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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Will latest heavyweight endorsement be enough for Pappas?

August 29. 2018 11:01PM

It’s another week and another Democratic heavyweight picks sides in the 11-person primary in the 1st Congressional District — and the choice is a familiar one.

In less than two weeks we’ll find out whether all the King’s men are going to be enough to put together a winning primary campaign for Executive Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester.

The latest is liberal icon and former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, whose fundraising letter this week served as her endorsement for Pappas.

“If we’re going to really start to combat the gun violence epidemic in our country we need to start electing leaders with the courage to fight for gun safety measures,” wrote Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination and went on to become one of the most prominent supporters for changing gun laws.

“I’ve made it my mission to help elect these kind of leaders who will bring people together to enact meaningful change. Chris Pappas is exactly the kind of voice we need in Congress which is why I’m supporting him in the race for New Hampshire’s 1st District.”

Giffords claimed while primary rival Maura Sullivan is approaching nearly a half-million dollars on TV ads promoting gun control, Pappas has the most detailed agenda.

“It may not come as a surprise to you, but Chris’ outspoken advocacy for gun safety really caught my attention. Gun safety isn’t just another talking point for Chris. He supports policy solutions from regulating semi-automatic assault weapons to universal background checks. I know Chris has both the perspective and the grit needed to not just talk the talk, but to walk the walk,” Giffords said.

Earlier this week, Pappas debuted another TV ad, this one lamenting big money in politics. It was aimed right at Sullivan, though it did not mention his rival by name.

“Everywhere I go, people say ‘Let’s get money out of politics.’ I couldn’t agree more,” Pappas says in the ad. “Our system is rigged for the wealthy and powerful and it prevents us from being able to make health care universal, raise wages, and fight climate change.

“I’m the only candidate in this race pledging that the majority of my campaign donors live right here in New Hampshire.

Here’s the problem. This kind of talk from the candidate with all the establishment endorsements rings hollow.

This also confirms what many have come to consider in this race and that is with her overwhelming financial advantage, Sullivan has become the frontrunner.

We’re talking about an embarrassment of riches here. We’ve got a candidate who’s raised more money out of state than any other newcomer for Congress in the country this year and she’s even got interest groups financing even more ads for her on the air.

VoteVets, a pro-military liberal group, picked Sullivan last fall among 30 candidates to endorse and this week began a $220,000 advertising buy on television and online.

Allen Morgan of Dover says in the ad, “I’ve never been more worried about our country than I am right now. We need a new generation of military leaders like Maura Sullivan.

“Maura fought as a Marine. She served our country at the Pentagon. That’s why this old New Hampshire soldier is voting for Maura Sullivan for Congress.”

The challenge for Pappas is clearly figuring out a way to get a big moment with Sullivan at the only televised debate next Wednesday at the Institute of Politics on the campus of St. Anselm College. The New Hampshire Union Leader and WMUR-TV are sponsoring these debates and in a break with the recent past, all candidates that filed to get on the Sept. 11 primary ballot have been invited to participate.

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What’s a political junkie to do Thursday night?

Both political parties have a must-see event tonight.

The Republican State Committee is sponsoring a roast of former Gov. John H. Sununu.

The 5:30 p.m. event at the Castleton Banquet and Conference Center features some great roasters including former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, former Gov. Steve Merrill, former Congressman and Supreme Court Justice Chuck Douglas, longtime Sununu aide and confidant Dave Carney, former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid. Nearly every major Republican candidate has already confirmed they’ll be in the audience tonight.

Then up the road apiece, the New Hampshire Democratic Party is hosting its final pre-primary forum with the 1st CD candidates.

The doors open at 6 p.m. and this event starts at 6:30 at Manchester Community College.

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There was already a spotlight on the financial support of Gov. Chris Sununu’s bid for a second term from private prison advocates.

We’ve written about those donations and Democratic candidate for governor Molly Kelly last month called on Sununu to give back the private prison money.

This could intensify as a general election issue, especially the $5,000 given to Sununu from CoreCivic after Texas state officials opened an investigation into the death of a toddler who died after leaving an immigration detention center run by CoreCivic.

The child died soon after his release from the Dilley, Texas facility in late July.

Since 2017, CoreCivic received $225 million in Immigration, Customs and Enforcement grants to manage immigrant detention centers.

CoreCivic had nine facilities serving ICE in Texas, Georgia, Arizona, California, New Mexico, & New Jersey.

A Sununu campaign spokesman declined comment on the controversy.

Sununu has pledged not to deploy the New Hampshire National Guard to enforce Trump’s family separation policy.

It’s important to note that private prison developers give more money to Republicans but many Democrats have gotten very fat from their donations as well.

The two groups that gave Sununu a total of $10,000 — CoreCivic and the GEO Group — have deployed lobbyists who bundled $350,000 in this election cycle and Core Civic has given $135,000 to the Democratic Governors Association.

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Longtime friend and confidant Steve Duprey couldn’t wait to get onto Facebook Wednesday as he headed to serve as a pallbearer for the Phoenix funeral services Thursday for Sen. John McCain, R-Az.

“Every highway sign in Arizona from Sedona to the state capitol, how gracious,” Duprey declared.

The neon sign simply said, “Country First. Senator John McCain. Rest in Peace.”


As it becomes hard to know who will turn out in these primaries, 1st District Republican candidate Andy Sanborn of Bedford is pushing to crank out the gun owner vote for him.

Sanborn got a lot of heat for the attack mailing that declares primary rival Eddie Edwards “weaker on gun rights” because Edwards did not fill out the survey from the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition.

But Sanborn has also gone after Democrat Sullivan and others for pushing gun control.

“For the first time in recent memory, the left is now proudly going on TV and out in public with the message that they are coming for firearms.” Sanborn said in a fund-raising e-mail this week.

“We must take a stand and defend our Constitution and right to bear arms, and I am the only candidate in this race to make that commitment. I have done so through my proven record of votes, sponsored legislation, and annual recognition from every firearm group out there. We know my opponent is soft on the 2nd Amendment — we must elect someone who will stand tall and protect your rights.”

Edwards said he supports the 2nd Amendment and accused Sanborn of deliberately distorting his record.

Look for this TV debate next Thursday to be full of fireworks.

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Retiring U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, may have helped with this one, the endorsement for 1st District candidate Naomi Andrews by Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., the first African-American woman elected to Congress in her state and a member of the prestigious House Committee on Financial Services,

“I support Naomi because she knows policy. She’s a progressive, down-to-earth woman who knows and understands the struggles of working-class Americans. Growing up in a working-class family, Naomi’s mom works at a restaurant and her dad works in a nursing home,” Moore said of Andrews, who served as Shea-Porter’s past chief of staff and former campaign manager.

“Naomi is a natural leader and she has the courage to stand up to this Donald Trump and his right-wing cronies.”


State Rep. Mindi Messmer, D-Rye, is showing off her own liberal support as the primary approaches.

Burt Cohen, a former NH Senate Democratic leader came on board.

“For our secure future, for a government that serves the public good and takes a stand against the pattern of plunder by the current administration for the benefit of special friends of Donald Trump, we must make sure we do not put a rubber stamp in Congress where what we need is a strong voice,” Cohen said.

“There are many Democratic candidates running in NH’s 1st District. It is crucial that we choose the one with the best chance of beating the Trump Republican. Among the many reasons that I support Mindi Messmer is thinking about which candidate can best debate the other party’s candidate.”

Chris Liquori, a Bernie Sanders New Hampshire delegate in 2016, also came out for Messmer.

“Mindi Messmer is not afraid to make waves. She is not afraid to take on the fights she has been told she cannot win. I’ve seen her outwork the opposition time and time again and get real results,” Liquori said.

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Democratic hopeful for governor Kelly used her second ad to go after Sununu on money he’s taken from big energy.

“We’re getting slammed with higher electric bills. Eversource is making huge profits. The governor? He collected more than $50,000 from Eversource and vetoed two renewable energy bills,” Kelly said.

“I’m Molly Kelly. I’m running for governor because I think that’s got to change. As a state senator, I stood up to the big utilities.”

The Republican Governors Association said Kelly is a hypocrite, having taken money from the predecessor Public Service Co. of New Hampshire when Kelly was in the state Senate.

“Kelly also did not appear to have any issues with former Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan taking money from Eversource to pay for her inaugural activities when she was sworn in,” the RGA said in a statement.

Now, desperate for momentum while national political observers sour on Democrat chances of winning New Hampshire’s highest office this November, Kelly is lobbing hypocritical attacks at Governor Sununu, hoping they will breathe life into her struggling campaign.”

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The race remains in the background but the challenge to Secretary of State Bill Gardner that plays out before the Legislature after this November’s general election continues to heat up.

Earlier this week, former 2016 nominee for governor and Gardner rival Colin Van Ostern called upon the incumbent to begin to push for setting up motor vehicle substations in all of New Hampshire’s college towns in time for 2020.

That’s because this will be the first election in which the conservative changes to election registration laws will take place. They put some teeth behind the requirements that those claiming new residency as voters have to soon after get a driver’s license and register a car in New Hampshire.

Gardner supporters pointed out the DMV is under the province of the Department of Safety, not Gardner’s Department of State.

Meanwhile, Peter Sullivan, a former Democratic state legislator and past alderman in Manchester, calls for creating a NH Voters Corps to increase voter registration.

The corps would be teams of volunteers to work with schools and community groups to conduct voter registration drives, Sullivan said.

“New Hampshire’s voter registration laws are among the most restrictive and inconvenient in the country. Prospective voters have limited opportunities to register to vote before election day. I want to make the process easier by bringing the registration process to people in their own communities” he added.

Granite Status

New Hampshire Highland Games
Friday, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.,
Saturday, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.,
Sunday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Full Throttle Weekend
Saturday, 8 a.m.

Portsmouth Fairy House Tour
Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Thomas Rhett
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.