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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Democrats taking note of Sununu's poll numbers

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

November 02. 2017 2:06AM




In New Hampshire, it’s never too soon to be thinking about the race for governor.

There is growing concern among Democrats: First-term Gov. Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, appears to be on a roll.

Morning Consult does a quarterly poll on the popularity of the nation’s governors and senators.

For the first time, Sununu has broken into the top 10. He is eighth, with 59 percent having a favorable opinion and 22 percent an unfavorable opinion.

To be sure, the new Republican governor had some bumpy roads at the start of his two-year journey, including an embarrassing defeat of right-to-work legislation and the shocking inability of the GOP-led House to pass a state budget plan a month after Sununu offered his own design.

By any objective measure, Sununu recovered from those missteps and has had a number of successes since, including a final two-year spending plan and statewide support for full-day and public kindergarten.

All top 10 in the survey are Republican governors; at the top is Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who is at 69 favorable and 17 percent unfavorable.

At the very bottom are two lame-duck governors, New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie (18-77 percent) and Connecticut Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy (23-68 percent), who recently confirmed he would not run again in 2018.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is the seventh-worst in the survey (52-42 percent).

But New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Wyatt Ronan said too much is made of these early surveys, which often prove to be unreliable predictors of the political future.

“The Morning Consult poll doesn’t show a change in popularity for Governor Sununu,” Ronan said. “He only rose in the rankings because other governors got less popular.”

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The only declared Democratic hopeful for the White House in 2020, Maryland Rep. John Delaney, doesn’t believe President Donald Trump is applying the right strategy to win Capitol Hill support for tax reform.

Delaney put forward a proposal that has 40 Democratic sponsors and 40 Republican sponsors in the House.

“He’s offering a tax cut for the wealthy and not much else; that’s not going to get it done in my view,” Delaney said during a recent interview.

“You have to come up with a strategy that not only alters the tax code and brings foreign investment back into this country but unleashes new capital into this country and my plan does that.”

Delaney said the way to stimulate the economy is to combine tax reform with an infrastructure investment measure.

Called the Partnership to Build America Act, the centerpiece of it is to make all overseas profits held by U.S. multi-nationals to a one-time, mandatory tax of 8.75 percent.

In turn, his bill would place $120 billion in the highway fund for roads and bridges, a $50 billion infrastructure program and $25 million to create regional infrastructure banks to get more capital flowing at the local level.

“I know how to create jobs and economic wealth and priming the pump in this way will lead to a sustained economic recovery.”

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The Federal Election Commission decided there was “no reason to believe” former Rep. Frank Guinta, R-Manchester, had violated the terms of a settlement it had reached with him about illegal loans from family members to his 2010 campaign.

But don’t expect one of those lodging the complaints, former state GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen, to accept the judgment.

“Frank took an illegal loan and lied to everyone about it for years. The FEC and the (House) proved incapable of handling the issue in anything like a timely manner. While it did eventually catch up with him, eight elections including primaries came and went before his political career ended. It’s hard to call that justice,” Cullen said in response.

The ex-GOP head claimed Guinta had illegally reimbursed himself $80,000 after that FEC settlement. The commission said there was no basis to conclude that what Guinta had done was afoul of the law.

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The one and only forum among the candidates for speaker of the House of Representatives is set for later today once the House has its session to deal with the one bill that Sununu vetoed during the 2017 session.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is the sponsor, but House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff of Concord has accepted their invitation for the forum at the Holiday Inn in Concord.

Other confirmed candidates are Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry; Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown; Deputy Speaker Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett; Rep. Jim McConnell, R-Swanzey; Rep. Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, and Rep. Steven Smith,R-Charlestown.

Rep. Len Turcote, R-Barrington, will moderate with questions from a panel that includes Andrew Cline, interim president of the Josiah Barlett Center; Andy Crews, president of AutoFair; Michelle Levell, director of School Choice for New Hampshire; Ed Naile of Deerfield, chairman of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers.

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The fiscally conservative Americans for Prosperity Foundation will release a study examining New Hampshire’s high electricity costs at a luncheon on Monday, Nov. 6 at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester detailing why the state has the fifth highest electricity costs in the nation.

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Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of former New Hampshire House Majority Leader Bruce Rounds who passed away recently in Key West, Fla., where he retired. During the 1970s and 1980s, Rounds emerged as not only a major player at the State House but also a seasoned political supporter of candidates including former President George H. W. Bush. Rounds was a military veteran who also for a time had served in the Central Intelligence Agency. He was popular among both political parties as someone with a great sense of humor who never took himself too seriously.

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Quote of the Week:

“I’d like to thank Senator Shaheen. She is right; the funding formula doesn’t work for New Hampshire.” — Gov. Chris Sununu offers a rare compliment to a member of the all-Democratic congressional delegation, in this case praising Shaheen, who questioned grants for federal anti-drug efforts.

Email news and tips to granitestatus@unionleader.


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