John DiStaso's Granite Status: Former chair Kimball, state Sen. Sanborn back Hemingway for top NHGOP post
(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
TUESDAY, JAN. 22. FRANK HELPS OUT. Former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta is co-hosting a conversation with NHGOP chair candidate Jennifer Horn on Thursday at the BeanTowne Coffee House and Cafe in Hampstead. The event begins at 5:30 p.m.
(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
Buckley was first elected to the position in January 2009 and re-elected in January 2011.
With this election, he will also remain a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
The posts put him in a position to exert influence to keep the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary in its traditional leadoff position. He also is in a position to continue to secure national party support, financial and otherwise, for state candidates.
Buckley said he was honored by the reelection, saying, "These positions provide me a unique opportunity to protect New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, advocate for grassroots organizing and promote our values and candidates across the nation. It is humbling to have the support of the 50 states and seven territories. I appreciate the opportunity to continue the work."
Buckley is unopposed in his bid for a fourth term as state party chairman with an election slated for March 9.
Buckley was among many Granite State Democrats in Washington this week for the second inaugural of President Barack Obama.
(See our full report below.)
(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
Leading the delegation are Gov. Maggie Hassan, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster.
Among those also on hand are New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley, Democratic state Sens. Lou D'Allesandro and Donna Soucy of Manchester, Andrew Hosmer of Laconia, Peggy Gilmour of Hollis and Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth as well as former Sen. Matthew Houde of Plainfield.
Manchester Alderman Garth Corriveau is also in attendance along with four of the earliest Obama supporters in the first-in-the-nation primary state: lobbyist Jim Demers, Democratic National Committee member-at-large Joanne Dowdell, former state health and human services commissioner Ned Helms and former U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes.
"And hundreds and hundreds more," Buckley said.
Shaheen said that as Obama begins his second term, "we are presented with tremendous opportunities to come together and move our country forward in a bipartisan fashion. Throughout history, that's what Americans have done when we've faced difficult challenges, as we do now.
"It's with this mind-set that I approach my responsibilities in the Senate and my goal for this year is for us to find bipartisan solutions to improve the lives of working families in New Hampshire and across the country. We owe it to all Americans to work together in earnest and I'm hopeful that we will because that's what's best for our country."
Hassan said, "I greatly appreciate President Obama's call for a renewed sense of cooperation and inclusion in his inaugural address.
"It will take all of us working together to overcome our challenges so we can create good jobs, strengthen our middle class, and ensure that all Americans are included in our shared success and prosperity.
"Throughout our history, we have answered that call," said Hassan, "and I look forward to working with the people of New Hampshire to do our part to ensure a bright future for our state and our nation."
Kuster noted that the President stressed that "we can only solve the challenges we face by coming together.
"We owe it to the people who sent us here to put politics aside and do what's right for hard-working families in New Hampshire and all across the country."
"I'm hopeful that members of both parties can bring a renewed spirit of optimism and collaboration to the critical work that lies ahead," said Kuster.
Buckley said Obama's speech was "remarkable and beautiful.
"It was a moving call for unity of purpose and to continue the march of equality for all. The 'From Seneca to Selma to Stonewall' line was particularly meaningful."
Obama referred in his speech to these key places in the struggles for equal rights for African-Americans, women and gays when he said:
"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forbearers through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth."
Buckley said, "The crowd was massive and the weather better than any of the four past inaugurals I have attended."
The following day, Obama, his "rock star" image growing, drew about 1,500 at an event in Manchester, and a short time later, he announced his candidacy for President.
Obama finished second to Hillary Clinton in the 2008 first-in-the-nation primary, which set the stage for a long nomination battle with his eventual Secretary of State.
Demers said that while Washington was a bit less hectic today than it was during Obama's first inaugural, "It really was an awesome experience."
He said he and Dowdell sat in the tenth row.
The Obama speech hit on "exactly where we are right now. The journey is only half done and there are still a lot of things that need to be addressed in the country," said Demers.
"He also had the right tone, that this has to be a more inclusive America and there should be a stop to the petty name-calling and an end to the Tea Party wrangling," Demers said.
Dowdell said the speech made her feel "very optimistic. His reelection was somewhat of a validation of the direction he is trying to move the country in and how we really need to continue to move forward.
"He made it clear there is still work to be done and it's not going to be done by individuals, but rather through a bipartisan, cooperative effort," Dowdell said.
"I join citizens across New Hampshire and the nation in congratulating President Obama as he starts his second term. This historic day is an opportunity for all Americans to come together, and I hope that spirit will continue as we work to confront our debt crisis, strengthen our economy, and keep our country safe in a dangerous world."
As we reported last week, a group of Granite State Democrats, including Hassan, on Sunday attended the inaugural of Vice President Joe Biden at the U.S. Naval Observatory, the official vice presidential residence.
(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
Her opponent, Andrew Hemingway, plans a reception with supporters at The Yard restaurant in Manchester on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
THURSDAY, JAN. 17: LIMITING SIMULCASTING. Live horse and greyhound racing is a thing of the past in New Hampshire. Rockingham Park and Seabrook Greyhound Park are surviving on wagering on the broadcast simulcasting of races taking place elsewhere, as well as charity casino-style gambling, poker, bingo and the like.
Rockingham, at least, is riding on hope for the legalization of genuine casino gambling. It could finally become a reality this year, with a legislative proposal about to be unveiled. (More on that below.)
Grey2K USA, a nationwide greyhound protection nonprofit, was successful after several tries in outlawing greyhound racing in the state in 2010. All live dog racing had actually ended in 2009 and Rockingham followed by ending horse racing in 2010.
Now, Grey2K wants to pare down the simulcasting of greyhound races available to the two New Hampshire facilities by forbidding Seabrook and the Rock from accepting races broadcast from what it considers the least safe greyhound tracks in the country.
In effect, it's trying to drain these out-of-state, allegedly inhumane tracks, operating in places like the Florida panhandle, Alabama and Arizona, of its two customers in the Granite State.
New legislation sponsored by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, would allow Rockingham and Seabrook to accept greyhound simulcast signals only from tracks in states that require public reporting of greyhound injuries.
It is the first legislation of its kind in the nation, said Grey2K USA Executive Director Carey Theil.
Theil said the bill would not cause a major drop in the amount wagered on dog races at Seabrook or the Rock.
But Karen Keelan, president of Seabrook Greyhound, said the bill would be devastating to her 40-year-old business founded by her late father, Eddie Keelan, and the late Joe Carney.
She said the bill is another step in Grey2K USA's ultimate goal "to put greyhound racing out of business nationwide."
Theil did not disagree.
He acknowledged Wednesday it's "fair" to say Grey2K's ultimate goal is to put an end to greyhound racing - anywhere.
He pointed out the group's stated mission includes: "To end the cruelty of dog racing on both national and international levels."
Keelan said "80 or 90 percent" of her business relies on simulcast greyhound racing. But Theil cited state figures showing it's actually less than half. The figures show that in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, greyhound simulcast wagering at Seabrook was $12 million, as compared to $16 million wagered on simulcast horse racing.
He said the bill will not hurt New Hampshire facilities because it still allows the dog races to be simulcast, but only from tracks that must report their dog injuries.
Theil said Grey2K USA hopes that by reducing the number of facilities that the out-of-state tracks can send their signals to, more states will require reporting, and, he said, the number of greyhounds euthanized has been shown to drop significantly in states after passage of an injury-reporting law.
With gambling on live dog racing now illegal in New Hampshire, "We feel it is consistent with the state's policy to disallow New Hampshire gamblers to bet on dog racing occurring at some of the worst dog tracks in the country," he said
He hopes New Hampshire lawmakers agree to "put in place some common sense protections when it comes to greyhound simulcasting. Injury reporting is a very basic level of not just trying to ensure the health and welfare of the animals, but also just a basic level of transparency."
HURTING STATE REVENUE? Theil also said the bill should not hurt the state's already tiny "take" of slightly more than $275,000-a-year from pari-mutuel taxes on simulcast dog racing.
Citing state figures, he said most wagering at Seabrook and the Rock is on simulcast horse racing. In the last fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 2012, Rockingham patrons wagered only $4.5 million on broadcast greyhounds, as compared to more than $43 million on simulcast horses.
At Seabrook, state figures show, $12 million was wagered on simulcast greyhound and $16 million on horses.
And Theil said Grey 2K's analysis shows that only about 15 percent of Rockingham's simulcast horse and dog feeds and about 22 percent of Seabrook's feeds would be banned by the bill.
He predicted wagering will naturally "migrate" to simulcasts from acceptable dog tracks or from horse tracks.
Theil said there are only 22 greyhound tracks left in the country, in seven states.
West Virginia, Arkansas, Iowa and Texas report injuries, he said. Florida, with 13 tracks, Alabama and Arizona do not.
"We do not believe there is going to be any significant economic impact from this bill," he said.
But Keelan said the opposite is true and lawmakers should know that Grey2K "is trying to put an industry completely out of business when we've been licensed for so long here.
"I'm very frustrated," she said. "They have misrepresented themselves in New Hampshire and throughout the country, and it's about time somebody in the Legislature realize it's almost a personal vendetta on their part to put our business out of business."
Without live racing, she said, "We're still trying to survive with just simulcasting and now they are trying to pull this on us.
"There are jobs at stake and there is the community of Seabrook," Keelan said.
"We've always tried to do the right thing, paying taxes and getting involved in greyhound adoptions, which is something that no one feels stronger about than I do."
Rockingham spokesman Teresa Rosenberger said that while the impact would be much larger on Seabrook, "there's no question this would cause a decrease in revenue at Rockingham, and they can't afford to lose revenue. It would lead to a reduction of costs, which could mean employees, and less revenue for the state."
HURRY-UP OFFENSE. The much bigger issue, at least for Rockingham Park, is to get casino-style gambling legalized and up and running.
We've learned state Sens. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, and Chuck Morse, R-Salem, are putting the finishing touches on a bill that would allow a license for a single gambling facility in the state and, in a key change from past bills, would also set up a commission to consider the feasibility of future licenses.
D'Allesandro told us it will be rolled out in a week or two and will go to committee for a hearing by the end of the month.
"I think it will pass the Senate," he said.
Gov. Maggie Hassan is amenable to the concept.The House continues to be the wild card.
D'Allesandro and Morse are in a hurry-up offense because Massachusetts is moving relentlessly toward opening up gambling shops.
Eleven firms hoping to compete for the Bay State's three casino licenses in different parts of the state, and for one slots machines-only facility, filed applications before a Tuesday deadline.
Each ponied up a $400,000 non-refundable application fee. The competitive bidding process is expected to begin later this year.
"The economic recovery aspect remains the constant in my thought process," said D'Allesandro. He said that after 14 years of failure, he hopes Massachusetts helps give this year's bill the "impetus" it needs to become law.
DOHERTY WINS. In the wake of our report last week on the nasty anti-police comments by Free Staters surrounding a local radio show's "Manchester 2012 Person of the Year" poll, host Rich Girard has announced the winner was Manchester Police Officer Dan Doherty.
Doherty, who was shot in the line of duty last year, was determined by Girard to be the winner over Free Stater and Shire Sharing charity group founder Amanda Bouldin because the officer consistently finished first, even after several different formulas were used to count the votes.
And Bouldin, following the strident anti-police comments by her fellow Free Staters on Facebook and other blogs, withdrew from the contest, citing the "divisive" comments.
Girard was initially concerned that many automated votes designed to "skew" the poll had been cast.
But he's since written on his web site that after sorting through the data, with the help of a database expert recommended by Bouldin, they concluded Doherty had won.
"Several different formulas were created and run to screen the data to find the best way to count the legitimately cast votes and exclude the automatic votes," Girard posted.
"The real challenge became how to separate the good votes from the bad ones where multiple votes came from the same or blocked IP addresses.
"While the numbers varied with each formula, Doherty had the most votes in all formulas used."
Girard said 43,769 votes were cast and 22,000 visitors made 26,000 visits to his poll site in the week the poll was on line."
He said Doherty has agreed to an on-air interview with him on Monday, Jan. 21 at 7 a.m.
Girard noted that since a friend of Bouldin helped him analyze the data, "anybody who thinks the game was rigged should know that."
PARTYING WITH JOE. Is Vice President Joe Biden looking ahead to 2016?
Is he trying to get an early jump on Hillary Clinton in the first-primary state?
As New Hampshire Democrats prepare to go to Washington for President Barack Obama's inauguration, Biden has invited a select group of Granite Staters to a reception at his official residence on Sunday.
Among those on the invite list are state Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen, state Sens. D'Allesandro and Donna Soucy, lobbyist Jim Demers, who was Obama's original supporter in the state, Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire President David Lang as well as Gov. Maggie Hassan, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster.
SYTEK FOR HORN. NHGOP chairman candidate Jennifer Horn today will announce former House speaker Donna Sytek among her latest supporters.
Although Sytek is not a voting member of the Republican State Committee, which will choose between Horn and Andrew Hemingway on Jan. 26, she remains an influential voice.
Sytek will cite Horn's "experience as a grassroots activist and as a congressional candidate as well as her mastery of traditional and new media."
She also says Horn is credible with "Republicans of all descriptions."
Among Horn's latest state committee backers are former state Rep. Tammy Simmons, former Ron Paul activist Ann Marie Banfield of Bedford, former Mitt Romney activist Lisa Hansen of Amherst and party Area 4 Vice Chairman Ron Kasper of Walpole.
SMALL STATE. In the "it's-a-small-state" department, Horn on Feb. 1, less than a week after the party election, will emcee a major event in Nashua honoring one John Lynch, the former Democratic governor.
Horn is scheduled to host the local Salvation Army's annual Groundhog Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza. Lynch will be honored as the 2013 Citizen of the Year.
DAY OF SERVICE. In preparation for the Obama inaugural, Granite Staters will be able to participate in the "National Day of Service" on Saturday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Events organized so far will take place at The Way Home in Manchester and the River Center in Peterborough.
John DiStaso may be reached at email@example.com.