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Dan Tuohy has covered politics in the Granite State since 1993 and has reported from the Statehouse. A New Hampshire native, Tuohy is a past president of the New Hampshire Press Association.
February 29. 2012 10:12PM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Bass hires B.J. Perry; redistricting causes stir in Concord


 

B.J. WITH BASS. U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass has made the first campaign hire of his 2012 reelection effort, and it's a strong one.

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.

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THE SANBORN ODYSSEY. What came first, redistricting or the Sanborn migration south?

A few weeks ago, Republican state Sen. Andy Sanborn and his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn, announced they will relocate in a few months from Henniker to Bedford and run for the same offices from that community later this year.

The move has some recalling Bill and Hillary Clinton's move to New York back in 1999 when Hillary decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat from that mostly Democratic state.

How will Bedford and the rest of state Senate District 9, which has now been redrawn to include towns such as Peterborough, Jaffrey, Richmond and Fitzwilliam, react to the new kids on the block looking to represent them in Concord?

Bedford Republicans we spoke with are so far unfazed and say most residents are unaware of the Sanborns' plan. But it could become a bit more controversial as the campaign progresses.

It all began when the sitting Republican state senator, Bedford's Ray White, decided to call it quits after only one term.

Once it became clear that White and Sen. Jim Forsythe of Strafford would retire, Sanborn made it known privately to key senators that he and his wife would be willing to move. At that point, senators handling redistricting were able to make several changes.

They shifted Henniker and Warner into District 15 (represented by Democrat Sylvia Larsen) with Hopkinton and Concord, while removing Pembroke from the district, making it even more Democratic-leaning than in the past. But at the same time, they were able to make other senate districts in the area more solidly Republican, in part by putting both Pembroke and Forsythe's home town of Strafford, as well as Loudon, into Raymond resident Sen. Jack Barnes' District 17.

Sanborn noted to senators that he and his wife have friends and connections in Bedford. Their official announcement was that they were moving closer to family, which is also true.

Meanwhile, Bedford's own five-term state Rep. Ken Hawkins tells the Status he is 99.9 percent sure he will run for the Senate and face Andy Sanborn in a primary. He says, “I'm gratified by the number of people who contacted me and said they there were happy with my 10 years in the House and would like to see me in the Senate now that Ray (White) is not running.”

Hawkins said his decision to run was unrelated to Sanborn's announcement. He said he first considered running last year, when White initially indicated privately to Bedford Republicans he would not run again.

Also considering running for the seat are two Peterborough area Republicans, former state Sen. Andy Peterson of Peterborough and current state Rep. Frank Sterling of Jaffrey.

On the Democratic side, New Boston town moderator Lee Nyquist has announced that he intends to become a candidate.

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GUINTA V. BASS. As the behind-the-scenes tug-of-war over congressional redistricting continues between Republican U.S. Reps. Frank Guinta and Bass, state representatives in several 1st Congressional District southern communities are asking to remain there.

Bass, hoping to shore up the Republican base in his “swing” 2nd District, has proposed that Merrimack, Plaistow and Hampstead be moved from the 1st District to his district in exchange for a group of northern towns that would move to Guinta's district. Kingston, which is in Guinta's district has also been in the discussion.

Not surprisingly, Guinta is very much against the proposal.

A group of lawmakers from Plaistow, Hampstead and Kingston are circulating a letter saying that since there is “only a difference of about 250 people between the First and Second Congressional Districts,” there is “no compelling reason to justify” the move.

A similar letter, signed by a group of lawmakers from Merrimack, has been submitted to the House Special Committee on Redistricting.

It's the latest development in a long-running stalemate, taking place mostly under the radar, between the two GOP congressmen.

The state House and Senate will have final say on the plan, but they would rather let the two congressmen reach an agreement that they would then approve.

That's proven to be impossible so far, and the deadline for a bill is only three weeks away.

Bass, who, despite the huge Republican national and statewide wave in 2010, barely squeaked by Democrat McLane Kuster by 3,550 votes, wants more Republicans. But Guinta, who beat Carol Shea-Porter by 26,152 votes, isn't budging.

Guinta has suggested moving Waterville Valley from the 2nd to the 1st District in order to balance out the already small population difference between districts.

Bass, during discussions, has pointed out that he is a “short-termer” in office — in the sense that he doesn't plan to stay in his seat for the next decade. Some have interpreted that to mean that he plans to serve only one more term if he beats Kuster in this year's rematch. But that's not necessarily the case.

Still, Bass maintains that if redistricting were to allow the 2nd District to become more favorable to Republicans, it would not benefit him as much as the NHGOP as a whole over the long-term.

And that may interest House speaker Bill O'Brien, who is believed to have an interest in the seat after Bass eventually bids farewell.

Guinta feels that his district, while more GOP-leaning than Bass's, is far from a slam dunk itself and should stay essentially as is.

Rep. Paul Mirski, R-Enfield, chair of the House special redistricting panel, said he's unclear why the two congressmen can't come to an agreement.

“We recessed the hearing to give them more time to sort it out,” he said. “There are various factions for both folks doing what they can and it's something we've got to wait out.

“Every time I thought I could see a door opening, it just didn't get very far. I don't think anybody but Frank and Charlie could tell you where it's going,” Mirski said.

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SMITH'S SITE. GOP candidate for governor Kevin Smith's expanded website went live late yesterday at KevinSmithForGovernor.com.

The new site has much more content than his initial site, including news and press releases, a schedule, biography, testimonials from supporters, audio/video and, probably most important to voters, a preview of Smith's position on key issues he intends to highlight.

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A COUNTER RALLY. (THURSDAY UPDATE: THE RALLY DESCRIBED BELOW BY CONSERVATIVE GROUPS TO PROTEST PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S POLICIES HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO THE INCLEMENT WEATHER.) After President Barack Obama leaves Nashua today, the conservative groups We the People and Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire plan to hold an “Occupy Jobs Now” rally at Norton's Diner on Main Street in Nashua.

Local business owners and workers are scheduled to attend. GOP candidates for governor Smith and Ovide Lamontagne have confirmed they will also attend.

Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks on the economy at Nashua Community College in mid-afternoon. It's his second visit to the state in four months. He was last here in November, when he spoke at Manchester Central High School.

“Occupy New Hampshire” criticized the two conservative groups for co-opting their “brand,” saying, “This is yet another dirty tactic by the 1 percent to use and exploit the rest of us for their own political gain.”

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JACK TAKES A LOOK. There's a new name in the mix for the state Senate seat in Nashua being vacated by retiring Republican Gary Lambert.

We've learned that Nashua auto dealer Jack Tulley has told local Republicans he is considering a run. Republicans in the area are excited about the possibility of a businessman stepping into government service.

Democratic former Sen. Bette Lasky has made it clear she is ready to try to recover the seat Lambert won from her in 2010, while in the adjacent Nashua-Hollis district, Democratic former state Sen. Peggy Gilmour has said she will challenge Sen. Jim Luther, who ousted her from office in 2010.

Senate redistricting has added mostly GOP towns New Ipswich and Rindge to Luther's district, making Gilmour's task more difficult than two years ago.

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TAKING ON LOU. And in Manchester, Ward 10 Alderman and state Rep. Phil Greazzo is letting people know he's nearly fully committed to running for the state Senate in District 20, which is Democrat Lou D'Allesandro's seat.

Greazzo said, “The 150 votes his challenger (current fellow Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur) lost by in 2010 were in my ward and in my state representative's district. I'm talking to more people and will probably be making an announcement by the middle of March.”

Meanwhile, Litchfield selectman and Republican state Rep. George Lambert is eyeing the District 18 seat being vacated by fellow Republican Tom DeBlois. Democrat Donna Soucy, former alderman, former state Senate Chief of Staff and current interim executive director of the NHDP, says she continues to “explore the possibility” of running for that vacant seat.

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SHAHEEN WEIGHS IN. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen this week weighed in both nationally and locally in favor of same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, she joined with the national group Freedom to Marry in urging the national Democratic Party to include a “freedom to marry” plank in its 2012 platform.

The plank is at the core of the Freedom to Marry group's “Democrats: Say I Do” campaign.

Locally, Shaheen also sent an email to about 30,000 supporters urging them to support Standing Up for New Hampshire Families' pledge “to defend marriage for all loving couples in New Hampshire.”

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ROLECEK: NO GO FOR GOV, BUT..... Chuck Rolecek, owner of the Hanover Street Chophouse and the former C.R. Sparks and chairman of the pro-gaming FixItNow group, tells the Status that after considering running for governor for about three months, he decided within the past week to take a pass.

He said he met with strategists and “people I thought could give me good advice,” and concluded “the time just wasn't right” to take such a huge plunge.

A smaller plunge may be in the cards, however. Rolecek said he is considering running for another office, the state Senate perhaps, “where my experience would be a better fit at a different level.”

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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 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.

BlueHampshire.com co-founder Dean Barker is helping Hassan primary foe Jackie Cilley's campaign for governor with social media organizing.

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BIG NAMES FOR CLIFF. Veteran Manchester organizer Cliff Hurst later today will release the names of more than 100 New Hampshire Republicans who are backing his bid to become vice chairman of the Republican State Committee.

The vast majority of the backers are also voting members of the committee in the April 22 election to succeed Pam Manney.

Included are activists Bill Binnie, Diane Bitter, Jerry DeLemus, Jeff Chidester, Jeff Frost, Andrew Hemingway, Jamie Burnett and James Sununu and Grant Bosse, Rep. Lynn Blankenbeker, state Sens. David Boutin, Jeanie Forrester and DeBlois, Executive Councilor Ray Burton and many more that we simply don't have room to list here.

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SEEKING SUPPORT. Prominent Democrats are asking for support in upcoming party elections.

On the state level, current Democratic National Committee members Kathy Sullivan and Peter Burling are seeking reelection to their posts at an April 28 Democratic State Committee meeting.

In a letter emailed this week, they say that they have worked with the state party leadership to protect the status of the first-in-the-nation primary at DNC sessions, have provided the state party with free legal advice and have helped the state party with “messaging” through op-eds and television interviews.

So far, no one is challenging the two incumbents.

In Manchester, former New Hampshire House Chief of Staff and attorney Don Manning, seeking to become the next Manchester City Democratic Chairman in a March 17 election, emailed a letter yesterday calling for a “strong, well-organized and well-funded city committee.”

Committee secretary and former state Rep. Mike Farley is said to be also mulling running.

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FAIR TREATMENT. If House Bill 1251, which would expand the sale of hard liquor to grocery, convenience and drug stores, passes the House and heads to the Senate, it would most likely be referred to the Senate Commerce Committee, whose vice chairman is the aforementioned Andy Sanborn.

Sanborn owns The Draft Sports Bar and Grill in Concord and is on the board of the New Hampshire Hospitality Association.

Sanborn told us that while he supports the “concept of increasing the ability of people to get products and services they want, I do have some concerns relative to whether this will save or cost the state money.”

Sanborn noted that restaurants must purchase liquor from the state at retail. He supported requiring grocery stores to do the same. He also said lawmakers should consider to what degree selling liquor at grocery stores may affect business at bars and restaurants.

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HONORING THE WIZ. The NHGOP will host a tribute to retiring Executive Councilor and former Manchester Mayor Ray Wieczorek, March 23, at the Executive Court in Manchester. Tickets range from $50 to $750 and are available from the party office.

State Democrats will hold their annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner at the same Executive Court a week earlier, March 16.

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


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