Updated Granite Reports: Christie continues to place stamp on GOP in NH

TUESDAY, AUG. 6: THE JERSEY (TO NH) TURNPIKE. Another Chris Christie “Jersey Boy” is headed to first-in-the-nation New Hampshire.


Peter Sheridan will leave his post as deputy executive director of the New Jersey Republican Party to become the deputy campaign manager for New Hampshire Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein.


Havenstein’s campaign confirmed a report from New Jersey this afternoon.


It’s another sign that although Havenstein is trailing Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan by about 20 percentage points in recent polling, Christie, the New Jersey governor, Republican Governors Association chairman and – of course – increasingly likely 2016 presidential candidate, is laying the groundwork for a leadoff primary state campaign after the mid-terms are history.


Sheridan, whose NJGOP is—unofficially at least — an arm of the Christie operation in the Garden State, will join former Christie campaign and governor’s office staffer Matt Mowers in New Hampshire. Mowers is the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, which is – officially– neutral in Havenstein’s GOP gubernatorial primary against Andrew Hemingway.


Another New Jersey-to-New Hampshire connection is Colin Reed, the campaign manager for Senate candidate Scott Brown, who was Christie’s deputy communications director for about a year, after serving as Brown’s campaign communications director and Senate office press secretary.


The Sheridan move shows that Christie is investing in New Hampshire and Havenstein. And even if he does not pull Havenstein through with generous RGA support, he has made it clear he is interested in having a friend in Havenstein and Havenstein’s GOP establishment supporters when the time comes for a presidential run.


And if, somehow, Sheridan helps Havenstein to a primary win and an upset in November – a big “if” — obviously Christie would be in a position to receive the endorsement of the governor of the first-in-the-nation primary state when his 2016 campaign begins in earnest.


Christie made his second visit to the state to support Havenstein last Thursday, appearing with him at BAE Systems in Nashua, formerly headed by Havenstein. Christie then headlined a NHGOP fundraiser in Manchester.


During that visit, following private discussions, the Sheridan deal was secured, according to GOP sources.


Sheridan will focus on the campaign’s grassroots operation, which, we understand , has been a priority for Havenstein campaign manager Matt Seaholm for some time now.


Campaign spokesman Henry Goodwin said, “We have been looking to strengthen our operation and I’m very excited that we were able to get Pete Sheridan.


“Peter will be joining our team as Deputy Campaign Manager and will be instrumental in taking our ground game to the next level,” he said. “ Peter brings a wealth of experience and will be a great asset. As we prepare for the next phase of the campaign, we will continue to build our team and bring on talent that will help us win in November.”



(Earlier Granite Reports follow)



SATURDAY, AUG. 2: BOB VS. THE RNC. Former Sen. and candidate Bob Smith – already unhappy with the Republican State Committee – scolded the Republican National Committee for a fund-raising email earlier this week that appeared to favor Scott Brown in the contested primary.


RNC Deputy Political director Jon Black wrote: “Polling this week shows a neck-and-neck Senate race, with just a few points between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen.” He went on to solicit contributions to the RNC (not Brown).


Smith fired back to Black: “I just thought I would remind you that there is a primary up here in New Hampshire. Scott Brown is not the nominee. Just in case you did not know, I am a former two-term U.S. Senator from New Hampshire who also served three terms in the U.S. House and I am also running. I cannot wait to see the looks on your faces, when I win on Sept 9th.”


So what about it? Why the mention of only Brown, RNC?


Said RNC spokesman Kirsten Kukowsk: “The email used public polling to demonstrate that the GOP is expanding the map and New Hampshire is in play with Americans everywhere dismissing the Obama agenda that Democrats like Jeanne Shaheen have spent years backing. It is clear Senator Shaheen will lose to any of the Republicans in the race. Also, the RNC doesn’t get involved in primaries.”


THE MAYDAY PAC. The second super PAC that is pledging to back Republican Senate candidate Jim Rubens and attack GOP rival Brown by spending $2 million or more in the Granite State is focusing on campaign finance reform and has a liberal ally in the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.


The Mayday PAC, founded by Harvard business professor Larry Lessig and former George W. Bush adviser and “No Labels” co-founder Mark McKinnon, calls itself “a crowdfunded Super PAC to end all Super PACs (including ourselves)” by “using the power of citizen-funded big money to fight the big money of crony capitalists and special interests on both the left and the right.”


The new PAC had raised $3.3 million by the end of June, with three Granite Staters contributing: $250 from Bick McSwiney, who, while a resident of New London, is a teacher at the American International School in Lagos, Nigeria; $500 from Joseph King of Exeter, who has been a contributor to President Obama and former U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, and $200 Gordon Allen, who is well known at the State House as co-chair of the Coalition for Open Democracy and a regular at legislative deliberations on campaign finance and voting matters.


Allen, a former legislator, is also policy director of the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance.


Rubens is now featured on the Mayday PAC’s web site along with Iowa Democratic congressional candidate Staci Appel as the first members of the “Class of 2014.”


Interestingly, the PCCC announced this week it is “partnering” with Mayday “to urge Democrats and Republicans to sign on for big, systemic campaign finance reform.”


Rubens, while promoting campaign finance reform and voluntary public financing, has loaned his campaign $500,000.
ON THE RADAR. As we first reported on Twitter this week, 2nd District U.S. House candidate Marilinda Garcia joined rival Gary Lambert “On the Radar” moving toward the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program.


She has met the necessary fund-raising and organizational benchmarks for the NRCC to consider investing in her campaign should she win the nomination. Her rival, Gary Lambert, has been “On the Radar” since last November, and was announced at the same time 1st District candidate Frank Guinta was placed in the “Young Guns” program because he is a former member of the House.


“I am confident that Marilinda Garcia will be a successful and dedicated member of this program and that she will continue to work hard to reach the crucial campaign benchmarks,” said NRCC Chairman Greg Walden.


OOPS. The folks who are organizing the “Monday Meetings” of liberty movement Granite Staters want to keep the initiative quiet.


After we reported on the meetings earlier this week, organizers Tim Condon and Sam Pimm issued another email noting that the original email had been “forwarded to John DiStaso, who featured information about the Monday Meeting in NH Insider (that’s NH Journal, guys) within 24 hours of the announcement. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was an ill-advised action by whoever shared the announcement with Mr. DiStaso.


“The Monday Meetings are intended to allow and facilitate free and open discussion among the representatives of ALL the L&F organizations who are invited,” Pimm and Condon wrote. “This means that a certain level of discretion is required. We want to be able to openly discuss what projects and events we’re all engaged in without the discussions being trumpeted the next day in the media. This is why the Monday Meetings are intended to be “off the record” to the extent possible. That means that we should NOT share what goes on in the meetings with the mass media.


“There will be times when reporters or other media representatives are present at Monday Meetings. When that occurs, we will announce it and introduce those visitors. Otherwise, in order to maintain the free and open dialog that we should all desire, please be discrete and respect the purposes for which the Monday Meetings are being held.”


THE CRUZ FACTOR. Also as we first reported on Twitter on Friday, Texas Sen. and potential 2016 presidential hopeful Ted Cruz weighed into the U.S. Senate race in the Granite State with a fund-raising email for the state Republican Party hitting Sen. Jeanne Shaheen primarily for support for “President Obama’s amnesty” on the immigration issue, but also on the Affordable Care Act and her support for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.


The email of course was issued a day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the featured attraction at a fund-raiser for the NHGOP at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.


On Thursday, Cruz rallied Tea Party U.S. House Republicans to oppose the $659 million emergency funding plan for border security because it did not do enough to rein in the President from taking executive action.


After the bill went down and it appeared that House members would go home without taking action, U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta took the opportunity to hit Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. In an email with the subject line, “They’re Leaving?” Guinta complained that Shea-Porter “is packing her bags for a five-week summer vacation.”


He charged that she has no plans to meet with constituents and asked for contributions to his campaign.


Shea-Porter’s campaign shot back on Friday, “The only problem (besides the fact that Speaker Boehner, not Shea-Porter, sets the schedule)? Guinta’s email was sent hours after it was announced that members of Congress would remain in Washington indefinitely after a Tea Party insurrection engineered by ‘Acting Speaker of the House’ and Guinta mentor Ted Cruz killed a bill to address the border crisis.”


A Shea-Porter spokesman said Shea-Porter was force to cancel a factory tour Friday afternoon “due to the lack of leadership from Frank Guinta’s extremist Tea Party allies.


“It is disappointing, but not surprising, that former Congressman Guinta refuses to acknowledge the dysfunction that his own party is causing in Washington.”


THE AFP PLEDGE. More than 200 candidates have so far signed the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity pledge to cut taxes and fees, oppose tax increases, cut spending, oppose “Obamacare” and Medicaid expansion and support right-to-work legislation.


More than 40 of them lined up at the Legislative Office Building on Wednesday for a signing ceremony presided over by honorary chairman Tom Thomson.


Not on hand was candidate for governor Walt Havenstein. He had signed the pledge earlier, but was in Washington for a fund-raiser with Sen. John McCain – which, not surprisingly led to criticism from primary foe Andrew Hemingway.


Havenstein in June labeled as “puffery” the traditional pledge to veto broadbased, originated by Thomson’s father, the late Gov. Meldrim Thomson, but Havenstein at the same time supported “policies that maintain the ability to have that pledge.”


“Maybe my opponent finds these core principals ‘puffery,’ or maybe he feels he had something better to do, but with no candidate and no representative from his campaign present it tells me these promises aren’t a priority for Mr. Havenstein,” Hemingway charged.


Besides Havenstein and Hemingway, the pledge has been signed by candidate for governor Jonathan Smolin; U.S. Senate candidates Jim Rubens and Bob Smith; 1st District congressional candidate Everett Jabour; 2nd District congressional candidates Marilinda Garcia and Gary Lambert; and state Senate candidates Tim Condon in District 2; Eddie Edwards in District 4; incumbent Sam Cataldo in District 7; Kathy Lauer Rago in District 7; Jerry Little and J.P. Marzullo in District 8; Maureen Mooney, Gary Daniels and Dan Dwyer in District 11; and Kevin Avard in District 12.


Also Doris Hohensee in District 13; Jane Cormier in District 16; Howard Pearl and John Reagan in District 17; Regina Birdsell and Jim Foley in District 19; incumbent Russell Prescott in District 23 and Steve Kenda in District 24.


ABOUT THAT GREEN SCREEN? The state Democratic Party took Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown to task this week after BuzzFeed reported that two of his television ads were actually not filmed on location but instead before a “green screen” with stock footage behind him.


Brown’s current television ad about border security begins with him standing – ostensibly – in an airport and talking about how Americans must go through security to fly on a plane. In fact it’s stock footage behind him.


The story noted that an earlier ad with him appearing to be standing inside of a log cabin was actually before a green screen with stock of a cabin in the background. His campaign said at th time that he was in an “out-building” on Doug Scamman’s farm in Stratham.


The NHDP had some fun with this, saying, “Phony candidate, phony backdrop. Scott Brown isn’t for New Hampshire any more than he was in a New Hampshire log cabin when he filmed that ad.”


The Brown camp did not dispute that Brown was in front of a green screen, but said that the earlier ad in the cabin “was shot on location” on the Scamman farm, but also in front of a green screen that was brought to the Scamman farm.


“Once again, Jeanne Shaheen and her allies have been caught launching phony attacks to distract from her support for the failed Obama-Shaheen border security policies. Fortunately, Granite Staters are able to see through Shaheen’s dishonesty and understand that her blind support for President Obama’s failed agenda has caused the immigration crisis that we are facing today.”


Filming ads in front of a green screen is a common practice. As BuzzFeed pointed out, even President Obama has done it.


OF NOTE: Brown raised the most cash for a non-incumbent GOP candidate who did not self-fund in the second quarter, with $2.34 million.
He was third overall behind Terri Lynn Land of Michigan, with $3.38 million and David Perdue of Georgia with $2.68 million. But Land gave her own campaign $1.2 million, and Perdue, $1 million.


(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political columnist/reporter in New Hampshire. He has been reporting on Granite State politics since 1983. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column and of course separate stories on NHJournal.com as news breaks. He can be reached at distasoj@gmail.com and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)



Author: John DiStaso

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  • jerseycity

    As chairman of The Republican Governors Association, Governor Christie has gone way out on a limb by funding the Havenstein campaign way before the customary date after the primary on September 9th, 2014. He needs to cover his bet, and he should.

    For all Republicans this is good news.

    Historically, if the head of the ticket wins so does the rest of the ticket. So, no matter who wins the U.S. Senatorial, and Congressional primaries, the winners will benefit if Havenstein wins in the general. The bigger the better. The same is true for all the NH Senatorial and Representative’s races, along with town and district races.

    Let’s just hope these wiz kids from NJ live up to their press clippings.