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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Howard Dean to return to NH for Rep. Carol Shea-Porter fund-raiser

By John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter
February 27. 2014 4:15PM

FRIDAY, FEB. 28: DEAN HELPING CAROL. Howard Dean will return to New Hampshire to help his old friend, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

Dean will be featured at a fund-raiser at a private home in Stratham on April 5.

Dean, of course, is the Democratic former Vermont governor who went on to run for president in 2004, finishing behind John Kerry in the New Hampshire Primary.

He then served as Democratic National Committee chairman from 2005 to 2009.

Shea-Porter in 2012 was named a member of the "Dean Dozen," a group of 12 Democratic U.S. House candidates endorsed by Dean's Democracy for America.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, FEB. 27: MORSE: HEALTHY DEBATE. State Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, told the Granite Status tonight he has no problem with local Republican committees debating the Medicaid expansion issue on the grassroots level.

Several county and local committees have passed resolutions opposing Senate Bill 413, which would increase the availability of health insurance coverage to thousands of low-income Granite Staters with private providers and federal Medicaid-subsidized premium payments. (See our items below.)

"I strongly believe in the process and that's how New Hampshire works," Morse said of the local party committees' votes.

"The fact that there are people out there debating it, I think they need to be informed, but I think they have the right to debate. And that's what's going to happen right up until next Thursday."

The bill is expected to pass the Senate, but Morse offered no prediction.

"We believe private health care is the solution for the State of New Hampshire," he said. "I do think senators are listening and if they want to amend the bill to make it better, they will."

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, FEB. 27: EPPING, WARNER-WEBSTER OPPOSED. Two more local Republican committees have moved to oppose the compromise health care expansion bill that is to be voted on by the state Senate next week.

The Greater Epping Republican Committee and the Blackwater Republican Committee, which comprises Webster and Warner, voted Wednesday night on resolutions that opposing "the expansion of Medicaid in any form" in the state.

They joined several other county and local committees (see our item below).

(FRIDAY, FEB. 28, UPDATEl: We've confirmed the Mount Washington Valley Republidan Committee also passed an anti-Medicaid expanston resolution this week.)

Opponents of the "Medicaid expansion" bill could get a much larger grassroots "prize" on Monday.

That's when the Merrimack County Republican Committee will hold a special meeting to address the issue. Also Monday, the Salem GOP is scheduled to vote on an anti-expansion resolution, with the Windham GOP slated for Tuesday.

County GOP chairman Brian Gould said Thursday that he received a written request from four member for a special meeting "to consider a resolution on the bill."

Gould said that under the committee by-laws, "four members is the trigger for me to call a special meeting."

He said he has circulated the proposed language of the resolution to all members of the committee, "and we are going to have the meeting Monday night."

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 26: GRASSROOTS OPPOSITION BUILDING. Opposition is building in local Republican committees in New Hampshire to the compromise health insurance expansion plan unveiled earlier this month by a combination of top state Senate Republicans and Democrats.

The Granite Status reported on Sunday that the Manchester Republican Committee had passed a resolution expressing opposition to Senate Bill 413 and Medicaid expansion in general for the state.

City committee chair Tammy Simmons said the hope was to "send a message" to the Republican state senators ahead of an expected vote on the bill in early March.

Other Republican committees have passed similar resolutions: Rockingham and Strafford counties, and the towns of Bedford, Plaistow and Merrimack.

(THURSDAY, Feb. 27: The Epping GOP and Blackwater GOP, from Warner and Webster, joined the movement on Wednesday night, unanimously passing resolutions opposing "the expansion of Medicaid in any form.")

While that's a small number of committees, they are among the largest and most influential.

The bill would essentially expand private coverage to at least 50,000 Medicaid-eligible Granite Staters through subsidized coverage and would end when federal funding drops below 100 percent unless the Legislature votes to continue it. Republicans supporters are not calling it "Medicaid expansion," but Republican opponents and Democratic supporters are doing so.

It is the brainchild of Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, in conjunction with Senate Democratic leader Sylvia Larsen of Concord, and it has the support of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Despite the opposition being expressed by grassroots GOP activists, the bill is expected to pass the Senate easily and move onto the Democratic-controlled House, where it is also expected to pass.

All 11 Senate Democrats are expected to vote for it, along with Republicans Morse, Bradley, Nancy Stiles and Bob Odell. More may join them.

(THURSDAY, FEB. 27, UPDATE: We originally had state Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, listed among the likely "yes" votes because he voted in committee that the bill "ought to pass." But Reagan on Thursday morning issued an opinion piece in which he said that he will actually vote against the bill on the Senate floor. He announced his decision in Epping last night. See related story link on this page.)

The resolutions passed so far point out that the state Republican Party platform opposes "the implementation of Obamacare in New Hampshire," and Medicaid expansion is a component of the Affordable Care Act.

In Concord, the state Republican Party executive committee discussed the local resolutions at a recent meeting, but no motion or resolution was brought up for a vote, according to Manchester GOP chair Simmons who is a member of the state party executive committee.

Simmons said the consensus was "that the best way to get our message out to the senators would be that it come from the individual committees."

State GOP chair Jennifer Horn told us today, "There is a healthy debate about the Senate's health care compromise taking place among Republicans. This sort of debate and discussion within a political party is natural and nothing new.

"As we've always done, I am confident that come November, Republicans will unite behind our candidates and rally around our fiscally responsible solutions to address the difficult issues facing our state and our nation," she said.

Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, a conservative issue advocacy group, is supporting the local GOP committees' moves, while planning to continue its own opposition to Medicaid expansion with paid online advertising on

"Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire has been working hard in recent weeks to give voice to the countless number of Granite Staters who recognize that Obamacare's Medicaid expansion will lead to higher taxes and longer wait times in the Emergency Room," said group founder Mike Biundo. "SB 413 brings the tentacles of Obamacare directly into New Hampshire."

Then, Biundo cautioned, "Republicans in the State Senate who are thinking about voting for SB 413 should think long and hard about those they represent because there are a lot of us who do not support this bill whatsoever."

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, FEB. 25: RUDY'S COMING BACK. Rudy Giuliani is returning to one of his favorite states this spring.

We've learned the Republican former New York City mayor will be in New Hampshire on April 22 for a mixture of politics and policy.

According to Giuliani's long time friend and supporter, former New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Wayne Semprini, Giuliani will be the featured guest at a fund-raiser for Sen. Kelly Ayotte at Semprini's home in New Castle.

Interestingly, one of the hosts of the Ayotte fund-raiser will be none other than former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who, as most readers here (and everywhere) know very well, has been considering running for the U.S. Senate.

Brown has helped the state Republican Party with fund-raising as he considers his options, and in November, he was featured at a fund-raiser for former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, who is running again for the 1st District U.S. House seat.

Brown, as we first reported Friday, has been making calls to top Granite State Republicans as he considers a Senate run.

Question is, will Brown be a candidate by the time the Ayotte fund-raiser rolls around?

Semprini said that other hosts for the Ayotte fund-raiser are Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, UNH benefactor and new New Hampshire Priorities SuperPAC founder Peter T. Paul (see earlier Status report), Semprini's wife, Paulette, and GOP activists/donors Anna Grace Holloway, Sean Mahoney and Renee Plummer.

Earlier on April 22, Semprini said, Giuliani will appear at the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy at the UNH Law School in Concord.

While the specific topic Giuliani will address is unclear, Semprini noted that the mayor and former presidential candidate "has long had a great deal of respect" for the late Senator from New Hampshire, as well as for UNH Law School Dean and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick, and is looking forward to appearing at the center.

Giuliani's second stop of the day, prior to the Ayotte fund-raiser, Semprini said, will be a meeting with Peter T. Paul at the UNH business school in Durham that bears Paul's name.

Giuliani ran for President in 2007 and 2008 and toyed with the possibility of running again in the months leading up to the 2012 presidential primary.

He last appeared in New Hampshire in August 2012 in support of then-candidate for governor Kevin Smith, who is now out of party politics and is the Londonderry town manager.

(A new Granite Status report follows.)

TUESDAY, FEB. 25: CALLING JACK: Before he left late last week for speaking engagements in Taiwan (!), former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown made a round of calls to prominent Granite State Republicans -- of varying ideological stripes.

We've learned former state Republican Party chairman and top Tea Party/liberty movement leader Jack Kimball was among the people Brown called to discuss the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate from New Hampshire.

"Yes, he called me," Kimball confirmed Tuesday. He said Brown asked to meet with him and that he was agreed to do so.

"I was basically surprised at the call," Kimball said.

Kimball, who is strongly pro-Second Amendment and pro-life, said he remains on "Karen Testerman's team," referring to the Franklin conservative activist who is an announced candidate for the Senate seat.

"I'm sure he knows that, said Kimball. "That's where I'm going to stay. But I don't have a problem meeting with him.

"The conversation is really based on one military guy to another. I come from that direction on this," Kimball said.

"Regardless of whether I agree with him, he served his country and so did I. I owe him that much so I'll talk with him and see where it goes.

"I give him credit for his tenacity," Kimball said of Brown.

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

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