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Dave Solomon has been a reporter or editor for New England news organizations since 1977. He has served as executive editor of both the Portsmouth Herald and the Nashua Telegraph. He joined the reporting staff of the New Hampshire Union Leader in 2012.

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February 29. 2012 2:20PM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Bass hires veteran organizer B.J. Perry as 2012 campaign consultant


 

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 29, UPDATE: B.J. WITH BASS. Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass has made the first campaign hiring of his 2012 reelection effort, and it's a strong one.

The Granite Status has learned that Bass has hired veteran organizer B.J. Perry of Manchester to play a key role as a consultant in organizing, voter ID, get-out-the-vote and fund-raising as Bass looks to win a eighth term in the U.S. House representing the 2nd District.

Perry was the state Republican Party field director and Republican National Committee Victory director in the 2010 cycle.

During his tenure, the state GOP won seven of eight special elections that he coordinated. As Victory director he had a major role in the biggest Republican sweep in New Hampshire history, when the GOP went from a 180-member minority to a more than 290-member majority in the 400-member House and from a 10-member minority to a 19-member majority in the 24-member state Senate. The GOP also won all five Executive Council seats, a U.S. Senate seat and two U.S. House seats.

He also served on the federal staffs of U.S. Sens. Judd Gregg and John E. Sununu and ran Gregg's field organization in the 2004 campaign.

Perry, who has been a grassroots operative for more than a decade, is Director of Operations at his parents' factory, KRL Electronics, and the owner of Liberty Strategies & Development, LLC.

Bass is expected to face a tough rematch against Democrat Ann McLane Kuster in the fall.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 29, UPDATE: BACKING MAGGIE. Democratic candidate for governor Maggie Hassan on Wednesday was endorsed by the Women's Campaign Fund, a Washington-based self-described nonpartisan organization “dedicated to dramatically increasing the number of women in elected office who support reproductive health choices for all.”

WCF said that if elected Hassan would be “the only pro-choice female governor in the country.”

Hassan's campaign said this week that state Rep. Jennifer Daler, D-Temple, has signed on as one a Grassroots Co-Chair. Daler will help the Hassan campaign organize support in the Monadnock region and in the netroots community.

Daler is a former managing editor of BlueHampshire.com.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, FEB. 28, UPDATE: JEB BACKS OVIDE. State Senate Majority Leader and former U.S. Rep. Jeb Bradley told the Granite Status today he has decided to endorse Ovide Lamontagne for governor.

Bradley called Lamontagne, a Manchester attorney, “the most qualified person to be governor” because of his knowledge of education funding, which Bradley called the “primary issue that will drive public policy for the next few years.”

He became the fifth state senator to back Lamontagne, joining Jack Barnes, Tom DeBlois, Fenton Groen and David Boutin, who were announced as part of Lamontagne's initial steering committee. There are 19 Republican state senators in the 24-member body.

Bradley, who served 12 years in the New Hampshire House and four years in the U.S. House representing the 1st District, was elected to the state Senate in a special election in April 2009 and then won a full term in 2010. He was then chosen as Senate Majority Leader.

Bradley briefly considered running for governor himself, but decided against it. The same day he announced he would not be a candidate, last Sept. 16, Lamontagne told the New Hampshire Union Leader he would become a candidate.

Lamontagne is making his second bid for governor. As the GOP nominee in 1996, he was defeated by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. He also lost Republican Party primary bids for the U.S. House in 1992 and for the U.S. Senate in 2010, losing narrowly to current U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

Lamontagne will face off in a late summer party primary against the other announced Republican candidate, former Cornerstone Action executive director Kevin Smith. Republican businessman Steve Kenda is also eyeing a candidacy and is expected to run. Manchester Mayor and former state Sen. Ted Gatsas is also considering running.

On the Democratic side, the candidates are former state Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jackie Cilley.

Gov. John Lynch announced last September he will not seek a fifth two-year term.

Bradley called Lamontagne “a conservative of unwavering principle” who can unite the Republican Party and “attract independents and Democrats with his optimistic, hopeful message about the future of our great state.”

Lamontagne has the experience and skills necessary to “create jobs, reform government and renew our New Hampshire advantage,” Bradley said.

Bradley said Lamontagne worked with him on the education funding constitutional amendment making its way through the Legislature. He called Lamontagne “a scholar of the New Hampshire Constitution.”

“We have a chance to get this constitutional amendment on the ballot,” said Bradley. “If it does, and if it passes, terrific. If it doesn't pass, either way it's going to be a huge issue.

“I believe his knowledge on this issue is so vital and because it's going to be the primary issue, he is in a uniquely qualified position to be the best leader doing forward,” said Bradley of Lamontagne.

Bradley said the Legislature in the past 18 months has reformed Medicaid, pensions, business taxes, “but unfinished business is education funding, and it's vitally important that we get it right. It's in the middle of everything that I think is important and Ovide is really the person to do it.”

“We have to be able to target aid and make sure the neediest communities get scarce taxpayer resources,” said Bradley.

Lamontagne said he was “honored” to have Bradley's support, saying his leadership “has been critical to reducing spending, balancing our budget and implementing much-needed reform. Jeb shares my vision for getting our state turned around.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, FEB. 23: WE'RE BACK. It's good to be back after a month away, and both of our U.S. senators top this week's political news.

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HONORING AYOTTE. The conservative issues group Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire is looking to duplicate the successful “Conservative of the Year” banquet it held last April, honoring current candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne.

With several presidential candidates on hand, the event was viewed as the unofficial kickoff of the first-in-the-nation primary campaign. It also turned out to be the unofficial launch of Lamontagne's campaign.

This year's event, set for April 20 at the Grappone Center in Concord, will honor U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who narrowly defeated Lamontagne in the 2010 September primary and has emerged as a key player, especially among freshmen Republicans, in the Senate.

“It's very hard for people to question Kelly Ayotte's conservative credentials,” AFP-NH president Corey Lewandowski told the Granite Status. “She has been a great leader in the Senate and a great asset to New Hampshire. This is a chance to recognize all of her work.”

AFP-NH has invited presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum as well as Ayotte colleagues U.S. Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Marco Rubio of Florida.

If the two senators do appear, both (especially Rubio) would get special attention as a potential GOP vice presidential candidate this year and possible future presidential hopeful.

The event's co-chairs and host committee members are a “Who's Who” of state Republican politics.

Co-chairs include U.S. Reps. Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta; former Govs. Steve Merrill and John H. Sununu; and former U.S. Sens. Judd Gregg and John E. Sununu.

The host committee includes House Speaker Bill O'Brien, House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, RNC member Steve Duprey, state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, former state Sen. Bob Letourneau, conservative leader Jennifer Horn, Lamontagne, fellow GOP candidate for governor Kevin Smith, former RNC member Sean Mahoney, Deputy House speaker Pam Tucker, AFP-NH honorary chairman Tom Thomson, former state GOP Chairman Wayne Semprini, Executive Councilor Ray Wieczorek and former U.S. Rep. Bill Zeliff.

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SHAHEEN'S LEADERSHIP ROLE. Four years ago, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was focusing on her own election during the general election campaign. In this election, she will have a leadership role in President Barack Obama's reelection campaign.

Obama for America says Shaheen has been named one of 35 national campaign co-chairs. She is among only three sitting U.S. senators in the group, along with Michael Bennet of Colorado and Dick Durbin of Illinois.

The news comes as Democrats gear up for Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Manchester today. During the campaign stop at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, Biden is expected to rally supporters and talk about jobs and the economy.

In an interview, Shaheen said Obama “is working hard to ensure that we restore a middle class in this country. It has been the foundation of America.

“His interest in education and energy and the economy is very important as we put people back to work,” Shaheen said. “We're beginning to see some progress, but there is a lot more work to be done.

“His efforts to help with the auto industry have been critical,” Shaheen continued. “Focus on the economic agenda has been important for us to continue.”

Shaheen said the presidential general election will be “hard-fought” nationally and in New Hampshire, “and the President has indicated he's going to work very hard to earn the country's support again. Having Joe Biden here on Thursday is an indication that they are taking New Hampshire very seriously.”

According to the Obama campaign, the national co-chairs will serve as “ambassadors for the President helping to engage and mobilize voters across the country.”

They will also advise the campaign on key issues, host campaign events and lead organizing efforts in all 50 states.

For the full list of all co-chairs and their biographies, visit www.barackobama.com/cochairs.

The Obama campaign in New Hampshire will soon roll out its state leadership team.

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70 FOR SMITH. Republican Kevin Smith today will officially release his first group of public supporters in his bid for the GOP nomination for governor.

Smith, who will face Lamontagne and, most likely, businessman Steve Kenda, in a gubernatorial primary in September, provided the list exclusively to the Granite Status yesterday before posting it on his Facebook page, where the full list now can be viewed.

Key players on the list include Paul Chevalier of Hudson, a long-time GOP activist and past State Commander of the New Hampshire Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). He has chaired state veterans coalitions for GOP presidential hopefuls George W. Bush, John McCain and Jon Huntsman.

Also among Smith's supporters are Tom Mullen of Campton, owner of the Owl's Nest Resort; Luke Freudenberg of Wolfeboro, the former Carroll County Republican Committee Chairman; John Labombard of Dalton, who initially backed Lamontagne and is known for driving his distinctive bus for George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign; Amherst GOP vice chairman Bill Modis, long-time Manchester activist Marti Steiner Jones, retired police chief Chip Sawyer of New Hampton, Portsmouth business owner Brian Semprini, and former Londonderry Town Councilor Marty Bove.

Also on the list are four state House members: Reps. Duffy Daugherty of Colebrook, Robert Greenmore of Meredith, Dave Lundgren of Londonderry and Todd Smith of Hooksett.

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OVIDE'S FINANCE COMMITTEE. Lamontagne yesterday announced the initial 60 members of his Finance Steering Committee.

Lamontagne, who has already announced a broad steering committee, now has a finance committee that includes Nashua developer and former state GOP chairman John Stabile, who said he has been “impressed at the campaign's level of fund-raising organization.”

Other key players on the list include engineer and long-time GOP fund-raiser Robert Cruess of Amherst, Jackie Eastwood of Durham, who chaired Mitt Romney's 2008 and 2012 New Hampshire finance committee; real estate industry leader Tom Farrelly and businessman Bill Grenier, both of Bedford; attorney David Horan of Manchester, who was candidate for governor John Stephen's campaign treasurer in 2010; former New Hampshire Commissioner of Environmental Services Mike Nolin, construction executive Rob Prunier of Hollis, Concord attorney Jim Steiner; and Paul Young, former state GOP executive director and top strategist to several presidential campaigns.

The campaign has hired Stefanie Webb, a recent Plymouth State University graduate and former student body president, as a finance staffer.

For the full list of those to be announced as members of Lamontagne's finance committee, see www.ovide2012.com.

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BACKING BRAGDON. State Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, facing primary opposition from Merrimack Town Councilor Dan Dwyer in the newly redrawn state District 11, has picked up two key endorsements from Dwyer's home town.

Former state Rep. Maureen Mooney and second-term state Rep. Dick Hinch have signed on.

Mooney, a three-term former State Representative from Merrimack, who considered a run for the State Senate this year, said:

"I am appreciative of, and humbled by those who encouraged me to run for the State Senate. The final redistricting plan came as a surprise to me. However, I believe that re-election of Senate President Peter Bragdon as Merrimack' s new senator presents a unique opportunity for our town. As the current Senate President, I believe that Peter Bragdon will be in a position to advance Merrimack-specific issues effectively. I have personally known and worked with Senator Bragdon for many years, and he has more than earned the opportunity to prove to us that my faith in him is well-founded."


Hinch added, "I believe Senator Bragdon will be an influential, proactive and visible Senator for Merrimack, and that is exactly what Merrimack needs right now. Last month, the Senate President testified at a House hearing on behalf of toll relief bills so he's already started working for Merrimack."

The new District 11 includes Milford, Merrimack, Amherst and Wilton. The former District 11 included Milford, Amherst, Wilton, Peterborough, Temple, Sharon, New Ipswich, Greenville, Jaffrey and Rindge. Most of those towns are now in District 9.

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BACKING BERGERON. Behind the scenes, the state GOP race to succeed Phyllis Woods as Republican National Committeewoman is getting quite active, even though the election is not until April 14.

So far former Chesire County GOP Chair Juliana Bergeron and Deputy House Speaker Pam Tucker are the announced candidates for the seat.

This week we've learned that Bergeron picked up the key endorsement of Donna Sytek, the former House speaker and former state Republican Party chair.

We've also learned that two past state Republican National Committeewomen, Nancy Merrill and former state Rep. Ruth Griffin, will be announced shortly as Bergeron backers.

Sytek, in a letter to state committee members, said Bergeron “has the right background, experience, and personality to serve our state well and preserve our treasured first in the nation primary.”

She said Bergeron “has been recruiting Republican candidates, raising funds, and supporting our nominees at the local, county, state, and national level for over 30 years.” She has “a clear understanding of the operation of the party and the players at all levels,” Sytek wrote.

Sytek also cited Bergeron's private experience as an investment manager and as a fund-raiser and her temperament, which, she said, is “easy-going and friendly, but (she) also has a certain gravitas that commands respect of anyone she meets.”

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A MISUNDERSTANDING? J.P. Marzullo, a conservative former member of the Republican State Committee, was involved last week in a misunderstanding with the leadership of the key state group working to keep the state's same-sex marriage law on the books.

In news release announcing new members of its leadership council, Standing Up for New Hampshire Families mentioned Marzullo among a group of “notable Republicans” who were “already” on the council. Marzullo had been announced as a member of the council back in October.

Trouble was, Marzullo said that while he gave clearance last fall for a statement from him to be included on the October release in support of the current law, he did not, he said, tell the group that he would be a member of the leadership council.

Standing Up sees it differently, saying it would never have identified Marzullo as a member of its council without his permission.

After some discussion between Marzullo and Standing Up officials, all sides simply called it a misunderstanding and Marzullo's name was removed from the list of members of the leadership council on the Standing Up website.

Marzullo is now a field volunteer for Lamontagne's campaign. He said he continues to support the law and also said that Lamontagne, despite being a supporter of repeal, has no problem with him having a different view while working on the campaign.

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


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