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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Pappas gains more supporters in run for Congress

May 24. 2018 5:16PM

Chris Pappas has been the one 1st Congressional District Democratic candidate to gather the lion’s share of prominent endorsements thus far.

But the latest group to get on board, while not A-list names, could be the most valuable.

The Status has confirmed Pappas, a current executive councilor and past state representative, has a majority of Democratic members from this district in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

The 41 that have signed on the dotted line for Pappas run across the ideological spectrum of the party and include ranking Democrats, back-benchers, veterans and newly minted members of the House.

“I am proud to have the support of local elected leaders from across New Hampshire’s 1st District. We have a strong tradition of citizen-led government in New Hampshire. State representatives are on the front lines in their communities working to deliver results for their constituents, and I am proud to have the support of this tremendous group of legislators in our campaign for Congress,” Pappas said.

There are 78 House Democrats that come from communities in the 1st District.

Durham Democratic Rep. Marjorie Smith, a 10-term incumbent, was chairman of the House Finance Committee while Pappas was a member.

“He represented then, and still does, the ideal public servant who directs his intelligence, integrity, and energy to meet the needs of his constituents,” Smith said. “We could not do better than to have Chris represent us in the U.S. Congress.”

Rep. Edie DesMarais of Wolfeboro is one of the newest House members winning in a dark red Republican district that helped set off a chain reaction of Democratic victories in special elections that started last year.

“After hearing all of the candidates speak, I am supporting Chris because I feel he is the most knowledgeable and articulate about the wide range of issues critical to the health, economic, and environmental welfare of the people of New Hampshire,” DesMarais said.

The nine-person Democratic field in this primary includes two current members of the House, Rye Rep. Mindi Messner and Manchester Rep. Mark MacKenzie.

Nearly half of Pappas’ group comes from his home city with 17 House members from Manchester, five from Dover and three each from Laconia and Portsmouth.

The value that this group offers is in such a large field and what could be a relatively small primary turnout, having this many people in the community talking up the Pappas candidacy can only help.

Click here to view a complete list of all the House members backing Pappas.

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Thanks to near full employment, Gov. Chris Sununu got to announce another tax cut Wednesday, this one a big decline in the unemployment tax paid by all employers in New Hampshire.

The cut is 1.5 percent of the rate.

During the last recession, the Legislature had to raise unemployment taxes to ensure there was enough surplus in the fund to pay for benefits.

That law then triggered an automatic tax cut once the unemployment fund reaches surplus benchmarks.

“Today, more people are working in the State of New Hampshire than ever before,” Sununu said. “For the first time since 2002, employers will see a 1.5% reduction in their Unemployment Insurance taxes — a direct result of our pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda.”

Unemployment Security Commissioner George Copadis said even workers who lose jobs don’t end up collecting benefits for very long.

“Because the Unemployment Trust Fund has reached levels not seen in over 15 years, employers will receive full statutory rate reductions later this year, while still maintaining Trust Fund solvency,” Copadis said.

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Garth Corriveau, Democratic candidate for Executive Council, has found an experienced campaign operative to manage the effort.

Teddy Echeverria was a regional field director for the NextGen Climate Action New Hampshire campaign in 2014.

Since then, Echeverria worked as a paralegal in D.C. and was finance director for Bob Massie’s campaign for governor of Massachusetts in 2017.

“Working with a proven progressive and community leader with a track record of delivering results like Garth is an exciting opportunity,” said Echeverria. “I’m looking forward to getting to work alongside the strong coalition Garth has built in the short time since launching the campaign and electing him to the Executive Council in the fall.”

Corriveau will have his campaign kickoff June 20 at MoeJoe’s Restaurant in Manchester.

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Republican State Chair Jeanie Forrester went after the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation for opposing the so-called “Right to Try” legislation that cleared the U.S. House on the way to the desk of President Trump who will sign it.

New Hampshire is one of 40 states that has its own right to try law that allows the terminally ill to access experimental treatments even if they are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The federal law will allow patients in states without these laws to get treatment without having to make an application to the federal government.
Forrester praised Sununu for endorsing the policy and said it should have had bipartisan support here.

“Governor Sununu was right to advocate for right-to-try legislation, and thankfully the legislation passed despite New Hampshire’s congressional delegation voting against this policy.”

Rep. Annie Kuster voted for the bill.

Rep. Shea-Porter said she’s seen suffering in her own family but this bill was ill-advised.

“My father died from prostate cancer that metastasized to his bones. We would have tried anything, so of course I support providing options to terminally ill patients who would not be helped by established treatment options, but I could not support the bill in its current form for a number of reasons,” Shea-Porter said.

“The FDA already approves 99 percent of all requests, and in emergencies, the decision can be made in 24 hours. Under the bill, pharmaceutical companies can say ‘yes’ to some patients and ‘no’ to others with the same disease, so it does not guarantee a patient’s right to try. It puts all the power in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies.”

Shea-Porter said it was also rushed through the House without even a public hearing.

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The New Hampshire Democratic Party released updated dates for its sponsored forums of the 1st Congressional District candidates with locations after the first one to follow. All events will start at 6:30 p.m.

June 7- Carroll County at Kennett Middle School in Conway.

Aug. 2- Rockingham County

Aug. 9- Belknap County

Aug.16- Strafford County

Aug. 30- Manchester City

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The New Hampshire GOP is planning a festive time today at the Derry VFW to commemorate Military Appreciation Month.

Veterans and their families across New Hampshire are invited for a free BBQ at the Derry post at 18 Railroad Ave. starting at 6 p.m.

Paul Chevalier of Hudson, sergeant major and retired U.S. Marine Corps, is organizing the event.

It couldn’t come at a better time as the U.S. Senate gave the last vote needed to pass the so-called MISSION Act which strengthens the VA system and supports community-based care.

This bill extends the life of the so-called VA Choice program that allows New Hampshire vets without a full-service hospital to receive care closer to home and also expands the VA caregiver program to all veterans regardless of when they served.

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The New Hampshire Democratic Party maintains Sununu has failed to act or failed to lead on recommendations of his own Millenial Advisory Council.

State party leaders poured over the council’s first report in December and maintains it has not led to Sununu’s greatest hits.

“A 22-page report, it detailed millennial priorities in the state and advised specific actions for Governor Sununu to take to remedy their concerns,” according to a Democratic Party memo The Status has obtained.

“Sununu adopted none. The report detailed four key issues: housing, education, environment and workforce development, all of which Sununu has underfunded, done nothing on, or fought against.”

In one example, the report decries the “the cost of property taxes in New Hampshire ... makes it difficult for young people just starting out to afford housing.”

Democrats criticized Sununu’s support for education choice scholarships that Finance Chairman Neal Kurk, R-Weare, said would result in a property tax hike.

As governor, Sununu has led efforts to increase many state aid programs including public kindergarten, red-listed bridges and water and sewer projects, all of which would have to be paid for with local tax money if the state wasn’t providing these grants.

“From creating a state-wide full-day kindergarten program to establishing the Governor’s Scholarship Program, and increasing funding for the Community College System, Governor Sununu has signaled to millennials that their concerns and ideas are a top priority,” said Benjamin Vihstadt, Sununu’s chief spokesman.

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With warmer weather in a New Hampshire election year, can straw polls be far behind?

In the 1st District, former liquor law enforcement chief Eddie Edwards of Dover won the first one in that race at the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women’s Lilac Luncheon in Manchester.

Edwards finished with 73 votes (68 percent) well ahead of State Sen. Andy Sanborn with 26 (24 percent) and newly-declared candidate Bruce Crochetiere with 9 votes (8 percent).

“We have the right message of bringing the principles of honesty, integrity, and service back to the 1st District,” Edwards said.

“In addition, we also have consistently shown that we have the best grassroots infrastructure necessary for victory. Both will be imperative for conservatives to win in November.”

State Rep. and 2nd District Republican hopeful Steve Negron of Nashua won his second straw poll at the same New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women event.

Negron got 49 percent of the vote and follows up on a straw poll win he had in February at the Hopkinton Republican Town Committee meeting.

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There’s more staffing up going on in the 1st District Democratic race as Deaglan McEachen brought on his field staff led by Ali Hannigan-Brokenshire who worked on the first-in-the-nation primary campaign of Bernie Sanders here after several state campaigns in Vermont.

Also joining are Abigail Robbins who will lead Rockingham and Strafford counties, Blake Tyler leading Manchester along with Hillsborough and Merrimack Counties and Everett Law heading up Belknap and Carroll County efforts.

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Former Democratic nominee for governor and ex-State Sen. Mark Fernald of Sharon announced he’s seeking to come out of political retirement.

Earlier this week, Fernald confirmed he will be one of now four Democrats running in District 9 for the seat that Andy Sanborn is leaving to run for Congress.

Fernald’s last bid was a losing one when he was the party nominee in 2002 and lost to the last Republican before Sununu to become governor, Craig Benson.

A centerpiece of that campaign was Fernald’s support for an income tax.

This time he’s got no such broad-based tax plan but believes an independent commission should be formed to study the revenue structure.

Three other Democrats — Jeanne Dietsch of Peterborough, Bruce Fox of Dublin and Lee Nyquist of New Boston — have already announced they too are running.

State Rep. Terry Wolf, R-Bedford, is also running for the seat.

Rep. Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford and Andy Sanborn’s wife, has expressed some interest in running for this seat but also is considering a run for re-election.

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Last October, Kari Dennis Lerner of Chester was a Democratic upset upstart who some saw going even farther than the state House seat she won in a Rockingham County district that was nearly 2-1 Republican by registration.

The real estate agent Lerner narrowly defeated former Republican State Rep. James Headd of Auburn.

But instead Lerner is having to leave New Hampshire for her health as she informed her followers on Facebook late last week.

“Last summer in the middle of my campaign my hands started going numb,” Lerner wrote. “Turns out I have degenerative spinal disease & can’t dig, rake, shovel, use the snow blower or haul wood. So, the house has to be sold.”

She and her husband are moving back to Annapolis, MD where they had first met.

“If we have to move anyway, why not where you can sail 12 months of the year yet still have the 4 seasons?” she declared.

All kinds of well-wishes poured in from friends and supporters.

In a general election, this seat from Chester, Auburn and Sandown could be one of the Democrats’ toughest seats to try and defend.

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