NH Republican State Chairman Stephen Stepanek knows he’s got a tough fundraising act to follow from a week ago but believes he’s got just the right big name to do it.

That’s Lara Lea Trump who has just confirmed she would headline the NH GOP’s spring fundraiser April 2 at the Radisson Hotel Nashua. She’s the wife of Eric Trump, the President’s son, and has been a frequent surrogate speaker for POTUS at both political and special issue events.

“I’m really excited about this and I think it speaks to the fact that New Hampshire is on the map with the presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee,” Stepanek said Wednesday.

“The next time I hope it is the President we have as the headliner but I fully appreciate he’s a pretty busy guy right now.”

Stepanek made the announcement days after the New Hampshire Democratic Party raised $400,000 at its McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Manchester.

“This will be a general admission event and of course we’ll also have a VIP reception where photographs can be taken, etc,” Stepanek said.

His goal is to sell 1,000 tickets, roughly the paid attendance at the Democrats’ event last Friday starring Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

“There’s no question the Democrats under Chairman Ray Buckley have figured out how to monetize these events. We’ll seek to do the same thing. This will not be a sit-down dinner. There will be great hors d’oeuvre served because that way you can get so many more people into the venue,” Stepanek said.

Sununu reveals details of Washington, D.C., trip

Gov. Chris Sununu’s office produced a full itinerary from his five-day trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association perhaps to rebut the narrative of state Democratic leaders that he was just “socializing with the Washington elite.”

Among the events included Sununu’s team listed were meetings with the Japanese Business Federation to discuss potential U.S. investments and a session on prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youths with Save the Children advocates including actress Jennifer Garner, as trustee of the organization.

Sununu took advantage of his one-on-one meetings with Vice President Mike Pence at the Naval Observatory and later with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow to press for support of the new United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal while removing the harmful tariffs.

Before returning last Monday afternoon, Sununu attended NGA sessions on the opioid crisis, mental health care and student safety.

This NGA event came a week after the Democratic Governors Association held its winter meeting and one of its attendees was Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, who hasn’t rule out his own run for governor in 2020.

Shaheen fights sexism on Senate committee

Politico posted a lengthy profile story that maintained Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, has faced intimidating and belittling behavior at times from Trump administration officials while serving as the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The story opens with an account that concluded Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was dismissive of Shaheen as she asked whether President Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about downgrading the U.S. presence in Syria in their recent closed-door summit in Finland.

Shaheen said the tough response she got wasn’t uncommon from an administration whose top foreign policy has been largely dominated by men. The post of United Nations ambassador has been one of the few exceptions.

“There have been some people who have appeared before the Foreign Relations Committee—more the Foreign Relations Committee than the Armed Services Committee, interestingly enough—who have been a little condescending,” Shaheen said in the report.

The senator and former governor Shaheen is no shrinking wallflower. She has been widely credited for leading some of the Senate’s foreign policy initiatives including several with bipartisan support.

In this piece, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., lamented too often Shaheen has been forced to carry the debate on what have been seen more as women’s issues.

“It should not be her burden to bear—to be the member of the committee who most often raises issues surrounding global women’s health,” Murphy said. “The rest of us should probably step up to the plate and take that responsibility off of her.”

Liquor commission names new COO

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission chose to promote from within to replace its Chief Operating Officer Dan St. Hilaire of Concord who recently became a superior court judge.

Rosemary Wiant was confirmed by the Executive Council to serve as COO and director of administration. That’s a move up from her position as legal counsel for the agency since 2017.

Her state service included eight years working as an assistant attorney general and a stint with the Banking Department following work as a lawyer for the Disabilities Rights Center in Concord.

Kuster goes after EPA

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH, used one of her first hearings in the House Energy and Commerce Committee she’s now on to push Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine on the agency’s plan to address PFAS contamination in drinking water.

Kuster and the entire delegation has been vocal in its disappointment the EPA action plan doesn’t contain enough teeth in it that ensure it would lead to a lower drinking water standard for these contaminants.

“In New Hampshire, we’ve seen the damaging consequences of groundwater pollution, and I’m deeply concerned that the EPA’s failure to hold polluters and bad actors responsible will send a message to others that they can disregard environmental regulations,” Kuster said.

“EPA’s enforcement penalties last year declined to their lowest level since 1994. This sends a message that our laws and the safety of our communities are not a priority. This is an unacceptable, dangerous precedent to set, and I will continue my efforts to pursue policies that protect communities in New Hampshire and across the country.”NH GOP pushes back on Born Alive billA longtime abortion opponent, Stepanek said he believes New Hampshire’s two senators will regret voting against a bill that would have threatened prison time for doctors who don’t try to save the lives of infants born alive during failed abortions.

Only three Senate Democrats supported the anti-abortion bill. Shaheen and Sen. Maggie Hassan were joined in their opposition by all the six Senate Democrats either running or exploring a 2020 presidential run.

The 53-44 vote for it fell seven votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

”Polls have shown as many as 80 percent of people in New Hampshire do not support abortions in the third trimester,” Stepanek said. “I’m not sure they fully appreciate how far out of the mainstream they are.”

Opponents noted the rarity of such births and cited laws already making it a crime to kill newborn babies which they said made the bill unnecessary.

During a speech on the floor, Shaheen said the badly-written bill would have violated a woman’s constitutional rights.

“It would significantly interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and it would pose new obstacles to a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own decisions about her reproductive health. Regardless of what the intent of the legislation is, the fact is the way it is written, it intimidates doctors with the threat of criminal liability for performing safe and legal abortion,” Shaheen said.

”It will have a chilling effect on the ability of women to access the services they need in the United States.”Hassan backs trimming presidential perks.   Sen. Hassan has agreed to cosponsor a bipartisan move to limit the taxpayer-financed benefits for former U.S. presidents.

The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2019 would impose a cap on former presidents’ allowances which are currently unlimited and pay for office space, staff, travel, etc.

The bill would grant former presidents a $200,000 a year pension and $200,000 a year allowance. Those presidents would have the allowance reduced dollar for dollar for outside income they receive in excess of $400,000 each year.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has championed this measure that Congress passed but former President Obama vetoed in 20156.

“This legislation would not affect funding for a former president’s security and is a common-sense step to ensure that taxpayer dollars are well-spent. I am glad to work with Senator Joni Ernst on this issue, and I am committed to working with members of both parties to find innovative ways to maintain fiscal responsibility within the federal government,” Hassan said in a statement.

Castro picks NH state rep to run campaign

Former HUD Secretary and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro hired Nashua State Rep. Manny Espitia to direct his campaign in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

Espitia is in his first term representing Nashua’s Ward 4 and serves on the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee.

Nashua Democrats completed the clean sweep of all seats in the New Hampshire House during last November’s midterm elections. Espitia was executive director of the Nashua Democratic City Committee during the 2018 campaign.  River, historical park measure crosses finish line.  The bill to protect the Nashua River and also to designate the Saint-Gauden’s site in Cornish as a national historical park cleared the U.S. House and is headed to the President’s desk for his signature.

The state’s entire congressional delegation has made the case and managed to insert these provisions into this measure that reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

Former NH staffer heads manufacturers lobby

Alyssa Shooshan was recently named chief of staff of the National Association of Manufacturers, one of the more influential trade groups on Capitol Hill.

She’s been at NAM since 2010 but had 17 years experience in the federal government much of it with former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH.

Her last role for Gregg before joining NAM was as the senator’s chief of staff which prompted longtime Gregg staffer and campaign operative Joel Maiola to tweet in tribute, “Once a chief of staff always a chief of staff.”