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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Pawlenty steering committee member defects to Romney camp

July 20. 2011 7:06PM

TUESDAY, JULY 26, UPDATE: DROPPING PAWLENTY. State Rep. Shaun Doherty, R-Pelham, says he still likes and respects GOP presidential candidate and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but he's frustrated with the lack of New Hampshire activity by his campaign.

As a result, Doherty told the Granite Status, he's resigned from Pawlenty's New Hampshire steering committee and has decided to back former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Doherty was one of the original eight Granite Staters named to the Pawlenty steering committee in April.

He said today that since then, he's shown up at some events and has called friends and his own supporters on Pawlenty's behalf, but has not been asked to do anything specific by the campaign.

'I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for Tim Pawlenty,' said the 23-year-old second-term lawmaker, who four years ago was the state youth chairman for John McCain's New Hampshire campaign.

'The campaign hasn't really developed into what I thought it would develop into,' Doherty said. 'They're doing a lot of really good things but it doesn't seem to be working. And their not quite capitalizing on the momentum that they had with their launch.

'They haven't capitalized on their opportunities. It just hasn't developed.'

Doherty said Romney 'is running a very strong campaign in New Hampshire and I feel I'd like to participate in that campaign.'

Pawlenty has not been to New Hampshire since the June 13 presidential debate, spending almost all of his time in first-caucus state Iowa leading up to the Aug. 13 Ames, Iowa GOP presidential straw poll


'But that's not the only real factor. There were a lot of small things,' he said.

Doherty is the second state House member to have expressed frustration with Pawlenty in the past week.

We spoke last week with Rep. Win Hutchinson, R-Manchester, who told us he briefly considered bolting the Pawlenty camp out of frustration with Pawlenty's initial comments about Michele Bachmann's migraine headaches, but then reconsidered and decided to stay on board, at least for now.

At the same time, at least one key member of the Pawlenty New Hampshire team has been working to keep Pawlenty on the radar here.

Jennifer Horn has been, and will continue to be, hosting coffees throughout the state to try to build support for Pawlenty.

Last week, Judy Haverstein, a well-known activist in Alton, hosted about 20 people at her home. Horn attended to make her pitch and, we understand, has been pleased with the results she has seen so far at three such coffees.

(Earlier updates and the full July 21 Granite Status follow.)

MONDAY, JULY 25, UPDATE: PATAKI AT NHIOP. Former New York Gov. George Pataki will return to New Hampshire this week to talk about the debt crisis with local community and business leaders.

Pataki has hinted at the possibility of running for the GOP presidential nomination President but is viewed as unlikely to run.

He chairs an issues group called 'No American Debt,' and has made two previous visits to the state in recent months in that role. He spent part of last week in first-caucus state Iowa talking about the debt stalemate on Capitol Hill.

Pataki will appear at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College on Thursday from 9 to 10 a.m.

New Hampshire House speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, is expected to join Pataki in leading the discussion.

The event is open to the public but an RSVP is required at or by calling (603) 222-4100.

(An earlier update and the full July 21 Granite Status follows.)

THURSDAY, JULY 21, UPDATE: LEGISLATORS FOR T-PAW. GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty today has picked up the endorsements of four New Hampshire House members from Hillsborough County.

Rep. Dick Hinch of Merrimack is in his second term, while Win Hutchinson of Manchester's Ward 2, Jack Flanagan of Brookline and William Condra of Wilton are freshmen.

Hinch, who received a 100 percent rating on the Americans for Prosperity legislative scorecard, chaired candidate for governor John Stephen's campaign in Merrimack in 2010.

A Realtor at the Masiello Group, he is a former Merrimack selectman. Hutchinson is a former New Hampshire Army National Guard member.

Flanagan is a former vice chairman of the Hollis/Brookline cooperative school board and a former chairman of the SAU 41 board. He is a former chairman of the Brookline school board and a current member of the Brookline Board of Selectmen.

Condra is a member of the Wilton Board of Selectmen and is the current building inspector for the City of Nashua.

(The full July 21 Granite Status follows.)

LEGISLATORS FOR HUNTSMAN. As he continues to try to get traction in New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman is making some headway this week by picking up his first three legislative endorsements.

We've learned that first-term state Rep. James Wadell of Kingston and Adam Schroadter of Exeter, as well as 12-term veteran Julie Brown of Rochester, will be formally announced today as Huntsman supporters.

Waddell lauded Huntsman's record in Utah, where, he said, Huntsman "made record tax cuts and helped create thousands of jobs."

Brown, who backed Mike Huckabee in 2008, said, "New Hampshire residents want a President who will go to Washington and get things done, not just make campaign promises. There's no question that on day one, Jon Huntsman is prepared to tackle our country's toughest issues."

The Granite Status has also learned that Huntsman is scheduled to return to the state next Tuesday for a noontime major foreign policy speech at Dartmouth College.

Also, while Huntsman's national headquarters is in Orlando, Fla., we've learned a New Hampshire office is up and running at 1850 Elm St., Manchester.

Campaign spokesman Michael Levoff is based there, but he's not saying how many other staffers are on board in the office at the moment, with an announcement promised shortly.

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ROBB FOR MITT. Robb Thomson today will become the first of the sons of the late Gov. Meldrim Thomson, Jr., to announce his support for a presidential candidate.

Thomson is backing Mitt Romney, who was the choice of his brother, Tom, and his late mother, Gale, in 2008.

Robb was neutral during that campaign because he was a federal employee - former President George W. Bush's state executive director for the Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency.

Tom Thomson so far has not chosen sides in this primary and, as we recently reported, is promoting a new conservative pledge he hopes to have candidates sign.

Robb Thomson joins several first-time Romney supporters who were either neutral or backed someone else in the last campaign.

In a statement, Thomson said that Romney "understands, as my father did, that low taxes are the result of low spending. He is the best candidate to rein in reckless government spending, get our exploding deficits under control and restore fiscal sanity to Washington."

Thomson has a long history in campaigns dating back to his father's campaigns for governor. He was Bush's New Hampshire co-chair in 2000 and state Grassroots Chairman for Ovide Lamontagne's 2010 U.S. Senate campaign.

He was state Commissioner of Resources and Economic Development during former Gov. Steve Merrill's administration in the early and mid-1990s.

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TEA PARTY UPDATE. Our report last week about a series of stories critical of Texas Gov. Rick Perry that were linked via a post on the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition website ( spurred several national stories about the state coalition and potential trouble for Perry with the Tea Party.

Our report quoted coalition administrator Jane Aitken saying the posts are informational and that the coalition is not taking sides in the presidential primary, although individual member groups in the coalition may do so.

This week, the same site reports that an anti-Romney group plans to air ads in New Hampshire and has sent out emails soliciting money to support the effort.

The group is the Nevada-based Western Representation PAC, which has a website named and is chaired by Alaska conservative Joe Miller, who won the GOP U.S. Senate primary campaign, but lost to incumbent write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski last year.

Aitken said in an interview that the coalition, which coordinates activities and information among more than 40 Tea Party and "liberty" groups in New Hampshire, is reaching out to all the candidates for closed-door discussions.

So far, she said, she has heard directly only from Bachmann, and she expects to get a positive response from Ron Paul. And she said that a Romney staffer expressed interest.

Aitken said the coalition has been trying to contact Sarah Palin for two years, but has received no response, and that there was no contact when Palin was recently in the state.

That prompted harsh words from Aitken.

"She just completely does not think the primary is important," Aitken said. "She endorsed somebody in our U.S. Senate race (Kelly Ayotte) and we were not happy about that because we thought: What does she know about New Hampshire?

"She was one of the first people we tried, but she's never responded to me, so I don't know if she endeared herself too much to the Tea Party by doing that," Aitken said.

Overall, she explained, the posts on the coalition blog "are things that you might want to ask the candidates about if you meet them. They are things that might be concerning that I have noticed that Tea Party people are interested in."

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BACHMANN UPDATE. Michele Bachmann and her campaign have been under the radar since her big bump in the Granite State after the June 13 GOP presidential debate.

Still, recent polling has her in second place in New Hampshire and a Public Policy Polling survey earlier this month had her losing to Barack Obama here by only 7 percentage points, with a margin of error of 3 percent. A national PPP poll has her only 1 percentage point behind Romney.

We've learned that Bachmann has asked long-time friend and advisor Jeff Chidester to officially head up her New Hampshire operation and Chidester, who turned down approaches by four other presidential campaigns, is currently considering Bachmann's offer.

Chidester is a well-respected conservative activist with keen insight into New Hampshire politics.

The host of radio talk show New Hampshire Perspectives and an Army veteran, he has advised and served behind the scenes for numerous candidates.

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GOOD PICK-UPS FOR RICK. The Granite Status has learned two influential New Hampshire conservative activists are backing Rick Santorum.

George Fellendorf of Keene has been a leader of the state's conservative movement for more than 20 years as former chairman of both the New Hampshire Christian Coalition and the Keene Taxpayers Association.

Fellendorf was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan to the National Advisory Council for Vocational Education and by former President George W. Bush to the Veteran's Advisory Committee on Education. In the 1990s, he was appointed by former Gov. Steve Merrill to the state Health Education Review Committee.

Ellen Kolb of Merrimack is a 30-year veteran of New Hampshire politics and the social conservative movement. She is the current legislative policy director of Cornerstone Policy Research and Cornerstone Action, a leading state organization promoting social and fiscal conservatism.

Kolb in 2010 was on the campaign staff of gubernatorial candidate John Stephen.

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LAMPREY'S ENDORSEMENT. Earlier this week, former state Senate President and former Speaker of the New Hampshire House Stewart Lamprey signed on with Huntsman.

Lamprey, 90, is a veteran of New Hampshire presidential campaigns dating back to the 1960s, when he ran Barry Goldwater's state presidential campaign.

A retired real estate sales executive and former owner of New Hampshire Business Sales in Meredith, Lamprey also headed Richard Nixon's successful New Hampshire campaigns in 1968 and 1972 and backed former Tennessee U.S. Sen. Howard Baker in 1980.

Lamprey said that in the early 1980s, he started up a business along with Executive Councilor Ray Burton, furnishing voter lists to GOP candidates. That kept him out of campaign involvement for several cycles, he said.

He said that in the 2008 primary he was a supporter of Rudy Giuliani.

He's been retired from private business for about 10 years, he said in a telephone interview from his Lakes Region home.

Despite his support for conservative icon Goldwater, Lamprey has long been known as one of the stalwart moderate voices in the New Hampshire Republican Party.

He was House speaker from 1959 to 1964 and Senate president from 1965 through part of 1969. He also was chief of staff to the recently deceased Gov. Walter Peterson and, he said, during the Nixon administration, he served as an assistant commerce secretary.

Lamprey said he likes that Huntsman is "steeped in foreign affairs. Him being in China as ambassador gives him high marks to know that part of the world very well, and that is important because China has become such an influence."

Lamprey said he also is impressed by Huntsman's promise "not to talk in a derogatory manner about any of the other Republicans in the race, or the Democrats. I give him high marks for that, too."

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ON THE RON PAUL FRONT. Paul yesterday announced he's being supported by long-time GOP activist Mark Aldrich, a former chief of staff to former U.S. Sens. Bob Smith and Gordon Humphrey.

Aldrich, who was a Merrimack County campaign co-chair for Rudy Giuliani four years ago, says Paul "was right on the housing crisis, right on the banking crisis, and he is right on fiscal policy, deficit spending and national defense."

Paul last week became the first candidate to air a television ad in New Hampshire. It touted his "conviction" to principle, as opposed to the willingness to compromise on fiscal issues by past Republican Presidents.

Meanwhile, area Paul supporters plan a "pub crawl" in downtown Manchester on Saturday night to promote a Paul-sponsored bill to exempt tips from federal and payroll taxes.

The "crawl" begins at 7 p.m. at Margaritas with stops slated for Shaskeen, Penuche's Grill, Strange Brew and McGarvey's.

The promoters say the crawl "is not affiliated with the official campaign."

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CAIN, JOHNSON IN NH. Herman Cain will return to New Hampshire tonight to headline the New Hampshire Republican Party's Chairman's Speaker Series fundraiser at the Hellenic Center in Dover.

Tickets are $45 for the dinner and speech and $150 for a VIP reception.

Gary Johnson returns today for four days of campaigning.

He will compete in the 38th Annual Stratham Fair Road race, speak to students at Dartmouth College and attend campaign events in Keene, Freedom, Dover, Conway and Exeter.

On Saturday, he will visit with supporters as they launch a phone bank at his campaign headquarters at 530 Chestnut St., Manchester. On Sunday, he'll host an open house for Manchester area legislators at the headquarters.

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ROEMER ANNOUNCEMENT. Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer will formally announce his candidacy for President this morning at the Hayward Lounge in Hanover.

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2016, JUST FOR FUN. With all the action focused on Republicans, North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling gave Democrats something to ponder with a "What If?" poll of potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidates.

Hillary Clinton was the runaway leader with 52 percent, while Joe Biden and "undecided" each drew 16 percent. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was favored by 9 percent, former U.S. Sen. Russell Feingold by 3 percent, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick by 2 percent and Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, 1 percent.

Without Clinton in the running, the race is more open, with Cuomo at 30 percent, Feingold at 18 percent, Patrick at 13 percent, Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Booker each at 2 percent and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer at 1 percent with 35 percent undecided.

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MORE, SERIOUSLY. PPP also found that 51 percent of Granite Staters believe that same-sex marriage should remain legal, while 38 percent feel it should be illegal.

The poll found that 47 percent of those surveyed approved of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's job performance, while 42 percent disapproved. Sen. Kelly Ayotte's job performance was viewed favorably by 44 percent and unfavorably by 38 percent.

PPP also did a generic state legislative ballot finding a virtual dead heat with Democrats leading within the 3.8 percent margin of error, 48 to 45 percent.

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THE "THIRD CONGRESSMAN." Even while he continues to represent his district in Minnesota, Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack's wife and family will be moving to New Hampshire.

According to various reports from Minnesota, Cravaack's wife received a promotion at her job in Boston and must spend more time there. So, she and their three children are moving East, while freshman lawmaker Cravaack intends to maintain residence in his district, but visit the family in New Hampshire on weekends.

John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News.

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