Updated Granite Reports: Brennan Ward steps down as Rubens campaign political director



TUESDAY, JUNE 24. WARD LEAVES RUBENS’ CAMP. Brennan Ward has left as political director of Jim Rubens’ U.S. Senate campaign, saying he is headed back to Novus Public Affairs to resume his duties as the public relations firm’s vice president.


Ward joined the Rubens campaign in April, but told the Granite Reports “things have really begun to heat up” at Novus Public Affairs and the Rubens campaign is now on solid footing from a policy-making and field operations standpoint.


He joined Novus after serving as Republican National Committee “Victory” operations director in New Hampshire in 2012.


Ward said Novus president Paul Young (a part-owner of the New Hampshire Journal) “has been a mentor to me in New Hampshire,” and so he is pleased to be rejoining the firm on a full-time basis.


Ward has deep North Country roots. He is the son of former state Rep. Brien Ward, grandson of the late state Rep. Kay Ward, and  is a gratuate of Littleton High School and the University of new Hampshire.


Rubens campaign adviser James Basbas said former state employment security director Richard Brothers has assumed a broadened role in the campaign and is now field director.


Both Ward and Basbas said Ward’s departure was amicable.


The departure of Ward follows the exit of field staffer Deirdre Carson in January. She was announced earlier this month as the new field manager for 1st District U.S. House candidate Frank Guinta.



(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)



SUNDAY, JUNE 22, JAMIE, JAMES MOVE ON. Two top consultants for Walt Havenstein’s campaign for governor have left the campaign.



Jamie Burnett and James Sununu of Profile Strategy Group helped Havenstein’s campaign since its inception earlier this year but have now moved on.



Henry Goodwin, spokesman for the Havenstein campaign, told the New Hampshire Journal:



“Jamie and James were instrumental in building the foundations for the campaign and consistently provided outstanding counsel to the team. With the campaign now on a strong footing and building momentum, they have been able to make the decision to step back, in order to focus on Profile Strategy Group’s private sector clients. We are very grateful for all they have done.”


Goodwin added that Darwin Cusack, former cheif of staff for former U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass, “has been informally advising the campaign for some time and continues to do so.”


(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)


SATURDAY, JUNE 21:  SMITH’S REFERENCE CALLED ‘PUZZLING.’ Twice this week, Senate candidate and former Sen. Bob Smith brought up Nazis in radio interviews. Each time, Smith quickly qualified his comments to stress that it was just a harmless comparison.


He says it is “ridiculous” for anyone to suggest otherwise.


Still, one of the references caused a bit of concern at the state GOP, where party chair Jennifer Horn called it “puzzling” and said it “raises questions.” In that comment, Smith invoked the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and mentioned Hitler.


First, though, Smith used what he called “an unfortunate choice of words” Tuesday morning when he said during a radio interview on 90.7 FM that if the United States were to “clear out” Middle Eastern countries where terrorism is flourishing, “we sound like Nazi Germany.”


“I shouldn’t have used that term,” Smith told us later. “It was an add-on statement, and I wasn’t trying to imply that our administration was doing that.


“Nazi Germany tried to wipe out and exterminate a people and build it back without Jews,” Smith said. “My point was that is clearly not what we were going to do in Iraq and it shouldn’t be. So we should leave.”


Wednesday morning Smith was interviewed on WNTK997. Smith explained why he would not sign Horn’s “Unity Letter” pledging to endorse the winner of the GOP U.S. Senate primary, and to attend the party’s post-primary “Unity Breakfast.”


Smith brought up D-Day:


“Would Eisenhower have said, ‘If we don’t make it we’ll have a unity meeting with Hitler on the next day?”


Smith quickly added, “Don’t’ misunderstand me, now. I’m not comparing anybody to Hitler. I’m just using the issue. The point is when there’s a big battle coming, and there is, and you’re in the midst of it, this is a contested primary, you’re battling for the heart and soul of the party, so participate.”


By “participate,” he was referring to what he views as former Sen. Scott Brown’s lack of participation in debates. He’s challenged Brown to 10 debates. Brown has agreed to four debates before the primary.


Horn became aware of the D-Day-Hitler reference and told Granite Reports:


“The unity breakfast is an opportunity for our party to unite for victory behind our nominees. We are pleased that almost every candidate has agreed to attend this important event and voice their support for Republican unity in November.


“Senator Smith’s comments about our breakfast are puzzling and raise questions,” Horn said. “We sincerely hope that he will commit to attend the breakfast and join every other candidate in supporting Republican unity by signing our unity letter.”


Smith said it was “ridiculous” for Horn to suggest that he was comparing anyone to Hitler, or the primary to the D-Day invasion, or his mention of “a unity meeting with Hitler” to the GOP unity breakfast.


“If that’s what Jennifer Horn thinks, she’s wrong,” he said. “It was just a comparison of two sides. Period, end of story.


“This is just another way for the state party to hammer on me,” Smith said. “But that’s OK. I’ll wear the target.”



KIMBALL’S FIRST MOVE. The press release was vintage Jack Kimball, and we say that in a good way.


The new campaign manager for Smith told New Hampshire Journal on Wednesday said that he intended to re-issue Smith’s challenge to primary foes Scott Brown and Jim Rubens for a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates, perhaps as many as 10, to allow a free-flowing discussion of the issues.


The next day, came a Smith campaign press release and although his name wasn’t on it, the style was unmistakably Jack:


“It is time for the voters of New Hampshire to have the opportunity to differentiate between the three main candidates in the GOP Primary for U S Senate. There has been a lot of speculation and innuendo as to what each Candidate stands for. So, I think it is time to give the New Hampshire voters the opportunity to find out.


“The Smith Campaign is offering a challenge to the two moderate candidates, Jim Rubens and Scott Brown, to meet in a series of Lincoln, Douglas style debates where the Candidates will each have a 5 minute opening statement and then be able to directly debate each other on any issue. There would be 10 debates; one in each County, the debates would have a moderator who will monitor time for opening statements and responses to questions. The moderator would also be allowed to end a topic if it is taking up too much time. The debates would be 90 minutes in duration.


“This is a direct challenge to Rubens and Brown! The people of New Hampshire must be allowed to know as much about the Candidates as possible to become an informed voter. The debate format allows for an open dialogue and allows the candidate to get their point across.. Since time is of the essence, the Smith campaign would like a response from Candidates Scott Brown and Jim Rubens no later than Monday, June 23rd. Let’s agree to do the right thing for the people of New Hampshire and allow them to see the strengths and weakness of all three Candidates. This is the least we can do for the voters in the Granite State so they may have an informed vote to cast.”


BIG ENDORSEMENT FOR MARILINDA. One veteran political observer called it “the most significant development of the NH-02 race so far.”


Republican 2nd District U.S. House candidate Marilinda Garcia was endorsed by the Club for Growth PAC on Friday. And yes, it’s indeed a big one for Garcia.


The Club for Growth is recognized as one of the leading conservative groups focusing on fiscal policy.


According to OpenSecrets.org, in the 2012 cycle, the Club for Growth PAC and the Club for Growth Action super PAC spent about $17 million in independent expenditures. So far in the current cycle, thet two Club for Growth entities have spent about $5.4 million.


Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said Garcia “was instrumental in passing the first budget in New Hampshire to cut spending since World War II (2011), and she’s repeatedly fought for pro-growth policies in Concord. Most importantly, she believes ObamaCare is a disaster that needs to be completely repealed and replaced with free-market solutions. Club members will strongly support her candidacy for Congress.”


Garcia said, “he Club for Growth PAC is a national leader in promoting economic freedom, and I am honored to receive their endorsement. Because of the grassroots campaign we have built in New Hampshire, leaders in the free market movement are taking note of the real opportunity we have here in the Second District to replace Ann Kuster. We offer a real alternative to the top-down, Washington-centric approach Ann Kuster has offered over the last two years.”


“FOIA-ing” THE IRS. The local conservative advocacy group Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire has been pretty effective with Freedom of Information Act requests, unearthing some details of Gov. Maggie Hassan’s current trade mission to Turkey.


Now the group has issued a FOIA to the IRS, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office and U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s office seeking “any and all emails and/or correspondences to or from Senator Jeanne Shaheen and/or Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) to or from former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, former Commissioner Steve Miller, and/or former head of the tax-exempt groups Lois Lerner between the dates of January 1, 2009 – May 21, 2013.”


CSNH said the request was filed in response to the news last week that two years of Lois Lerner’s emails were lost. Shaheen signed on to a letter to the IRS in 2012 requesting greater scrutiny of tax-exempt organizations.


According to the group, Shea-Porter “also made public statements critical of tax-exempt conservative organizations.”


The Citizens group says it realizes that members of Congress are exempt from the Freedom of Information, FOIA, but it says, “Their constituents deserve answers.”


“Granite Staters deserve to know what their elected leaders in Washington knew about this scandal and if they had a role in advocating for targeting by the IRS,” said Citizens executive director Matt Murphy.


UNITY? Jennifer Horn’s “unity” letter and pledge said only that each candidate would endorse the winner in his or her respective primary for the three federal offices for governor. It didn’t pledge anyone to Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment:


“Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”


So right after he agreed to the “unity” pledge 1st District U.S. House candidate Dan Innis unloaded on primary foe Frank Guinta in a fund-raising email.


It begins softly enough:


“I’ve benefitted from the American Dream time and again in my life. But government debt and political dysfunction are chipping away at our ability to achieve that dream.”


It mentions a need for “new conservative leaders who will fight to make the American Dream available to the next generation.”


Then, it goes after Guinta:


“Unlike my primary opponent Frank Guinta, I am not a career politician. Frank Guinta says he wants to run for Congress to represent NH (at least this year). In 2013, he was talking about running for US Senate. Just last week, he was talking about running for governor.”


Then, the clincher, “New Hampshire deserves more than a Congressman who stumbles from one controversy to the next. New Hampshire has higher standards.”


Then, the pitch for contributions.


We asked Guinta campaign to respond, but it chose not to.


And by the way, the NH Priorities super PAC, founded by wealthy Innis supporter Peter T. Paul (namesake of the UNH business school thanks to his $25 million donation) began airing a television ad in favor of Innis on Thursday.


The spot is mostly pro-Innis with only a passing visual reference to Democratic incumbent Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and no sign or mention of Guinta.


NH Priorities PAC previously aired a radio spot and had a direct mail piece backing Innis.
ORGANIZING ON THE GROUND. State Democrats are good at the ground game and this year should be no exception. They have organized no fewer than 15 house parties statewide beginning today (Saturday) through July 3.



The parties are June 21 in Durham, Hanover, Keene, Nashua and Pelham; June 22 in Orford and Portsmouth; June 23 in Enfield, June 24 in Brentwood, June 25 in Lancaster, June 28 in Salem, June 29 in Brookline, Manchester and Nashua; July 3 in Merrimack.
PAGE SIX? This admittedly is tabloid material – it’s already made Page Six — but it happened in New Hampshire, so…..


Dartmouth grad and former Obama spokesman Lis Smith attended a reunion at her alma mater last weekend, and brought her boyfriend — former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.


The Smith-Spitzer relationship was big news when it broke last year.


She became a consultant after the presidential election and worked on Spitzer’s failed bid to win the New York City comptroller’s race. She then went to work for the campaign of soon-to-be-NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio.


She was in line to be his City Hall press secretary until the Spitzer news broke. Then she was shown the door.


(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political columnist/reporter in New Hampshire. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column as news breaks. He can be reached at distasoj@gmail.com and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)





Author: John DiStaso

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  • http://www.girardatlarge.com/ Rich Girard

    As the person who conducted the interview with Senator Smith, I find both the attack by Chairman Horn and the senator’s reaction to it bizarre. Here’s the link, determine for yourself. http://www.girardatlarge.com/2014/06/smith-gop-principles-primary-issues-iraq-crisis/ The discussion on Iraq starts in the second segment and continues in the beginning of third. Frankly, seems to me somebody in the party hierarchy is looking to create an issue where none exists. This is absurd.

    • Jon Hopwood

      Actually, Rich, since the 15 (fifteen) watt radio station you broadcast from has such pitiful and spotty coverage (not all of Manchester can get you, and the signal runs down the Merrimack Valley and fizzles out in Northern Nashua), perhaps the message was defeated by the medium. In French, as you likely know, radio static is called “parasite”. Maybe the Bob Smith broadcast just fell apart due to “le parasite” by the time it got down Nashway-way. Somehow, it is fitting that your broadcast should be bedeviled by “le parasite, eh? 😉

      • http://www.girardatlarge.com/ Rich Girard

        There you go again, Jon, replacing reality with wishful thinking. Let me thank you for your continued attempts to discredit our broadcast signal and Web site. Tells me, if nothing else, we’re getting through to places you’d rather not see us reach and you’re desperate to prevent further penetration. Oh, and if you think things are “bad now,” just wait…

        • Jon Hopwood

          Oh, I hear lots & lots of rumors about the radio station, some of them quite fantastic. The rumor I give the most credence to is that the main benefactor of said station is planning to replace the geriatric gerbil that powers the whole shebang by running around in his rusty wheel with two fresh hamsters purchased from the Hooksett K-mart. Just think, Rich — your signal might even “penetrate” Suncook and get as far eat as Auburn. LOL!