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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Innis hires political veteran Paul Collins as campaign manager

By John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter
January 23. 2014 10:07AM

THURSDAY, JAN. 23: COLLINS IS BACK, WITH INNIS. Veteran political strategist and congressional, gubernatorial and White House staffer Paul Collins is back in the political game. This time, he'll head Dan Innis' 1st District U.S. House campaign.

The Granite Status has learned that later today, Innis will announce he has hired Collins as his campaign manager. Collins will take over immediately.

In a statement to be released later, Innis says Collins' "experience, unflappable demeanor and deep knowledge of the New Hampshire grassroots make him the best choice to run my day-to-day campaign operation."

Collins has more than 30 years of experience in New Hampshire Republican politics.

He managed Ovide Lamontagne's campaign for governor last year and previously was a senior strategist for former Ambassador John Huntsman's 2012 first-in-the-nation presidential primary campaign.

Collins called Innis, former dean of the UNH Peter Paul business school, "a fresh conservative voice" in the state GOP with an "outstanding record of accomplishment, both as a small business owner and as head of a business school."

He said Innis "will resonate with voters looking to bring New Hampshire values to Washington."

Collins' political experience dates back to 1982, when he worked on John H. Sununu's initial campaign for governor. Collins then was a special assistant in Sununu's governor's office during Sununu's three terms.

In 1989, when Sununu went to the White House as chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush, Collins was Special Assistant to the President for National Service and then Special Assistant to the President for Political Affairs.

Collins worked on Charlie Bass' successful 1994 campaign for the U.S. House and then was Bass' district director.

From 1996 through 2008, Collins was campaign manager and chief of staff for John E. Sununu during his years as a U.S. House member and senator.

Soon after John H. Sununu was elected chairman of the Republican State Committee in January 2009, he named Collins as the party's executive director.

In 2010, Collins managed Sean Mahoney's campaign for the 1st District U.S. House Republican nomination before joining with Huntsman and then, Lamontagne.

Innis faces a tough Republican primary against former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta for the right to face Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in November. Among Collins' strengths is his knowledge of grassroots organizing and coalition-building, which will be key in the party primary.

(See earlier Granite Status reports elsewhere on this page or by clicking on "Granite Status" above.)

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