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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: AG's deputy pick likely to go over very well

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

July 04. 2018 10:47PM




There were other good choices but Attorney General Gordon MacDonald could not have done better with his pick of Jane Young as deputy to replace the venerable Ann Rice, who retired last month.

Young is a barracuda in court, a stickler for administrative detail and getting the job done once and right, plus she has the finest media skills matched only by her boss.

Rice will be missed by senior administrators of state agencies who respected her counsel and appreciated her responsiveness.

Among the many who had plenty to offer if they were given this role include Associate Attorneys General James Vara and Anne Edwards along with Senior Assistant Jeffrey Strelzin, to name a few.

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New Republican State Chairman Wayne MacDonald said he will make a policy break from the past two chairs, for whom he has great respect.

Due to the rough financial shape of the state GOP, MacDonald said he won’t seek reimbursements from the party for expenses as both former chairs Jeanie Forrester of Meredith and Jennifer Horn of Nashua had when they ran the party.

“This is no reflection on them at all, they were doing what was appropriate and allowed under the bylaws,” MacDonald said.

Forrester received $589.72 for expenses in the most recent financial report.

“I simply feel this is the proper course given the state of our finances right now,” MacDonald said during an interview.

He credited Forrester with starting some excellent training and recruitment sessions, beefing up the organizational wing of the party apparatus that was in need of more muscle.

“You will see over time she set some things in motion that will come to fruition. I am a big admirer of the job she did and she’ll be missed,” MacDonald said.

A Derry Republican and longtime staffer with the state Department of Health and Human Services, MacDonald is familiar with the role of stepping in to take over for a chair who departed early.

He played the same part when former Chairman Jack Kimball of Dover stepped aside.

“Every chair brings different skills to this job; I’ve got mine,” MacDonald said.

But MacDonald said he won’t surpass one ex-chairman who turned 79 earlier this week.

John Sununu was a former governor, a former White House chief of staff with the most credible and strongest contacts with Republicans around the country and freedom-loving leaders around the world,” MacDonald said. “There’s no doubt he will go down as one of our best state chairmen in history.”

This was a glory time (2011-12) when the state GOP more than competed with Democrats financially as it had movement conservative Bill O’Brien as speaker of the House along with Peter Bradgon and then Chuck Morse as presidents of the Senate.

“We’ll get back there; it’ll take some time but I’m very optimistic about our future as a party with such a popular governor and strong, respected leaders running our Legislature,” MacDonald added.

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Anyone watching the parades and other public ceremonies this week has seen plenty of candidates with their entourages.

The Merrimack parade on Wednesday had strong contingents from Democratic congressional candidates Chris Pappas of Manchester and Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Steve Marchand of Portsmouth and Republican contender Eddie Edwards of Dover.

But what you didn’t see this week was much activity from the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Chairman Raymond Buckley discovered more than a decade ago as executive director that it was a lost cause keeping the party offices open when the attention of voters was on family functions, beach runs and where they could get ample ice.

“We used to work that week and there would be days with no phone calls, no one returning my calls. I just decided it’s a good week to give my team a breather so they come back rested and ready for the fight,” Buckley said.

And how come you didn’t see Buckley out and about at these New Hampshire functions?

“I head for the Cape,” said Buckley, the first openly gay state chairman and head of the national association of state party chairs. “Where on the Cape? Well Provincetown, of course!”

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Facts are stubborn things.

Those supporting gun control in New Hampshire were so fixated on Sununu’s failure to address it in his School Safety Task Force report that they repeated the charge over and over for months on end.

Some major Democratic candidates and some media outlets reported the task force’s complete neglect of the topic after the final product came off the presses.

We’re feeling charitable so we’ll relegate the identity of these accusers to the trash can of recent political history.

That’s because they were wrong.

You don’t have to like what the task force said about guns but they didn’t ignore it.

Anyone who would read the report would know this including the first two of the 59 recommendations.

The findings open with, “Convene a study group to determine if the implementation of extreme risk protection orders is right for New Hampshire and convene a study group to examine New Hampshire background checks for the purchase of firearms to determine if changes are needed.”

Extreme risk orders refers to so-called ‘red flag” legislation or the temporary removal of guns from risky individuals that is now the law in eight states, including Vermont and Connecticut.

“The Task Force considered the issues of ‘red flag’ legislation and background checks and determined that study groups should be formed to examine these issues further,” the report concluded. “Study groups can give these issues the appropriate time and attention they deserve to properly determine if changes in these areas are right for New Hampshire.”

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Email news and tips to granitestatus@unionleader.com.

In 2016, it was one of the most expensive races but targeted Nashua Republican Sen. Kevin Avard hung on and won his seat in the face of an unprecedented, special-interest push from a national gun-control group.

In 2018, this won’t get a whole lot easier for the singing senator as Avard is known as in Concord.

First, he faces a competitive primary from two-term Ward 2 Alderman Richard Dowd.

Then there’s a lively Democratic primary between former state Rep. Melanie Levesque of Brookline and Thomas Falter of Greenville.

We knew plenty about Levesque, a telecommunications consultant and one of the first African-American women elected to the New Hampshire Legislature who served on the Elections Law Committee.

And she’s solidly come out of the gate having raised more than $24,000 to start from the likes of the Future Now PAC ($5,000), former state Sen. and GOP candidate for governor James Squires ($500), Granite State Teamsters ($500) and gay rights activist Brain Rater of Hollis ($1,000).

Falter had a pretty impressive, opening ante of his own raising $40,100.

A longtime director of apprenticeship glazing programs, Falter got 22 different contributions from those with glazing or glazier in their occupation line and a $25,000 check from the Painters Allied Trades PAC of Roslindale, Mass.

Many local unions supported Falter, including the New Hampshire AFL-CIO ($1,000), Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire ($1,000), Plumbers and Pipefitters ($1,000) and the Granite State Teamsters ($500).

Avard proved to former New City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PAC that money alone doesn’t win this seat.

He’s starting from behind, having raised $11,300 in the past year and a half. Avard did pick it up a bit in recent weeks with big checks from Legislative Solutions ($1,000), former GOP Chair Steve Duprey ($1,000), New Hampshire Fireworks Association, New Hampshire Campground Association and the NH Realtors Association (all $500 apiece).

Once again, this becomes a race to watch.

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Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, has already gotten the message from 2018.

That is no challenge is an easy challenge.

So while Conway businessman Steve Steiner is mounting an attempt to beat Bradley in the September primary, Bradley has gotten to work (read $$$).

The campaign formally has really just begun yet Bradley already has more than $110,000 in the bank.

Over the past few months he’s raised nearly $45,000 and spent only $6,000 to build up that war chest.

Bradley’s biggest donors of late have been trash hauler Wheelabrator Technologies ($3,500), former Senate Majority Leader Bob Clegg’s lobbying firm Legislative Solutions Inc. ($2,000), auto dealer and community college trustee Paul Holloway ($2,000), Indeck Energy ($1,500) and the New Hampshire Motor Transport Association ($2,000).

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1st CD Democratic hopeful Pappas released on July 4th a video entitled “Patriotism” that tells the story of his family’s journey to the U.S. and also criticizes Trump immigration policies.

“Patriotism doesn’t fit neatly on a bumper sticker. It’s a belief that this country can create a better future for everyone,” Pappas said in the video. “We can’t succeed as a country if the American Dream is a quaint notion from the early 20th century that has no relevance to us today. We have to make the American Dream a realistic possibility for every man, woman, and child who reaches for it.”

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When Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., traveled to Turkey last week and met with an imprisoned American pastor she had some leverage lobbying the reelected president for that prisoner’s release.

Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. and Shaheen have gotten into the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act a restriction on the transfer of American F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Shaheen were the first to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since he won another term on June 24.

They pushed hard for Erdogan to consider letting out Pastor Andrew Brunson who since October 2016 has faced up to 35 years in prison for what Shaheen called unsubstantiated charges related to terrorism and espionage.

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Now here’s something you don’t see very often.

There was an interest group celebrating the veto of Gov. Chris Sununu to legislation before it had been released.

The powerful Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers could not contain its excitement so it revealed the news that the first-term governor was to veto legislation that would create licensing requirements for autonomous vehicle operation and testing (HB 314).

“Vehicle safety is an integral component of today’s modern automobiles,” said Damon Shelby Porter, vice president of government affairs for the lobby.

“Governor Sununu sent a strong message that New Hampshire supports public policy that promotes innovation and life-saving technologies.”

Critics maintained the bill was unprecedented and would create fundamental misalignment between the proper roles of the state and federal governments when it comes to vehicle safety.

The Self-Driving Coalition for Safety Streets had chimed in as well.

“As New Hampshire continues to explore these issues, we look forward to working with New Hampshire on the right policy solutions to make fully self-driving vehicles a reality,” said David Strickland, general counsel for that group.

Then the mystery was solved.

Sununu’s office released the governor’s veto message and it’s email trail says it did go out in mid-afternoon Tuesday and was dated as such.

Somehow it had gone into a cyber black hole and no media outlet reported it.

“House Bill 314 is a flawed bill that does not adequately account for public safety,” Sununu wrote. “This legislation may attract less responsible actors to New Hampshire to develop autonomous vehicle technology and could result in a more dangerous testing environment on New Hampshire’s roads.” .

A former waterways manager for the city of Nashua is the new executive director for the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association.

Madeleine Mineau will head up the agency that played a lead role in the net metering tariff along with advancing electric car regulations and the state’s first energy efficiency resource standard.

NHSEA is the go-to for all things clean energy and energy efficiency in NH and stands poised to continue to make substantive, lasting changes for NH’s energy future,” Mineau said. “I’m excited to work with such a prominent organization with a track record of success in the regulatory and legislative sphere, engaging the business community, and building support for proven cost-saving technologies that benefit everyone.”

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Democratic candidate for governor Marchand unveiled what he considered the most expansive changes in law to remove all existing restrictions on abortion in Hampshire.

Marchand would recognize a “fundamental right of privacy” that would include the right to choose or refuse an abortion and birth control along with public financing of abortions and would repeal the ban on partial birth abortions.

Democratic rival Molly Kelly of Keene follows suit with her proposals next week and claims she’s got an unmatched record for supporting abortion rights.

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Email news and tips to granitestatus@unionleader.com


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