Updated Granite Reports: NH women targeted by new Fiorina PAC; Perry plans visit to NH


MONDAY, JUNE 30: FIORINA PAC. Former business executive and 2010 candidate for the U.S. Senate Carly Fiorina has set up a new political action committee to encourage conservative and independent women to turn out and vote Republican in a group of Senate races around the country.


New Hampshire is on Fiorina’s list of six Senate races viewed as competitive, where she feels grassroots organizing of women could tip the scales.


The other states are Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia.


The Washington Post on Monday quoted a background memo on the “Unlocking Potential (UP) Project that Fiorina will lead a team to “develop and shape messaging on a wide range of issues that directly relate to independent female voters.”


In a statement, Fiorina said, “Liberals and Democrats fear nothing more than mobilized, articulate conservative women, and we will be highly engaged in building effective activist networks among conservative women.


The UP Projects says it will “engage women at the grassroots level to help conservatives close the gender and technology gap. It will utilize cutting-edge technology and techniques to target, persuade, and turnout female voters in six key states with competitive Senate races.”


MONDAY, JUNE 30: PERRY ON THE WAY. Granite Reports has confirmed that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has scheduled a visit to New Hampshire on Aug. 22 for meetings with political and business leaders as he considers another presidential run in 2016.


A group of Granite State Republicans visited Perry in Austin about a month ago and the Texas governor has been traveling the country touting the Texas’ prowess in attracting business, some from other states, and talking about his failed 2012 presidential bid as a “humbling experience.”


Veteran New Hampshire GOP strategist Mike Dennehy organized the trip after he agreed to work with Americans for Economic Freedom, a group created last year by political operatives close to Perry. Dennehy is a part-owner of the New Hampshire Journal.


Perry’s visit was first reported on Twitter by WMUR television’s Josh McElveen



(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)



SATURDAY, JUNE 28: WHERE THEY STAND. The spring is over, the summer has begun. With the weather finally heating up and July three day away, what’s the status of the key campaigns?


Who’s up? Who’s down? Who’s holding their own?


The Senate race has been nasty from the beginning, but now, with attention turning to personal finances, stock options and charges of conflicts of interest and “shady” deals, expect it to become even more intense.


Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has disclosed her tax returns for the first time in her long political career and they contained some fodder for the GOP. She is defending herself against questions about whether she, through her husband, benefitted financially from her support for the stimulus plan and for funding for breast cancer research because her husband, Bill, had stock options in a startup research firm looking into breast cancer imaging technology that received a small amount ($78,000) of stimulus funding.


Brown had his own “startup” problem, resigning a few weeks ago as an adviser to an obscure Florida firm that had many incarnations, none of them successful, and from which he had received stock options that plunged in value.


If the stories end where they are now for each candidate – with Brown’s resignation as an adviser and Shaheen’s amended personal financial disclosure form — we see no major harm done to either. Each story is a problem, and probably material for future negative advertising by the candidates or super PACS and PAC supporting them, but neither is a bombshell.


Meanwhile, in the GOP Senate primary, Jim Rubens and Bob Smith are working to chip away at Brown and the “conventional wisdom” that he will be the nominee. There is nothing yet to indicate that either of Brown’s opponents is breaking through, but there’s time.


And remember, no one saw Eric Cantor’s loss coming, either.


The Governor’s and two U.S. House races have been overshadowed by the Senate contest.


No one has laid a glove on Gov. Maggie Hassan, yet. That’s because, although she’s more liberal than predecessor John Lynch, she’s effectively put a practical, populist, “everyman (and everywoman)” spin on what for New Hampshire are liberal initiatives such as raising the gas tax and Medicare expansion.


The gas tax has the potential of hurting her at the ballot box, but don’t bet on it. Just a hunch here that most Granite Staters realize their roads and bridges are falling apart and while they may not like a gas tax hike, they understand it’s time for one.


But they’d better see some results fast, or else.


Besides that, Republican Walt Havenstein has yet to truly break through by showing just what his impressive business background brings to the table for the average Granite Stater. He’s done jobs tours, he’s made speeches, he appeared with (and was a bit overshadowed by) Gov. Chris Christie.


But most of the time Havenstein has been defending his own Granite State residency. And that story will continue Monday when the Ballot Law Commission takes up the case.


If “Walt” gets through it, perhaps then he can at least get noticed on the actual issues, make his case and be heard.


Meanwhile, Andrew Hemingway continues to be under the radar, working the grassroots with his liberty movement/Tea Party credentials.


Right now Havenstein continues to be the front-runner in the GOP governor’s primary, but, again, like Cantor, perhaps that’s a dangerous place to be.


The GOP U.S. House primaries are going according to script.


In the 1st District, we’re hearing from neutral GOP sources that in private polling and some focus groups, Dan Innis still has a big name ID problem, despite being featured in stories on a smattering of national web sites.


Frank Guinta, meanwhile, is running an active, if quiet campaign, focusing on “tours” with specific themes, such as health care and jobs, and rolling out the names of hundreds of supporters. Many of these are folks with long ties to the former Manchester mayor.


Guinta has tried to be both establishment and Tea Party at the same time. It’s worked for him in the past. One would think it would work again, but this year may be a different, “David Brat” kind of year.


The 2nd District has seen this kind of race before. Low key, close and unpredictable. Marilinda Garcia and Gary Lambert have been working almost entirely under the radar building grassroots support.


Garcia has the backing of some important GOP and conservative groups, such as the Club for Growth, while Lambert’s base appears to be in the veterans community. That’s not to say he does not have support elsewhere, but the Colonel is certainly playing up his veterans’ ties.
A big outstanding question at the moment is: What will the Club for Growth do for Garcia in the primary race? How much money will it spend on her?


Neutral observers we’ve spoken with are, with caution, giving the slightest edge here to Garcia—but that’s at the moment.


And in the general election outlook, the House races are far more susceptible to the national trends certainly than the Senate race.


Frank Guinta and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter have traded places inside and outside of Congress depending on the collective view of the voters about the person in the White House.


But it’s a little different in the Senate race. There, it’s not all about Barack Obama. The people running matter.


Yes, it’s true that Shaheen was swept into office on the 2008 Obama wave, yet so far this year, despite the GOP pounding the theme that she voted with Obama 99 percent of the time, she remains in good standing with the voters, while Obama is down in the Granite State.


So it should be an interesting summer, and an even more entertaining fall.


THE BUFFER ZONE RULING. The Supreme Court ruling this week that struck down as a First Amendment violation a Massachusetts law mandating protesters to stay at least 35 feet away from the entrances to clinics where abortions are performed drew interest in where the U.S. Senate candidates stood.


New Hampshire lawmakers, after all, passed a similar bill, establishing 25-foot “buffer zones,” into law earlier this year. And Supreme Court justices are subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
There was particular interest in Scott Brown would react to the ruling. He, as a Bay State legislator, voted in 2000 for the initial bill to keep protesters 18 feet from clinics, and then in 2007 as a state senator, voted to increase the distance to 35 feet – the legislation struck down unanimously by the court.


But Brown, who is pro-choice, did not hide from his vote. In New Hampshire which polls have long shown is a pro-choice state, even among a substantial chunk of the Republican vote.


Before 12 noon Friday, his campaign issued a statement from him:


“I supported the Massachusetts law that created buffer zones around abortion clinics. Despite the Supreme Court’s decision striking down that law, I do not regret my vote. No matter how you feel about abortion, women should feel safe when they seek out and obtain medical services for themselves.


“Here in New Hampshire we have a similar buffer zone law. The Supreme Court has provided guidance on how to modify such a law so that it balances constitutionally-protected free speech rights with the right of women to feel safe. I encourage Governor Hassan and the New Hampshire Legislature to make any necessary adjustments so that the law can remain substantially in place.”


Shaheen predictably was “disappointed” and said the ruling “will have an unnecessarily harmful impact on the safety of women seeking to receive legal reproductive health care.


“We must be able to respect First Amendment rights while also protecting women at the same time, and I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision which will have an unnecessarily harmful impact on the safety of women seeking to receive legal reproductive healthcare.”
Bob Smith, the only anti-choice/pro-life candidate running for the Senate, said he was pleased by decision. He said that because it was unanimous, unanimous, it “speaks volumes as to how extreme this law was in the first place. It was a direct affront to our First Amendment freedoms and the law was originally crafted to harass pro-life people, who only wished to peacefully protest and perhaps save the life of an unborn child.”


Smith continued, “Scott Brown voted for the buffer zone bill, when he was a Massachusetts state senator. Once again Senator Brown finds himself aligned with the left and out of touch with the Republican Party.”


Jim Rubens, while pro-choice, applauded the ruling.


“Restricting peaceful speech and prayer in public spaces — even about controversial subjects like abortion — is flagrantly unconstitutional. I am happy that the court recognized this unanimously.”


FIRST UP. It’s a tiny buy of only $5,900, but Republican Jim Lawrence this week became the first candidate of either party to put up a television ad in the 2nd District U.S. House race.


Lawrence, the first African-American Granite Stater to run for Congress, in the ad talks about a camp he attended as a young boy in Cheshire County and goes on to say, “I’ll fight for New Hampshire, not defend the release of terrorists,” he says. “This is our seat, not Washington’s. I won’t vote with Washington party bosses.”


The ad aired twice last Wednesday and will air once a day in the coming week.


But Lawrence has a bit of free media attention on being first.


ACTIVE AFP. Love them or despise them, the conservative Americans for Prosperity advocacy group continues to be a big player in Granite State politics under state director Greg Moore.


Direct mail is the Priority One right now for the AFP in New Hampshire. In the past week some swing voters in New Hampshire received no fewer than four mailers hitting Shaheen on her support for the Affordable Care Act – three from the New Hampshire AFP, with a return address in Manchester, and one from the national AFP, with a return address in Arlington, Va.


On Monday, AFP-NH will hold a rally at Mr. Gas on Route 3-A in Hooksett to protest the 4.2 cents-a-gallon hike in the gasoline tax that will go into effect on Tuesday, July 1.


AFP-NH honorary chair Tom Thomson and effected families are scheduled to speak. We’re told candidates who show up will also be allowed to speak.


And, on the state legislative level, AFP-NH issued its legislative scorecard for the 2014 session.


AFP-NH says it House and Senate members “relative to their votes in support of or opposition to economic freedom. House members were scored on 15 votes; senators on nine.


In the House, 21 members received an “A+” ranking, called a “Protector of Prosperity”, while another 84 received an “A” grade, (“Advocate of Prosperity”, including 57 members who scored 100 percent, but who missed one or more key votes.


AFP said 220 House members received an “F” ranking , “Opponent of Prosperity.”


In the Senate, one member, Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, received an “A+” grade, and another, Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, also scored 100 percent, while 13 got an “F” ranking.


Click here for the entire scorecard.


FIREFIGHTERS FOR PAPPAS. It’s not a surprise, but Democratic Executive Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester this week was formally endorsed by the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.


The PFFNH represent more than 2,000 professional fire fighters, paramedics and retirees across the state.


GILMOUR HONORED. Sen. Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis, received the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2014 State Award for Excellence. She was honored at an awards ceremony and reception held during the AANP 2014 National Conference last week in Nashville, Tenn.
_ Will Ardinger, son of Democratic District 15 state Senate candidate Kass Ardinger and attorney Bill Ardinger, is a former staffer in the office of Sen. Kelly Ayotte.


_ Political strategist Andrew Provencher has left the campaign of state District 16 state Sen. David Boutin and is now working for District 2 Executive Council candidate Jim Adams. Both Boutin and Provencher say the parting was amicable.


_ Provencher is also helping Republican District 11 state Senate candidate Maureen Mooney of Merrimack, who has rolled out a steering committee headed by Reps. Dick Hinch of Merrimack and Robert Rowe of Amherst. See her full list here.


_ Reps. Shea-Porter and Kuster are taking partisan hits for opposing the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act, which passed the House 299-185 on Thursday, with 10 other Democrats crossing party lines to join the majority. The bill expands U.S. offshore oil production efforts and requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales to increased domestic production. NHGOP Chair Jennifer Horn said the two lawmakers are “wildly out of touch with the needs of New Hampshire.”


_ 2nd District GOP hopeful Garcia will have what one supporter described as the “coolest” campaign event of the season at 7 p.m. this evening at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The first 80 ticket holders, ranging from $15 for children, to $35 to $100, will get two free tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, courtesy of NHMS General Manager Jerry Gappens.


(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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  • MerrimackBob

    Saying that former US Senator Bob Smith is an “anti-choice” candidate speaks volumes of John DiStaso once again injecting his personal opinion into a supposed news story.