Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Secretary of State race getting louder, more bitter

This is the final week before the election so that can mean only one thing: Here come the attacks.

Bedford Republican state Senate nominee Dan Hynes was the target of a mailing over the weekend -- a stinging brochure from the New Hampshire Democratic Party that summed up his conviction in 2008 for theft by extortion.

The case was 12 years old and came soon after Hynes was admitted to practice law in New Hampshire. He wrote “cease and desist letters” to 19 hair salons accusing them of violating the law by charging men and women different prices for a haircut.

The husband of one salon owner, Benjamin Nardi, contacted state prosecutors and agreed to take part in a sting in which he made a $500 payment to Hynes.  This led to Hynes' arrest.

Former attorney general Kelly Ayotte’s office prosecuted Hynes and he was sentenced to 12 months in jail, all suspended on good behavior and placed on probation for a year.

He was suspended from practicing law but has since gotten back his law license.

“Theft by Extortion. Not the kind of credentials you’d expect from a candidate running for State Senate,” the Democratic mailing states.

“Dan Hynes targeted woman-owned businesses for extortion.”

Hynes said he's owned what happened but voters elected him to a House seat knowing about this matter.

"I made a mistake in the past and voters have trusted me to represent them," Hynes said.

"I expected to be attacked on this issue but it is Democratic mudslinging this is what they do.

"I know my opponent has had legal controversies as well in her past but I am just trying to run on my record."

Jeanne Dietsch of Peterborough is the Democratic opponent.

This was not the first time this came up in an election campaign.

In 2014 Hynes opposed then-Senate president Peter Bragdon, a Milford Republican in a GOP primary.

He won his current seat in the NH House in 2016.

It got even nastier in a Hillsborough County state representative race in the towns of Windsor and Hillsborough.

The flyer includes the image of someone who looks like Lenin with an ultra-left-leaning activist standing next to him.

“Red flag laws, state-controlled education, the Stalin playbook worked so well in the USSR, isn’t it time we brought it to NH?” the flyer began.

“There’s an answer – more laws; more benefits for the people, more obedience from the children, more restrictions on the proletariat all paid for by the bourgeoisie who will do anything to avoid handing over your fair share of their property.

“But you won’t get those laws by voting Republican. You can only get them by voting Democrat. In Dist. 38 that means voting for Democrats Chris Balch and James Bosman.”

In an email alert, Democratic challenger Balch accused state Rep. Joseph Valera, R-Windsor, of sending the message.

“(He) doesn't like that Jim and I stand for funding schools adequately, dealing with the opioid epidemic, working to save the environment, and keeping guns out of the hands of those not entitled to possess them, so he resorts to attack ads rather than dialogue,” Balch charged.

Telephone messages left for Valera were not answered.


Citizens Strong, a group led by former Obama 2008 campaign researchers, made a little mischief by taking the website domain names of Republican officeholders in New Hampshire, including House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, who hadn't reserved their own.

If you visit, you would see the group highjacked the site and installed their own negative bio about the House GOP leader, including this slap.

“Pfizer’s (drug maker’s) been enthusiastically thrusting thousands of dollars into Dick’s engorged party fund, the Committee to Elect House Republicans, for years,” the website says. “That $5,000 donation was just a drop in the bucket. It’s really touching to see how Dick and Pfizer work hard together to make a loving relationship last.”


The race for the 1st Congressional District must be getting close in the final days, because the Nancy Pelosi-connected House Majority PAC was leaving nothing to chance.

The House Democratic leadership PAC, nearly six months ago, had reserved TV times in support of their nominee.

But when the final week started the final debate was held Monday; it looked like they were confident Democratic nominee Chris Pappas of Manchester would hold on to defeat Republican Eddie Edwards of Dover.

Not so fast.

The PAC purchased nearly $700,000 of TV ad time for the last six days, all on a 30-second spot that savaged Edwards on health care reform.

“Eddie Edwards supports a disastrous health care plan that strips protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” the ad states.

Its only factual reference was to an anti-Obamacare vote written about in the Union Leader in July 2017, before Edwards was even a candidate.

“Eddie Edwards won’t put the Granite State first,” said House Majority PAC Press Secretary Hannah Blatt. “Instead, he supports his party’s devastating health care plan – increasing premiums and prescription costs. Eddie Edwards simply can’t be trusted to protect health care for hardworking New Hampshire families.”

Edwards said that’s a lie.

“I have said time and time again that I support ensuring that pre-existing conditions are covered in any healthcare reform. I have talked at length about working to lower prescription drug costs,” Edwards said.

“The fact is that national Democrats are terrified. If this race were not close, they would not be spending over a half-million dollars in a last-ditch ad that outright lies about my position on these important issues.”

Right on cue Wednesday, Endicott College released a poll that had this race a dead heat, with Pappas leading Edwards, 48-46% within the margin of error.

Democratic Party leaders insist their own internals have Pappas out in front by a more comfortable margin.


The Pappas campaign’s closing endorsement could be his secret weapon if he does win Tuesday.

The owner of the iconic Puritan Backroom Restaurant released the names of 70 business leaders supporting his campaign.

The list includes Manchester businessman Dick Anagnost, former Somersworth Mayor George Bald and Portsmouth travel and tourism exec Dawn Wivell.

“As a lifelong Granite Stater, small business owner, and proponent of women's rights, I endorse Chris Pappas because he has proven his values time and time again,” said Erin Allgood of Dover, principal consultant at Allgood Eats Local. “Chris understands the importance of looking out for his employees and has long supported them by paying livable wages and providing benefits like health insurance and paid time off."

You may recall during the primary he had Democratic rivals critical because the National Federation of Independent Business had said nice things about Pappas during his three runs for council.

Now it’s a major calling card as the race comes down the stretch.


For the third time in this race, Democratic challenger Molly Kelly of Harrisville raised more money than Gov. Chris Sununu, a Newfields Republican.

Sununu has the edge in the most money raised for the entire campaign, $1.6 million to $1.2 million.

Kelly had spent nearly $1.2 million, Sununu had spent $1.3 million, according to finance reports filed Wednesday.

While Kelly was just about cashed out, Sununu still had nearly $300,000 in his account.


What will likely go down as the most expensive Executive Council race in modern New Hampshire history also comes to a close.

Democratic attorney Gray Chynoweth of Manchester has raised more than $227,000, while former Manchester mayor Ted Gatsas has gathered nearly $113,000.

In the closing days, Chynoweth spent roughly half of his money on Democratic committees to help with get-out-the-vote efforts.

The Manchester Police Patrolmen also endorsed Chynoweth, which isn’t a surprise given that Gatsas sometimes blocked employee contracts because the cost exceeded the city’s spending cap.

"Voters have a clear choice in this race: the new ideas and business leadership of Gray Chynoweth, or the old politics and legacy of mismanagement that has defined Ted Gatsas,” the union said in a statement.

After several joint events or debates that Gatsas missed, the two finally got together at the Jewish temple in Manchester last Sunday.

During a telephone interview, Gatsas said it was more important for him to meet voters in the sprawling Fourth District than to make every joint appearance.

“This is all about turnout. If our supporters come to the polls, I think we’ll be just fine,” Gatsas said.


On Wednesday, 2nd District Republican challenge Steve Negron of Nashua signed the term limits pledge.

“I think you’ve got to walk the walk and I have,” said Negron who predicted after Tuesday’s televised debate that he’ll pull off what would be a shocking upset over three-term Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH.

For her part, Kuster said she agrees that members of Congress should not serve indefinitely.

“I’m not sure a fixed number is the right approach. There will come a time when Brad and I decide it’s time to retire but there’s still a lot of bipartisan work to do,” Kuster said after the debate.


We send regrets to the family of longtime, former state senator Sheila Roberge, R-Bedford, who passed away in Florida earlier this week.

She will be returned to New Hampshire to come to her final rest with her husband, the late banking commissioner Roland Roberge.

Senator Roberge served during those glory days when the Legislature wasn’t always partisan and the debate was almost always civil.


New Hampshire lost another statesman last Sunday with the passing of former revenue commissioner Stan Arnold, 76.

Arnold was credited with bringing the state Department of Revenue Administration into the modern age of technology and professionalism, working for both Republican and Democratic governors prior to his retirement.

After stepping down he formed the New Hampshire State and Local Tax Forum, which became a clearinghouse for information about public policy.

Arnold rarely mentioned publicly his exemplary military record, which included a 24-year career in the Army and service during the Vietnam War in which he received the Bronze Star along with other honors.


Two left-leaning organizations got together to remind voters that New Hampshire is among a minority of states that automatically allow convicted felons to vote upon their release from prison.

Granite State Progress and the Granite State Organizing Project pointed out NH and 13 other states restore voting to felons automatically when they are no longer incarcerated.

Vermont and Maine allow felons to keep their right to vote even while they are in jail.

“We want to make sure that every Granite Stater who is eligible to vote has the information they need to participate in our democracy,” said Sarah Jane Knoy, executive director of the organizing project.


U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., will be in the state today making stops in Portsmouth, Concord and Nashua before keynoting the Manchester Democrats Countdown to Victory event tonight.

A potential 2020 presidential candidate, Swalwell postponed his first testing-the-waters visit to New Hampshire because his wife had gone into labor.


U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, was featured on “60 Minutes” last Sunday night talking about America’s strategy of supporting the Kurds in Syria after she visited the country with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. 

“The strategy has been 'Let's defeat ISIS and we're well on our way there,'” Shaheen said. “This really has happened against very long odds with very few Americans with very little money.”


Today, Landya B. McCafferty becomes the first woman to be named as chief judge of the U.S. District Court in New Hampshire.

McCafferty replaces Judge Joseph N. Laplante, who finished his seven-year term at the top and will remain in active service.

She’s been a district court judge for five years.