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Dan Tuohy's Granite Status: Most candidates are still unknown quantities to voters

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 31. 2016 11:20PM

Three quarters of New Hampshire voters don’t know enough about the Democratic candidates for governor to say whether or not they have a favorable opinion of them, let alone vote for them, according to the latest poll from UNH. It would seem participating in next week’s Granite State Debates, hosted by WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader, would almost be mandatory.

But Mark Connolly of New Castle, a former state Securities Bureau chief and former state representative, says he will not participate after all, citing a labor dispute the station has with one of its unions. “Without an agreement in place between WMUR/Hearst and (IBEW) local 1128, I will not cross the picket line to participate in next week’s debate,” Connolly said in a statement. “I encourage the other candidates to take the same stand.”

Colin Van Ostern, an executive councilor from Concord, is taking a wait-and-see approach. Van Ostern campaign manager Pat Devney said his candidate is encouraging WMUR/Hearst management to sit down with the union to work for an agreement. “We will continue to monitor negotiations and sincerely hope that progress can be made toward an agreement so that voters will have the opportunity to hear from all candidates about how we can keep New Hampshire moving forward,” Devney said.

Former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand did not return a call for comment.

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NORTH COUNTRY Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, the Senate minority leader, is planning to endorse Van Ostern. In a statement, he said Van Ostern will bring “strong, bipartisan and effective leadership” to Concord.

“From working on the Executive Council with Governor Hassan to expanding Medicaid to 50,000 Granite Staters to helping grow some of our state’s fastest-growing employers like Stonyfield and Southern New Hampshire University, Colin has a proven record of accomplishment to keep New Hampshire moving forward,” Woodburn said.

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A HALF-DOZEN candidates for state Senate have now raised more than $100,000, and for a legislative seat that pays the grand sum of $200 a term. The top two are not surprising. They are Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, ($272,865) and Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, ($261,305), according to receipts to date posted online by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Other campaigns with deep pockets: Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester ($130,383), New London Democrat John Garvey ($120,570), seeking the open District 8 seat, Woodburn ($116,641), and Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford ($106,456).

Of note, none of the above have a primary on Sept. 13.

Across the hall, Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, reported $42,250 in receipts, and spent $13,287. The Friends of Laurie Sanborn, a Bedford Republican running for Speaker, raised $10,055, and spent $4,462.

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CARLY FIORINA will return to stump for GOP gubernatorial hopeful Jeanie Forrester.

Fiorina will campaign for Forrester, a state senator from Meredith, at two events Sept. 7: a meet-up hosted by Gary and Lori Lambert at Nashua Country Club at 5:30 p.m., and a town hall meeting at Nashua Community College at 7 p.m. Forrester was one of several notable endorsements for Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive and 2016 presidential hopeful. Another state senator, Sharon Carson, also endorsed her. Carson, R-Londonderry, introduced GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence in Manchester earlier this month.

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IN PAST election cycles, the No. 1 campaign priority was how to fix or improve the manner in which the state funds public education. Several candidates have said school aid looms as a huge issue in 2017, but addressing the state’s opioid and heroin epidemic is an issue that has risen to the top for most candidates.

Senator Soucy became one of several Democrats this past week to endorse New Futures’ five-point plan to address the epidemic. One of the five goals is to make Medicaid expansion permanent, which remains a tough sell for some Republicans in the coming legislative session. “The opioid crisis is one of the biggest challenges we have to face and overcome in New Hampshire, especially here in Manchester where over a quarter of New Hampshire drug overdoses happen,” Soucy said in a statement.

When New Futures unveiled its plan in August, the non-partisan, non-profit’s executive directory, Linda Saunders Paquette, declined to grade the state Legislature and executive branch’s work on the epidemic. She may have taken the diplomatic high road, but Rep. Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth, who is the Dean of the House, did not pull any punches. Asked what grade she would give, Pantelakos told the Union Leader, “It’s a D.”

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HERE COME Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton. They will campaign today in New Hampshire. Kaine and Holton, a former secretary of education for Virginia, will visit three party offices and participate in an education roundtable with Dr. Susan Lynch, former first lady of New Hampshire. The roundtable is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. in the student lounge area at Manchester Community College.

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QUICK TAKES: The New Hampshire Democratic Party holds its “unity breakfast” Sept. 15 at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester.

• The state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers has endorsed U.S. Rep. Anne McLane Kuster, D-NH, in the 2nd Congressional District. In the GOP primary, anti-tax crusader Tom Thomson, son of the late Gov. Mel Thomson, endorsed former state Rep. Jim Lawrence of Hudson. Thomson also endorsed Forrester for governor.

• Battleground New Hampshire: Donald Trump’s latest television ad will air this week in the Granite State. It’s the first ad since the New Hampshire primary, and it’s about the economy. The GOP presidential nominee’s ad blast is also up in other key states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

• Trump’s campaign is keeping up with a daily email blast highlighting the fact that Hillary Clinton has not held a news conference for 270 days.

• The State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1984, endorsed Lee Nyquist of New Boston for state Senate, District 9. Nyquist and Jeanne Dietsch of Peterborough are competing for the Democratic Party nomination. The winner takes on Republican incumbent Andy Sanborn of Bedford in the general election. The National Education Association-NH union endorsed Nyquist earlier this week, and also gave its recommendation to Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-Newfields, in her run for U.S. Senate. The AFT-NH also endorsed Hassan.

Gary Johnson, in a radio ad that’s getting plenty of airtime on WHEB and WGIR radio this week, never mentions once that he is a Libertarian or the Libertarian Party presidential nominee.

• The schedule for next week’s Granite State Debates:

Tuesday, Sept. 6:

• Republicans for governor, 7 to 8 p.m.

• Democrats for governor, 8 to 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 7:

• Republicans for U.S. Senate, 7 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 8:

• 2nd District Republicans for Congress, 7 to 8 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 9:

• 1st District Republicans for Congress, 7 to 8 p.m.

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