John DiStaso's Granite Status: Jim Rubens eyes '14 US Senate run; Andy Sanborn tweets 'Haggie,' apologizes
UPDATED: THURSDAY, MAY 30: RUBENS EXPLORES U.S. SENATE RUN. Former state Sen. Jim Rubens, fresh off of a victory in the defeat of casino gambling in the New Hampshire House, is exploring a run for the U.S. Senate, he confirmed Thursday.
The Granite Status first reported Rubens' interest in the seat earlier today.
Rubens, 62, has chaired the New Hampshire Coalition Against Expanded Gambling for more than 10 years as the group lobbied, successfully, in support of killing casino gambling not only in the current legislative session but also in past years.
The Hanover Republican, who is pro-choice on the abortion issue, said he may seek his party's nomination to take on Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen next year because he is concerned about the mounting fiscal problems facing the nation.
Rubens said that he has been, "for my entire adult life, concerned about a variety of problems that we have nationally.
"We have multiple unaddressed generational challenges, such as the debt and deficit problem, the health care cost problem that was not addressed by 'Obamacare,' the tax system of the country, which is 'byzantine,' and anti-jobs and anti-growth. There is a need for both corporate and individual tax reforms."
Rubens said that while candidates constantly promise to address the nation's fiscal woes, "those problems have only grown worse under both Democratic and Republican leadership in Congress, and we're at a point of needing to avoid becoming Greece while we still have time."
Rubens was a state senator for two terms, from 1994 through 1998, and then ran unsuccessfully for the 1998 GOP gubernatorial nomination, losing to Jay Lucas, who lost to Shaheen as she won her second of three terms as governor.
Rubens then ran for the state Senate again in 2000, losing to Democrat Cliff Below.
In 2002, Rubens worked for candidate for governor and former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey as his chief spokesman and senior policy adviser.
Rubens becomes the first Republican to publicly say that he is exploring a run. He said he has been making calls about it only for the past day.
Shaheen's reelection campaign is up and running and busy raising money. Her campaign raised nearly $2.5 million through March 31 and reported having $1.4 million in cash on hand. Since then, the campaign has sent out a steady stream of fundraising emails.
Other Republicans mentioned as possible candidates are state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta.
Rubens' announcement did not nudge Bradley. He said, as he has for months, that he is continuing to focus on "state Senate business and make sure that we have a state budget that taxpayers can live with and that works to grow the economy and protect taxpayers in the future by doing our due diligence on Medicaid."
Guinta could not be immediately reached.
Former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who has a vacation home in the state, has also not ruled out the possibility of establishing residence in New Hampshire and running for the Senate seat. But since his several visits to the state earlier in the spring, the political buzz about a possible Brown run has died down.
Rubens, who says his profession is "an angel investor," said he differs from many Republicans on abortion issue, but proposes a "temporary truce."
"I am forced to describe myself as pro-choice because I'm not opposed to persons under circumstances we have now able to get an abortion, and for a woman to be able to obtain contraceptives," he said.
"This is the settled truth," he said. "I'm not proposing that we at least temporarily alter the current state of affairs that we have.
"It's not that those issues are not important for those who want more choice or more protection for life," Rubens said. "It's that we have delayed dealing with this fiscal problem, the entitlement problem, the tax structure problem, the jobs and economic problem that faces America. And we need to deal with the fact that young people are having such difficulty getting into the workforce."
Rubens acknowledged that "one of the challenges I'll face in a primary" will come on the global warming issue.
A former consultant for the Union of Concerned Scientists, Rubens believes the United States "needs to do something about the problem."
He proposes "a revenue neutral tax swap."
"I want to have a tax code that favors work and jobs and creating profits for business," he said. "I would be proposing taxing pollution and taking the proceeds from a pollution tax and cutting personal and corporate taxes."
State Republican Party Chairman Jennifer Horn welcomed Rubens' interest in the Shaheen seat and "all candidates to the senate race.
"We look forward to a constructive primary that will produce a fiscally responsible nominee who will expose Jeanne Shaheen's tax and spend record and defeat her in 2014," she said.
Grant Bosse, a veteran Republican activist and former congressional candidate, said Rubens is "very smart to get out in front of the field before it forms.
"We have rumored Republicans out there who are thinking about running, but Jeanne Shaheen is raising money and doing her thing and nobody else is out challenging her," he said.
"Right now, Senator Rubens has the field to himself," said Bosse, editor of NewHampshireWatchdog.org.
Bosse said Rubens has tried to reach out to conservatives on the global warming issue "to have a broader dialogue.
"Unlike people like Al Gore, who just wants to shout down people who disagree with him, Jim has been open to a really broad discussion on the issue," said Bosse.
"It will be decisive for many Republicans. But he was out ahead of most on the debt and deficit and entitlement spending," said Bosse, who made it clear that he is not working for or endorsing Rubens.
THURSDAY, MAY 30: ANDY'S "HAGGIE" TWEET. Republican state Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford Thursday reiterated the apology he gave Wednesday for -- mistakenly, he said -- referring to Gov. Maggie Hassan as "Haggie" on Twitter.
Sanborn deleted the Twitter post and apologized, calling it a typographical error.
But it was too late. The New Hampshire Democratic Party spotted it and sent a screenshot of it to the media Thursday.
Sanborn, who is viewed as a potential contender for governor next year, was criticized by NHDP spokesman Harrell Kirstein, who called his comment "offensive and sexist."
The Sanborn tweet came after Hassan announced the formation by executive order of a Governor's Commission on State Government Innovation, Efficiency and Transparency.
"Leaders bring solutions, commissions find excuses. Haggie can't lead," Sanborn tweeted at 6:54 p.m.
He later deleted it and at 9:16 p.m., tweeted, "Oops, my apologies to Gov Hassan. Mistyped her name and mistakenly combined first and last, My bad!"
He later attributed it to "sloppy multi-tasking," and then finally tweeted, "Mistakes happen. I made one, apologized. There is a difference between mistake and malice. mine, mistake."
Thursday, the NHDP spokesman Kirstein said, "Sanborn's pathetic excuses and phony apology for his offensive comment would be more believable if his story didn't keep changing and this wasn't part of a long pattern of questionable sexist comments.
"This is same guy who tried to turn the State House into Animal House and put a 'Man Cave' sign on his official State Senate Office door."
Kirstein noted that other Republicans have recently made "shameful and inappropriate comments," adding, "New Hampshire Republicans continue to embarrass themselves with the same offensive Tea Party rhetoric that voters rejected last fall."
State Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn responded to the Democratic criticism,
"Maggie Hassan's minions are feigning outrage about a typo because they are trying to distract from the embarrassing defeat of her irresponsible budget proposal in the Democrat-controlled New Hampshire House.
"She is desperate to draw attention away from her failed fiscal leadership and lack of any new ideas to balance the state's books," Horn said.
Rather than respond directly to the NHDP criticism, Sanborn reiterated his apology and said it was time to "move on."
He said he was "watching TV, eating dinner, talking to my wife and typing. It was a mistake -- no more no less."
Asked for comment, Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg said, "The governor is focused on working with members of both parties and both chambers of the Legislature to finalize a balanced budget that makes progress on critical priorities."
(For earlier Granite Status reports click on "Granite Status" above.)