John DiStaso's Granite Status: GOP 2nd District congressional hopeful Lambert announces 50 Nashua supporters
BY JOHN DISTASO Senior Political Reporter
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 13: LAMBERT ENDORSEMENTS. Republican 2nd District U.S. House candidate Gary Lambert today announced endorsements by 50 fellow Nashua Republicans.
Included are former Mayor and Executive Councilor Bernie Streeter and state Reps. Michael McCarthy, David Murotake and Donald LeBrun.
Others supporters include activists Paul and Donna Metzger, Dennis Hogan, and Joseph Krasucki.
Lambert is the only announced Republican candidate for the seat now held by Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster.
(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
MONDAY, NOV. 11: THE GATSAS DRUMBEAT. After last week's Manchester mayoral election, Ted Gatsas instantly found himself as the unofficial GOP front-runner to challenge incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan for governor next year.
Gatsas says it's too early for such speculation and that he is focused on the city budget and other local matters.
While state Democrats say he "barely staved off an underfunded challenge by Patrick Arnold," Gatsas' camp points to his strength among independents as the fuel for his win in a city with more Democratic than Republican registered voters.
Camp Gatsas notes that the city and state Democratic parties, along with the Obama organization, went all out for Arnold, while claiming the Republican apparatus was scarce, at best. His followers wonder to what degree the state GOP would help statewide should the mayor take on a sitting governor next year.
State GOP sources dispute that assessment, saying the party did everything Gatsas asked of it and will work hard for its nominee for governor next year, whoever that might be.
Meanwhile, many Republicans are already literally and figuratively knocking on Gatsas' door, asking him to consider it and calling him the only potentially strong challenger to Hassan out there.
TALKING TURKEY. Despite the Gatsas focus, Manchester attorney Brad Cook continues to weigh a run for governor.
Cook, who won't take the anti-broadbased tax pledge, tells the Status that Republicans "from the (Walter) Peterson/(Warren) Rudman group," have offered him money, work, and organization. He says he will make a decision, with family and friends, at Thanksgiving.
DEMOCRATS FEELING GOOD. Despite the Patrick Arnold loss in Manchester, Democrats are feeling pretty good about last Tuesday night and about future prospects.
In a memo to party leaders, NHDP communications director Harrell Kirstein notes the party won six of the seven contested mayoral or special elections, including a 19 percentage point victory by Latha Mangipudi over former House Republican Majority Leader Pete Silva in Nashua's Ward 8.
The party says that candidates with strong ties to the Republican State committee or national Republicans "went down in flames," including former state GOP chair Fergus Cullen in his bid for the Dover City Council and conservative Phil Greazzo and state Rep. Will Infantine in Manchester.
And the Democrats couldn't resist a dig at Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's favorite cash cow, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.
"It also noteworthy that in Rochester and Somersworth, both Republican candidates (Brown) campaign for were embarrassingly defeated by large margins."
Dems are expecting a huge turnout this coming Saturday night at their annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Manchester, featuring Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. The party says more than 800 tickets have been sold.
THEY LOVE SCOTT. The "Brown for U.S. Senate" talk continues to ramp up, but the former Bay State senator is still being coy.
The chairman and vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Rob Portman of Ohio, have reportedly urged Brown to take on Jeanne Shaheen.
At the same time, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte was saying that "absolutely he'd be a very strong candidate."
"All good people," Brown told us in an email Friday. "I have a great relationship with all of them. They have always been supportive and I will always be supportive of them."
LISTENING TO SHAHEEN & CO.? Is President Obama listening to Sen. Shaheen and fellow Senate Democrats who urged him to extend the Obamacare open enrollment period past March 31?
In his NBC interview last week, Obama appeared to leave the door open a bit.
He said he was confident the HealthCare.gov website will be operating better by Nov. 30 and with the deadline not until March 31, "we've got a whole bunch of time."
"And what we'll do is continue to assess if there are roadblocks for people, we're going to clear out those roadblocks" and do "whatever it takes" to clear up the mess."
Shaheen will introduce a bill next week extending the Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period by at least two months, through at least May 31. The bill will allow Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to use her discretion to further stretch the period "if there are ongoing problems," a Democratic aide told POLITICO.
The bill will also delay the individual mandate's enforcement mechanism, a $95 fine for individuals who do not sign for insurance, for as long as the enrollment period is extended, POLITICO reports.
"Even if the HealthCare.gov is working at the end of November, people will have still lost two months to navigate the website, shop for plans, and sign up for insurance. Senator Shaheen thinks it's wrong to penalize people because of website problems," said spokesman Shripal Shah on Friday. "People were promised six months to sign up and that's what they should get."
The state GOP, meanwhile, called on Shaheen to join Obama in his apology in that NBC piece regarding his many "like it-keep it" promises on Obamacare.
Shaheen's office did not respond, but the Democratic Party said Ayotte should apologize to "the thousands of New Hampshire citizens whose health care she voted to repeal" by opposing Obamacare.
Ayotte's office fired back, "It's unfortunate that the New Hampshire Democrat Party doesn't seem to think it's heartbreaking that many Granite Staters are losing their health coverage or having to pay more for it. This may be about partisanship to the Democrats, but Senator Ayotte feels badly for New Hampshire citizens who are struggling under the President's health care law."
SHAHEEN AND ISAKSON. Shaheen today will host Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia to talk about their plan to reform the federal budgeting process. Both say the federal government should go to a two-year (biennial) budget.
They'll be at the Warren B. Rudman Center at the UNH School of Law at 2 p.m.
FLAT EARTH SOCIETY? Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey acknowledged referring to the "far right fringe of the Tea Party" as "flat earth believers" at a state party executive committee meeting last Monday night, Nov. 4.
State Senate President Chuck Morse and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley briefed that committee on their alternative plan to Medicaid expansion ahead of the opening of the special legislative session.
Most on the committee supported it, but a few didn't, we're told.
Duprey told us, "I'm not against the Tea Party. It is a movement grounded in fiscal conservatism, which I support. But it does contain some who don't believe in any government and who think anarchy should rule, and they are on the far, far fringe."
THE CHRISTIE CONNECTION. Last week the Republican State Committee hired as its new executive director one Matt Mowers, a former key staffer on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's reelection campaign. On the same day, a New Jersey RNC "Victory" staffer who helped the Christie effort, Nathan Lamb, was hired by New Hampshire congressional candidate Dan Innis.
So if — and more likely, when — Christie makes his first pilgrimage to the first-in-the-nation primary state as a potential 2016 presidential hopeful, perhaps as the next chair of the Republican Governors Association, he'll have some friends here.
Also, Christie's top two strategists, Mike DuHaime and Bill Stepien, have spent much time in New Hampshire.
DuHaime managed Rudy Giuliani's campaign in 2008 and in 2004 was eastern field director for Bush-Cheney, which had him here often.
Stepien was New Hampshire political director for Bush-Cheney in 2004 and then John McCain's national field director in 2008.
Maria Comella, Christie's communication director, was Giuliani's 2008 deputy communications director and communications director for the New Hampshire Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign.
BIG NAMES FOR FRANK. Former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta has landed two of the most powerful members of the U.S. House Republican majority at a Washington, D.C. fund-raiser Wednesday.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy will be "special guests" at a reception next week supporting Guinta's bid to return to the House next year.
The $500-a-person and $1,000-a-PAC fund-raiser will be held at the Capitol Hill Club Nov. 13.
Guinta last month had planned to have House Budget Committee Chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan appear at a fund-raiser for him in New Hampshire, but the event was cancelled because Ryan was unable to make it due to the government shutdown. Guinta's campaign said it raised $200,000 from those who had purchased tickets for the event, anyway.
Guinta, a former Manchester mayor, served in the House in 2011 and 2012 with Ryan, Cantor and McCarthy before being defeated by Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter a year ago.
He now faces a GOP primary challenge from former UNH business school dean Innis.
It will be a busy fund-raising week for Guinta. Thursday, he will have a fund-raiser in Portsmouth with — yes — Scott Brown as the featured guest.
• Shaheen will have a fund-raiser for her reelection bid at the Manchester home of Paul LeBlanc and Patricia Findlen tonight. Tickets range from $75-a-person up to a top sponsorship level of $2,600.
• Conservative Republican activist Karen Testerman plans a kickoff event for her U.S. Senate campaign event at The Yard Restaurant in Manchester tomorrow night.
• Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Jim Rubens has hired Julia Whitney as a field staffer. She has worked on Scott Brown's U.S. Senate campaign and Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign.
(John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter: @jdistaso.)