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Dave Solomon has been a reporter or editor for New England news organizations since 1977. He has served as executive editor of both the Portsmouth Herald and the Nashua Telegraph. He joined the reporting staff of the New Hampshire Union Leader in 2012.

Recent Granite Status

March 29. 2014 10:33PM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Dan Innis gets the Scammans’ endorsements for Congress

 
THURSDAY, APRIL 3: “CHANGE NEEDED.”  Republican 1st District congressional candidate Dan Innis has picked up the endorsements of former New Hampshire House speaker Douglas Scamman and his wife, former Rep. Stella Scamman.


The Scammans, who have been well-known hosts to major GOP political events over the years, are making their first endorsement in a primary since 2010, when they backed Sean Mahoney, Doug Scamman said.


With Republican former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta running again to try to reclaim the seat he lost to Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in 2012, former UNH business school dean Innis has been putting together a credible campaign.


The Scammans are among his most prominent supporters.


“If we’re going to change Washington, we need people like Dan down there,” Doug Scamman said in an interview. “He is the type of person I believe will work with everyone down there and make judgments on what makes the most fiscal sense.”


In an announcement to be released later today by the Innis campaign,  the Scammans say, "Dan Innis is the new voice our Republican Party needs to win in November. “Dan has an outstanding record of accomplishment both as a small business owner and as head of the University of New Hampshire School of Business.”

They call him a “solutions-based Republican.”


Douglas Scamman served 13 terms as a New Hampshire state representative, including three terms as Speaker of the House. Stella Scamman served three terms in the New Hampshire House and is active with the Seacoast Republican Women.


The Scammans’ Bittersweet Farm in Stratham has hosted dozens of local and national Republican candidates over the years, including Mitt Romney’s formal announcement for President in 2011.


Innis said the Scammans “represent the best of New Hampshire public service and I will listen closely to their wise counsel during my campaign and in Washington.”


(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)


 
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2: OF COURSE HE'S IN. If there was any doubt, the Granite Status has confirmed today that Scott Brown indeed is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jeanne Shaheen.


As we reported on Sunday (see item below: IMMINENT ANNOUNCEMENT), Brown has been telling Granite Staters and others that he intends to run and, as we reported on Sunday, he hopes to announce on or about April 9.


While it appears now that it won't be that particular date, plans are being made, and the announcement is fully expected mid- to late next week.


Brown said on radio station WGIR this morning that he is formally announcing "sooner rather than later."


But officially Brown has been a candidate since late March.


On file with the Federal Election Commission is a March 20 letter from Brown's attorney filing a "Statement of Candidacy."


Also the Scott Brown Exploratory Committee, while named an "exploratory committee" designates itself as a "principle campaign committee of a candidate."


Brown told talk show host Jack Heath, "We've had a wonderful time meeting with folks and really listening and learning about their challenges.



"Not only Obamacare, but the high cost of energy, and the high cost of taxes, and getting their kids jobs," he said. "Dealing with the high cost of education. So I would say yes, if people want to sign up and help they can go to ScottBrown.com and let me know your thoughts. We can take it from there. "
Shaheen's campaign immediately reiterated its call that Brown sign the "People's Pledge" to limit third party money in the race. Brown has repeatedly rejected earlier calls.


Shaheen campaign manger Mike Vlacich noted that Brown proposed a similar pledge in his race against Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts in 2012 and both candidates signed it.


"In 2012, Scott Brown said Massachusetts voters deserved better than outside third-party attack ads. Well, the people of New Hampshire deserve better too. We hope, now that he is officially a candidate, Scott Brown will commit to the same standard he set in his last race on the other side of the border and tell the special interests to stay out," said Mike Vlacich.


Vlacich said Shaheen is "a common sense leader who makes a difference for people here: strengthening job-creating small businesses, expanding job training and opportunity, and protecting taxpayers and consumers."


Former Sen. Bob Smith was the first of Brown's GOP primary opponents to react to the confirmation that Brown is a candidate.


"I'm glad to welcome you, Scott, to New Hampshire but I think you've entered the wrong primary. You should be challenging Jeanne Shaheen as a Democrat. We now have three U.S. Senators in the race. One is a democrat (Senator Shaheen), one is 'Democrat-lite' (Senator Scott Brown), and one Republican (Senator Bob Smith)."


"The party bosses and central planners in Washington and New Hampshire have their candidate. Now the Republican primary voters can choose their candidate."



Smith reiterated his challenge that Brown debate him 10 times, once in each of the state's counties, including "outside" the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard."


The shipyard itself is in Maine.


Other Republicans in the race are former state Sen. Jim Rubens and conservative activist Karen Testerman.


(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
TUESDAY, APRIL 1: PUSHING PEOPLE'S PLEDGE. The nonpartisan advocacy groups Common Cause and Public Citizen Tuesday urged Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and potential Republican challenger Scott Brown to take "The People's Pledge" to keep outside money out of the race.


Although Brown has not yet formally announced a candidacy, yet, and although he would have a GOP primary, the two groups are focusing on Shaheen and Brown in a letter signed by their presidents.


As part of the request, the two groups asked the Shaheen campaign to pull off of the airwaves a radio advertisement "attacking Sen. Brown for his reported refusal to agree to a pact to discourage outside spending in the upcoming campaign."


Shaheen campaign spokesman Harrell Kirstein said, "We're happy to discuss that anytime or anywhere along with the People's Pledge. It would be part of that discussion."


Shaheen signed the "People's Pledge" more than two weeks ago and sent it to Brown, who had proposed it and signed it during his 2012 race in Massachusetts against Elizabeth Warren.


Brown's campaign rejected the Tuesday request by the two groups, with his campaign spokesman pointing to web video made public by the state Democratic Party on Monday. In the video, Brown said, "The only pledge I'm taking is a pledge to get rid of Obamacare."


In their letter to Shaheen, Miles Rapoport of Common Cause and Robert Weissman of Public Citizen say, "You can have the kind of contest that has become all too common, and all too depressing, across America: one in which outside organizations invest millions of dollars provided by hidden donors in negative and often misleading TV ads, and candidates do the same.


"Or you can try something different: a campaign you and your opponent will be proud of -- no matter who wins -- and that will give voters an honest picture of each of you and your approaches to the critical issues facing New Hampshire and the country."


The letter was released by the Shaheen campaign, along with her own response letter.



WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2: REMATCH? Chris Pappas and Bob Burns are running for a second term on the Executive Council.


Pappas, a Manchester Democrat and owner of the Puritan Backroom Restaurant made it official in an email to supporters Tuesday.


The email did not mention the election of Republican Joe Kenney in the recent District 1 Executive Council special election but did say that there is now "no margin for error" on the council.


"Just this past week I cast the deciding vote to begin implementing the bipartisan Medicaid expansion compromise," he wrote. "That vote means the plan to provide health coverage to 50,000 New Hampshire residents is on track.


"Critical decisions like this hang in the balance in November."


Pappas will have three receptions to kick off his campaign: in Bedford on Wednesday featuring Gov. Maggie Hassan, in Manchester on April 16 and on May 8 in Londonderry featuring Bill Shaheen, husband of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.


In response, Republican Bob Burns, who lost to Pappas last year, said Wednesday he will run again, while we understand interest has been expressed by fellow Republican state Sen. Tom DeBlois of Manchester, who ran in 2012 but lost in a party primary, and Jim Adams of Pittsfield.


(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
MONDAY, MARCH 31: BATTLING WEB VIDEOS. Soon after Republicans unveiled a web video accusing Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of "a decade of broken promises," (see item below), the state Democratic Party launched two of their own and criticized former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown for refusing to sign "The People's Pledge" to limit outside spending in the U.S. Senate race.

Brown is not an official candidate, yet, having set up an exploratory committee. But as we report first below, he and his team are making plans for an announcement, and it appears next week is the target. Brown has told Republicans he plans to announce on or about April 9, although the date has not yet been finalized.

Under the "People's Pledge, signed by Brown and Elizabeth Warren during their Bay State race in 2012, if third-party broadcast and online ads are run in the state, the candidate that benefits would pay 50 percent of the cost of the ad buy to charity. Brown

Two new videos from the NHDP tracked Brown at events last week.

At Frisbie Memorial Hospital, Brown tells a woman who approaches him and asks why he did not sign it, "The only pledge I'm taking is a pledge to get rid of Obamacare." When she approaches him a second time, he says, "I've already answered the question. Thank you for coming."

At another stop at Plymouth State University, Brown tells a woman that he is "not taking the pledge," and that both he and Shaheen are getting "help" from outside interest groups.

"But as I travel around the state, people aren't talking about that," Brown says. He says they are talking about Obamacare, "the high cost of education" and "the lack of an energy policy."

"I've moved on," he says.

When a student tries to present him with student petitions asking that he sign the pledge, Brown asks that the student give them to his daughter, who accompanied him at the stop.

He also said it was "disingenuous" for Shaheen to have asked him to sign the pledge while she was attending fund-raisers in California.

The NHDP, however, said the two instances showed "he doesn't think that what was good enough for Massachusetts is good enough for New Hampshire" and has "no regard for concerned students or the people of New Hampshire."

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
MONDAY, MARCH 31: THE TAX ISSUE. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's refusal to pledge to veto a broad based tax in the 2000 campaign for governor, and her later advocacy of a sales tax for the state as governor, is emerging already in her re-election bid for the Senate.
The state Republican Party, in a new web video to be formally released later today, accuses Shaheen of several "broken promises." Among them is her statement in the 1996 election for governor, not only pledging to veto a broadbased tax, but adding, as your governor, we won't have one."
That turned out to be true, but in 2001, in the aftermath of the Claremont decision,she did propose a sales tax as part of an education funding plan. It went nowhere at the State House.
As for the pledge, she renewed it in her 1998 reelection bid and did not take the pledge in 2000, but went on to win a third term as governor anyway.
Republicans apparently realize that many new residents have moved to the state since then, and apparently believe they need to be reminded of her sales tax advocacy.
The issue was sure to arise in the Senate campaign at some point; the only surprise is that the NHGOP is bringing it up so soon.
The video also accuses Shaheen of "broken promises" and "dishonest statements" on the Affordable Care Act, cuts to Medicare and deficit reduction over the past decade.
In particularly scathing language, NHGOP Jennifer Horn says, "Jeanne Shaheen has proven that she is a deceptive, dishonest Washington politician who is incapable of telling the truth. New Hampshire voters are sick and tired of Shaheen's lies, and they are eager to replace her with a fiscally responsible Republican who will honor his or her promises."
Also Monday, as we report below, the state Democratic Party today will blast likely U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown as an "oil man," citing a vote he cast as a Massachusetts senator in 2012 against repealing federal subsidies for big oil companies. (See item below).
(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)
SUNDAY, MARCH 30: "YOU KNOW, WHATEVER." Scott Brown's likely run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jeanne Shaheen continues to dominate the political discussion in the Granite State and Washington.

And in the past week, lots of the talk about Brown focused on his comment to a reporter about the "carpetbagger" charges that have confronted, and will certainly continue to confront, the former Massachusetts resident and U.S. senator.

Asked about it, Brown told The Associated Press, "Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever.

"But I have long and strong ties to this state. People know," he said.

The nonchalant comment went viral on social media, made the talk show circuit and was even brought up by none other than late nighter Jimmy Fallon.

Fallon suggested a few Brown slogans of his own, including, "Scott Brown for Senate. Or whoever. Whatever. Forever."

Shaheen, on MSNBC the following day, said, "The late night comedians can decide whether Scott Brown's answers make sense."

On "Morning Joe" with Joe Scarborough, commentator Jazz Shaw of the conservative/libertarian political site Hotair.com said that after being in New Hampshire a couple of weeks ago, he found "several of the state (Republican) Party leaders not thrilled about Brown.

"It was ranging from ambivalence to a couple of people who said, 'The guy's not from New Hampshire.'"

- - - - - - - -

IMMINENT ANNOUNCEMENT. Whether Shaw is proved right has yet to be seen, but we understand that soon - very soon - Brown will be an official candidate.

We understand Brown is telling people he hopes to announce on or about April 9, and people close to Brown say it may well be in that time frame, although it's not finalized.

Discussions are under way about the details, including where the announcement will be made.

- - - - - - - - -

HIGH MARKS FROM O'BRIEN. Meanwhile, Brown continues making the rounds, talking to activists.

On Friday, he spoke to about 40 people in Rollinsford after meeting privately with former Dover Police Chief Charlie Reynolds and fellow longtime GOP activist Dan Philbrick. He was scheduled Saturday to meet with Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield and attend newly elected Executive Councilor Joe Kenney's inaugural event at the Mount Washington Hotel.

On Thursday night, Brown met with about 50 activists, including conservatives and independents, at the Hollis home of Mike and Mar-Mar Rogers.

There, he scored points with at least two leading conservatives, former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O'Brien and former House Deputy Majority Leader Steve Stepanek.

After the meeting, O'Brien praised Brown - profusely.

"Most Republicans understand that we would much rather work with an 80 or 90 percent friend of New Hampshire rather than having a 99 percent enemy of New Hampshire," O'Brien said, "someone who does not support New Hampshire values, as is the case with Jeanne Shaheen."

And, about that carpetbagger charge, O'Brien said, "I don't think the fact that Senator Shaheen was born in Missouri will be held against her. We'll give her fair consideration."

He said that while Shaheen will "continue voting against New Hampshire values, we understand that Scott will support those values."

O'Brien said Brown didn't ask for endorsement "and none were given, but we were all glad that he is interested in running."

In December 2012, after he had lost his Massachusetts Senate seat to Elizabeth Warren and in the aftermath of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Brown became the first Republican senator to speak out in favor of a ban on so-called "assault" weapons. He never got to vote on the issue in the Senate, but had previously supported it as a state legislator in Massachusetts.

But Stepanek said that "listening to him and his position on guns, I don't see where he should have a problem with guns, per se. He seems to be a strong Second Amendment supporter.

"He's not a candidate at this time," Stepanek said, "but I'm very pleased with what I see, and he is somebody I could definitely endorse."

He said that while announced candidates Bob Smith, Jim Rubens and Karen Testerman are "great," the GOP needs "a candidate who can win and who can raise money."

- - - - - - -

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR. Brown, by the way, is hiring a new communications director for his exploratory committee (and his likely future campaign committee).Elizabeth "Lizzy" Guyton was recently the communications director for U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and previously, a press assistant in Sen. Kelly Ayotte's office - and before that, in Ayotte's campaign.

Guyton grew up in Rowley, Mass., and her parents moved to Rye when she was in high school. They still live in Rye.

She is a 2010 graduate of Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

- - - - - - -

TOWN HALL EXCHANGE. State Republicans Friday cited a discussion between Shaheen and a man on the line during her telephone town hall last week as evidence she has no clear answers on Obamacare.

The Shaheen camp didn't see it that way.

According to an audiotape of the conference call sent out by the NHGOP (and verified as accurate by the Shaheen camp), "Dave" told Shaheen that although he was grandfathered into his existing plan after the Affordable Care Act took effect, "our rate just went up 40 percent, and if we went onto the exchange, it would go up another couple of hundreds dollars."

He said he and his wife earn too much money to get subsidies under the Obamacare exchange plan, but are not "in the 1 percent and can't afford to pay the premiums."

He also claimed (inaccurately, as it turned out) that he and his wife would lose access to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital under the ACA.

"There are a lot of things that are broken in this thing, and I want to know how Congress is going to address those loopholes and issues," Dave said.

Shaheen responded, "Clearly, there's a lot of misinformation about the Affordable Care Act."

She noted that Dartmouth-Hitchcock is, in fact, in the New Hampshire network.

But she acknowledged, "There are many hospitals not covered, and I certainly hope that's going to change, and next year when there are more competitors in the exchange, that will change."

She said she would "have somebody follow up with you and see if there is anything we can do to ensure that you have all the correct information and that if there is anything you are looking at that might be available through the exchange."

Shaheen's office said there was such a follow-up and Dave had questions about providers in Anthem's network.

Shaheen also pointed out that even before the health care law, many insurance rates "didn't stay the same.''

"We need to continue to look at what needs to change in order to make the law work better," she said.

But the state GOP said the discussion showed Shaheen "is so out of touch that she doesn't understand the frustrations of her constituents who are suffering as a result of her deciding vote for Obamacare.''

"Rather than offering real solutions to skyrocketing premiums and limited health care options, Senator Shaheen is merely offering halfhearted promises that 'hopefully' things will get better," said NHGOP Chairman Jennifer Horn.

Shaheen spokesman Harrell Kirstein responded that Shaheen "has been working to make health care affordable and accessible for New Hampshire families and small businesses."

Kirstein then focused on Brown.

"If Scott Brown had his way, we would go back to the days when insurance companies could deny people with pre-existing conditions coverage and charge women more than men, and 58,000 Granite Staters would lose the coverage they stand to gain through the bipartisan Medicaid Expansion Governor Hassan signed into law."

- - - - - - - - - -

BACK AT YA. As Brown and the Republicans focus on Shaheen and Obamacare, the Democrats continue to work the theme of "Oil Man" Brown.

We've learned the NHDP on Monday will hit Brown for opposing repeal of federal subsidies for five major oil companies.

Under the heading, "This Day in History," the party will focus on Brown's vote on March 29, 2012, against a cloture motion for the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act, a bill sponsored by New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez that would have ended $24 billion in tax deductions for drilling and domestic manufacturing income. The bill died.

The party points out, citing Congressional Quarterly Money Line, that in the six weeks after the vote, Brown received $34,500 in contributions from oil and natural gas political action committees.

"Two weeks (have gone by) and Brown still won't sign (the) 'People's Pledge' to keep that oil money out of the New Hampshire Senate race," the party will say.

- - - - - - - - - - -

HELPING OUT. Over the past few days, Gov. Maggie Hassan's campaign has been trying to parlay the passage and her signature of the Medicaid Expansion bill into campaign cash.

Her campaign sent out several email solicitations, including one on Friday, titled "Pretty Lucky," signed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

"Her bipartisan leadership is really making a difference on issues affecting not only New Hampshire but also our entire region," he wrote, citing her role in "an overwhelmingly bipartisan budget, freezing in-state college tuition and expanding health coverage to 50,000 people."

He asks for money so she "has what she needs to take on the Tea Party" - that is, announced GOP candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III penned a fundraising email for U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster. Kennedy headlined a fundraising event for her this month.

- - - - - - - - - -

WHAT ABOUT WALT? Potential GOP candidate for governor Walt Havenstein, apparently undaunted by questions raised about his residency, domicile and eligibility to run for governor, has advisers actively interviewing possible campaign staffers.

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 followed on Twitter: @jdistaso.


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