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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Past White House hopefuls weigh in on 1st CD GOP race

August 08. 2018 11:16PM

The parade of past presidential contenders getting involved in the 1st Congressional District Republican primary reveals how competitive this race has become.

Both of the major candidates, state Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford and former law enforcement executive Eddie Edwards of Dover, had a former White House hopeful come aboard.

For Sanborn it was 2016 candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who faces his own tough challenge this fall from Democratic nominee Beto O’Rourke.

“Our republic requires an active participation from all of us, and it’s encouraging when solid conservatives step forward to run for office,” Cruz said in a statement.

“I’m asking New Hampshire voters to carefully consider the choices before them this election cycle, and to stand with those who have proven themselves to be conservatives of conviction. In the race for Congress in the 1st Congressional District, I am proud to endorse Andy Sanborn, and I urge the voters in New Hampshire to join me in supporting him.”

Edwards got the backing of 2012 hopeful and now-media analyst Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator.

“America is at a crossroads, and its people are ready for new voices in Congress. Eddie Edwards has served our nation in the United States Navy and honorably in law enforcement in the great state of New Hampshire,” Santorum said.

“He has lived a life of service and is now ready to continue that mission on Capitol Hill. He is ideally suited to represent NH-01 and help President Trump change the direction of our country.”

In approaching Santorum for support, Edwards surely had a good character witness. His chief campaign consultant, Mike Biundo, was a leading operative in Santorum’s White House bid.

On Wednesday, GOP conservative and retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West produced a video urging voters to give Edwards a long look.

“Think about the person who will live up to the motto, Live Free or Die, and represent the great state of New Hampshire. Consider Eddie Edwards,” West concluded.

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Republican State Committee Chairman Wayne MacDonald announced a round of upcoming debates in both congressional districts next Thursday, starting at 7 p.m. in the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions is sponsoring the events; iHeart Media will be its media co-host, with talk show veteran Jack Heath serving as its moderator.

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A pair of prominent Edwards supporters with top ties to President Trump tried to prolong the drip-drip Sanborn’s been facing as Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald’s office releases transcripts into its investigation of the senator regarding his conduct with a former intern.

MacDonald concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing or any credible evidence that the former Senate chief of staff gave the ex-intern cash to keep him quiet after Sanborn had made a “crass joke.”

The two state co-chairs of Trump’s presidential campaign, ex-state Reps. Steve Stepanek of Amherst and Fred Doucette of Salem, called upon Sanborn to exit the race over the controversy.

Doucette and Stepanek said flipping to GOP hands the seat that U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, holds is too important and Sanborn would be a vulnerable nominee should he win the Sept. 11 primary.

“That is why we cannot afford to nominate someone who is unable to beat whomever the Democrats choose as their standard bearer. While you have certainly contributed to the New Hampshire State Senate, regrettably, the concerning scandals surrounding the time you spent there have completely tarnished your ability to win this seat. Especially now that the specific language with a state Senate intern has been released, the time is now for you to graciously step aside and allow another Republican to go on to be our nominee,” wrote Edwards suppporters Doucette and Stepanek in a letter to Sanborn.

“We want to be clear that we are strong supporters of primaries. We think they are good for our party and the political process. However, this seat is just too important to our state and nation to gamble with given the reprehensible language you have used with those whom you have power and influence over at the State House.

Sanborn’s campaign declined to comment. The candidate last week said all these documents show he’s been truthful that his remark to the ex-intern, while colorful, didn’t harass anyone and that’s why there has not been a single complaint brought over the entire matter.

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Former Maryland Gov. and 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley cruised back into the state last Sunday to raise money for the Committee to Elect House Democrats and to help lead training for House candidates.

“This is the turning-point year. I believe New Hampshire can win back its House and restore moderate values,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley said he’s found in the 25 states he’s visited so far that his Win Back Your State PAC can do the most good supporting candidates financially, but also helping them develop skills as new hopefuls.

“We are finding record numbers of candidates coming out to match the record enthusiasm we are seeing on the ground. The trouble is we haven’t had the match of resources to help stand up these new folks, and that’s what my efforts have been all about,” O’Malley said during a telephone interview.

O’Malley remains convinced the Blue Wave will prevail in the mid-term elections and unleash a large group of Democrats who will seriously explore challenging Trump in 2020.

And yes, O’Malley could be one of them.

“I think you’ll see a lot of folks take a long hard look at it. They will include candidates with all kinds of elective office experience and some without any at all. They could include self-funded and celebrity millionaires,” O’Malley said. “I think many who have taken a look at this before and never come forward are going to be even more serious this time.”

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Self-made successful businessman Jay Lucas will not be remembered for his one statewide run for elective office.

Challenging a popular Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, who was seeking a second term in 1998, was an act of sacrifice for his GOP party, but not a recipe for success.

Lucas went back into the business world and later founded his own strategic consulting firm.

Now he’s in the midst of several endeavors.

Media relations consultant Josh McElveen is shepherding Lucas through a media tour.

Lucas recently finished a positive-thinking self-help book called “American Sunshine” that shot to number one on Amazon during the first week of its release.

He is mobilizing more than 1,000 supporters for the Children of Fallen Patriots, which is dedicated to financing education for the 20,000 American children who have lost a parent in active military service. They plan a 2nd annual celebration of the effort next month at the LaBelle Winery in Amherst.

And Lucas has thrown himself into the “Newport Sunshine Initiative” to revitalize the town he grew up in by stimulating economic development, youth workforce training and health care programs.

“This is working and to a certain extent we are learning things that could be a template here for like communities all across this country,” Lucas said.

And what about a political future for this father of seven?

“This is the place to channel my energies,” Lucas summed up. “I think what I am achieving now is among the most rewarding things in my life.”

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We’re two days and a month from the primary.

So why would 1st District Democratic frontrunner Chris Pappas choose earlier this week to load the last most powerful bullet into the chamber and fire it off — the endorsement of the senior U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

The conventional playbook would advise Pappas to roll out Shaheen when the most voters are paying attention. Some would suggest that might be right after the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The chosen timing could be because of what we noted last week. Democratic primary rival Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth not only got on television with advertising before Pappas, but she’s been able to afford much more TV time than he can.

Sullivan showed off how much of an edge she has from the Washington party elite with former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius making multiple stops for her last Tuesday.

There are some candidates in this 11-person field who say while Pappas has brought almost every party establishment figure to back him, he hasn’t by any measure closed the deal.

They maintain Pappas is well-regarded but not far out in front with support among those who have made up their minds in this race.

Pretty soon we’ll get the first indication if there’s any truth to that sentiment.

Both the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and St. Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics are in the field polling for this and other top races, with results likely in the next two weeks.

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Former state lawmaker Jane Cormier of Hooksett has found her voice and insists she’s not in an uphill fight for the Executive Council District 4 nomination against former Manchester mayor Ted Gatsas.

“This upcoming election will be very important for the taxpayers of New Hampshire. Executive Council District 4 will be the seat to determine whether we will have a true constitutional conservative or a “business as usual” public servant,” Cormier wrote.

A strong pro-gun, anti-abortion Republican, Cormier said she represents a new brand of leadership.

“Having traveled the 19 towns in Executive Council District 4, I can say with certainty that New Hampshire is ready for real change in Concord, not more of the same winners, chosen by the same political giants, but real change standing in solidarity with the New Hampshire taxpayer,” Cormier said.

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Leaders of the major parties mixed it up after GOP Chairman MacDonald accused two Democratic state Senate candidates of accepting illegal donations.

MacDonald called upon Tom Sherman of Rye and Jenn Alford-Teaster of Bradford to return campaign checks and accused them of coming from residents of Denmark and England.

“It is unconscionable that Tom Sherman and Jenn Alford-Teaster would blatantly flout our election laws by soliciting and accepting foreign campaign contributions. As if it wasn’t bad enough that nearly half of Tom Sherman’s campaign donations and a whopping two-thirds of Jenn Alford-Teaster’s campaign money came from out–of-state donors, we now have two Democrat Senate candidates soliciting and accepting donations from outside of the United States,” MacDonald said.

Senate Democratic Caucus Director Nick Taylor said the charges were baseless and MacDonald should know better. He accused the GOP of trying to protect vulnerable incumbents.

“It’s disappointing that the New Hampshire Republican Party is hurling these patently false accusations. Both donors are American citizens and to suggest otherwise is a lie. Had the Republican Party done any research before making these unfounded claims they could have saved themselves the embarrassment of being publicly corrected,” Taylor said.

‘This is a clear attempt to distract from backward voting records of Dan Innis and Ruth Ward, which include voting to send taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools, voting against paid family and medical leave, and voting for a budget that forced tuition increases at our community colleges and public universities.”

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The liberal NextGen New Hampshire, along with partners Granite State Organizing Project and the United Valley Interfaith Project, will deliver more than 3,500 signed petitions calling upon Gov. Chris Sununu to support an end to Customs & Border Protection checkpoints on Interstate 93.

The petition claims the checkpoints amount to a civil rights violation.

The papers are to be delivered to Sununu’s State House office this morning at 10:30.

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The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire endorsed three Democrats for Upper Valley Senate seats — incumbent Sen. Martha Hennessey of Hanover and challengers Bill Bolton and Alford-Teaster.

Bolton is opposing Sen. Robert Guida, R-Warren, in District 2.

Hennessey authored the state law creating a commission that will study solutions for first responders who suffer post-traumatic stress and other behavioral health problems.

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