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Dan Tuohy's Granite Status: Observers wait to see if there will be a NH 'Trump effect'

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 19. 2017 8:46PM

Will there be a "Trump Effect" for New Hampshire’s midterm elections in 2018?

That’s the greater buzz as a special election unfolds in Georgia. The vacancy is for U.S. Rep. Tom Price’s seat, now that he is secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services. At this point, it’s tough to measure any political pluses or minuses here, said House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff, a Democrat from Concord.

“Could there be a Trump effect? We’ll see,” Shurtleff said. “People in New Hampshire are astute when it comes to the consequences of elections.”

Veteran political consultant Dave Carney says it’s too early to say.

There are so many factors that will play out over the next two to four years on the economy, national security, and world affairs, said Carney, who served as a director of political affairs in the George H.W. Bush White House.

One thing’s for sure, all eyes are on the incumbents: U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, a Democrat in the 2nd District, and U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat in the 1st District, and Gov. Chris Sununu, the first Republican to sit in the corner office in a dozen years.

“There are not enough candles for Carol Shea-Porter to burn to pray for a Trump effect,” said Carney.

He’s talking about the 1st District being the more Republican-leaning district of the two.

The 2017 Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index, just released this month, puts the 1st District’s PVI at “R + 2,” while the 2nd District is a “D + 2.” Shea-Porter is listed as one of the top 10 Democrats in the most Republican districts.

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DOWN TO BUSINESS: Gov. Sununu today will present his report on his initiative to visit 100 businesses in the first 100 days of his administration. He’s kept the recruitment campaign hush-hush, saying prospective company recruits deserve a level of privacy when a governor actively tries to woo them.

[Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield confirmed as N.H. Labor commissioner]
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STATE REP. SKIP CLEAVER is the new chairman of the Nashua Democratic City Committee. The NDCC, which held its elections Monday, chose Michael Pedersen as vice chair, Deidre Reynolds treasurer, and Rep. Sue Newman as secretary. Delegates at-large are: Linda Gathright, David Tencza, Joanne St. John, and Gary Hoffman. Cleaver, who represents Nashua’s Ward 8, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran serving in his first term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

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DIVIDED HOUSE: The new House Freedom Caucus has a new political action committee to help support its conservative members. Rep. Dan Hynes, R-Merrimack, is the chairman of the new PAC. This is the latest chapter of the conservative/liberty wing of the GOP caucus pushing back against House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson. Freedom Caucus members helped defeat the budget bill earlier this month, but some of the bad blood stems from the 2016 election. Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, says Jasper used his PAC to target certain conservatives in the primaries. “Based on his recent actions of maligning conservatives in the press and banning conservative House groups from the State House meeting rooms, we have every reason to believe that he will continue to undermine conservative candidates in the next election,” Hoell said Wednesday. Jasper said that is not the case. “We never spent one dime against anybody,” he said while stopping by the State House press room. “We spent money for candidates. We never mentioned any other candidate. So that’s just a totally false narrative.” Hoell begs to differ. He produced campaign literature, paid for by the Jasper for New Hampshire committee, that urges votes in his district for a slate of three other candidates, with Hoell and Bill Kuch’s listed names noticeably unchecked (both went on to win their primaries). The Jasper slate would protect “our freedoms and Second Amendment rights,” according to the mailer. That must irk Hoell, as well, as he’s a liberty Republican and a leader of the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition. The week before the Sept. 13 primary, the Jasper for NH committee reported an independent expenditure supporting 43 Republican candidates.

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SWITCHING SIDES: “I called her yesterday and welcomed her onboard,” said Republican State Committee Chairwoman Jeanie Forrester. She is referring to Rep. Mariellen J. MacKay, who was elected last year as a Democrat for Nashua’s Ward 3. MacKay just changed her party affiliation. She’s the second Democrat to do so this session, after Rep. Robert Theberge, R-Berlin. As of Tuesday, the House now has 222 Republicans, 171 Democrats, and one Libertarian, according to House Clerk Paul C. Smith.

[Heating hearing for bill to plug voter "domicile loophole"]

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U.S. SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, D-NH, continues to draw attention to President Trump’s budget blueprint, and what the proposal will mean for the Granite State. She and the delegation have criticized the proposed elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program and cut of home heating assistance for low-income residents. Today, Shaheen will be at the University of New Hampshire to highlight the possible cuts in research funding. UNH received about $80 million in federal funding for research last year, according to Shaheen. She’s scheduled to speak with faculty and students at 11:30 a.m. at Huddleston Hall. Shaheen’s schedule today includes a town hall meeting at Nashua Community College at 6 p.m.

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MANCHESTER Mayor Ted Gatsas testified in Concord this week on a bill to target aid to communities that want full-day kindergarten programs. A read-out of his remarks shows the former state senator and 2016 gubernatorial hopeful giving props to Manchester establishing kindergarten three years ago. Did it sound like a man about to announce a bid for re-election? Maybe, but he’s always one to boast about the Queen City. Gatsas said Wednesday that he has no news on his next political front. While on the phone, he noted he convened a meeting earlier this week of all the nonprofits in the city that are working on the opioid crisis. He described it as a first-of-its-kind gathering of the minds as the discussion ran from prevention and recovery efforts, to treatment and the importance of transitional housing for those fighting addiction.
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FORMER STATE GOP Chairman Jack Kimball says there is injustice in Jerry DeLemus remaining in prison in Nevada in connection with the Cliven Bundy ranch standoff in 2014. “We believe it is an act of retribution by BLM agents,” Kimball says in a statement ahead of an April 29 State House rally for DeLemus, a Tea Party Patriot organizer and Marine Corps veteran from Rochester. “This is a gross miscarriage of justice for an honorable man who does not deserve this archaic treatment.” FBI agents arrested DeLemus in March of 2016. The indictment called him a mid-level leader and organizer of the standoff against the federal Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing rights. He pleaded guilty, but changed his position after a handful of people charged in a separate Bundy family standoff at a wildlife refuge in Oregon were acquitted. The April 29 rally, which starts at 1 p.m., is also billed as a rally for President Donald Trump. DeLemus was a co-chair of Veterans for Trump.

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THE GOVERNOR'S  inaugural committee reported $438,101 in receipts and $194,099 in expenditures in its March 10 report filed with the Secretary of State’s office. The big sponsors, first reported by the Union Leader back in January, were NextEra Energy Resources, Eversource, and the law firm of Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell with contributions of $25,000 each. The latter two sponsors supported inaugural balls for former Governor Hassan. The big expenses were for facility rental and food/beverage. The balls were held at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, the Crowne Plaza in Nashua, and the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel, each in the vicinity of $40,000. Inaugural gifts include some Granite State products, such as Dancing Lion Chocolates, Niftywavepro water flasks, items from the League of NH Craftsmen, decor from Blue Orchid Interiors, flowers from Cymbidium Floral of Exeter, and photography from Jim Cole. Music included the singing senator himself, Sen. Kevin Avard, R-Nashua, who received $650, and musician Scott Spradling and band, paid $2,000.
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• The official portrait of former Gov. Craig Benson (2003-2005) will be unveiled April 27 at the State House. What will his surroundings be? Former Gov. Shaheen is standing in Executive Council chambers. Former Gov. Judd Gregg is shown standing with the heart of the White Mountains behind him. Former Gov. John H. Sununu, in a tip of the hat to emerging technology, is shown with a computer. Benson, an entrepreneur and investor, could opt for a more traditional portrait. Or he could be standing, perhaps, and captured giving a speech in front of the House of Representatives? Benson did like his standing desks, after all.

• GOP national committeewoman Juliana Bergeron will join an RNC delegation to Taiwan the last week in May.

• U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, will visit General Electric Aviation in Hooksett today. She participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for the facility, when she was governor, about two years ago.

• Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard was the President’s guest when the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots visited the White House on Wednesday. The chief, who is mentioned as a potential hire for the administration, was hanging out at one point with former Trump campaign manager Corey R. Lewandowski.

• U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders won cheers over in Maine when he and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez held a rally there this week. Sanders took to Twitter to call for making the Democratic Party a vibrant party in more than just states on the coasts. To which, MSNBC and NBC correspondent Kasie Hunt was quick to note of Sanders, I-Vt., “Still not a Democrat.”

• Secretary of State Bill Gardner has overseen almost 500 recounts since he first took office and became the state’s chief election officer in 1976. Eleven of those recounts ended in a tie vote, Gardner said this week as he testified in favor of a bill to tighten the definition of domicile for voting purposes. File under: Every Vote Matters.

Dan Tuohy covers politics and government for the Union Leader and Sunday News. Email news and information to

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