December 09. 2013 11:56AM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: National Democratic chair to speak at NHIOP in January; Cataldo backs Kenney for Executive Council

MONDAY, DEC. 9: DWS APPEARANCE. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will discuss her new book at an event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College on Jan. 2.

The event is free and open to the public, according to the state Democratic Party.

Wasserman Schutz's new book is entitled "For the Next Generation: A Wake-Up Call to Solving Our Nation's Problems."

Describing the book recently, she said, "It's not enough to just say that we have to stop governing by crisis and find common ground. We actually need to do it. In writing this book, I sought to identify specific ways in which politicians can work together on key policy issues and move past this constant state of discord."

She will be introduced at the event by state Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, who has known Wasserman Schultz for about 20 years.

Soucy said the two met at a nonpartisan event for emerging legislative leaders in 1994 and have been friends since.

Wasserman Schultz, who is also a U.S. Representative from Florida, has a second home in Newbury near Lake Sunapee.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

MONDAY, DEC. 9: CATALDO BACKS KENNEY. State Sen. Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, on Monday became the first state senator to take sides in the special election to pick a successor to the late Ray Burton in Executive Council District 1.

Cataldo is backing 2008 Republican nominee for governor and former state Sen. Joe Kenney of Wakefield over former Belknap County Commissioner Christopher Boothby and Mark Aldrich of Lebanon.

Although Cataldo is a resident of Farmington, which is in council District 2, he does represent the District 1 communities of Alton and New Durham.

Cataldo said in a statement:

"I have worked with Joe Kenney for many years in the State Legislature and I know the quality of representation that he will give the citizens of Executive Council District 1 when elected. The person who fills that seat needs state experience and Joe has it with eight years in the New Hampshire House and six years in the state Senate, while working on various committees such Transportation, Commerce, Labor and Executive, Departments and Administration."

Last week, state House Republican Leader Gene Chandler endorsed Boothby.

The Republican special election primary is scheduled for Jan. 21, with the general election scheduled for March 11.

The lone Democrat running is Grafton County Commissioner Michael Cryans of Hanover.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

SUNDAY, DEC. 8: "INTENSE EXPLORATION." All political eyes in New Hampshire - and beyond - are on Scott Brown. His every move. His every syllable and intonation.

And that's just fine with businessman Chuck Rolecek, who looks to be heading toward a run for governor.

As Brown's flirtation with a run for the New Hampshire U.S. Senate seat attracts all of the attention, Rolecek, the former owner of the C.R. Sparks and Hanover Street Chop House restaurants, has been, under the radar, in "a very intense exploratory stage for the past three or four weeks" for a run for governor.

And in an interview, Rolecek sounded very much like he's on the verge of becoming a candidate.

Rolecek, 57, of Bedford, tells us he has been meeting with "high-ranking people within the party and talking to potential donors and a couple of former governors and business and trade associations, just getting a sense if I have the support, and if they think they could get behind me."

Rolecek said it is "a yeoman-like task" trying to defeat an incumbent one-term governor, "so it's going to have to be everyone kind of pulling on the rope to help me pull the cart up the hill.''

"I don't want to be a lone wolf out there, and I'm flattered by the attention," he said.

"I've been encouraged both inside and outside of New Hampshire to continue to do the due diligence and continue to use people as a sounding board as I try to put together a political team if I move forward.

"But it's not an easy decision to take on a task like this," and he hopes to make up his mind by the end of the year.

Rolecek made his first bid for public office in 2012, when he ran for the District 4 Executive Council seat.

He finished last in a low-turnout three-way primary, and the seat eventually went to Democrat Chris Pappas. But Rolecek said last week, "I'm glad I lost," he "learned an awful lot," and "the experience is every bit as important as the outcome.''

"I will do some things differently this time around, for sure," he said.

Rolecek said he is considering running because, "As I see things happening in Concord, I think there is a need to get back to some of the things that made New Hampshire great 28 years ago, when I moved here," he said.

"When I came here and worked for a big company and then went into becoming a small-business person, I thought it was just an outstanding place to start a business, raise a family and be part of a community. I'm concerned that we've taken some of the joy out of being a small-business person. We've added a lot of uncertainty and risk.

"We have to be a little bit more small-business friendly," he said.

Rolecek cited uncertainty on the "health care front" and "some of the highest corporate taxes in the country" as his top concerns.

Overall, he said, "We have to get back to some Republican values."

He said that as a businessman, "I've always considered myself someone who can bring opposing sides together."

Rolecek, like Gov. Maggie Hassan, backs expanded gambling, but is no longer chairman of the FixItNow group, which is funded by gambling interests.

Still, he said, "anything that creates jobs, I would be for. I've been a job-creator for 25 years, and I think anything that creates jobs, you have to look at closely."


GEESH! Twitter was buzzing Friday over a brief "flub" by Brown outside the Londonderry GOP event he attended Thursday night.

Brown told reporters Republicans "are thankful I've been around for a year helping them raise money, helping them raise awareness as to the issues that are affecting not only people here in Massachu - uh, New Hampshire - but also Massachusetts, obviously, in Maine, and I've been to Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut."

It was caught on video by the trackers of the liberal American Bridge PAC, which contended it put Texas Gov. Rick Perry's "Oops" moment in the 2012 GOP presidential race (when he could not name a third federal agency he would eliminate) "to shame."

State Democrats jokingly put out a rudimentary map for Brown clearly distinguishing New Hampshire from "your home," Massachusetts.

A bit of an over-reaction perhaps? These days, even the slightest misstep is "news" in politics."



. The first endorsement of the Republican primary in the District 1 Executive Council race came Friday when former Belknap County Commissioner Christopher Boothby was backed by House Republican Leader Gene Chandler.

. U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is cosponsoring a "No Budget, No Vacation" resolution to forbid Congress to adjourn for the remainder of the year unless it passes a budget conference report by Dec. 13.

. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens will head to Washington on Wednesday to speak at a meeting of the Americans for Tax Reform group and meet with ATR head Grover Norquist.


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