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Dan Tuohy's Granite Status: Trump supporters blame Congress for gridlock, urge unity

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 03. 2017 8:49PM

President Donald Trump's New Hampshire backers say any frustration they have with progress in Washington lies not with the White House but with a wayward Congress.

Obstructionist Democrats and Speaker Paul Ryan’s inability so far to bring the Republican caucus together is a recipe for more gridlock, said Lou Gargiulo, a Rockingham County chairman for Trump’s campaign.

“If they fail to deliver on repealing Obamacare, you can be sure they will pay dearly in 2018,” he said.

Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would loom as a big defeat. A second GOP attempt at it was still evolving Wednesday. Meanwhile, the President continued to contest Democrats who claim the bipartisan spending deal to avert a government shutdown was their victory. Trump’s tweet that the country “needs a good shutdown in September to fix mess!” sent its share of mixed signals.

Gargiulo, who says he is pleased with the Trump administration’s progress, says the GOP needs to unite. “The real problem I have is with Republicans, in some cases, who are too parochial and unwilling to compromise,” he said.

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THE PRESIDENT has nominated Pamela Hughes Patenaude, a Bedford native who once served as state director and aide to former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, R-NH, to be deputy secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development. The nomination was sent to the Senate on Friday. Patenaude is one of the first big nominees from New Hampshire for the administration (former Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown, a Republican from Rye, was nominated to be ambassador to New Zealand earlier this month). She is familiar with HUD. In 2001, former President George W. Bush named her assistant secretary for field policy and management at HUD. In 2004, she was named assistant secretary for community planning and development. Her career in the field stretches back to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.

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LINING UP: “Jeanne Dietsch for NH Senate” registered as a candidate committee last week, April 26. Dietsch ran in 2016 in District 9, and lost in the Democratic primary to Lee Nyquist, 2,105 to 2,026. Dietsch, a businesswoman from Peterborough, could very well face off again with Nyquist in 2018. Nyquist came up short in his past bids to unseat Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, who is expected to run for the 1st Congressional District.

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A THREE-HOUR CRUISE: Sanborn is expected to join fellow Republicans for the Belknap County GOP’s annual sunset cruise on the M/S Mount Washington on Lake Winnipesaukee on June 2. So, too, will Eddie Edwards, a former law enforcement officer and the first Republican candidate to launch a campaign for the 1st District. The Belknap County GOP will hear from Edwards at its next meeting, May 10, at the Top of the Town Restaurant in Belmont.


THE INVISIBLE primary primer: “Guys, I’m not running,” former Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday night in Manchester. There were a few recent stories about how some in Bidenworld are taking steps that look a lot like groundwork for 2020. At the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, Biden sat with longtime friend and former delegate Mary Carey Foley of Portsmouth. We caught up with her after the speech to take her political pulse on Biden 2020. “That’s what he says and what most people believe,” Foley replied. “I happen to think if the country calls on him for 2020, he will definitely give it some serious thought.”

Biden considered running in 2016, but opted not to, as his family dealt with the death of his son Beau. If he ran and won in 2020, he’d be 78 at the inauguration. Earlier this week, the Republican State Committee lumped Biden in with 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton as voices of the past or, as the NHGOP tweeted, a “sad bridge to the past.”

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WHAT IS next for The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, now that Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the center since 2003, was just nominated to be the commissioner of the state Department of Administrative Services? The center is a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank named after one of New Hampshire’s first governors and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, who knocks it as a conservative outfit, accused Gov. Chris Sununu of rewarding his “inner circle to reward political operatives for their loyalty.”

The center’s website may need an update. Its board of directors list includes Jayne Millerick, now Sununu’s chief of staff, and Gordon MacDonald, now the New Hampshire Attorney General. It’s probably just a coincidence, but as the news of the Arlinghaus nomination broke, Scott Moody, a public policy economist who is CEO of the Granite Institute, was out with a study on New Hampshire having the second lowest tax burden in the country in 2015. Granite Institute is a nonprofit, non-partisan research and educational organization based in Concord. Its board of directors includes Chairman Harold Turner, Ovide Lamontagne and Andrew Hemingway.

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Kevin Cavanaugh, a Democrat running for state Senate District 16, recently announced two dozen endorsements, including Patti McGilvray, wife of the late Sen. Scott McGilvray, D-Hooksett. “Kevin and I both grew up in Manchester. I’ve known him a long time. I’m confident that he will bring many of Scott’s same priorities to the Senate,” she said. Cavanaugh has a primary with Jim Normand of Manchester. The winner on June 6 takes on former Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, and Libertarian Jason Dubrow of Dunbarton in a special election July 25.

Dylan J. Robinson, a U.S. Army veteran from Manchester, says he is running for the 1st Congressional District. In an email, he said he will advocate for states rights, veterans services, tax cuts, and reducing the size of government. Justin O’Donnell and Joe Aldrich are candidates in the 2nd Congressional District, according to the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire. O’Donnell was an activist for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson.

• U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., is the keynote speaker for the Rockingham County Democrats’ clambake this Saturday at the Elks Club in Portsmouth. U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, and Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, are among those scheduled to speak. Sharon Nichols of Portsmouth will be presented with the Norman and Anita Freedman Award.

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

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