John DiStaso's Granite Status: Christie would face big challenges in winning over NH
If the thousands of emails related to George Washington "Bridgegate" yet to be released turn up evidence he had personal knowledge of the vindictive move to close New York-bound approach lanes, creating a four-day traffic mess last September, Christie might as well not even show up in New Hampshire as a presidential candidate.
And then there is the image of Christie himself, as the bully, that he has tried so hard to dispel. He's back to Square 1 on that even if he did not directly give the order to put up those orange cones. He certainly created the "culture" that resulted in the petty payback.
The latest New Hampshire polling from the UNH Survey Center, in October, showed Christie, with 16 percent, and Rand Paul, with 17 percent, in a virtual tie ahead of Paul Ryan at 9 percent. The poll is obviously early and inconclusive, but Christie did have a plus-26 favorable-unfavorable rating.
"But it will absolutely hurt him in the future," Smith said, "simply because every other Republican who runs will be criticizing him for it. If you're explaining, you're losing, and he's going to be constantly explaining this. And there will always be the jokes."
But he said the "culture clash thing was probably going to be an issue regardless," recalling that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani "did not play particularly well up here."
WHO'S RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR? Conservative activist Andrew Hemingway has hired a consultant in the person of multi-campaign veteran Alicia Preston and last week hosted a gathering of about 20 activists at his office in Manchester.
And why not? The field is barren, and Hemingway, despite his very conservative credentials as state campaign manager for Newt Gingrich and chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, is collecting warm wishes from even establishment Republicans, such as Republican National Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron, who initially urged him to run.
John Stephen has also been approached, but the 2010 nominee is not champing at the bit for a fourth run at high office.
The report showed that while the unemployment rate fell from 7 to 6.7 percent, only 74,000 jobs were added, well below the 200,000 increase many economists were expecting.
Democrat Shea-Porter said the GOP-led House "first refuses to invest in job creation, then they refuse to extend vital unemployment benefits for those who can't find jobs.''
Republican former Rep. Frank Guinta said it shows "Washington's takeover of health care, deficit spending and over-regulation is directly affecting New Hampshire families."
GOP congressional candidate Gary Lambert said, "More regulation, more spending will only produce more numbers like today."
- The airwaves battle continues between critics of Shaheen and those of potential GOP opponent former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. The conservative issues advocacy group American for Prosperity added a radio ad component to its television buy hitting Shaheen for her pro-Obamacare stance. The total expenditure is about $700,000 over three weeks. Sen. Harry Reid's Senate Majority PAC hit Brown with $150,000 worth of TV ads.
- Former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey hosted a well-attended house party for GOP Senate candidate Jim Rubens on Thursday. Humphrey says he is backing Rubens because "he is by far the best candidate in the race. No one has done more than Jim Rubens, while in the State Senate and later as a private citizen, to keep our state a wholesome place for raising children. And he can win."
- Humphrey's former colleague, former Sen. and current candidate Bob Smith, has set up campaign shop at 273 S. River Road in Bedford and has added Pam Miller as a scheduler and Rep. Tim Comerford as field director. His new web site, www.BobSmithforUSSenate.com, is also up and running.
- Just four months into the job, Democratic National Committee Mo Elleithee was in the state Friday to talk to state party officials about "communications resources and infrastructure" the mid-terms and, yes, even the presidential primary campaign. Elleithee knows New Hampshire well, having worked here on campaigns for Bill Bradley in 2000 and Wes Clark in 2004. He was headquarters-based for Hillary Clinton in 2008 but was also here often.
- The conservative grassroots group Freedom Works is joining Americans for Prosperity in opposing Medicaid expansion. The group on Friday pitched a statewide conference call scheduled for Tuesday featuring state Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford.
- U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Cal., chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will keynote the Concord/Merrimack County Lincoln Day Dinner on Feb. 17 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.
- Democratic District 1 Executive Council candidate Mike Cryans has picked up the key endorsement of Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier, who said Cryans is best suited to continue Ray Burton's "tradition of putting people first." He has also been endorsed by the Teamsters Local No. 633.
- GOP Executive Council candidate Christopher Boothby has been endorsed by 26 state representatives and other officials in District 1, including three sheriffs and four state senators.
John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter: @jdistaso.