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Granite Status: Executive Councilor Volinsky decides against gubernatorial run


September 27. 2017 8:24PM


The Democratic field for governor in 2018 is wide open, now that Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky has decided he won’t be running for anything other than re-election to the five-member council.

Volinsky was being encouraged to run by many party officials and supporters, but decided now is not the time, leaving former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand as the only declared Democrat.

In a letter to supporters released on Wednesday, Volinsky said he was humbled by those who encouraged him to run, but after careful consideration has decided “the time is not right for me or my family. I will, however, proudly seek another term as a New Hampshire executive councilor representing District Two.”

Volinsky rose to public prominence over the years as the lead attorney for the property-poor school districts that have repeatedly sued the state over its education funding formula and the level of state funding. He said he would continue to champion their cause as an executive councilor.

“It is also my responsibility to talk with my constituents about the failing system of local property taxes because, sadly, 20 years after the key Claremont school funding court decision, the quality of education in New Hampshire remains dependent upon where a child lives,” he wrote.

“There’s a lot I’m accomplishing as a councilor and I want to continue doing that. It’s a very important job and I’m really happy where I am,” he said in an interview after Wednesday’s council meeting at the Merrimack town offices.

Family issues also factored heavily in his decision, Volinsky said, citing the fact that he recently became a grandfather, and looks forward to visiting his son and family in Denver.

“You have to run essentially full-time beginning in February or March,” he said. “I have some personal things like becoming a granddad, and I have some professional things, like a very involved capital case where I’ve been counsel for 25 years that’s coming to a head this summer. I also think I’m making a difference as a councilor.”

The Republican Governor’s Association attributed Volinsky’s decision in part to the popularity of incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu, although the Concord attorney denied Sununu’s poll numbers had anything to do with his decision.

“Volinsky’s decision comes as recent polls show Gov. Sununu holding a strong 62 percent job approval rating, with even half of Democrats giving him positive marks,” according to the RGA. “As Sununu’s bipartisan leadership creates real results for the people of New Hampshire on a wide range of issues from education to fighting drug addiction, Democrats are struggling to find serious candidates who will run for governor in 2018.”

Colin Van Ostern, the former executive councilor from Concord, hasn’t ruled out seeking a rematch with Sununu who narrowly beat him in 2016.

Other leading Democrats have been urging State Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord, to also explore a bid.

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The state’s congressional delegation is starting to worry that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is backpedaling on his previously stated support for a full-service VA hospital in Manchester.

In a letter to Shulkin on Wednesday, senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, and representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster expressed concern that official guidance given to the VA New Hampshire VISION 2025 Task Force did not include direct reference to “full services.”

“We have advocated for many years for the VA to return a full-service medical facility to New Hampshire, and we support proposals that have been introduced by members of the New Hampshire delegation since 2008 with the goal of requiring the VA to build a full-service hospital,” wrote the delegation.

In the letter, the delegation expressed appreciation for Shulkin’s comments during his visit to the Manchester VA Medical Center that “full services” are “what New Hampshire needs.”

They called on Shulkin “to re-emphasize to the task force that its purpose is to recommend the best ways to ensure that New Hampshire veterans have access to the full scope of VA services, up to and including a full-service medical facility.”

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A Republican state representative candidate who lost a special election to represent Auburn, Chester and Sandown on Tuesday, 901-862, has asked for a recount.

James Headd of Auburn asked for a recount given that a discrepancy between two lists of voters at Sandown resulted in election workers counting those ballots three times, according to a party spokesman. Sandown proved pivotal in the race given that Headd narrowly won his hometown while Democrat Kari Lerner won her hometown of Chester by a similar razor-thin margin.

Headd lost Sandown by 58 votes.

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Longtime Republican political operative David Tille of Concord is President Trump’s latest political appointee. Tille was sworn in this week as New England regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He previously during the 2016 presidential race as state director for Ben Carson, who is now the Secretary of HUD.

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Republican political campaign veterans David Carney and Lauren Zelt have been added to the program for the New Hampshire State Committee’s Red Summit on the campus of St. Anselm College Saturday. Carney and Zelt will take part in training sessions on political organizing. The expected crowd of about 100 activists will also hear a keynote speech from past Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

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Nationally-known conservative comedian and author Eric Golub will be keynote speaker for the annual Steak Out fundraising event of the Nashua Republican City Committee at the Crown Plaza in Nashua Oct. 12. Golub has been a regular guest on Fox talk show programs and this will be his first visit to New Hampshire. Tickets are $55 apiece. For more information contact Di Lothrop, communications and events chair for the Nashua Republican City Committee, at 864-9287 or register at www.nashuagop.org.

David Solomon and Kevin Landrigan contributed to Granite Status. Email news and tips to granitestatus@unionleader.com.


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