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Brendan Kelly drops out of 1st District race, endorses O'Connor

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 13. 2016 9:11PM
Brendan Kelly 

SEABROOK — First Congressional District candidate Brendan Kelly of Seabrook said he’s dropping out of the race and endorsing fellow independent hopeful Shawn O’Connor of Bedford.

Kelly, 75, said during a telephone interview that he decided upon his own late Wednesday to throw his support to O’Connor, a much-younger and better-financed opponent.

“I realized that if both of us were running then neither of us could win,” Kelly told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “So I contacted Shawn and decided to throw my support behind him.”

O’Connor said he had not expected Kelly to endorse his candidacy but welcomes it.

“I think where we really align is getting special interest money out of politics,” O’Connor said.

“That is something he feels very passionate about as do I. I think that was something that was definitely a motivator.”

This was Kelly’s third straight bid for the First District seat. He ran as a Libertarian in 2012, getting more than 14,000 votes for 4.2 percent of the total ballots cast in that election Democrat Carol Shea-Porter won.

Then two years ago, Kelly ran in the Republican primary and received just under 5,000 votes that translated to 8.4 percent. Ex-Congressman Frank Guinta won that primary and his seat back in November 2014.

“I thought I would never run again but got talked into running as an independent,” Kelly said.

“The only way we are going to fix the country is to elect more independents.’’

Kelly has served as a selectman in his hometown including a stint as chairman.

Legally it’s too late for Kelly to have his name taken off the ballot, unless there was a medical reason why he could not serve if elected.

This leaves four candidates actively seeking support on Nov. 8. Congressman Frank Guinta, ex-Congresswoman Shea-Porter, O’Connor and Libertarian nominee Robert Lombardo of Derry.

Kelly said he believes O’Connor is the only third-party candidate who can win and that’s why he chose him over Lombardo.

“I have run for Congress in each of the last two cycles to get money out of politics and offer New Hampshire voters a candidate that will put the people first,” Kelly added in a statement.

“This year, we have an independent candidate in Shawn O’Connor who shares these principles and who clearly can win this election.”

O’Connor initially ran in the Democratic primary against Shea-Porter, but dropped out after having a long running feud with party leaders about his candidacy.

As for other issues, O’Connor said he probably would support more federal spending than Kelly would.

“As a businessman, I still am dedicated to making the federal government more efficient while delivering tax cuts to all Americans who make less than $75,000 a year,” O’Connor added.

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