Rich Ashooh, currently interim president of UNH School of Law, is privately telling associates he'll be seeking the First Congressional District Republican nomination in 2016. A third-place finisher in 2010, Ashooh is thought to be a serious contender.

Nov 20, 2015 6:21 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report. Looking more and more like there will be a third, major Republican running in the First Congressional District

Nothing public yet but we’re here to tell you - there will be a third, prominent Republican in the First Congressional District race in 2016.

It’s Rich Ashooh, who finished a respectable third in the 2010 primary that Frank Guinta won on the way to winning the seat for the first time.

Guinta got 32 percent in that race to 28 percent apiece for Sean Mahoney and Ashooh.

The Bedford Republican Ashooh has been meeting privately with longtime GOP activists and also collecting significant commitments of financial support.

Now, Ashooh already has a day job as the interim executive director of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire School of Law in Concord.

Once, Ashooh publicly confirms that he’s in the hunt, he’ll have to step down. Don’t look for that to occur until next spring.


Before his opposition could turn it against her, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, decided to refund $43,100 to the donors of a questionable Turkish religious leader, Fetullah Gulen.

USA Today reported last month that the group had bankrolled more than 200 campaign junkets for members of their Congress and their staff.

The newspaper also talked to people who made large donations and found that they either were from very modest means or had no memory of giving any money.

Some of the 19 Turkish Americans donating to Ayotte on the same day seemed to know little about the one-term senator.

"He’s a good guy; he’s doing a good job so far," said one who gave the female Ayotte $2,000.

So in response to the inquiry, Ayotte’s campaign confirmed the senator was returning $43,100 of the donations and calling on other candidates to do the same.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the campaign has refunded the contributions in question," said Jon Kohan, Ayotte’s campaign manager.

The Democratic group, American Bridge, criticized Ayotte for getting $1.2 million in support from Americans for Prosperity and $2,500 from KOCH PAC, the super PAC founded by the Koch Brothers.


The special session proved to be a success for House Speaker Shawn Jasper and Rep. Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, Jasper’s new majority leader.

This was the maiden voyage for Hinch who took over recently as the top Republican for Brookline GOP Rep. Jack Flanagan who stepped aside so he could further explore a Second Congressional District challenge of Democrat Annie Kuster.

Hinch led the negotiations with House Democrats that managed to get bipartisan support for the joint resolution to create a task force to study a legislative solution to the drug epidemic.


The left-leaning, League of Conservation Voters will examine the impacts climate change have on local wildlife.

The National Wildlife Federation segment will feature Pam Hunt with New Hampshire Audubon, Tim Moore Outdoors and Tom Ives with Trout Unlimited.

The event is Tuesday morning at New Hampshire Audubon.


Sen. Ayotte continues to promote issues that appeal to women voters.

Her latest, a bipartisan bill she introduced along with Democratic Senators Kristen Gillibrand of New York and Ed Markey of Massachusetts to provide targeted federal grants to bring more attention to postpartum depression.

Senate to provide targeted, federal funding to bringer greater attention to postpartum depression as well as support screening and treatment for maternal depression.

"Postpartum depression is treatable but unfortunately women struggling with this condition are often stigmatized, discouraging them from seeking treatment," Ayotte said in a statement.

"This should not be the case, and our bill will help bring greater awareness to this issue so that women can feel comfortable in coming forward to ask for help. Our bipartisan bill would also provide additional resources for the screening and treatment of pregnant women and new moms who need assistance, thereby improving the health of both the mother and her baby."


Guinta hosted a meeting Friday for local credit union executives to meet with the federal regulators that oversee them.

National Credit Union Association Chairman Debbie Matz attended the event.

“It was an opportunity for community lenders to voice their concern about an overreaching Washington agency, hurting small Granite State banks and economies,” Guinta said.

“We pressed Chairwoman Matz to stay true to her agency’s promised Year of Regulatory Relief. So far, results have been meager."

Guinta and others have been critical that the 2010 Dodd-Frank law lets the national regulators treat credit unions like big banks with far more resources.


Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Once Gov. Maggie Hassan declared she was running for the US Senate, Republicans in the Legislature and on the Executive Council were bound to jump ugly with her on occasion.

And sure enough at the council table it’s been their rejection of public defender Dorothy Graham to one of six judgeship seats that Hassan brought to the council.

The past, 27 presidents of the New Hampshire Bar Association backed Graham as did the current and immediate past police chiefs from Manchester.

The Washington Free Beacon had done another hit piece on Hassan this one accusing the governor of nominating someone who had represented a child sex offender.

Councilor Chris Sununu had accused Hassan of trying to use "the bully pulpit" to ram through every nomination she wants.


The conservative Citizens for A Strong Conservative took out a full-page advertisement in the Union-Leader of New Hampshire calling on her to explain her position on closing t he Gitmo prison.

While there are currently over 100 dangerous individuals still at Gitmo, President Barack Obama vowed on Thursday to continue his push to close it despite delays. A review of possible U.S. sites for the prisoners is part of the plan the White House and Pentagon have been drafting for months, but it has been reported that facilities on the East Coast are being considered.

Governor Maggie Hassan told the New Hampshire Union Leader in an interview last month that "she would consider closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison," but she has not elaborated further on the issue since.

"If Governor Maggie Hassan truly supports closing Gitmo, it stands to reason that she also must have developed a position on what we should do with the more than one hundred dangerous detainees still being held there. It is beyond time for her fully convey that plan to Granite Staters,’’ said Derek Defresne, spokesman for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire.


After several years of work, a longtime Republican activist has completed a new book on t he first-in-the-nation primary.

Granite Steps: Stumbles, Surprises, and Successes on the New Hampshire Primary Trail is a new history of the First-in-the-Nation primary focusing on the campaigns of 1992-2012.

Former Republican State Chairman Fergus Cullen said the book picks up where past primary historians Hugh Gregg and Charles Brereton left off: Bill Clinton's first campaign; George H.W. Bush's re-election struggle; Pat Buchanan's insurgent campaigns; George W. Bush's stumble; Al Gore and John Kerry as successful frontrunners; John McCain's two improbable victories; Mitt Romney's second chance; and the epic battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

"The premise is that the names and issues may change every four years, but the types of candidates stay the same: insurgent outsiders; frontrunners who stumble; frontrunners who prevail; incumbents who get in trouble; second chances; and water testers, also-rans, and drop-outs," Cullen explained.


Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders didn’t get the national but he’ll take the state local of the Service Employees International Union backing his candidacy.

Sanders won the backing of Local Chapter 1984 which is the State Employees Association, the largest public employee union in the state.

Earlier this week, the national SEIU backed rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“Bernie Sanders has a long history of fighting for working people,” said Richard Gulla, president of SEIU Local 1984. “He shares many of our members’ goals and values. He is not afraid to take on Wall Street and will fight against corporate greed and corruption. Bernie supports every worker earning a livable wage allowing them to care for and support their families.’’


He’s had a hard time getting traction in the Republican presidential race but ex-New York Gov. George Pataki got praise from campaign finance reform groups for backing tax incentives to encourage small donor political campaigns.

“We have lost control of the campaign process. One of the things I would do is … put in place a tax credit for up to $200 in contributions to presidential candidates to encourage small donations," a system practiced under President Reagan, Pataki said.

Pataki underscored the importance of small donor incentives "because that’s the people who should be electing the president, not somebody who could be writing a $30 million check to a Super PAC.”

The New Hampshire Rebellion praised Pataki for going on board with reform.

"Voters are disgusted by the amount of money flooding our elections from billionaires and special interests, and demand the presidential candidates commit to fix our broken campaign finance system," said Dan Weeks, director of the NH Rebellion. "We congratulate Gov. Pataki for taking a strong stand in support of public incentives to empower small donors instead of unaccountable Super PACs, and urge him and every other presidential candidate to support the full menu of good-government reforms."


Governor Hassan hasn’t come out in opposition to Northern Pass but continues to put up hurdles to it winning final approval.

The latest this week was her call for the Department of Energy to reschedule public hearings and to hold an additional hearing in northern Coos County.

"The siting of large-scale energy transmission can have implications for decades to come, and we must ensure a thorough and transparent review of proposed projects so that the most impacted communities have the opportunity to be heard," Hassan wrote.

"Rescheduling the December public hearings and including an additional public hearing in the northern part of the state will help ensure that all Granite Staters have an opportunity to attend and have their voices heard."


Quote of the Week:

"So we can all vote on something that makes us feel we all did something and we won’t have done a damn thing." – State Rep. Tammy Simmons, R-Manchester, speaks out against the task force on opioids that the Legislature approved in the special session this week.

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