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Election Guide to Democrats for 1st CD: A stampede of candidates seek to replace Shea-Porter

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 08. 2018 10:49PM
Democratic hopefuls introduced during a televised debate for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District at the Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College are, from left, William Martin, Deaglan McEachren, Mark MacKenzie, Mindi Messmer, Chris Pappas, Naomi Andrews, Lincoln Soldati, Paul Cardinal, Terence O'Rourke, Maura Sullivan and Levi Sanders. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool)
Candidate biography information and key issues you find here have been provided by Citizens Count, a nonpartisan nonprofit with a mission of making citizen engagement easier.

You can find information on candidates for local races at or by downloading the Citizens Count NH Voter Guide, a free mobile app that lets users view profiles of every candidate, including their experience, position on the issues, and voting records. The app can be downloaded for Android or Apple devices at

When four-term U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter of Rochester decided she would retire from politics this year, she had to know it would touch off some kind of a race in the Democratic primary to replace her.

After all, she was the first Democrat in New Hampshire history to be on the ballot as her party's congressional nominee in six straight elections.

The race became a major stampede - with 11 candidates of varying backgrounds, demographics and political strengths spending this spring and summer traveling up and down the eastern half of the state hoping to seize Shea-Porter's mantle as the party's next change agent.

In reality, it became a tiered race with two who took turns as frontrunners, a half dozen others with something appealing to sell, two unknown newcomers and one wild card.

Executive Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester and former Marine captain and Obama administration figure Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth took turns sharing the 1st District spotlight.

Pappas became quickly the darling of the establishment. Over the course of a council and legislative career, Pappas collected plenty of political IOUs and he cashed them all in during this campaign.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and former Gov. John Lynch led a steady stream of political figures to sign on board the Pappas campaign.

Sullivan has none of that fond familiarity, having moved to New Hampshire less than two years ago after toying with congressional runs in Virginia and Illinois.

What Sullivan does have is campaign cash, more of it ($1.8 million) than any first-time candidate for federal office here has ever raised without going into their own fortune.

Sullivan's work for Obama in the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs won her friends in high places nationally, which has translated to this mountain of money that several of her rivals, including Pappas, have attacked.

In every case, the half-dozen candidates in the second tier are lesser known but claim stronger political activism or a more daring policy agenda than Sullivan and Pappas offer in this race.

There's Naomi Andrews of Epping, who was Shea-Porter's chief of staff in Washington and the manager of two winning Shea-Porter campaigns.

Andrews got into the race late, but Shea-Porter repaid Andrews for her loyalty with her endorsement.

State Rep. Mark MacKenzie of Manchester is the former longtime president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO union. Rochester City Attorney Terence O'Rourke of Alton points to his Iraq War combat deployments and liberal views. State Rep. Mindi Messner of Rye is an environmental scientist who boasts a record of legislative accomplishments. And former Strafford County Attorney Lincoln Soldati of Portsmouth said he's been an unapologetic liberal as the first county prosecutor to support repealing the death penalty.

Deaghan McEachern of Portsmouth is a technology consulting executive whose wife's serious illness motivated him to run. He is the son of three-time gubernatorial candidate and Portsmouth lawyer Paul McEachern.

The two least known candidates are Merrimack businessman Paul Cardinal and William Martin of Manchester, each a husband and father of one son.

Cardinal works with Connection Inc. and is a lifetime resident of the state.

Cardinal said his single mom raised him to respect public service, as she was a near-30 year employee for local town and police departments.

Martin works as an accountant for a non-profit and prides himself for not taking a single dollar in campaign donations from anyone.

This packed race's wild card is Levi Sanders who, as a Claremont resident, doesn't even live in the 1st District. He is the only son of Vermont independent U.S. senator and 2016 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary winner Bernie Sanders, who has played no role in this race, even while making visits to the Granite State for other political purposes.

Health care has remained a major issue in the campaign and Sanders has belittled Pappas and Sullivan for failing to endorse his plan to extend Medicare to everyone who lacks health insurance.

Opposition to Trump's immigration and tax cut policies and support for gun control and abortion rights have also been frequent themes.

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