Former Republican candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway is eyed by many conservatives as someone who could mount a serious primary challenge of Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, in 2016.

Nov 6, 2015 5:41 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report-A former, respected Republican candidate said to be eyed as potential primary challenger for Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH

No decisions yet but some rogue conservative Republicans have already decided who they think would make a perfect challenger to popular US Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

The NH Political Report has learned that someone is none other than 2014 candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway of Bristol.

Hemingway had no money but didn’t hurt his brand in losing convincingly to retired, millionaire defense contracting executive Walt Havenstein.

He was most recently seen publicly championing the drive for campaign finance reform at the State House backing the NH Rebellion walk the length of the state to draw attention to the issue.

This would be a striking contrast to Ayotte who’s already got $5 million in the bank and has a budget to raise $10 million more.

Hemingway has yet to commit but not ruled it out.

The final straw for some conservatives was Ayotte’s decision to become the first and only Senate Republican to endorse President Obama’s Clean Power plan.


Wasn’t that a surprise that Havenstein, the 2014 nominee for governor and a prominent GOP figure would reach down and endorse New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie whose stock has fallen so low he’s not part of the big boy debate that Fox Business is hosting this coming week?

Not at all and here’s why.

As former chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Christie made several, well-time trips to the state for Havenstein which is more than can be said for better-known and in better shape rivals for the nomination whether it’s Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina or Marco Rubio.

Christie came here five times all of them for Havenstein.

More importantly, Christie sent the green.

Two years after the RGA spent a record, $9 million in a losing effort against Hassan, Christie still got the group to pony up $3 million.

If that’s not enough, Christie’s outfit paid for several polls, leaked to the state’s media, which always put Havenstein in a decent light and was aimed at blunting independent polls that had Hassan pulling away from him.


House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, has plenty of capable Republicans from which to choose from to become his next majority leader.

But the one likely most deserving is Majority Whip Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack.

While Jasper’s only been speaker for just about a year, Hinch has already carried a lot of water.

Departing Majority Leader Jack Flanagan, R-Brookline, was the outside man working with all legislators but particularly those in his party to corral the nearly 1,000 bills that were filed for the 2015 session.

Hinch was the inside man much more comfortable working with the rank and file to make them comfortable. He’s not the only but a significant reason why you can count on one hand the number of times Jasper was surprised by actions on the floor.

That’s all the more amazing given that he didn’t get more than 20 votes of House Republicans to first take over the gavel last November.


Yes you can conclude Flanagan’s abrupt resignation makes more likely that he goes ahead and runs for the Second Congressional District seat that Democrat Annie Kuster has held for two terms.

But having a big enough war chest is no small matter for a challenger against an incumbent especially when the officeholder (Kuster) set campaign finance records in her first run for the seat even though she didn’t win that one in 2010.

Kuster already has more than $1 million in the bank.

Flanagan knows he’s got to identify where he’s going to raise at least $1.5 million and preferably more than $2 million to even compete.

That’s a tall order and why other prominent Republicans have passed on this campaign.


Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, made a very astute political move that helped his GOP campaign for governor this week.

A few months back, he bowed to GOP leadership pressure and voted to block a state spending contract for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England even though Sununu supports abortion rights.

This time he resisted those political angels to vote in support of Gov. Maggie Hassan’s request to bring lawmakers back into a special session later this month.

As it turned out, Hassan didn’t need Sununu’s vote since Wakefield Republican Councilor Joe Kenney also came on board for the petition.

But Sununu looks like a consensus builder and not an obstructionist on the important public policy of our time.

This also didn’t prevent Sununu from taking some gratuitous shots at Hassan’s leadership on the issue.


You would think it will be difficult to overcome Attorney General Joe Foster’s team if you’re terminally ill Linda Horan just trying to get access to medical marijuana.

Usually courts give great deference to state lawyers especially when it comes to defending state laws and legislative intent.

But Horan’s lawyer, Paul Twomey, insists the opposite is true and that’s why he’s very optimistic at ultimate victory. A preliminary hearing could come as early as this coming Thursday.

"I was the House legal counsel when we passed that law and I know full well the Legislature intended to let residents get ID cards before the dispensaries were open,: Twomey said.

Actually in denying Horan the ID card, the Department of Health and Human Services was merely following what the AG’s office had said nearly a year ago.

That was when a stated deadline for issuing ID cards in the state law came and went - without a legal challenge.

Not this time and Horan has Stage 4 lung cancer but this is one tough fighter.


New Democratic candidate for governor Mark Connolly has plenty of respect for Hassan but the two part company on casino gambling.

Hassan tried the past two terms to make a casino a key revenue source for the two-year state budgets.

"It’s not a good time to be pursuing casino gambling. I don’t support it," Connolly told reporters.

As far as the New Castle Democrat Connolly is concerned, the ship has sailed, the market is saturated and the moves in Massachusetts and Maine for more casinos has boxed in the Granite State.

"Maybe 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago but now it doesn’t make sense."

Connolly had a pretty good rollout especially for someone who is making his first campaign for the big time.

Among those on board are State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, former House Chief of Staff Donald Manning, philanthropist Maxine Morse, Obama campaign co-chair Mary Rauh, Nashua activist Phil Grandmaison and Queen City Realtor Will Kanteres.

But Judy Reardon is not.

The longtime Democratic operative and even longer aide to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen attended Connolly’s rollout but only for her political blog, Reardon Reports.


There’s no final cheat sheet yet but this is the early rough outline for the special session on the opioid crisis.

Gov. Maggie Hassan is fine with the first date, Nov. 18, only being to adopt operating rules and to make further scheduling plans.

Some public hearings will begin the following week before the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend.

Then after some time for committee and amendment work, lawmakers would be tentatively called back the first week of December for the final votes.


The Commission on Child Fatalities expected to complete and endorse its recommendations for action in 2016 when it next meets on Thursday.

Attorney General Foster was a driving force behind them, one to end the routine practice of purging all files on child abuse cases. Given the high turnover in the Division of Children, Youth and Families, this really makes no sense.

The second change is to ensure that law enforcement has access to the DCYF files of suspected abuse cases after the child dies for whatever reason.

The final reform is to extend by one more year the work of the commission.


Former RI Congressman Patrick Kennedy stars at an event Tuesday for the NOW Campaign for Mental Health and Addiction Tuesday.

The event is co-hosted by New Horizons, an adult homeless shelter, and Manchester Community College.

As many as 20 who have struggled with and overcome mental health problems will be featured.

Kennedy is a national co-chair.

It’s also Kennedy’s first political event since his tell-all, "60 Minutes" interview in which he spilled the beans about life in the compound.


Quote of the Week:

"This is my final crusade and I’m not going to stop until we’ve accomplished our goals." - Longtime union organizer Linda Horan on her campaign to get medical marijuana for pain from her Stage 4 case of lung cancer.


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