August 01. 2018 9:43PM

Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Gloves come off in 1st District Republican primary

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN


Republican congressional candidate Eddie Edwards of Dover holds the Trump-embraced views on Obamacare (he wanted it repealed) and immigration reform (no amnesty, tighter borders) in his 1st District run.

But for five years from 2009 to 2014, Edwards served on the board of directors of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health. The Concord-based non-profit took a very different view on these issues.

The endowment financed the Welcoming NH Initiative, which was designed to grow the refugee population in the state and was a project of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

The MIRA came out against President Trump’s travel ban and supported amnesty and sanctuary city policies that included opposing the arrest of illegal aliens.

On Obamacare, the endowment financed grants to Community Catalyst in Boston that backed up marketing of the federal health insurance exchanges.

“The foundation has also invested in the state’s health advocacy organizations which monitor, educate and advocate on key state health issues, especially the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” the endowment wrote in its annual report.

An Edwards chief campaign consultant, Michael Biundo, said the candidate did not share the endowment’s philosophy on those issues while on the board and he doesn’t back them now.

“Eddie was recruited to join the bipartisan board because they wanted members with a different perspective and a different voice. As someone who has dedicated his life to service, he joined to advocate for those things that meant so much to him, particularly around the areas of health, and more specifically, substance use disorders. Eddie has never agreed with every decision made from any group or board. However, his tenure on this board taught him a lot, which is why he is such an advocate for a free market-based health care solution,” Biundo said.

The Edwards campaign then decided it was the campaign of primary rival Andy Sanborn of Bedford that peddled this information about Edwards’ service on the board and Biundo chose to fire back with both guns blazing.

“As Eddie’s momentum continues, Senator Sanborn’s campaign is flailing and deflecting attention away from issues creeping up in his own campaign such as shady behaviors that ripped off small businesses and hurt employees,” Biundo added. “Just as how Senator Sanborn hasn’t agreed with every act the New Hampshire state Senate has taken, Eddie doesn’t agree with every action taken by all of the many service organizations he sits on. Period.”

The Edwards’ campaign then listed an assortment of stories about Sanborn’s past financial troubles that included a bankrupt sporting goods business before opening his current Concord sports bar, The Draft.

Sanborn campaign consultant Ethan Zorfas said it’s Edwards who has been underhanded and tried to hide who he was.

“What Eddie Edwards did on this board was obviously give up a lot to get a little — he completely folded on the so-called ‘conservative values’ that he touts on the campaign trail to provide what his consultant calls, ‘a different perspective.’ That perspective, supported sanctuary cities, and pumped more money into the already failing Obamacare,” Zorfas said.

“As a board member, Eddie did exactly what angers Granite Staters about Washington: he went along to get along instead of standing for conservative principles. The more voters find out about the real Eddie Edwards, the more they will learn that he has a history of saying one thing and doing another.”

There’s less than six weeks left in this primary, but that’s plenty of time for this one to get even nastier.

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With $1.1 million in the campaign bank account and a very low name recognition in this race, Democrat Maura Sullivan was bound to be the first to go up on television with paid advertising and she didn’t disappoint.

The ads started at the beginning of this week, two with similar biographical themes that highlight her work in the Pentagon, the Department of Veterans Affairs and her military service.

The Sullivan ad opens: “A captain in the Marines — serving our country in Iraq when President Obama tapped her to help lead Veterans Affairs and serve as an advisor in the Pentagon.

“Maura Sullivan fought for better family leave, expanding health and fertility options for women, and helping veterans struggling with opioid abuse.

“For New Hampshire, a proven leader, serving others, putting people ahead of politics. That’s Maura Sullivan.”

What we didn’t know was that her best-known opponent in this 11-person primary, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester, would go right up on the air in response with a folksy ad filmed from the Puritan Restaurant, which his family owns and runs.

“Chris Pappas takes on the big fights. As an executive councilor, I fought to fund Planned Parenthood and worked in a bipartisan way to provide health care to 50,000 people,” the Pappas ad states. “Chris Pappas leads by example. We have to push back against the President and show that we are better than this.”

There’s a big difference between the ad buys.

Sullivan has bought for six weeks ads totaling more than $335,000; Pappas has only bought for one week for $10,170. Last Monday night his campaign sent out an e-mail blast seeking more money to keep that ad on the air.

The Portsmouth candidate Sullivan has reserved time nearly right through the Sept. 11 primary with a two-week break; there will be no break, she’ll remain on TV right up until the vote.

Tonight the New Hampshire Democratic Party hosts the second in a series of forums for this race, this one at Exeter High School with the doors opening at 6 p.m.

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Secretary of State Bill Gardner scored a long-sought legal victory when the Professional Conduct Committee voted recently to reprimand the longtime legal counsel for HealthTrust Inc. of Concord, the administrator of health care coverage for cities and towns.

The committee reprimanded David I. Frydman, deciding that his conduct violated rules regarding a lawyer’s duties to former clients.

Prior to Sept. 1, 2013, Frydman had represented more than one side in an administrative proceeding, LGC Inc., the LGC Healthtrust and LGC PLT.

The Property and Liability Trust, part of the former Local Government Center (LGC PLT), had owed the health care trust $17.1 million.

As the overseeing administrator of the state Bureau of Securities Regulator, Secretary of State Gardner pursued the LGC for years, maintaining it had improperly mixed money between its subsidiaries and not properly paid off cities and towns for operating surpluses from the health trust.

The conduct committee said Frydman, a former legal counsel to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, did not obtain informed written consent from the PLT group when he was representing the HealthTrust regarding the money that was owed to it.

The committee agreed a reprimand and not a more serious sanction was appropriate here.

“The parties agree that Mr. Frydman’s conduct was not intentional or knowing but rather was negligent,” the PCC wrote in its 29-page ruling.

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The pro-abortion rights Emily’s List endorsed seven women candidates in New Hampshire this week — all of them Democrats, including former Councilor Debora Pignatelli of Nashua who’s trying in a rematch to unseat Councilor David Wheeler, R-Milford.

The six Senate Democrats are District 18 incumbent Donna Soucy of Manchester along with challengers Anne Grassie of Rochester in District 6; Jenn Alford-Teaster of Sutton in District 8; Shannon Chandley of Amherst in District 11; Melanie Levesque of Brookline in District 12, and Cindy Rosenwald of Nashua in District 13.

Chandley and Levesque are both in primaries, but picking sides early is nothing new for Emily’s List.

In New Hampshire it has already weighed in for Molly Kelly of Harrisville for governor and Sullivan for Congress in the 1st C.D.

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Following former New York mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani’s campaigning for him, Edwards picked up another prominent backer of presidential candidate Donald Trump.

He’s former state Rep. Fred Doucette, R-Salem, who was co-chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign in New Hampshire.

A retired firefighter and paramedic, Doucette was one of Trump’s earliest backers in 2016 and a former assistant majority leader in the House.

“I know Eddie Edwards and I am confident that he will fight for President Donald Trump’s agenda and will make a difference in protecting the values we hold most important as Republicans in the Granite State,” Doucette said.

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Gov. Chris Sununu continues to politically be very good to those who are good to him.

The latest was a nomination before the Executive Council at its meeting last Friday, state Rep. Donald LeBrun, R-Nashua, to a three-year seat on the Board of Medicine.

LeBrun played a critical role in getting enough House conservative Republican support in committee for the Medicaid expansion bill that Sununu signed earlier this month.

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Michael Skelton of Bedford backed up Sununu’s opposition to renewable energy subsidy bills, two of which the governor ultimately vetoed.

Skelton was confirmed by the council for a seat on the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority’s Board of Directors.

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The state’s congressional delegation announced $15 million in grants for the Northern Border Regional Commission days after Sununu revealed President Trump had nominated a Sununu aide to co-chair the group.

The federal co-chair of the commission runs the organization and when the Senate confirms him, it will be Sununu governmental relations assistant and ex-state Rep. Harold Parker of Wolfeboro.

The latest grants included a three-mile fiber optic network upgrade for Bristol, a STEM workforce training program for Coos and Grafton Counties, a 42-acre expansion of Littleton’s industrial park and the expansion of a health care center in Canaan.

In both his federal budgets, Trump has proposed eliminating the commission as one of about two dozen that live outside federal agencies because Congress created them by a special act of federal law.

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A tower of Republican direct-response fundraising who lived in Jaffrey recently passed away.

Steven C. Meyers, 57,was known locally for his volunteer work — from serving on the local school board and Peterborough Players to his stewardship for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

But Meyers became a national giant in state-of-the-art targeting in political campaigns. He was president and founder of SCM Associates and also created Granite Lists, a list management company.

Both were firms sought after by ambitious Republicans from coast to coast. The work Meyers did helped launch the campaigns of House Speaker Paul Ryan; Mitt Romney bids for governor, senator and president; Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; and a who’s who of New Hampshire GOP candidates and officeholders down through the years.

On the other side of the aisle, there was four-term state Rep. Robert M. Walsh, who died on Tuesday.

A retired CPA, Walsh was a veteran member of the House Finance Committee who represented Ward 4 in the city. Party Chairman Ray Buckley praised Walsh as a 60-year activist who was a “kind gentleman with a heart of gold.”

Both will be missed.

klandrigan@unionleader.com