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John DiStaso's Granite Status: In NHGOP chair race, Horn has new backers, Hemingway has new proposal

December 05. 2012 12:55PM
Maggie Hassan addresses her supporters on election night. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 5, UPDATE: MORE SUPPORT FOR HORN. NHGOP chairman candidate Jennifer Horn says she has received the endorsement of veteran anti-tax advocate Tom Thomson, former U.S. Rep. Chuck Douglas and nearly 40 other elected officials, activists and members of the Republican State Committee.

Horn says the endorsements 'show growing support for my effort to reinvigorate the NHGOP.'

Also on board with Horn are Corey Lewandowski, state director of Americans for Prosperity; Verity Swayne, chairman of the New Hamsphire Federation of Republican Women; Grafton County GOP chairman Bruce Perlo, state Sens. Jim Luther of Hollis, Chuck Morse of Salem and David Boutin of Hooksett and former Sen. Tom DeBlois of Manchester.

Her list also includes nine more New Hampshire House members, two Nashua aldermen and, most importantly, 10 more voting state committee members, including nine from Sullivan County.

We understand that Horn has the backing of two additional members of the 20-member Sullivan County GOP Committee who have preferred not to go public, which means she has the backing of the majority of that county's committee.

The full list can be viewed on Horn's Facebook page.

There will be 506 voting members of the state committee when county and city caucuses are finished on Dec. 15. The state committee will elect a new chairman to succeed the outgoing Wayne MacDonald on Jan. 26.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 5, UPDATE: A NEW PROPOSAL. Candidate for NHGOP chairman Andrew Hemingway says former state party chairs should have a continued active and formal role in party affairs.

Hemingway later today will propose adding the position of Chairman-emeritus as a voting member of the party's 33-member executive committee.

'The idea would be to connect the generational gaps that exist during transitions of one chairman to the next and create some continuity and stability within the organization,' Hemingway said.

'The immediate past chairman would stay on the executive committee and have a vote and be a mentor.'

Hemingway said outgoing chairman Wayne MacDonald 'is a great example of someone who has institutional knowledge that would be invaluable to the new chairman and someone who should be given a position of respect in the party.'

Hemingway will issue a formal statement on the plan later today.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 5, UPDATE: NEW HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF. Ryan Mahoney left his post as executive director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party on Tuesday and, we've learned, will soon be announced as the new chief of staff for returning New Hampshire House Speaker Terie Norelli.

Mahoney was named party executive director in March of this year and previously was the field director for the party and the Committee to Elect House Democrats.

Sean Doyle is currently the NHDP deputy executive director.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, DEC. 4, UPDATE: NO MANDATORY GOP FEE. A frustrated Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey told the Granite Status Tuesday a $25 mandatory fee imposed on new Republican State Committee members will be rescinded later this week, but he said members must realize their position 'is not an honorary position, it's a working position.'

Duprey, who chaired the NHGOP from 1993 to 2001, who previously served as finance chairman and who has been one of the state party's representatives on the RNC for the past several years, came up with the idea of charging committee members $25 to attend the party's annual meeting in January.

The party's executive committee unanimously passed the proposal a week ago, but it created a firestorm among some activists, who are currently in the process of attending local caucuses to choose state committee members.

Both candidates for NHGOP chairman, Jennifer Horn and Andrew Hemingway, oppose the mandatory fee.

Duprey said the executive committee will meet by telephone conference call on Thursday, and, he said, 'The fee will be rescinded.'

Outgoing state Republican chairman Wayne MacDonald called for the meeting in an email late Monday to the 33-member party executive committee.

The fee and how to enforce it "have sparked widespread displeasure around the state,' MacDonald wrote. 'The State Party has been inundated with calls and/or emails asking this decision be reversed.

'Furthermore, we have received numerous email and phone complaints, negative press and have observed negative online discussion. This matter has led to passionate feedback that could lead to additional issues for what will already be a challenging meeting on January 26. I believe that we need to revisit this and, accordingly I am calling an Executive Committee meeting via conference call,' MacDonald wrote.

NHGOP finance chairman Jim Foley opposed rescinding the fee.

'This drives me crazy,' he wrote in an email reply to MacDonald.

'Why, when there is some push-back, do we cave in?' wrote Foley, who also chairs the Derry Republican Committee. 'This decision was made by unanimous vote of the executive committee after much discussion and with the idea of getting a more committed state committee member. We deliberately imposed no sanction for failure to pay this fee.

'Who are these complaints coming from? Very few new state committee members have been elected. The Derry committee has been chosen and we have heard no issues about this fee."

Foley wrote that the two candidates for state chairman are 'pandering to what they perceive will be their supporters, and so-called journalists who always try to stir things, creating a controversy where none exists.'

He suggested the state party send an email 'that makes it clear our reasoning behind the request for the fee and that there are no consequences for failure to pay the fee.'

He said he does not believe a special meeting is necessary.

Duprey said that especially after a poor GOP showing on election day, 'Anyone who thinks you don't need adequate resources in what has become a purple state is dreaming.'

Duprey admitted he was acting as 'the bad cop for whoever the next chairman is.'

He also said the party should have a 'job description for the members of the state committee.

'When I was chairman,' he said, 'we used to have a guide of how many hours we expected of you. You had to help us recruit candidates, you had to train candidates, you had write letters and update our data base. And you must help us fund-raise.'

Duprey said no one likes asking for money but, 'Unless we establish our own financial base and have everybody do the unpleasant task, we're not going to be successful.

'I'm glad we had the debate on the fee,' said Duprey. 'But now, we're either going to make it a suggested fee or suggested donation.

'But when less than 200 members of the (approximately 500-member) state committee are financial donors with any regularity, I don't care who the chairperson is, we're not going to be successful if we don't have the resources,' said Duprey.

Duprey said that during the election campaign, the Democrats had a far more sophisticated data base for getting out its vote on Nov. 6.

He also said that relying almost exclusively on funding from the RNC in Washington is unacceptable.

'The national committee is not going to fund the state committee if the state committee does not show enough of a backbone and the level of commitment within our own ranks to do the basic fund-raising to run our operation and elect people at the state level,' Duprey said.

Duprey said he agrees with the assessment of Horn, whom he supports for chairman, that the party needs to raise $450,000 to $500,000 annually.

'When you look at what we raise to run our operation in-state, compared to the other states, frankly, we're doing a pathetic job,' he said. 'Even though we are as large as the Democratic Party -- at least we were until the last election -- we've had to rely on the large donors more and more.'

Duprey said many of those donors are now reluctant 'to keep making substantial donations to the party until they see the party broaden its base at the lower level.'

'They tell me, 'We're tired of the model where we are relied on for all the money and the party isn't doing a good job getting the low-dollar donors.''

Duprey said there are 10 or 12 who regularly contribute significant amounts.

He also said some state committee members who also serve in the Legislature say they are making a financial sacrifice to serve at the State House. Lawmakers are paid only $100 a year.

'I recognize it's a contribution and it's a great honor to serve in the Legislature, but you don't have to also run to serve on the state committee,' he said.

State committee membership 'is not an honorary position. It's a working position,' he said. 'Grassroots activism and fund-raising.

'If every member of the State committee were given the mission of raising $1,000-a-year for the party we would have adequate resources to match the Democrats and hire the kind of staff we need in order to really develop a working grassroots operation.'

Overall, he said, 'I'm glad we pushed the issue. I'm glad some people are excited about it.

'But we'll rescind it because we don't want a perception that you have to pay a fee to vote, but I guarantee that every single member of the state committee will be asked to contribute or fund-raise.

"By raising this, even if we rescind it, everyone is on notice."

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

MONDAY, DEC. 3, UPDATE: ANOTHER GOP BATTLE LOOMING. State Republicans are at it again. Another battle between the establishment and the conservative grassroots is shaping up for party chairman, although the candidate with establishment support does not quite fit the alleged mold.

Nearly two years ago, outgoing chairman former Gov. John H. Sununu tried to hand-pick a candidate to succeed him. But that move backfired when Tea Party favorite Jack Kimball won the majority of the votes of the approximately 500-member state committee.

Kimball in September 2011 resigned amid controversy and vice chair Wayne MacDonald took his place.

Now, in the wake of a poor GOP showing in the November election, the party establishment has lined up behind Jennifer Horn of Nashua after MacDonald decided not to run for a full term.

With the backing of Sen. Kelly Ayotte, outgoing Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, state Rep. and outgoing House Speaker Bill O'Brien, Senate President Peter Bragdon and a long list of other elected officials, Horn briefly appeared on her way to the chairmanship, unchallenged.

After party vice chair Cliff Hurst, a favorite of the liberty group, suddenly decided not to run, Kimball last Friday penned a scathing e-mail saying Hurst was forced out of a candidacy.

Late last week and during the weekend, conservative 'liberty' leaders and bloggers reacted to the establishment move, and as a result, 30-year-old conservative businessman and former Newt Gingrich state campaign director Andrew Hemingway is the race, which will be decided by the Republican State Committee on Jan. 26.

Hemingway said in an interview the NHGOP committee is being run on a 'socialist model of totalitarian top-down style.'

He said that while he has nothing against Horn personally, he does not believe she is qualified to head the party.

'The state party chair has to do three functions,' said Hemingway. 'They have to go out and recruit and help elect electable candidates.'

He said that while 'she hasn't done that,' he did it as former chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire.

'We got elected over 100 state representatives in 2010,' he said.

Hemingway said the party chair must fund-raise on a national level.

'She hasn't done that,' said Hemingway. 'I helped Newt Gingrich raise his digital fund-raising program and we were successful in raising more than $2 million.

Horn countered that within 24 hours of the Nov. 6 election, 'a number of grassroots activists reached out to me and asked me to run. Then I started making calls to party leaders and grassroots activists and laid out my vision and tried to earn their support. When I announced, I was supported by a broad spectrum of more than 100 leaders and grassroots activists.

'I think we need in a chairman somebody who can reach out across the Republican spectrum so that we can be unified and win elections,' she said.

Horn, while backed by the establishment, has not been an establishment figure in the party.

She ran as an outsider against Bass in the 2010 2nd District U.S. House primary, after being the party's nominee for the seat in 2008, defeating then-state Sen. Bob Clegg in a primary.

She also criticized Sununu in 2008 for trying to pick his successor and ironically, supported Kimball initially, while later backing his decision to step down.

Hemingway said his firm, Digital Acumen, specializes in fund-raising as well as social media, and, 'We've raised millions of dollars for conservative candidates all across the country.'

'On driving a message and controlling a message, honestly, she's a very effective spokesperson and I give her credit for that,' Hemingway said, 'I just think I have a truer brand around that and am a more consistent carrier of the Republican brand.'

He also cited a business background of employing, he said, as many as 12 staffers at Digital Acumen and managing a staff of 15 at the Gingrich campaign.

Gingrich finished fifth in the New Hampshire Primary, behind Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum.

Before heading the Gingrich New Hampshire effort, Hemingway participated in organizing the first-ever Twitter GOP presidential debate last summer.

He promises that as chairman, he would 'transform the technological infrastructure of the state party and utilize new methods to manage the get-out-the-vote program.

Hemingway said he can successfully manage his business while working full time as a volunteer party chairman.

He said backed Hurst, who strongly considered running for chairman, but decided against it amid reports that he was bullied out of the race by the GOP hierarchy.

Hurst wanted no part of that speculation on Monday, telling the Granite Status, 'There's been too much said already and it is dividing the party.

'I'm not going to endorse anybody and I think as vice chair I should be neutral since I'm not a candidate,' Hurst said.

But Hemingway said, 'What you see with Cliff and with this effort to charge state committee members a $25 fee, which I absolutely oppose, is that for a party whose philosophy says we for the decentralization of power, and we're by the rule of the people, we run our state committee under the socialist model of a totalitarian top-down style.'

The party executive committee voted unanimously last week to charge $25 to all state committee members who attend the January annual meeting at Bedford High School.

A NHGOP news letter reported, 'The committee feel strongly that state committee members should be vested by both a commitment to do work for the party and also to pay a small membership fee.'

But Hemingway complained, 'We receive our edicts from on high and are expected to just fall in line.

'We should be a grassroots run organization and we should be pushing from the grassroots up to the very top, like every grassroots organization is run.'

He said the Nov. 6 election was not a 'wave' election, as has been written.

'Mitt Romney did fairly well in New Hampshire and rest of the ticket I attribute in a significant amount to the Republican state committee,' he said.

'They were largely ineffective and unsupportive of the candidates who won primaries and were running in general elections,' he said. 'We were horrible at messaging, had no ground game whatsoever from the Republican state committee and relied completely on Romney and I believe it's irresponsible,' Hemingway said.

'I'd love to get organized and have a role in local races, up and down the ticket from selectman to governor,' he said.

Horn said, 'We need a chairman who understands all different levels of media and modernizing our technology but also a chairman who has an understanding of how to use it.'

On the other side of the political aisle, Democratic state chairman Raymond Buckley is taking it all in.

Despite the turmoil, Buckley is not taking the GOP lightly.

'There will always be a competitive Republican Party in New Hampshire,' he said. 'We are a purple state and will continue to be.'

Buckley is expected to seek -- and win -- a fourth term when the Democratic State Committee meets in March.

While the Republican chairmanship is a volunteer position, Buckley is compensated for his work through contributions to the party.

That appears to be a key to leadership continuity, and the contrast between the two parties' leadership is stark.

Buckley became the NHDP first vice chairman in 1999, when Kathy Sullivan was elected chair.

He became chairman in 2007, and Sullivan, as Democratic National Committeewoman, remains active in party affairs.

Since the 'team' of Sullivan and Buckley took over the NHDP in 1999, the Republican State Committee has had no fewer than nine chairmen:

Steve Duprey, who stepped aside and was succeeded by John Dowd in 2001, then Jayne Millerick in 2003, Warren Henderson in 2005, Wayne Semprini in 2006, Fergus Cullen in 2007, former Gov. Sununu in 2009, Kimball in January 2011 and MacDonald in September 2011.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

FRIDAY, NOV. 30, UPDATE: UNHAPPY JACK. Former Republican state chairman Jack Kimball says his harsh criticism of the NHGOP hierarchy's support for Jennifer Horn as the next party chairman is unrelated to the Horn's support for efforts in 2011 for him to step down as chairman.

'It's not that at all,' Kimball told the Granite Status. 'Jennifer has every right to run, but I really believe that Cliff Hurst (the current party vice chair) would be a marvelous chairman.'

Horn, asked to comment on Kimball's criticism, emailed stayed focused on the unity theme:

'I am running to unite the party and bring new energy and new vision to the effort of rebuilding a vibrant Republican Party in New Hampshire.

'I am very grateful for the support of over 100 grassroots activists so far as well as respected party leaders like Sen. Ayotte and will continue to work hard to earn the support of every member of the State Committee and Republicans across the state.'

Meanwhile, reports surfaced today that conservative activist Andrew Hemingway will challenge Horn for the chairmanship.

Hurst had strongly considered running but decided not to after U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, outgoing U.S. Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass and a long list of other GOP officials endorsed Horn.

Kimball penned a 'Hi Patriots' email to 'about 50 of my closest supporters' contending that Hurst was 'FORCED (yes, he capitalized the word) to drop out of the race to clear the way for the Five Families choice of Jennifer Horn.

'The NHGOP is now being run like a satellite of the Russian Federation,' he wrote. 'Hell, why bother having a convention at all?'

His email lauds Hurst as 'one of the most honorable men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting' with 'historic and unquestionable' loyalty to the party.

It goes on, 'All fair-minded, Liberty loving Republicans MUST reject what is happening here. The only people who should be choosing our next NH GOP chair are the 500 eligible voters on the State Committee.'

Kimball told the Status that Hurst 'is a uniter of the utmost integrity. This is not how we should be running our party.'

Kimball said he purposely did not run for a spot on the state committee because of his history as a controversial chairman.

And, he said that by writing the email, 'I'm not hurting the party. I'm trying to get us back focused.'

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, NOV. 29, UPDATE: MAGGIE'S INAUGURAL BALL. Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan has an all-star lineup cochairing her inaugural committee, which is organizing the Jan. 3 oath-of-office events at the State House, an inaugural ball in Manchester on Jan. 4 and a North Country ball on Jan. 12.

Hassan's transition office later today will announce her inaugural committee will be cochaired by attorney Alan Reische of Manchester, Anna Grace Holloway of Rye, real estate developer and long-time Democratic fundraiser Fred Seigel of North Hampton and Northeast Delta Dental CEO Tom Raffio of Bow.

Hassan has also named her former campaign manager, Matt Burgess, as inaugural committee director. J.P. Boyle, her former deputy campaign manager, is the inaugural committee deputy director and Liz Purdy is a senior advisor to the inaugural committee, as she was for the campaign.

Hassan's office has also launched a new web site,, to provide information and online ticketing for inaugural events.

Hassan will be sworn into office as the state's 81st governor on Thursday, Jan. 3, at the State House. Later that day, she will host an open house at the State House to greet citizens.

The inaugural ball will take place on Friday, Jan. 4, at the Radisson Center of New Hampshire in Manchester. A North Country ball will be held on Saturday. Jan. 12 at the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods.

Hassan said:

'New Hampshire is a special place where we come together as communities to support each other, address our challenges, and move our state forward.

'The New Hampshire way means all of us chip in, and the people of New Hampshire expect their leaders to be accessible to their ideas and priorities.

'I want to ensure all of our citizens have an opportunity to participate as we begin our work together to build a stronger, more innovative New Hampshire where our businesses can grow, flourish and create good jobs for our people.'

Her transition team says she intends to 'focus on innovation, fiscal responsibility and common-sense solutions to our challenges,' while working in a bipartisan way 'to develop a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that protects New Hampshire's priorities without an income or sales tax.'

(The full Nov. 29 Granite Status follows.)

THURSDAY, NOV. 29: KELLY'S CHOICE. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, now alone atop the Republican chart of elected officials in New Hampshire, has made her choice for state party chairman: Nashua conservative activist Jennifer Horn. And most of the party establishment has fallen in line.

Also on board for Horn are outgoing Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, state Rep. and outgoing House speaker Bill O'Brien, Senate President Peter Bragdon, incoming House GOP leader Gene Chandler, Republican National Committee members Steve Duprey and Juliana Bergeron, former party chairs Jayne Millerick and Wayne Semprini and former candidate for governor Kevin Smith.

As we first reported on, Horn had announced her candidacy for the party post just hours after current chairman Wayne MacDonald said he won't seek a full term when the GOP State Committee chooses officers on Jan. 26.

Horn said she wants to "unify Republicans and lay the groundwork for a vibrant, robust party. We will unite behind our core principles of lower taxes, less spending, and personal freedom. And when the Democrats inevitably over-reach, we'll hold them accountable."

Ayotte, also of Nashua, called Horn "an articulate voice for our party who will serve as a strong, unifying leader."

MacDonald had been party vice chairman for more than eight years before predecessor Jack Kimball resigned amid controversy in September 2011.

MacDonald said "some of the leaders of the party were looking for someone else," but he said he was "not at all" pressured to step aside.

"This was totally my decision and it was a tough call," MacDonald said.

Horn recently served as chairman of the NHGOP platform committee and was credited with negotiating a compromise that kept in place conservative Republican principles but in more "user-friendly" language.

She chairs the non-profit advocacy group "We the People: A First in the Nation Freedom Forum," which held a series of events featuring presidential candidates in the last presidential primary campaign.

She is a former radio talk show host and newspaper columnist who was the 2008 GOP nominee for the 2nd District U.S. House seat, losing to then-incumbent Rep. Paul Hodes.

She lost to Bass in a party primary two years ago.

HURST, WILLIAMS OUT. State Party Vice Chair Cliff Hurt had been planning to run, but told the Status Wednesday he won't.

"I just felt like it's the best thing to do," Hurst said. "There is a time to serve and a time to wait it out. I have no resentment and no hard feelings."

Hurst acknowledged the formidable support team lined up by Horn played a role in his decision.

"We need a time to heal as a party," he said. "My mission is to be a healer and a uniter and as we know, politics can be very divisive."

And Ryan Williams, a former spokesman for the NHGOP and then for Mitt Romney's national campaign, turned down recruitment efforts for the chairmanship by a handful of state Republicans, saying he supports Horn and has "no interest in returning to the state party."

PRAISE FOR WAYNE. Republican National Committeeman and former chairman Duprey said MacDonald "did a good job righting the ship" following the Kimball controversy.

"And I'm one of those who believe that when you win it's a team effort and when you lose, you lose as a team.

"It was a tough election cycle," said Duprey. "There were a lot of reasons for what happened but it wasn't because the party didn't work hard. Wayne did a good, solid job fundraising and he had a good relationship with the (RNC)."

O'Brien said MacDonald showed a "willingness to step up under very difficult circumstances and provide leadership for the party" and guided it through a "smooth first-in-the-nation primary."

He said Horn "will be a strong state party chair and to the extent that I can talk to some of my friends in the House to support Jennifer, I will do that."

HORN TEAM. Horn on Wednesday signed veteran strategist Mike Dennehy as a supporter along with Rep. Jack Flanagan and Nashua Fire Commissioner Mike Soucy.

Also on board: outgoing House Majority Leader Pete Silva, and Reps. Steve Cunningham, Ralph Boehm, Beverly Rodechin, Carl Seidel and Gary Azarian, as well as Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield.

Thursday evening update: Horn on Thursday picked up the support of 60 more GOP leaders, including state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and 2010 gubernatorial nominee John Stephen, as well as former Ambassador Joseph Petrone and his wife, Augusta, and strategists Jim Merrill and Mike Biundo.

GOOD EARLY NEWS FOR JEANNE. wrote two weeks ago that Public Policy Polling was already in the field surveying Granite Staters on U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's approval rating and a possible 2014 "rubber match" battle between her and Republican John E. Sununu, whom she ousted from office.

The results are in. Two years out, it's good news for the incumbent.

PPP, on behalf of the left-leaning Progressive Change Campaign Committee, surveyed 1,018 registered New Hampshire voters Nov. 14 and 15.

The poll, with a margin of error of 3.1 percent, found Shaheen leading Sununu, 53 to 42 percent, with 5 percent undecided.

Also, 51 percent of those surveyed approved of the way Shaheen is doing her job; 36 percent disapproved and 13 percent had no opinion.

The poll indicated Granite Staters oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and support higher taxes for the rich and if Shaheen supported cuts to either program, 46 percent said they would be less likely to vote for her.

If Shaheen "led the national fight to raise taxes on the rich," 48 percent said they would be more likely to vote for her, while 31 percent said they would be less likely, 19 percent said it would make no difference.

"New Hampshire voters spoke clearly in 2012," said PCCC spokesman Neil Sroka, a former spokesman for U.S. Rep.-elect Ann Kuster. "Tax the rich, invest in jobs and don't even think about cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. If Senator Shaheen fights hard for this agenda, New Hampshire voters stand ready to support her in 2014."

The poll also showed 48 percent of Granite Staters viewed President Barack Obama's key "mandate" in the election as "standing up for regular families - even if it means fighting," rather than compromising with Republicans, which was the view of 36 percent.

On another question, 49 percent viewed Obama's mandate as creating jobs, while 22 percent said it's reducing the debt.

While there is much for Shaheen supporters to be optimistic about, Republicans can take solace in the fact that 2014 will be a mid-term election, when the party in power at the White House often suffers big losses on Congress.

A PERSONAL PLEA. Just two days after former candidate for governor and state Sen. Jackie Cilley was announced as Rep.-elect Carol Shea-Porter's district director, Cilley's friend and former campaign manager put out a plea for contributions to help her retire her campaign debt.

Liz Merry emails that Cilley, in the closing days of the primary campaign she lost to Maggie Hassan, took out a personal loan "to help pay for the mailings, TV commercials and field operations that would carry our hopes forward."

Congressional district directors' salaries are generally in the range of $85,000 to $100,000-a-year.

BUCHANAN TONIGHT. Pat Buchanan returns to New Hampshire tonight to talk about the state of affairs in the world and perhaps reminisce about his 1996 New Hampshire first-in-the-nation presidential primary victory.

He's the keynote speaker at the Nackey S. Loeb School's First Amendment Awards dinner at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord.

RUDMAN SERVICES. A Washington, D.C. tribute to the late Sen. Warren Rudman will be held this afternoon from 4:30 to 6:30 in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building.

Longtime Rudman friend and protege, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter will speak along with Vice President Joe Biden, who served with Rudman in the senate, Sen. John McCain, former Secretary of Defense and Sen. Bill Cohen, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and former Sens. Alan Simpson, Phil Gramm, Daniel Inouye and George Mitchell.

According to former Rudman spokesman Bob Stevenson, a tribute to Rudman will most likely be held in January at the Warren B. Rudman U.S. Courthouse in Concord.

As an Army veteran, Rudman's remains will be interred at Arington National Cemetery at a later date.

PROMOTING VOUCHERS. Outgoing House Speaker O'Brien this week has been in Washington at the National Summit on Education Reform, sponsored by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

O'Brien spoke at an opening strategy session about voucher and tax credits.

"I went over the success we had in New Hampshire for a program that was modest but demonstrated the success" of efforts to reform education, O'Brien said.

John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @jdistaso.

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