, "we had bigger expectations for the quarter."

"Andy and I worked together and we wanted to see if we could develop a campaign together. And we gave ourselves a limited period to see if that would happen and we think it's best that we move on to different opportunities," said O'Brien.

But O'Brien said he every intention of continuing his exploratory effort.

Lambert has not yet filed a fund-raising committee with the Federal Election Commission.

Guinta defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in 2010, but then lost to her in 2012.

Initially, he had been said to be weighing a third run against Shea-Porter against the possibility of a U.S. Senate run against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, but in recent weeks has been focusing more on another House run.

In mid-March, the former Manchester Mayor in March reemerged from his election loss as the founder and chairman of the Independent Business Council of New Hampshire, a limited liability company that would advocate for conservative fiscal and regulatory policies on behalf of independent business owners.

Guinta said that regardless of "what I do politically," the IBCNH will continue as "a strong small business advocay group. It is something that is needed in the state and is really very separate from my political endeavors.

Guinta said that since the last election, "I've had some time to reflect on how things are going and see what direction the New Hampshire delegation is taking the country and I'm don't necessarily think the people of New Hampshire are happy with the same thing -- the economy, the debt, the deficit, the issues of health care" and the IRS.

"People are frustrated," Guinta said. He also said that in traveling through the state, Granite Staters remain unhappy with the economy and "the level of representation they are getting in the first congressional district."

He also said he hears "contrast about how engaged I was as a constituent service member of Congress, with the job fairs and summits I hosted, and how strong I was there and that's certainly not continuing right now."

Last week, Republican Executive Councilor Chris Sununu took himself out of contention for governor, the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate in 2014. Sununu said he intends to run for a third term on the council.

(For earlier Granite Status reports, click on "Granite Status" above.)