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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Bracing for candidates swarming State House

By GARRY RAYNO
October 17. 2015 6:36PM




THE PRESIDENTIAL parade through the State House to Secretary of State Bill Gardner's office begins in two and a half weeks when the New Hampshire presidential primary sign-up period opens.

Between Nov. 4 and 20, Gardner's office will host the national and local media, political activists, campaign workers, hangers-on and a host of candidates who come in to plunk down $1,000 and sign their names on the dotted line to enter the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Most will have only those 15 minutes of fame, but one of the upwards of 50 candidates will become the most powerful leader in the world.

The candidates have to file their declaration of candidacy and that could eventually pose a problem for two of the major candidates, one from each party.

The issues of Bernie Sanders running in the Democratic primary has been out in the blogosphere for some time and will be again when he files in New Hampshire.

The document asks the candidate to swear he or she is “a registered member of the (fill in the blank) party.”

Sanders has always run as an independent, although he was endorsed by the Democratic Party and its leaders when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006, filed as an independent. He caucuses with Democrats in Washington but is not a member of the party.

Sanders has time to rectify any problem that might arise before he files and could simply have Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid declare he is a member of the Democratic Party, but Reid's endorsement may not sit well in New Hampshire after he trashed the state and its presidential primary last week.

Reid did not say he wanted to change New Hampshire's place on the presidential selection calendar as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus implied when Reid talked about doing away with “the sacred cows” and moving to a regional primary system.

The other candidate with a potential problem is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The Republican was born to United States citizens but in Canada.

The declaration form quotes from the U.S. Constitution listing the requirements to be President. “No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President.”

Former GOP presidential candidate and Sen. John McCain was born on a Naval Base in the Panama Canal Zone, but a military base has traditionally been thought of as a U.S. controlled territory, and 1964 GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was born in 1909 in Arizona when it was a territory and not a state.

But Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, where his father was working for an oil company, although he grew up in Texas.

Gardner said the quote from the Constitution is included on the declaration form after a man filed for the 2008 presidential primary who was an Egyptian citizen.

“After he filed, in less than an hour I got a call from someone telling me he had proof he was not a U.S. citizen,” Gardner said Friday.

Gardner called the candidate and asked him if he was an U.S. citizen and the man said no, he was an Egyptian citizen, and did not know he had to be an American citizen to run for President.

“After that we put the exact wording from the U.S. Constitution on the form,” Gardner said.

Gardner noted his office does not investigate when candidates file for office, but if someone presents documentation that the would-be candidate does not qualify, then the issue goes to the Ballot Law Commission.

In both instances, if Gardner accepts the forms from Sanders and Cruz as expected, challenges are likely to follow.

The Ballot Law Commission will have to decide, but will essentially be on its own because the U.S. Supreme Court has never been asked to decide what constitutes “natural born citizen” or if someone can run in a party primary without being a member of the party. The party issue is usually left for states to decide.

While both candidates are likely to be on the presidential primary ballot in February, they may have to spend some time before the Ballot Law Commission. And that's not something either candidate is going to want to do or to spend precious resources to address the question.

All ready to go

The presidential filing period may be two weeks away but several people have already scheduled times with the Secretary of State's Office.

The day after the filing opening on Nov. 4, both Florida Sen. Mario Rubio and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will file, and Cruz is scheduled for Nov. 12.

With the number of major candidates set to run in New Hampshire, there are bound to be some back-to-back days that will try the patience of State House workers.

Opening day is usually reserved for folks seeking a little attention for their cause and ideas.

Executive Council 3

With District 3 Executive Councilor Chris Sununu announcing he will run for governor, Salem Democrat Beth Roth announced she will seek the District 3 seat.

Roth is a former two-term Salem selectman and a business attorney with her own practice.

“I am announcing early in order to do the most thorough job I can talking to voters and learning about the needs of the entire district, which spans from the Seacoast to Pelham,” Roth said. “I'm ready to take on the challenge of a regional campaign, and plan to devote the energy and time to earning the votes of people in this district who deserve to be heard.”

Roth said she is troubled by the influence of national politics on state policy decisions, such as the recent Council vote to defund the Planned Parenthood contract.

Prior to her election as selectman, Roth served on Salem's planning board, and is now on the Salem Historical Society board. She is married, with three children and eight grandchildren.

Two Republican state senators are exploring running for the seat, Nancy Stiles from Hampton and Russell Prescott from Kingston.

Campaign chair

GOP presidential candidate and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore named State Sen. Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, as his New Hampshire State Chairman of Gilmore for America.

“I am honored to have Sen. Cataldo leading our efforts to build a grassroots campaign in New Hampshire,” Gilmore said.

Senate Democrats

The Senate Democratic Political Action Committee holds a fundraiser Wednesday as the political season is clearly in full swing, even if the next general election is more than a year away.

The Democrat event is at O Steak & Seafoods between 5 and 7 p.m.

The Sununu touch

One of the viral Youtube videos of the last election was Chris Sununu's introduction of then-U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown in Portsmouth.

His brother, former U.S. Sen. John E Sununu, could have one of his own if anyone was taping his introduction of Ohio Gov. John Kasich Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Bow.

Sununu, who served with Kasich on the House Budget Committee and is chairman of his New Hampshire campaign, was touting Kasich's accomplishments in Congress, including the last balanced budget.

Sununu noted when Kasich became governor of Ohio the state was in dire fiscal shape, but after he took over as governor, “he turned a $6 billion surplus into a $2 billion deficit.”

Catching himself, Sununu noted the forgiving people of New Hampshire are used to him fumbling his words, but Kasich was probably not going to be so kind.

grayno@unionleader.com


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