August 15. 2018 10:10PM

Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Another example of the up is down 2018 election cycle


We saw with an attack mailing last weekend in a state Senate Republican primary race why 2018 remains wildly unpredictable.

Former state senator David Boutin, a Hooksett Republican, seemed to be the one to beat, having held the District 16 seat before he decided not to run for another term in 2016 due to pressing family demands.

Boutin came back in 2017, tried to win the seat back in a special election but lost decisively to Manchester Ward 1 Alderman and Democrat Kevin Cavanaugh.

This time Boutin faces a primary challenge from two-term state Rep. Bill Kuch, R-Bow.

The traditional campaign playbook says it should be Kuch who launches the broadside trying to knock off the better-known Boutin.

Instead it was Boutin unleashing this stinging, issues-based mailer on abortion and drug abuse against Kuch.

“If women and children are important to you, this is not your man,” Boutin’s mailing begins.

“Bill Kuch’s anti-family voting record does not represent your values. Kuch is soft on drugs, soft on crime. Kuch votes with Planned Parenthood and supports the sale of dead body parts. Kuch sides with rapists over rape victims.”

Boutin’s attacks are over a variety of bills. The rape victim citation refers to Kuch’s opposition to Marsy’s Law — which had the support of Gov. Chris Sununu and nearly the entire State Senate, but crashed and burned in a rout before the House of Representatives.

While Planned Parenthood wasn’t in the topic of the bill, Kuch was one of only 32 Republicans who voted to kill a bill that banned the “buying, selling, and experimenting on unborn infants or bodily remains resulting from abortion.” This bill died in 2016, 155-122.

Kuch said the mailing floored him.

“It made my daughter cry, my wife didn’t sleep a wink last night. I’m not going to lower myself,” Kuch said.

While Boutin said he’s got a 100 percent rating from the socially conservative Cornerstone Action group, Kuch’s said his score is 94.4 percent.

“If I am selling baby parts, I don’t know how they didn’t catch that,” Kuch said.

“I don’t support the government supporting Planned Parenthood period. I don’t know where any of this came from. I believe in Right to Life.”

Some of the citations in the mailing list the wrong year for the bill at issue, but the Boutin campaign gave the back-up for all the votes, which included Kuch opposing a ban on abortions after an unborn fetus can feel pain (HB 1636 in 2016).

“I don’t know how you can get any more conservative than me. That’s why I ran in the first place,” Kuch said.

Kuch wonders if Boutin is running scared, pointing out he lost soundly to Cavanaugh in Kuch’s hometown.

“He lost big time in Bow in the special election (Cavanaugh won there, 938-626) and I am really challenging him,” Kuch said.

“I’ve been going door-to-door every place. I served my country as a U.S. Navy veteran. I really don’t need this.”

Boutin said during a telephone interview that the mailing isn’t personal, it is based on issues and this is how he runs every campaign.

“I’m not worried. We take every race seriously, every opponent seriously and that mailer represents his voting record,” Boutin said.

“It’s not a personal attack and it’s not a voting record that I would have had.”

“Those votes that he took are not representative of family values. We simply put that forward for the voters to consider.”

As a supporter of Medicaid expansion and opponent of Right-to-Work bills, Boutin has often attracted primary challenges.

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The Republican State Committee has attracted quite the star-studded cast that can’t wait to get a free shot at former Gov. and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu.

Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid and former Congressman Chuck Douglas will be at the podium for the Aug. 30 fundraiser at Castleton Banquet and Conference Center in Windham with a 5:30 p.m. reception before the 6:30 p.m. dinner event.

Former White House Chief of Staff and former Franklin Pierce University President Andy Card is on the dais as well as veteran Sununu confidante and GOP consultant David Carney of Hancock.

“By joining Andy Card and David Carney on the stage, Joe McQuaid and Congressman Douglas will honor and pay tribute to the service that former Governor and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu has provided to the state, and to the nation,” said Republican State Chairman Wayne MacDonald in announcing the event.

Carney will serve as the master of ceremonies.

“Having worked for Gov. Sununu since 1980 it gives me great pleasure to be a part of the roast,” Carney said. “As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold and what goes around, comes around.”

Just remember, the roasted party can get the last word and you can bet the elder Sununu will come loaded with his own ammunition for those who have just roasted him.

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Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti drew big crowds and plenty of media coverage last week when he attended Democratic events in Iowa, the first caucus state. At that time Avenatti told reporters here that he’d drop into the first-in-the-nation primary state in a “few weeks.”

Avenatti decided he didn’t want to wait that long. Instead, Avenatti will be attending the Hillsborough County Democrats’ Summer Picnic in Greenfield on Sunday.

Like Trump, Avenatti looks at a White House run having never run for any political office before but having been seen a whole lot on TV.

“I think there’s a huge appetite within the party for a fighter,” Avenatti said in Iowa. Sunday’s event begins at noon and is at Oak Park at 971 Forest Road in Greenfield.

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They aren’t televised but they already made news.

That’s the only two-party sponsored debates in the two congressional districts which go down tonight at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.

The doors open at 5:15 p.m. and GOP party leaders said seats are going fast.

A debate ticket costs $10 and for $50 you’ll be entered in a GOP-sponsored raffle.

The 1st Congressional District debate kicks off at 7 p.m. followed by the 2nd C.D. event at 8.

Former Dover law enforcement chief Eddie Edwards made the news by confirming he would not attend the 1st CD event because he had to pledge to endorse state Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford should Sanborn win the nomination.

“I’m not going to trade my values,” Edwards said.

State Rep. Steve Negron of Nashua has won several straw polls in the 2nd CD. Ex-state Rep. Lynne Blackenbeker of Concord, Hopkinton whistleblower Stewart Levenson, Manchester’s Bob Burns and Brian Belanger of New Boston each needs to figure out how they stand out.

iHeart Media talk show host Jack Heath will moderate.

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Democratic congressional candidate Chris Pappas started a series of “Senior Socials” where he’ll attend senior centers in the 1st Congressional District to discuss issues of importance.

Pappas said protecting Social Security and Medicare along with trying to deal with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs are top issues.

“New Hampshire seniors face a unique set of issues, and I will be a representative who listens intently to their concerns and fights to address them in Congress,” said Pappas, an executive councilor from Manchester. “I will work to strengthen Social Security and Medicare and fight against efforts to gut benefits and privatize those essential programs. I look forward to having these important conversations in the lead-up to the Sept. 11 primary election.”

Pappas made the first two stops earlier this week Monday at Webster at Rye and Wednesday at the Cashin Center in Manchester.

He’s heading to the next one at the Gibson Center in Conway this Friday.

A Pappas fund-raising email this week points out how campaigns in order to attract donations often talk up rather than down the opposition party.

“Make no mistake — the far-right thinks they can gain ground in New Hampshire this year, and they’re willing to spend BIG to make it happen,” Team Pappas warned.

“Already, right-wingers like Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Rudy Giuliani have thrown their support behind our Republican opponents. Even the top election forecasters at The Cook Political Report say this district has the potential to swing both ways in any given year: “This district has one of the highest shares of back-and-forth independent voters in the country,” the report said.

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Congratulations to former Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeff Rose, formerly of Merrimack, who after not winning reappointment in Gov. Chris Sununu’s administration has clearly landed on his feet.

Rose recently started work as vice president of government relations and public policy for Battelle in the Columbus, Ohio area. Battelle is the largest independent research and development company in the world with the mission to apply science and technology in research, education and philanthropy.

Rose’s job will include working with business leaders and members of Congress to promote Battelle’s story.

Sununu convinced the Legislature to split DRED, which Rose had run, into two parts. He placed Rose in the half that dealt with parks and arts programs but did not reappoint him to another term.

The Executive Council confirmed longtime GOP campaign operative Sarah Stewart, executive of b-fresh consulting in Manchester, to replace him.

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Last Tuesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won the Democratic nomination for another six-year term.

As in the past, Sanders said he would decline that nomination and again run as an independent.

That’s not what he told New Hampshire back on Nov. 5, 2015 when he filed to run for President as a Democrat.

When a reporter asked Sanders his party allegiance after he filed, Sanders responded, “I’m a Democrat.”

Sanders then called on NH Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley, who attended Sanders’ State House filing and released a lengthy letter to Secretary of State Bill Gardner that confirmed Sanders’ party allegiance.

Sanders told reporters gathered there that he would run as a Democrat in any future elections.

Maybe he only meant elections here but not in Vermont.

Many may be fine with Sanders maintaining his independent maverick image.

But Matthew Vallone, a former Capitol Hill staffer and defense analyst, remembered what Sanders had promised and hopes voters here do too.

“If he doesn’t want to be in the party, that’s fine, but he shouldn’t be able to run for the nomination in 2020,” Vallone tweeted Tuesday night.

Several national media outlets have chronicled how some of Sanders’ followers have not all done well at the ballot box since 2016.

But to their credit they keep trying.

Sanders’ son, Levi Sanders, is running for Congress in the 1st District of New Hampshire though without Sanders’ formal endorsement.

Michael Ceraso, Sanders’ former California state director and deputy state director in New Hampshire, said last week he plans to file papers to run for a city council seat in Claremont, Calif.

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While Democratic Party leaders at the highest levels call for him to quit, the Coos County Democratic Committee won’t be asking Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield to resign following a string of domestic violence charges against him.

Acting County Chairman Theodore Bosen said no one present called for Woodburn to quit. Bosen has said an unidentified female is ready to run as a write-in candidate in the Sept. 11 primary but was hoping to have the county group’s call in place before she jumped into the race.

Only two of the county committee’s seven members attended a special meeting last Friday, Bosen said, though other area Democrats did attend and opposed the call for Woodburn to quit.

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The liberal Open Democracy Action released a survey of congressional candidates on campaign fund-raising reform and some endorsed the idea of taxpayer-financed campaigns and several said they would support the Peoples’ Pledge to discourage outside spending in campaigns.

Co-Chair Rick Bourdon said it’s becoming a defining issue in some primaries.

“Most of the candidates are talking about the problem, and several of them are using their positions on it as a way of separating themselves from the rest of the crowded field,” Bourdon said. There are 15 candidates running in the 1st District congressional race and 10 in the 2nd District.

All candidates were given the survey, though the major Republican hopefuls did not return them.

“Big-money, special interest domination over elections and policy blocks achievement of conservative objectives such as small government and fiscal and military restraint,” said former Republican state senator and 2016 candidate for U.S. Senate Jim Rubens. “More Republican candidates should weigh in on solutions.”

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