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Dave Solomon has been a reporter or editor for New England news organizations since 1977. He has served as executive editor of both the Portsmouth Herald and the Nashua Telegraph. He joined the reporting staff of the New Hampshire Union Leader in 2012.

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September 14. 2013 11:27PM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Potential GOP candidate for governor Cook fires back at conservative critics


 

MONDAY, SEPT. 16: COOK’S TAKE. Attorney Brad Cook says he realizes his brand of politics is not popular with conservatives, but he says he is getting positive responses from more moderate Republicans to his consideration of a run for governor.

Cook, as we’ve reported, will not take “The Pledge” to veto an income or sales tax if he runs, and he Monday he shrugged off conservative criticism of his openness to an income tax (see our item below).

“Those reactions from the right are exactly what is wrong with the GOP at present,” Cook said. “Those guys have a pretty bad record electing candidates and it is disheartening to refuse to discuss options and issues.”

Cook said that within several hours of our initial item last week on his potential candidacy, he began receiving calls from Washington, D.C. consultants looking for a client.

He also said a friend told him during the weekend that he received a polling call that included three or four questions about Cook.

“I can assure you that I have not commissioned a poll,” Cook said.

“I’ve also heard from about 10 retired Republican moderates who didn’t think their was much hope for their party volunteering to organize this little town or that little town for me,” Cook said.

Cook said he remains far from deciding whether to run, but has not been dissuaded so far.

(The full Sunday, Sept. 15, Granite Status follows.)


SUNDAY, SEPT. 15: WHAT ABOUT BRAD? Brad Cook for governor?

It's that time of the election cycle for the floating of trial balloons.

Which is what Cook, 65-year-old Manchester attorney, did last week.

Cook, well-known for his participation in community causes, would be a plausible candidate facing Gov. Maggie Hassan, given his resume and overall knowledge of economic issues.

But is he really viable? As a Republican?

With all due respect to attorney Cook, we'd have to say no, due largely to his refusal to take the Pledge to veto a state sales or income tax.

In our interview last week, in which he revealed that he's looking at a run, Cook didn't mince words.

He said he has not, and would not necessarily, "call for" an income tax, but would not rule it out either.

"I'm not sure our revenue system is the most rational one in the world, and we ought to take a look at it," he said.

Conservatives were predictably critical of Cook's stance. But no conservative has stepped forward at the moment, with the exception of state Rep. George Lambert of Litchfield. Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, is still weighing the possibility.

After our Cook report, conservative strategist Nick Pappas revived a letter Cook wrote last December to the Manchester Charter Commission calling for elimination of the city's tax cap, or a change that would make it easier to override.

"Shortest. Campaign. Ever," one Republican tweeted.

"No pledge, no dice!" posted a Tea Party supporter.

It remains to be seen what Cook will do, but for now he is exploring (there is no exploratory committee filed) and testing reaction.

His background, of course, also includes his co-chairing campaigns for former Manchester Mayor, Democrat Bob Baines. But it is his stance on taxes that would not hold up in a GOP primary, or a general election.

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GUINTA IN. Not only did former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta visit the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington last week, he has also told key Republicans there and back here that he will indeed run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

He's told them to expect an announcement within the next few weeks.

Guinta, though, has played hard to get with the media.

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BASS THE TEA PARTIER? U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's campaign sent out fund-raising emails in rapid-fire succession after our report that Republican former U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass is considering running against her next year.

The first email quotes Shaheen saying, "We must take him very seriously," and tries to connect him to former Bush adviser Karl Rove.

The second, from Kari Thurman of Friends of Jeanne Shaheen, drew a bit of national attention by calling Bass a Tea Party sympathizer and "someone who says the Tea Party is going to 'save our nation.'"

Republicans scoffed that moderate Bass, who is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, is a Tea Partier.

But in fact Bass did cozy up to the Tea Party in 2010 when he announced his candidacy for the House.

"I love them," Bass said of the Tea Party that year. "God bless every single one of them. You know what their agenda is? Exactly the same as mine.

"They want a new environment in Washington," he said, and are "just as terrified as I am about the spending that's going on.

"I'd stand right with them any day of the week because they have started a grassroots movement in American that is going to save our nation."'

Just sayin'.

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SMITH: STILL THINKING ABOUT IT. What Charlie Bass does on a Senate run will not affect any decision by former Sen. Bob Smith.

Smith told the Union Leader in mid-August he would make a decision in "two or three weeks," but told us Friday, "I'm honestly still struggling with it.

"This decision requires a little more analysis," he said. "There are a lot of factors."

Smith said he was "pleased and honored by the way I was treated in New Hampshire" when he returned to New Hampshire from Florida to advise Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign in 2011.

Smith still splits his time between homes in Florida and Tuftonboro. He said he is a registered Florida voter because it is a requirement of having a real estate license in that state.

"I would, of course, have to change that," he said.

Smith, 72, known for his staunch conservatism, represented the state's 1st Congressional District from 1984 to 1990. He won a U.S. Senate seat in 1990 and again in 1996, but lost to John E. Sununu in the 2002 GOP primary.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jim Rubens will announce his plans this Wednesday. He is expected to become the first official Republican Senate candidate.

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ROLECEK FOR GOVERNOR? Businessman and former Manchester restaurateur Chuck Rolecek is downplaying gubernatorial talk.

Rolecek, a leading casino gambling advocate in the business community, said, "I'm starting to talk to a few people and see if that's something I'd like to do."

But beyond that, "There is nothing to it at this point.

Rolecek, who owned the Hanover Street Chophouse and the former C.R. Sparks, lost the District 4 Executive Council race last year to Democrat Chris Pappas.

"Like the Bruins' season, it seems like the political season just ended and now it's starting up again," he said.

That's New Hampshire, Chuck.

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BIG NIGHT. The state Democratic Party has scheduled its annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner for Nov. 16 at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester.

No word on a guest speaker, but the party will celebrate its current superior position in state politics by recognizing Shaheen, Gov. Maggie Hassan, Shea-Porter and Rep. Annie Kuster, not to mention its majorities on the Executive Council and in the New Hampshire House.

The "J-J" and the "100 Club" are the two biggest traditional Democratic Party fundraisers each year and sometimes attract national figures to the first-primary state.

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"MADAM PRESIDENT" FORUM. Influential pro-woman and pro-Democratic political action committee EMILY's List will host a town hall on Sept. 27 in Manchester as it continues to promote a woman for President and, more generally, more women in political leadership.

New Hampshire is the perfect showcase with its all-woman top leadership.

"Madame President" is the name of the event, which will feature Shaheen, Hassan and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and EMILY's list president Stephanie Schriock.

It will be held at The Puritan Conference Center.

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DEATON TO NATIONAL GOP POST. Republican consultant Tyler Deaton, former spokesman for the pro-gay marriage group Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, has been elected national committeeman for the New Hampshire Young Republicans.

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BACK IN THE STATE. Republican U.S. Rep. Pete King of New York is back in the state today continuing his exploration of a possible presidential run.

It's King's third visit to the state this summer, and he's coming back next month.

Today, he is to be at a Republican breakfast at Judy's Kitchen in Franklin and then a state GOP brunch and Strafford County GOP Barbecue in Dover.


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


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