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John DiStaso's Granite Status: DGA already has $1.8 million to spend on NH gov race; Oyster River HS to host Obama on Monday

Senior Political Reporter

June 20. 2012 7:27PM

THURSDAY, JUNE 21, UPDATE: OBAMA AT OYSTER RIVER HS. President Barack Obama's visit on Monday, June 25, to Strafford County will be at Oyster River High School in Durham, a campaign official said Thursday.

The event is free and open to the public and doors will open at 12 noon.

Space is limited and tickets are required.

The Obama campaign said tickets will be available at the 10 New Hampshire Obama campaign offices starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 22. Tickets are first-come, first-served, the campaign said. More information on ticketing can be found by visiting

A new poll of 500 likely New Hampshire voters by Rasmussen Reports, released today, shows Obama with a 48 to 43 percent lead over Mitt Romney. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percent. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW POLL)

The most recent poll of New Hampshire likely voters, conducted in April by the UNH Survey Center for WMUR, showed Obama leading Romney, 51 to 42 percent.

(An earlier update and the full June 21 Granite Status follow.)

THURSDAY, JUNE 21, UPDATE: BIG COMMITMENT. It's only June and yet the Democratic Governors Association is showing a huge commitment to keeping New Hampshire's governor's seat in Democratic hands.

The DGA's New Hampshire political action committee has so far raised $1.94 million and has $1.79 million in cash on hand, according to its report filed with the Secretary of State's office on Wednesday.

The DGA-New Hampshire PAC has spent $146,735. Of that amount, $94,407 was given in two contributions to the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Said a key local Democrat: 'It's proof of the commitment they have to ensuring that New Hampshire continues to have a Democratic governor.' After four terms, Gov. John Lynch is not seeking reelection.

Democratic candidate for governor Maggie Hassan has raised nearly $700,000 and has more than $400,000 on hand, while her primary foe, Jackie Cilley, has raised nearly $130,000 and has nearly $65,000 on hand.

DGA chairman Martin O'Malley, the governor of Maryland, recently spoke to the state Democratic Party's annual convention.

(The full June 21 Granite Status follows.)

THURSDAY, JUNE 21: 'TRADITIONAL VALUES' ADVOCACY. Fueled by the failed effort to repeal the state's same-sex marriage law earlier this year, a group of social conservatives and 'politically active Christians of all denominations' have established a new nonprofit issues-advocacy group and state political action committee. They expect to have a 'powerful impact' on the 2012 general election and the next session of the Legislature.

Families Across New Hampshire (FANH) is the brainchild of veteran Republican political strategist Michael Dennehy, a Concord lobbyist and former senior advisor to John McCain.

The financial goal for the PAC, Dennehy says, is to spend $150,000 to advocate for the election of 'pro-family' candidates for state office during the 2012 elections and for the nonprofit to air issue-advocacy advertising.

While the prime focus will be on the general election, 'We may get involved in some primaries if there is a clear distinction, and we will support pro-family Democrats as well,' Dennehy said.

He said the 501(c)(4) FANH advocacy group will raise money, separately from the PAC, from in-state and out-of-state sources. While the PAC must disclose its donors, the advocacy group does not.

Dennehy is the president of the board of directors. Other board members are former Franklin Mayor Tony Giunta, attorney and conservative activist Bryan Gould, new media executive Patrick Hynes, Verity Swayne, president of the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women; former New Hampshire Republican Party executive director Jen Wrobleski, who will chair the FANH PAC; former New Hampshire for Marriage outreach coordinator Jason Rose; and Christine Peters, president of the Souhegan Valley Republican Women and past president of the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women.

Dennehy said FANH will have no affiliation with the National Organization for Marriage, the national group that caused a stir in the state by becoming heavily involved in the same-sex marriage battle.

He said a key goal is to keep social issues at the forefront of the debate for governor and other state offices, alongside the economic issues.

In the Republican gubernatorial primary, for instance, both Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith are social conservatives, but both are downplaying those issues and focusing on the economy and fiscal matters.

Dennehy said Cornerstone Action, formerly headed by Smith, 'does a good job,' but, 'Too often, the politicians in Concord focus exclusively on the budget to measure the relative health' of the state. 'They forget that the vibrancy of the family is the true measure of our strength.

'Our goal is to really organize into the thousands,' he said. 'From our experience earlier this year on the marriage issue, we identified 4,000 supporters of traditional marriage in a short amount of time.'

He said the target is 'to get to 20,000.'

Overall, said Dennehy, the group's issues are 'life, religious freedom, parental authority, marriage and then economic policy.'

He said FANH will set up a legislative scorecard and promote various 'pledges.'

A website,, was launched today.

Two pro-same sex marriage groups attacked FANH on Thursday.

'The people of New Hampshire have spoken on this issue. Whether through their elected representatives or in statewide polls, Granite Staters have repeatedly stood strong behind protecting all New Hampshire's families,' said Standing Up for NH Families co-chair Lew Feldstein.

SUNHF said 'every major poll conducted in New Hampshire since the popular law was passed in 2009 has shown majority support for the law. In the last legislative session, even with Republican supermajorities in both bodies of the legislature, the repeal measure failed even to get out of the House of Representatives, with a majority of Republicans voting against repeal.'

'This groups calls itself 'pro-family', but voters won't be fooled. Taking away rights from loving families is not the New Hampshire way. They can switch tactics but it doesn't mask their anti-gay and anti-family agenda. We believe they will fail just as they have in the past,' added SUFNHF's Republican co-chair Craig Stowell.

New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality chair Sean Owen said, 'They can try to re-invent themselves by claiming a new, friendlier-sounding name, but their mission is still the same - to tear apart loving New Hampshire families.'

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REPORTING DAY. Maggie Hassan was the talk of 'reporting day' at the State House yesterday after disclosing she raised $690,827 so far in her campaign for governor.

Her campaign said it's a record figure for a first-time candidate for the state's highest office.

She also reported spending $288,039 and having $402,788 on hand.

Hassan's campaign said the strong fundraising numbers reflect 'an outpouring of strong grassroots support from across New Hampshire.'

It said more than 1,823 people, including people from 176 New Hampshire towns, contributed, and about 70 percent of the contributions were $100 or less. Seventy-five percent of the contributions came from New Hampshire residents.

Hassan's primary opponent, Jackie Cilley, reported raising $127,797, spending $62,922, and cash on hand of $64,875.

Lamontagne's campaign last week said he's raised $910,000 so far and has about $500,000 on hand.

Political action committees were required to report their fundraising totals yesterday, while candidate committees do not have to report until Aug. 22.

Hassan and Cilley have PACS, while Lamontagne and fellow Republican Smith have candidate committees and do not have to report until August.

Smith's camp would not volunteer its numbers.

'We have a strong fundraising plan and are executing it effectively. We feel confident that we will have all the resources necessary to compete successfully over the summer and in the fall,' a spokesman said.

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MORE STRONG NUMBERS. Democratic District 4 Executive Council candidate Chris Pappas raised an impressive $76,192 in 568 separate contributions, his campaign said.

'The fact that 60 percent of our donors gave $50 or less really underscores the grassroots enthusiasm for our efforts,' said Pappas.

And Democratic District 9 state Senate candidate Lee Nyquist said he raised $65,761, 'shattering' the previous record held by a first-time candidate for the Senate.

In 2006, he said, Betsi DeVries reported raising $54,213 in the corresponding June financial report.

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STILL RAISING FUNDS. Lamontagne may go over the $1 million-raised mark soon, with two fundraisers scheduled within the coming week.

Charlie Baker, the former Massachusetts Republican candidate for governor and a prolific fundraiser, will be featured at a June 26 event at the Taj Hotel in Boston, with tickets ranging from $500 to $2,000.

And on June 28, Mike and Irene Appe will host a $250-a-person event at their Wolfeboro home, co-hosted by a high-powered group including Walt Havenstein, former president of BAE Systems, and his wife, Judy.

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RUDY FOR KEVIN. Smith on Wednesday was endorsed by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who called the candidate 'a fresh new face' with 'the ability to bring about reform to your state.'

Smith supported Giuliani's bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2007 and 2008 and hosted Giuliani at his home. Giuliani said he didn't forget Smith's loyalty.

He said Smith is among only four candidates in major races he is endorsing in primaries this year, and the only candidate for governor. The others are U.S. Sens. Connie Mack of Florida and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Senate candidate Robert Turner in New York.

Giuliani said he likes Ovide Lamontagne 'a lot,' but believes Smith 'has a better chance of reforming the state because he is new. He comes at it with fresh ideas. It's not anything against Ovide.'

Smith 'appeals to a broader cross-section of the party than Ovide does, frankly,' Giuliani said, adding, 'He was broad-minded enough to support me and take a look at the fact that you can't be a single-issue candidate.

'He was able to take a look at the whole picture and say, 'I disagree with him on abortion, pro-choice, pro-life, but I can look beyond that and see that there are other issues that are equally or more important.'

'I have a sense of loyalty to Kevin because he supported me,' said Giuliani, who expects to return to the state to fundraise and campaign for Smith.

Giuliani's most active supporter in New Hampshire, former NHGOP Chairman Wayne Semprini, endorsed Smith two weeks ago. Giuliani's former communications consultant in the state, Alicia Preston, joined Smith's campaign last week.

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WHAT ABOUT THESE FOLKS? Lamontagne's camp stayed quiet on the Rudy endorsement of Smith, but a supporter noted that Lamontagne has a pretty broad coalition behind him - such as former Republicans for Lynch Joel Maiola, Bernie Streeter and Griffin Dalianis, moderates Charlie Bass and Fergus Cullen, 'establishment' Republicans Jeb Bradley and Judd Gregg, conservatives Tom Thomson and Fenton Groen and Tea Party leaders Jack Kimball and Jeff Chidester, as well as a cache of business leaders and prominent Republican women, including former House Speaker Donna Sytek.

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STATE SENATE UPDATE. State Rep. Ken Hawkins, who's opposed by state Sen. Andy Sanborn in a primary for the District 9 state Senate seat, yesterday picked up the endorsement of former Senate 'dean' Sheila Roberge, who served for 26 years.

Also, state Rep. Phil Greazzo will have no GOP primary in District 20 because state Rep. John Hikel of Goffstown did not file for the seat.

After being embroiled in controversy for allegedly accusing former state GOP Vice Chairman Pam Manney of being a 'pole dancer,' Hikel filed for another term in the House instead.

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EDUCATION PLAN. Smith this week released an education reform plan that calls for merit pay for teachers and tenure reform.

His plan also calls for a 'Money Follows the Child' program to provide state funding of 90 percent of the per-pupil costs in the town where an eligible student lives. He would initially offer the program to all students with family incomes below the poverty line.

Smith calls for a Business Profits Tax credit to encourage businesses to provide scholarships, similar to a plan vetoed this week by Gov. John Lynch. He also wants to allow parents to select the schools their children attend.

The full plan can be seen on Smith's campaign website.

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NEW CLIENT FOR DEMERS. Manchester-based political consultant Andrew Demers announced he is now the 'lead consultant' for Republican Thomas Massie's campaign in Kentucky's 4th Congressional District.

Demers worked in 2010 for Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's campaign and this year was national director of voter contact for Ron Paul's presidential campaign.

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ABOUT THAT SEA ENDORSEMENT. Some Democrats partial to Hassan pointed out this week that Cilley's endorsement by the State Employees Association may not necessarily carry the weight the Cilley campaign would like to give it.

The SEA endorsed Mark Fernald over Jeanne Shaheen in the Democratic gubernatorial primary of 2000. In 2010, the SEA backed John DeJoie in the 2nd District U.S. House race, and after he dropped out, it backed Katrina Swett, who lost in a landslide to Ann McLane Kuster in the party primary.

The SEA has roughly 12,000 members. But how many will follow the lead of their leaders, who actually decide on the endorsement?

And overall, while most thought Cilley would clean up with the labor endorsements in this campaign, Hassan has now picked up the backing of seven locals, compared to four locals for Cilley.

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WELCOME TO ELECTIVE POLITICS, MIKE. No sooner did the state Republican Party recruit Contoocook resident and Manchester Attorney Michael Tierney to be its candidate in the now heavily Democratic Executive Council District 2 than the Democrats unloaded on him.

The NHDP called him an 'anti-women's health extremist' because he represented New Hampshire Right to Life in a lawsuit contending Planned Parenthood must stop dispensing birth control pills.

For his part, Tierney, vice chair of the Hopkinton GOP Committee, stayed focused, saying that if elected, he 'will make sure that tax dollars are prudently spent and not wasted.'

Tierney practices law at Wadleigh, Starr & Peters, PLLC; the firm's staff also includes Democratic National Committeewoman Kathy Sullivan.

No doubt there have been some interesting conversations between the two at the water cooler.

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BIG NAMES HEADED HERE. Two potential Romney running mates are headed to New Hampshire this summer. Another one lives here.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be in New Hampshire Aug. 11 to speak at the New Hampshire Young Republicans' annual meeting at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has been confirmed as the featured guest at a New Hampshire Republican Party fundraiser July 7, in Concord. The venue has yet to be determined.

Tuesday night, ABC news listed U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte as a potential Romney running mate, along with Portman, Pawlenty, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

Meanwhile, Caroline Kennedy will campaign for President Barack Obama in the Granite State June 27 and 28 at grassroots events.

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FOLEY NEW FINANCE CHAIR. The NHGOP executive committee has unanimously chosen Jim Foley to succeed Bill Binnie as the party's finance committee chairman. Binnie resigned the post last week but remains on the finance committee.

Foley is chairman of the Derry Republican Committee and had been the state finance committee vice chairman before being elevated to chairman.

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NEW 'VICTORY' STAFFERS. The Republican National Committee-run Romney Victory operation in the state has hired three new staffers.

University of New Hampshire grad Margaret Heath is the new Victory events director. Rockingham County Republican Committee Chair Michael Silverwood is the new Victory absentee ballot director for New Hampshire.

And Ian Cunningham is Victory data director for New Hampshire. He comes to the state from Ohio and during the 2008 election worked in the McCain campaign's Pennsylvania-Ohio regional headquarters.

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-- Lamontagne's campaign has hired Tom Cronin as its campaign communications director. He has been on former Sen. John E. Sununu's staff, worked for Hynes Communications, and in 2010 was field director for Rich Ashooh's congressional campaign and later for John Stephen's gubernatorial campaign. Since then, he has been the state Senate majority caucus director.

-- Rep. Frank Guinta was cited in a story in the Washington-based publication Roll Call this week as one of Congress' top 'frankers' - that is, users of the taxpayer-funded mailing system. Roll Call said he spent $308,000 between April 1, 2011, and March 31, 2012. The New Hampshire Union Leader reported in April that Guinta was tops in 'franked' mail during calendar 2011, spending $164,629.

-- Democratic 2nd District U.S. House candidate Kuster was endorsed yesterday by the Human Rights Campaign, a group advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights. The HRC also endorsed Kuster in 2010.

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John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at Twitter: @jdistaso.

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