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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: No GOP standard-bearer for next NH House speaker

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 28. 2018 10:24PM

House Republicans do not have a leading candidate for speaker in 2019, just days away from April Fool’s Day.

The only declared candidate for speaker is House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff of Concord.

There are many House Republicans who could get in and surely haven’t ruled out taking a shot at the gavel, including Reps. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry and John Burt of Goffstown.

Speaker Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, said he will only serve until the end of his current term, which he inherited with the departure of now-Agriculture Commissioner Shawn Jasper.

No one from Chandler’s inner circle of elected officials has said they will go for it, including Majority Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, or Deputy Speaker Sherm Packard, R-Londonderry.

The GOP race is apparently frozen while Rep. Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, makes her 2018 plans clear.

Sanborn could choose to run for reelection to her House seat. She may also try to claim her husband Andy Sanborn’s Senate seat, which he is vacating to run for Congress.

Fiscal and social conservatives continue to ask senior legislators to consider getting in. The most recent name to emerge from multiple people is State Rep. David Bates, R-Windham.

Bates has told friends he won’t shut the door on it. For the time being at least, he too is working to help identify others who might get be interested.

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After many months of delay, the field of candidates for Executive Council seats are starting to take shape.

Former three-term Exeter Selectman Joe Pace, a current resident of Kensington, today will formally kick off his Democratic candidacy for the 3rd District seat that Republican Russ Prescott holds.

Pace said the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local has already endorsed him.

“I believe in a firm and lasting commitment to our public schools and our outstanding educators, investing in our entrepreneurs and the shared prosperity of a small business economy, affordable access to quality health care for all of our people with a meaningful response to the brutal crisis of addiction, and responsible stewardship of our natural resources,” Pace said.

Any Democratic hopeful has their work cut out for him or her; it’s clearly a Republican-leaning district.

Steve Kenda, an unsuccessful, two-time State Senate hopeful, is considering a Republican primary challenge against Prescott.

Meanwhile last week former Manchester Alderman Garth Corriveau made official he is running in the 4th District to replace Chris Pappas who is seeking the 1st Congressional District seat.

Corriveau ran for Hillsborough county attorney in 2016 and lost to Republican incumbent Dennis Hogan.

What delayed this announcement was the decision of State Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, who was widely seen as the party’s strongest candidiate for Pappas’ seat if she had made the leap.

Soucy has instead confirmed she will seek reelection in the Senate this fall.

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Republican State Chairman Jeanie Forrester is no longer keeping it a secret — the party is behind in fundraising.

She’s aggressively pursuing financial support for campaigns and letting prospective donors know the party is running from behind.

GOP Executive Director Todd Cheewing noted a quarterly end deadline comes up Saturday.

“The N.H. Democrats continue to shovel in outside money from special interests and the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and the only way we’re going to compete with them, is with your help,” Cheewing wrote.

The state Democratic party led the GOP through the first two months of 2018 by more than 2-1 margin.

In past election years, Democrats have had early advantages.

In January and February, Democrats raised $207,238, spent $128,935 and had about $45,000 in cash over what they owed in debts.

The state GOP raised during the same period $83,948, spent $68,978 and had about $15,000 in cash with no debts. As we first reported the state party has two fundraisers coming up next month, including one on April 12 featuring former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

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We’re not even in the dog days of summer yet, but Congressional candidates still have to get creative to get attention.

This week’s Exhibit A is 1st District Republican Andy Sanborn who has challenged Democratic rival Levi Sanders to a debate.

“As you know, as the front runner in this race to take back this Congressional seat, I have fought for and passed proven solutions to the challenges facing us,” Sanborn wrote in a fund-raising email.

“I am a proven conservative who is proud of my liberty streaks, and I can think of no better way to highlight the differences between myself and my opponent than taking the debate stage against an ardent and open socialist such as Levi.”

Sanborn faces two potential primary opponents: Former liquor law enforcement chief Eddie Edwards of Dover and Bruce Crochetiere of Hampton Falls, a high tech executive who is exploring his own bid with the help of veteran consultant Jim Merrill.

Sanders is one of eight candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Congressman Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.

An Edwards campaign spokesman belittled the Sanborn plea as a cheap publicity stunt.

“Political gamesmanship like this is the sort of theater that Granite Staters are tired of,” said Derek Dufresne of RightVoter, a media consultant to the Edwards campaign.

Levi Sanders lives in Claremont, which is in the 2nd District, though he does not need to live in the district he represents.

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The state’s congressional delegation is urging the Trump administration to ensure that New Hampshire gets a sizable chunk of the $142 million in grants set aside for states hardest hit by the opioid crisis.

New Hampshire’s mortality rate from opioids was third highest in 2016.

In a letter they urge President Trump to keep the list of eligible states short and targeted, give the money on a sliding scale based on the mortality rate and to establish a minimum, $10 million for deserving states.

Over the past two years, New Hampshire has received $3 million under the 21st Century Cares Act.

“As the President also noted in his remarks, defeating this epidemic is going to require an all-hands on deck response from our state, local and federal agencies,” they wrote referring to Trump’s visit to Manchester earlier this month.

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Quick takes:

• Former Missouri Secretary of State and potential 2020 Democratic contender Jason Kander will headline the annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner on April 14.

• The omnibus federal spending bill should give New Hampshire up to $3.1 million to replace old voting machines and install upgrades in election security, according to America Voters New Hampshire.

“This federal grant is a chance to ensure that our election systems are as secure and modern as possible to protect against the threat of foreign interference,” said America Votes State Director Liz Wester.

• Former State Rep. Peter Sullivan, a Manchester Democrat, is the third to say he’ll be running for secretary of state after the 2018 elections. Colin Van Ostern, 2016 Democratic nominee for governor and former executive councilor, announced earlier this month he was opposing Secretary of State Bill Gardner. Sullivan has criticized Van Ostern’s willingness to accept large campaign donations to support his call for more transparency and government efficiency in the management of state elections.

• A State House tradition for generations has been for governors to host a “ceremonial bill signing” which bring together during the summer months supporters to celebrate legislation that’s already been signed. Gov. Chris Sununu took the tradition a step further Wednesday, presenting “ceremonial checks” to public officials that mark the first grant awards to three North Country towns from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund. Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, was the driving political force behind creating this fund and using the jury award against Exxon/Mobil for MtBE contamination to support local water treatment plant upgrades.

• The state’s two senators celebrated their co-sponsorship of a veteran reform law President Trump has signed. The State Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act helps vets living in their homes get services there through state veteran homes while cutting costs and increasing the standard of living for vets needing specialized care.

Sen. Maggie Hassan praised Trump for signing the measure.

“We must ensure that our veterans who have sacrificed bravely in defense of our freedoms have access to the health care they need, and the New Hampshire Veterans Home provides invaluable services to make that happen,” Hassan said.

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