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John DiStaso's Granite Status: GOP Manchester attorney Brad Cook confirms eyeing a run for governor

By John DiStaso
Senior Political Reporter

September 11. 2013 1:36PM

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 11: COOK FOR GOVERNOR? Veteran Republican attorney Brad Cook confirmed today that after being encouraged by friends and associates in the business community, he's considering a run for governor in 2014.

Cook, a senior partner, shareholder and past president of the Sheehan, Phinney, Bass and Green law firm, said, "At this point, yes, I'm thinking about it, and yes, people have mentioned it to me but there is no exploratory committee filed."

He said that while he likes and respects Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, he disagrees with her on gambling and other issues, and if he ran a campaign, it would be focused on issues, rather than "the stuff that's usually talked about in political campaigns."

"People have talked to me and I'm thinking about it," Cook reiterated. "There's a long distance between thinking and doing, but it will be interesting to see what the reaction of folks would be."

Cook said the idea began through work he is involved in as a leader of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire's development of a state economic plan.

"That effort has been interesting in terms of issues and things that people ought to be talking about and where the priorities of the state should be," he said.

"And I said at a meeting last week that for the right candidate, this would be a really good platform to run on and focus a political campaign on issues and ideas and what New Hampshire priorities ought to be," Cook said.

"About three people said to me, 'Well you ought to do that,' and I advised them to take two aspirin and lie down.

"But it did spark the idea of, 'What would it take? How would you do it?'"

Cook called Hassan "a fine lady" and in her first term "hasn't offended anyone particularly," although he disagrees with her pro-casino gambling stance and "a couple of other things.


He also said realizes it is a tall order to unseat a one-term governor.

"So, it would be an effort, if it were properly funded, to raise issues and try to focus people on the right things to think about for the future of New Hampshire," Cook said.

Cook, 65, said that if he ran for governor he would not take the traditional pledge to veto a broadbased sales or income tax, as Democrat Hassan has.

He said that he has never "called for" a state income tax but has said, and still beleives, "I'm not sure our revenue system is the most rational one in the world and we ought to take a look at it." Last year, he opposed a constitutional amendment, which failed at the ballot box, that would have permanently banned an income tax in New Hampshire.

He said he has also written in support of raising the state's gas tax "to fix our roads and bridges."

A self-described "big supporter and lifelong friend" of the late Gov. Walter Peterson, Cook told us, "There are a lot of Republicans who are sure I'm squishy and in the middle, as opposed to the way a lot of Republicans are now. But it would be interesting to see what the reaction is.".

He is the former law partner of the late Sen. Warren Rudman, a lifelong friend of Rudman, and was his first campaign manager, in 1980. He is a former Republican State Committee legal counsel.

Cook heads Sheehan Phinney's Estate Planning and Probate, Government Relations and Not-for-profit, Charitable and Religious Institutions Practice Groups.

His long list of awards include Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2001 and the BIA's "Above and Beyond" award in 2011.

He is a trustee of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, chair of the Warren B. Rudman Center fund-raising campaign and a member of the BIA executive committee.

Republicans have been left without a major candidate for governor since state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley took himself out of contention last week, citing family illnesses.

Executive Councilor Chris Sununu announced he would not run for governor earlier in the summer. State Sen Chuck Morse is a highly unlikely prospective candidate for governor now that he has been elected Senate President.

Conservative state Sen. Andy Sanborn continues to be mentioned as a possible candidate for governor.

(See earlier Granite Status reports elsewhere on this page or by clicking on "Granite Status" above.)

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