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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Saying goodbye

June 07. 2014 10:34PM

WEDNESDAY was a day for goodbyes as the two-year legislative session ended, as did the careers of some longtime lawmakers.

The emotions ranged from House Speaker Terie Norelli's thanks to her family for all the sacrifices they have made so she could perform her duties to Rep. Gary Richardson's light goodbye opening with the line, "My wife informed me she and the dog are going to be in Florida next January."

The House surprised longtime Clerk Karen Wadsworth with flowers and a citation. The House and Senate surprised longtime Associated Press State House reporter Norma Love with resolutions and, in the House, kind words from Rep. Marjorie Smith.

In the Senate, Bob Odell talked about his late wife and how his colleagues helped him through that difficult time, and Jim Rausch, a veterinarian, talked about newborn puppies and everyone's need for some puppy love.

The bombshell came from Sylvia Larsen - former Senate president and current minority leader and dean of the Senate - who said she wants to spend time with her family after 20 years in the Upper Chamber.

After the Senate completed its work, Larsen rose to speak. "For everything there is a season . " she said from the oft-quoted verse from Ecclesiastes that Pete Seeger set to music.

"In this season of my life, after 20 years in the Senate, I want to spend more time with my family - exploring and enjoying life's other adventures," she said. "So I have decided to finish my time in this beautiful chamber and not run for reelection."

No one saw Larsen's retirement coming. There had been rumors several months ago, but she quickly put them down, and Democratic leaders said all 11 Senate Democrats were running for reelection.

Larsen cited universal kindergarten, constitutionally sound education funding, a new women's prison and the expansion of Medicaid among the accomplishments of the Legislature during her tenure.

The State House will be a very different place next year with Larsen, Odell, Rausch, former Senate President Peter Bragdon, Norelli, Richardson, Wadsworth and others all missing. And the press room will not be the same without Love.


Chain Reaction:Larsen's announcement particularly set off a flood of activity, breaking the Senate bottleneck for the Concord area.

The most obvious House members who would be interested, Steve Shurtleff and Candace Bouchard, have other plans. Shurtleff hasn't officially announced, but he will seek the House speaker's post if Democrats maintain control, and Bouchard wants to be House clerk.

Potential candidates for the highly Democratic District 15 seat - which includes Concord, Hopkinton, Henniker and Warner - were quick to step forward, the first being Concord School Board member Kass Ardinger.

And the list goes on:

Attorney Andru Volinsky, who won the Claremont school suit against the state, is exploring; Kathi Rogers, state representative for Concord's Wards 8, 9 and 10; Amanda Grady Sexton, Concord city councilor and public policy director for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Jennifer Frizzell, senior adviser for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England; Paul Hodes, former U.S. representative; and Jay Surdudowski, Concord attorney who was mentored by Larsen's predecessor, Susan McLane.

Not all will sign up, but it will make a very interesting primary.

On the Republican side, Hopkinton Selectman Jim O'Brien is considering a run.

For House speaker on the Democratic side, besides Shurtleff, former state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Jackie Cilley is running for the House and has said she would be interested.

On the Republican side, former Speaker Bill O'Brien says he will run again and seek the House's top post. Bedford Rep. Laurie Sanborn announced last week she will seek the speaker's post, saying it is time for new leadership.

Along with Bouchard, Manchester Rep. Joel Winters and Assistant House Clerk Paul Smith are seeking the House clerk's position.

Another Departure

House Communications and Policy Director Mario Piscatella served his last day Friday and begins Monday morning as the new Managing Editor of Blue Nation Review.

"Bringing Mario into our team is the final piece to this very cool puzzle we're developing here at," said Jimmy Williams, Executive Editor, noting his selection creates a team that "will give us the ability to define the online political world in a way that no other 'newsroom' is doing these days. I'm proud to welcome Mario to our team."

The on-line review is based in Alexandria VA.

Running for U.S. Senate

The filing period for state and federal office runs through Friday, but Secretary of State Bill Gardner already has a problem.

He received a letter and the $100 filing fee from a Brooklyn NY resident who wants to run for the U.S. Senate in the Granite State.

Democrat William Bryk, 59, is no stranger to the Granite State. He ran for vice president in 2008. He finished in second place in the Democratic primary with 22,965 votes.

The primary was won by Raymond Stebbins of Massachusetts with 50,485 votes. He was one of three names on the ballot on the Democratic side. The third was former state Sen. Jack Barnes, R-Raymond.

Barnes won the vice presidential contest on the Republican side with 40,267.

In his letter to Gardner, Bryk cites several court rulings and notes by the time he is sworn into office he will be a resident of New Hampshire, the only constitutional residency requirement.

This one may end up with the Ballot Commission and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen may technically have a primary.

Queen City Jobs

The U.S. government released information Friday that the country had finally recovered all the jobs lost to the great recession from 2007 to 2009.

Those who haven't benefited have a chance to find work at a state Department of Employment Security Job Fair in Manchester at the St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Hanover Street June 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"The job fair is a great opportunity for employers to gain access to a local ready and willing workforce," states Employment Security Commissioner George Copadis. "Having employees from the communities that you serve strengthens your business and makes our communities stronger. We encourage employers to attend and hope anyone looking for employment will take advantage of this free event."

More than 75 New Hampshire businesses with immediate and future job openings will be at the fair. The fields represented include manufacturing, staffing, retail, government, education, health care, computers and technology, industrial, among others.

For more information, contact Kevin Myers at or visit

Lilac Luncheon

Former Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno will be the featured speaker at the NH Federation of Republican Women's annual Lilac Luncheon and Flag Day Celebration Saturday (June 14) at the Holiday Inn in Concord.

Jennifer Couture, the organization's president, called Fortuno "a standout leader in our party and strong advocate for fiscally sound policies that cut taxes and rein in spending. Gov. Fortuño understands the critical issues facing our country and we look forward to hearing his insights as we move toward an important election season."

The Lilac Luncheon is the organization's largest annual event. Past speakers include former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain, former Virginia U.S. Sen. George Allen, Republican National Committee Co-Chair Sharon Day, and The CURE's Star Parker.

The event begins at 11 a.m. More information is available at and

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