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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.
September 21. 2013 11:02PM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Ayotte joining Ryan at Oct. 8 Guinta campaign 'kickoff' fund-raiser

MONDAY, SEPT. 23: GUINTA CAMPAIGN KICKOFF. Two weeks from tomorrow, Oct. 8, is the date 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan will come to New Hampshire to campaign for former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, who announced his candidacy for the 1st District House seat today in a video on his web site.

According to an invitation obtained by the Granite Status, the "Kickoff Breakfast Benefiting Congressman Frank Guinta" will be hosted by Sen. Kelly Ayotte and will be held at the Radisson Hotel at about 8 a.m.

Invitees will get a "private briefing" if they contribute or raise $5,200; a photo reception if they contribute or raise $1,000, limited to two people per photo; and the general reception tickets will go for $250 or $100.

Ryan confirmed last Friday that he is supporting his former colleague, Guinta.

Ayotte is clearly now also supporting Guinta, despite the fact that he will have a likely GOP primary with outgoing University of New Hampshire business school dean Dan Innis of Portsmouth.
 
Democrats Monday were quick to point out that back in November 2009, then-Attorney General Ayotte called Guinta a "grandstander" in an email to her then-deputy AG, Bud Fitch, who was then heading the collection and distribution of federal stimulus funds.
 
We reported at the time that Guinta, then mayor of Manchester, had complained about the slow pace the state was collecting stimulus money from the feds and distributing it to the local communities.
 
Fitch e-mailed Ayotte on the story, "The fun never ends!"

Ayotte replied,  "Pressure coming your way. ... He is such a grandstander."
 
We reported on the exchange in July 2010, when thousands of Ayotte emails were made  public.
 
Ayotte, however, has generally been a supporter of Guinta during his time in the House and during his 2012 campaign.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
 
SUNDAY, SEPT. 22: ANY DAY NOW. If there was any doubt that former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta would get back in the game and go for a "rubber match" against Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, it ended on Friday when 2012 vice presidential nominee and U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan endorsed his former colleague and planned a visit to campaign with Guinta in October.

"I'm proud to support Congressman Guinta, who will work to pay down our debt and help grow the economy," Ryan said in a statement to the Granite Status.

We've learned the Guinta announcement is imminent, and when it comes, you can expect him to focus on ending the Washington gridlock, on finding common ground without sacrificing principles and bringing New Hampshire-style common sense to Washington.

- - - - -

A NON-ISSUE. If UNH business school dean Dan Innis does in fact run for the 1st District seat against Guinta in a primary, and it's clear he is headed in that direction, he would make history as the first openly gay Republican to run for high office in the state.

His candidacy would attract national media attention, and it surely would attract support - financial and otherwise - of national Republican gay rights and pro-same-sex marriage groups.

State GOP Chairman Jennifer Horn said that although the party platform recognizes marriage as being between one man and one woman, "we realize that there are good, well-intentioned people on both sides of this issue" and the party is focused on fiscal issues.Steve Duprey, a former party chairman, said, "To most Republicans, it's not someone's sexual orientation that counts, but their competence and vision for the future."

Innis says his sexual orientation didn't factor into his decision to run one way or another.

"It's a part of who I am," he said, "but that's it."

More important, he said, are "fiscal responsibility, smaller government, and freedom and liberty to our people. Those things are universal.

"Looking at Washington, seeing it headed toward more confrontation - it's that sort of thing that got me motivated," Innis said. "We cannot continue to add to our debt or spend the way we are if we want to maintain our economic viability."

But he also supports "thoughtful infrastructure investments, thinking about how we're delivering education and preparing people for the workplace."

He said he is personally opposed to abortion and supports the 20-week abortion ban that recently passed the House, but beyond that, he believes it's a matter for a woman and her doctor.

Innis' past votes for Democrats may be an issue for him in a primary.

He has already acknowledged he voted in the 2012 Democratic gubernatorial primary - for Jackie Cilley, the former state senator who refused to pledge to veto broad-based taxes and was easily defeated by Gov. Maggie Hassan.

We've learned he also voted in the Democratic presidential primary back in 2008.

But he then pulled GOP ballots in the 2010 state primary election and in the 2012 presidential primary.

Innis had no comment on his voting beyond his earlier statement to WMUR television that he is a registered Republican and has long supported the GOP, but has donated to Republicans and Democrats and has "some friends and colleagues who are Democrats, like Jackie Cilley and (state) Senator David Watters."

"While I don't agree with them 100 percent of the time, I do believe we all need to move past this hyper-partisanship that is crippling Washington, D.C," he said in the statement.

- - - - - - --

VULNERABLE JEANNE? Democrats can't be entirely at ease with the results of the Public Policy Polling survey of Granite Staters released last week.

Yes, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen beats former state Sen. Jim Rubens, the only announced Republican in the race, and all potential candidates, including former U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass. But she gets no more than 51 percent against any of them.

And she was ahead of former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who hasn't ruled out a New Hampshire run, by 48 to 44 percent in a poll that has a 3 percentage point margin of error.

What's more, Shaheen doesn't break 50 percent in job performance approval. The numbers were 49 percent approving and 42 percent disapproving. That's a bit better than Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte's rating, who's performance was approved by 41 percent and disapproved by 45 percent.

And this is from a pollster widely considered to be Democratic-leaning and who, it can be argued, slightly over-polled Democrats in this survey.

PPP says it polled 1,038 New Hampshire voters from Sept. 13 to 16. It says independents comprised 39 percent of its sample, Democrats 31 percent, and Republicans 30 percent.

According to the most recent party registration figures from the New Hampshire secretary of state, dated March 26, independents comprise 42.4 percent of registered Granite State voters, Republicans 30.2 percent and Democrats 27.3 percent.

Bass' favorable-unfavorable rating is at 28-47 percent, while Brown's is 40-40 and former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith's is 18-32. Rubens is an unknown entity to 71 percent of those polled.

Hassan received approval of her job performance by 51 percent of those polled, while 33 percent disapproved and 17 percent were not sure.

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


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