FRIDAY, JULY 18: FIORINA COMING TO NH. Former business executive and 2010 candidate for the U.S. Senate Carly Fiorina will bring her “Unlocking Potential” project to Nnew Hampshire on Thursday, July 24.
Fiorina will appear at a free morning grassroots event at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord with Republican state Sens. Jeanie Forrester, Sharon Carson and Nancy Stiles.
Fiorina launched the “UP” project in late June and has New Hampshire on the PAC’s list of six U.S. Senate races she views as competitive, where she feels the grassroots organizing of women could make a difference.
The event is particularly noteworthy in view of this week’s NBCNews/Marist poll showing that Scott Brown, who has primary opposition from Bob Smith and Jim Rubens, faces a 25 percentage point deficit among New Hampshire women versus Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Fiorina has said her goal is to mobilize Republican and conservative women to counter the Democratic charges that the GOP is conducting a “war on women.”
Lauren Carney of Norway Hill Associates is handling arrangements for the event.
(Our earlier Granite Reports follow.)
SATURDAY, JULY 12: GOOD FOR MITT. Don’t look now but there are certain people in the GOP ranks in the Granite State who are hoping for “white smoke from Wolfeboro.”
After Thursday’s WMUR Granite State Poll by the UNH Survey Center showing that Mitt Romney would have a commanding lead over the field of newcomers to the presidential scene if the first-in-the-nation primary were held today, there are those yearning for a “Draft Mitt” movement.
It’s not a serious venture yet, but maybe — just maybe – after Nov. 4.
The poll put Romney at 39 percent, and with him in the race, no one else – not Chris Christie, not Rand Paul – breaks single digits.
While Christie’s favorable rating is 46 percent, about the same as it was when the “Bridgegate” scandal was at its height early in the year, it is 13 points lower than it was a years ago and his unfavorable rating is 12 points higher.
And, 16 percent of those polled said they would not vote for Christie, while 9 percent said they would not vote for Jeb Bush and 7 percent said they would not vote for Rick Santorum.
That’s certainly not fatal given that nearly nine in 10 likely GOP primary voters have yet to make a firm decision on who they will support, but it’s a matter for concern. And a good reason for Christie to be headed back here later this month.
Long-time Romney supporter Tom Rath, he of the @polguru Twitter handle, called the Romney numbers “very gratifying” and said if Romney gave the go-ahead, “ I believe we could jump start a campaign with a very few calls. I think the good numbers are more than just ‘we don’t like the field right now.’ I think events have proven Mitt Romney right on so many issues that lots of folks wish he were President.”
Other Republicans we’ve spoken to since Thursday evening agreed with Rath that the survey certainly excites Romney supporters and that Romney has the infrastructure in place in the Granite State – and elsewhere – to gear up quickly given a wink and a nod from the Man himself. Rath at the moment said he does not think it will happen, but he’s hopeful.
Jim Merrill, another longtime Romney backer and his state campaign manager back in 2008, said he believes Romney will indeed take a pass.
“The survey confirms that there is no heir apparent and no front-runner in New Hampshire,” he said. “ The field is as wide open as we’ve ever seen it – it truly is anybody’s game here, which should encourage all of the prospective candidates to spend time earning the vote in New Hampshire over the next year and a half.”
He said the poll “underscores the deep bond between him and the voters of New Hampshire. He is a true statesman and an uncommonly gifted leader who since 2012 has been proven right time and again while President Obama has flailed and stumbled from one crisis to the next.
“While he would be welcomed back for another race with open arms by GOP leaders and activists, ultimately I think he will find another way to serve the GOP and our country, to the benefit of us all,” said Merrill.
Without Romney, it’s true that the “center-right,” which should be – and may still be –- filled by Christie remains open territory.
It leaves people such as Paul Ryan, John Kasich and Rob Portman (and Jeb Bush) very much a part of the mix, giving them a little longer to take a look and decide whether to jump in.
Ultimately, the wide open GOP poll bodes well for New Hampshire because it will continue to play its historic key role in the nomination battle. And without Romney, there will be one.
“And if Mitt were to go,” mused Rath, “we could say it all started here.”
And on the Democratic side, it’s true that the percentage backing Hillary Clinton dropped from 74 to 59 percent but her favorable rating is at an astounding 87 percent with only 9 percent viewing her unfavorably.
It could be that some Democratic voters didn’t like her plea of poverty during her recent interview and it could be that her book tour in general did not serve her as well as she would have liked.
But make no mistake, New Hampshire has been Clinton country for more than 20 years now and we see nothing at the moment to lead us to believe that the drop was anything more than a part of a natural ebb and flow.
For full poll results click here.
And here is the latest poll on how President Obama is viewed in New Hampshire.
GUINTA AND THE GAS TAX. Democrats this week called on Republican 1st District U.S. House Frank Guinta to say how he feels about the prospect of raising the federal gasoline tax, which has so far been an issue in the U.S. Senate race but not so much on the House side.
The state Democratic Party said Guinta has been “notably silent” on whether there should be a reauthorization of the highway trust fund and how it should be shored up and kept from going broke next month.
“Democrats, moderate Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce all agree that Congress should reauthorize the Highway Trust fund and construction workers should continue repairing roads and building bridges,” the NHDP said. However, it noted opposition from Tea Party groups who believe highways should be totally under the auspices of the states and “have threatened to drive the New Hampshire economy into the ditch by letting the Highway Trust fund run dry in August.”
The NHDP noted our analysis last week that Guinta has tried to walk the line between the Tea Party and House establishment during his time in Congress and as a candidate. He’s supported the Tea Party and the House leadership, depending on the issue.
Guinta responded to the Democratic criticism that he supported re-authorization of the trust fund in 2012 and does again. He blamed U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter for a “failure to force Congress to act on this needed legislation,” calling it “terribly irresponsible given the condition of our roads.”
Guinta’s campaign went on to note to us that while backing reauthorization he has long opposed a hike in the federal gasoline tax.
Guinta served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, specifically the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, which dealt directly the Highway Trust Fund and opposed an increase in the gas tax throughout the legislative process.
Guinta’s campaign said he backed an increase in oil exploration with any revenue gained from new the permits sold offsetting the annual deficit in the trust fund. His reasoning was that this was a natural link between energy and infrastructure, which his camp views as innovative.
Guinta’s primary foe, Dan Innis, meanwhile, stated his support for “reasonable increase in the federal gasoline tax to raise money for strategic investments dedicated to transportation” in a recent interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader.
He also told the newspaper, “I would be an advocate for a transportation trust fund instead of dedicated trust funds. I think that will promote better decision-making around transportation options.”
He did not say what would be a “reasonable” increase, and so we asked his campaign that simple question. But no luck.
Adviser Chris Stewart told us his statement “speaks for itself” and would not elaborate.
Guinta’s campaign had no comment on Innis’ position.
SPEAKING OF THE GAS TAX… The Portsmouth Herald didn’t do Sen. Jeanne Shaheen any favors this week in her effort to get out from under GOP allegations that she has flip-flopped on her position on a federal gas tax hike.
The Herald more than a month ago reported that she supported a hike as part of a laundry list of actions that should be taken to shore up the highway trust fund. The newspaper did not quote Shaheen but paraphrased her.
Shaheen’s campaign said the Senator did not support such a tax hike yet at the same time said it “could not confirm or deny” if the Herald story accurately reflected her position. Huh?
Anyway, the other day, the Union Leader reported that the top editor at the Herald stood by the story and Shaheen’s camp had asked for a correction. So, the stalemate continues and GOP and Brown campaign keeps saying that Shaheen supports a gas tax hike, while embellishing with “kind” words.
SIGNING EXPECTED; LAWSUIT POSSIBLE. The word at the State House is that Gov. Maggie Hassan has no problem with Senate Bill 120 and will sign it when it reaches her desk – whenever that may be.
That’s the bill that would expand reporting requirements for political action committees and advocacy groups. It’s been strongly opposed by such groups, including Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, which has said it is “not just wrong, but it’s unconstitutional.”
The bill has been held up, along with many others, on House speaker Terie Norelli’s desk. It has not yet gotten to Senate President Chuck Morse for his sign-off. After it does go to Morse, it would then go to the Secretary of State, and then to the governor.
Will the bill be challenged once it becomes law?
Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire says it is “leaving all options on the table.”
Spokesman Derek Dufresne said, “It is a shame that with SB 120, career politicians have attempted to limit the ability of organizations like ours from informing their constituents on how they vote in Concord or on Capitol Hill.
“Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire will continue to stand by the First Amendment and comply with the rule of law as confirmed by the United States Supreme Court. With regards to our legal efforts on SB 120, we are leaving all options on the table.
“In addition, we find it extremely puzzling that Governor Maggie Hassan has yet to sign the bill and that it has been, according to the Secretary of State, sitting with Speaker Norelli without action for over 30 days. A couple of days is a ‘delay.’ Over 30 days signals something else might be going on,” said Dufresne.
“COFFEE AND CALLS.” The New Hampshire Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign, Granite State Forward, will be host a “coffee and calls” grassroots event In Portsmouth on Monday at 10 a.m. with Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, New Hampshire House Speaker Terie Norelli, and Portsmouth City Councilor Stefany Shaheen.
This house party and phone bank “will feature women contacting other women to discuss what is at stake in this election, like reversing last week’s Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision” the NHDP said.
_ Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Friday afternoon was spotted on a plane to Martha’s Vineyard, probably for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee retreat, which is held annually about this time.
_ In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which we wrote about extensively last week, Sen. Shaheen and Reps. Shea-Porter and Kuster are cosponsoring separate Senate and House bills that would require employers to cover birth control measures.
_ GOP candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway accused Gov. Maggie Hassan of using women as a “political ploy” by basing a fund-raising appeal on the Hobby Lobby decision.
_ Conservatives continue to blast candidate for governor Walt Havenstein for his description of the Tea Party as “teabaggers” in 2010. The Granite Grok web site posted this video and this video this week. Democrats piled on by questioning if Havenstein can even win his primary against Hemingway. And there is growing concern from Republicans we’ve spoken to about Havenstein’s ability to get past Sept. 9.
_ Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will keynote the Carroll County Democrats Grover Cleveland dinner on Sept. 12 – three days after the primary. The timing apparently assumes that Scott Brown will have won the GOP Senate nomination.
_ State Sen. Sharon Carson this week endorsed Jim Adams for the District 4 Executive Council GOP nomination, while in the 2nd District congressional GOP primary, former Executive Councilor Bill Cahill backed Gary Lambert.
_ In the District 16 state Senate GOP primary, former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey backed Rep. Jane Cormier over incumbent Sen. David Boutin.
_ Kuster continues her impressive fund-raising with $568,000 raised in the second quarter, with $1.7 million in cash on hand.
_ Bill Shaheen’s law firm, Shaheen and Gordon, announced this week it has acquired the Maine-based firm Smith & Elliott.
_ Windham leaders Selectman Bruce Breton, former Senate President Arthur Klemm, Dr. Tim Butterfield, Tom Murray, school board member Dennis Senibaldi and Reps. Walter Kolodziej and Kevin Waterhouse endorsed Republican candidate Jim Foley in the state Senate District 19 GOP primary.
_ Scott Brown released the names of 100 Nashua supporters, including Alderman Dan Moriarity, former Mayor and Executive Councilor Bernie Streeter and former Alderman David McLaughlin and Bill Ohm.
_ Brown announced he raised $2.34 million in the second quarter and has $1.5 million on hand. Shaheen raised $2.8 million and has more than $5 million on hand.
(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 email@example.com and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)