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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Paul Ryan retirement could raise stakes in 1st C.D. race

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 11. 2018 11:13PM

What does House Speaker Paul Ryan’s surprise announcement that he will not seek reelection mean for the two congressional races here?

A win in New Hampshire might move to the “must-have” column.

The 1st Congressional District still remains the better opportunity for a Republican pickup, being an open seat in a year where the potential for a blue wave exists. Knocking off a Democratic incumbent, Annie Kuster of Hopkinton, is the taller order.

Ryan has already put the House GOP political action committee in great financial shape. Ryan’s departure doesn’t change the map, but it might cause national GOP financial heavyweights to conclude our first district is a race they have to win to hang onto the majority.

Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to be in the majority after the mid-term elections.

This could help the eventual Republican nominee with more national financial help.

With a race to replace Ryan already underway, that also could cause some contenders like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., to be even more interested in making sure this seat flips back to their column since Rep. Carol Shea-Porter of Rochester is retiring.

The ticklish question for GOP congressional candidates in both district primaries is would any of them decide to throw their lot in with a replacement speaker candidate or play it safe and simply hope to get help from all camps.

GOP: Take the pledge

State GOP Chairman Jeanie Forrester said new Democratic candidate for governor, Molly Kelly of Harrisville, can’t be trusted on broadbased taxes since in 2006 and 2008 campaigns for the state Senate she refused to pledge to oppose them.

“When she served in the New Hampshire Senate, Molly Kelly refused to take the tax pledge, saying we needed to keep an income or sales tax ‘on the table.’ So far, in her campaign for governor, Kelly continues to refuse to take the pledge,” Forrester said. “Look, this isn’t hard. Either Molly Kelly is in favor of an income or sales tax or she is willing to pledge against a broad-based tax. But she cannot play this wishy-washy game with the taxpayers. It’s time for Molly Kelly to take a broadbased sales or income tax off the table.”

Kelly could not be reached for comment.

The state GOP wasted no time in attacking Kelly.

Within 24 hours of her video making official her all-but-certain candidacy, the GOP had, a new domain dedicated to critiques of her views against business tax cuts, school choice and gun owner rights. The response speaks to how seriously the GOP is taking Kelly’s candidacy. They did not react with the same speed or venom when former Portsmouth mayor and 2016 candidate for governor Steve Marchand entered this race a year ago.

“I can’t just sit by and watch, really can’t be a bystander,” Kelly tweeted Wednesday. “What I want for New Hampshire is I want everyone to have a chance and an opportunity to succeed, and that’s what’s really important to me. We need to make change.”

Right out of the box, Marchand declared Kelly was the choice of the “establishment” given she already has endorsements from former party Chairman Kathy Sullivan, former Rep. Paul Hodes and ex-House Speaker Terie Norelli.

Kelly supporters say Marchand’s history as a former mayor, city councilor and longtime party activist hardly qualify him as a change agent.

On Wednesday, Marchand rolled out his education plan that includes an increase in per pupil state aid and incentives to increase starting teacher pay along with opposing vouchers.

Partisan swings?

The chief executive with the National Governors Association doesn’t believe the mid-term elections will result in wholesale changes at state capitals across the country.

Republicans are defending a record number of governorships, 26, while Democrats only have to defend nine.

But NGA Executive Director Scott Pattison said voters make an independent judgment when it comes to this office, and this often can overcome the partisan swings.

“I think voters look at the race a little different than they do at the federal races, which can be affected more directly in a wave election,” Pattison said.

“For example, I think Charlie Baker will be fine in Massachusetts even though it’s a deep blue state. Meanwhile, Connecticut is a blue state yet that open seat race looks to be a tossup. I think you could see Democrats have a few pickups but I don’t see a huge party change as a result of these midterms.”

Pattison met with a variety of New Hampshire groups and individuals, including Gov. Chris Sununu, New Hampshire High Technology Council Executive Director Matt Cookson, the auto dealers and other trade groups.

Zuckerberg and Hassan

It was nearly four hours into the proceedings on Tuesday, but the questioning of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg by U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. got many of the day’s headlines.

Hassan zeroed in on the fact this wasn’t Facebook’s first rodeo when it came to outrage over lack of privacy.

“Why should we think that Facebook on its own will truly be able to make the changes it needs to make to protect members’ privacy?” Hassan asked.

And Hassan pressed Zuckerberg on whether he will help rather than try to obstruct attempts to regulate social media platforms like Facebook.

“We have heard you apologize over and over again but here we are again, right?” Hassan asked.

Zuckerberg said Facebook would comply with more federal oversight.

“We will commit to that. That’s an important conversation to have. Our position is not that regulation is bad...The real question is what is the right framework for this, not whether there should be one,” Zuckerberg added.

Quick takes:

• Former Manchester Alderman Garth Corriveau is getting many of his past Democratic colleagues on board with his Democratic bid for Executive Council. The Status has confirmed six members on the Manchester Board of Aldermen and five on the Manchester School Committee have gotten behind him. The five aldermen are Chairman and Alderman-at-Large Dan O’Neil, Ward 1 Alderman and state Sen. Kevin Cavanaugh, Chris Herbert from Ward 4, Barbara Shaw from Ward 9, Bill Barry from Ward 10 and Norm Gamache from Ward 11. The five on the school committee to give Corriveau the nod are At-Large member Nancy Tessier, Sarah Ambrogi from Ward 1, Leslie Want from Ward 4, Dan Bergeron from Ward 6 and Katie Desrochers from Ward 11.

• Meanwhile, Pittsfield Republican and retired postal executive Jim Adams made official his own bid for the same council seat.

“I know I have the necessary qualities to be an effective and accountable councilor. Among these qualities are a background of experience, a temperament to listen, and the conservative credentials to keep the administrative affairs of our state in check. I realize as a candidate for Executive Council for District 4, I must and do possess of these qualities,” Adams said in his announcement.

• Former President George W. Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleisher is the headliner for a state GOP fundraiser today at the Bedford home of Mary Jane and John Smith. Tickets are $125 apiece. Then on April 23, Republican National Committee’s Co-Chair Bob Paduchik will be the guest of honor for a scotch and cigar reception at the Snow Show Club in Concord with House Speaker Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, and Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem. Those tickets are $100 each.

• New Hampshire Democrats have their biggest fundraiser of the year this Saturday, the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner at the Nashua Radisson Hotel. Former Missouri Secretary of State and potential 2020 presidential candidate Jason Kander will be the keynote speaker. Carroll County Democrats are celebrating the two big speakers they’ve already landed for their annual dinner in October, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-MA, and Kander. Tickets start at $100 each, $250 to attend a VIP reception before the main event.

Email news and tips to granitestatus@unionleader.

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