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Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, left, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, are only a week on the campaign trail and the level of attacks has reached a pretty high pitch.

Oct 16, 2015 7:14 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report. Senate GOP backing off attack on state's drug czar


CONCORD - Apparently, the State Senate GOP leadership has decided the latest attack on Gov. Maggie Hassan’s effort dealing with the drug epidemic was a little over the top.

We speak of the call from Farmington Republican Sen. Sam Cataldo for drug czar Jack Wozmak to resign immediately for failing to properly meet with leaders of the New Hampshire Medical Society.

Cataldo was reacting to a story in Foster’s Daily Democrat and the comments of Medical Society President Dr. Lukas Kolm.,

Kolm said he was looking for "more state leadership" on the issue and that Wozmak "failed to reach out to physicians."

Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, had called for Wozmak’s head after Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas complained about a delay in getting an audience with him.

Republican State Chairwoman Jennifer Horn piled on.

"Governor Hassan's drug czar has a well-documented history of mishandling relationships with substance abuse prevention stakeholders, and it is unacceptable that the governor has turned a blind eye to public revelations of his incompetence and mismanagement," Horn said in a statement.

But the Senate GOP yanked Cataldo off the speaking tour.

NH1 News had scheduled an on-camera interview with Cataldo about the controversy Thursday morning but three hours later at its appointed time the subject begged off.

"I’ve been told no more interviews about this," Cataldo told the New Hampshire Political Report.

Meanwhile, the Union-Leader of New Hampshire clarified its own story on the topic with Kolm admitted that the drug czar had met with some doctors.

"Dr. Lukas Kolm said Wozmak has met with individual members, but not the society’s leadership group as a whole," the newspaper wrote.

Kolm said he "doesn’t want the process driven by politics."

Too late for that, doc.


Let’s dispense with the notion outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid "apologized" for his intemperate comments about New Hampshire having "very few minorities; nobody lives there."

Here’s the Reid statement in its entirety.

"I worked to have Nevada moved up in the presidential nominating process. It is the first state in the process that truly represents the demographic composition of America," Reid said.

"Iowa and New Hampshire have been established as our first caucus and primary states for quite some time and I have not and am not advocating switching that order."‎

Yes, Reid threw his weight around with the Democratic National Committee to get Nevada artificially moved up on the calendar despite having not much of a record at all of high voter participation or early primary contests.

Let’s hope his likely replacement, New York Sen. Chuck Shumer has a little more respect for a tradition that the candidates and national media seem to like well enough because they keep coming in record numbers.


We heard from one unsatisfied contestant, 2004 New Hampshire primary runner-up Howard Dean. The former Vermont governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee decided this week to go postal on longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the longest serving, state election official in the country,.

"You guys need a new Secretary of State," Dean told WKXL Concord News Radio when asked about the comments of Reid and outgoing GOP National Chairman Reince Priebus who said there should be "no sacred cows" leading off the primaries every four years.

Gardner has "been there too long" and has "become autocratic," Dean complained.

"You’ve got to not make people mad at you all the time, and my own view is that you need a new Secretary of State who’s perceived as more fair, less autocratic, more reasonable. But I think he’s the only person that’s jeopardizing the New Hampshire primary."

One thing Gardner does remember, however, it was Dean who tried to diminish New Hampshire when he ran the DNC after his disappointing loss here to Secretary of State John Kerry.

"When he was chairman of the DNC he did everything he could to diminish the role of the New Hampshire presidential primary," Gardner said.

"He wanted to diminish the role of New Hampshire, and he never wanted to come out and say that but that was his position and that was the position of Harry Reid back then, too."

GOP Chairwoman Horn came to Gardner’s aide though no Democrats put out any statements in response to Dean’s comments.

"Secretary of State Bill Gardner is a respected bipartisan leader that has protected New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary for decades," Horn said.

Horn noted Dean was on the local radio station as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton and called on the Democratic hopeful to distance herself from his comments.


When you look at the US Senate race, assume Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, like any pretty popular incumbent would be installed as the slight favorite over Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Consider this sobering statistic from a well-known Republican and Ayotte supporter given that Ayotte is now running for re-election in a presidential year.

"Based on the voter modeling and the last four presidential election years, Kelly starts out with a deficit of 59,000 votes," the GOP insider confided to the New Hampshire Political Report.

Keep in mind Ayotte first won the seat by wiping the floor with then-Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes in a non-presidential election in 2010.

Can Ayotte overcome this historical edge for the Dems? You bet she can but it helps insure this race has gotten negative and will stay that way over the next 13 months.


Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern isn’t waiting for anyone else to get into the Democratic race for governor.

This week he released a list of more than 500 grassroots supporters from nearly 100 towns backing his campaign.

"Across New Hampshire, hundreds of community leaders and volunteers are excited to work together to build an even brighter future and stronger economy for the people of our state, and I’m proud and grateful for this extraordinary support," Van Ostern said in a statement. "This will be a grassroots powered campaign from Day One, and as Governor I will always focus on doing what’s right for the people of New Hampshire and the future we will build together."

Van Ostern has the backing of Congresswoman Annie Kuster - he ran her 2010 campaign for the seat [-] seven, current and former state senators and more than 30 House members and two ex-chairs of the party - Kathy Sullivan and Ned Helms and former House Democratic Leader Peter Burling.

You can view the full list at: http://vanostern.com/wp-content/uploads/CVO500.pdf

Meanwhile, Stefany Shaheen has told friends she will decide soon and while just completing her first term on the Portsmouth City Council is very serious in exploring this.

With Hassan running for the Senate, Kuster and Shea-Porter running for the House some activists would like to see a woman seeking the corner office as well.

Still there are some activists urging Shaheen to aim lower and run for the Executive Council Dist. 3 seat that Newfields Republican Chris Sununu is exiting to run for governor.


If Shaheen goes that route, the NH Political Report confirms she’ll have company.

Salem lawyer and former State Senate hopeful Beth Roth is stepping out to confirm her own council bid to try and replace Sununu.

"I am announcing early in order to do the most thorough job I can talking to voters and learning about the needs of the entire district, which spans from the Seacoast to Pelham,” Roth said. "I’m ready to take on the challenge of a regional campaign, and plan to devote the energy and time to earning the votes of people in this district who deserve to be heard."

Roth said Sununu’s vote against state grants for Planned Parenthood moved her into this race.

"It is critical that the NH Executive Council return its focus of overseeing state funding without partisan interference of national moneyed interests influencing their votes," Roth said.

An appropriation made by the legislature, and with proper contract terms reached with state departments for the delivery of necessary services for the families of New Hampshire should not be undermined for personal or political self- interest,” she said.

Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, defeated Roth in their previous showdown.


Does anyone else think that some Republican presidential hopefuls have big problems if they can’t raise as much money as a Democrat who’s not even on the campaign trail.

That’s the fate of LA Gov. Bobby Jindal ($579,000), ex-PA Sen. Rick Santorum ($387,000) and former New York Gov. George Pataki ($153,000), all of whom raised less than ex-VA Sen. Jim Webb who pulled in $696,000.

KY Sen. Rand Paul’s $2.5 million didn’t turn many heads since it was ninth best among GOP candidates.

That’s why Campaign Manager Chip Englander and Chief Strategist Doug Stafford released an upbeat memo the same day these downer number came out that hyped Paul’s political organization in the Granite State where he won a recent straw poll.

"In New Hampshire, where Senator Rand Poll (abbreviated SRP in the memo) won over the weekend, our organization has a statewide Leadership Team of over 300 members-nearly triple the size of our closest rival," they wrote.

"This well-respected team of veteran grassroots organizers were the catalyst of this weekend's win and will be vital to future victories.

SRP's strength in New Hampshire comes from his continued legwork in the state. He's been there more than most of the candidates. He was there last weekend, he will be there next weekend, and he will be there a third time at the end of this month. Like John McCain in 2008, Senator Paul's campaign isn't showing up in October polling, but will be there when it counts-on Election Day."


Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, has no intention letting a gender gap grow unchecked in her 2016 race with Gov. Maggie Hassan.

That’s why allies to Ayotte’s have already aired ads of her own touting her support for women’s health care.

And they touched off an angry response from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England critical of Ayotte and accusing her of "lying about her record on women’s health."

"Kelly Ayotte and her outside allies are lying to New Hampshire women about her long record of undermining women’s health," said PPNNE Vice President Jennifer Frizzell.

"When it’s time for an election, she claims she supported women’s access to health care – but when it mattered most over the past five years, when she had to make a choice as a senator, she voted repeatedly to cut women’s access to health care."

The Ayotte campaign fired back,.

"This attack by Governor Hassan and the special interests propping up her campaign is yet another attempt to mislead voters about Kelly’s real record on women’s health," said Ayotte spokeswoman Chloe Rockow

"Kelly cares deeply about ensuring all women have access to health services, which is why she’s worked to expand access to over the counter contraceptives, led efforts to protect access to mammograms, and voted to fund community health centers that provide key health services for New Hampshire women."

The Ayotte camp went on its own offensive against Hassan’s support for the Iran nuclear deal.

"I’d like to know where (Hassan) stands on this latest launch of the missile by Iran in terms of its violation of existing UN resolutions and also in this agreement that she is supporting we’re saying legitimately that they can have (ICBMs), go forward in eight years and lift these resolutions, but they’re already violating them right now," Ayotte said.

Hassan maintains the Iran nuke agreement is the best option to prevent that country from building a bomb.

And the state GOP sent out a fund-raising e-mail based on Ayotte’s attack of Hassan.

Gov. Hassan's continued support for President Obama's deal with Iran shows that she is just as woefully naïve and foolish as he is. Tell Maggie Hassan she will never represent our state in the United States Senate and donate today!


It sure didn’t take very long for the Senate race to get very snarky.

The Hassan campaign promoted a critical piece of Ayotte on Wonkette, a certainly left-of-center satirical blog started in 2004 by a founder of Gawker.

Here’s the link to it. http://wonkette.com/594868/gop-senator-says-moms-need-time-votes-ever-happening

Here’s how the conservative, America Rising PAC reacted to it.

"Citing wildly biased sources” isn’t new for Hassan’s campaign. A press release sent out on Tuesday linked to ThinkProgress.org – affiliated with the far-left Center for American Progress – as a source for another attack,’’ America Rising’s statement read.

"With the bar set this low, one has to wonder if Hassan’s campaign will start blasting out Democratic Underground comments next?’’

The Democratic response?

"The bottom line is not one Republican disputed a single fact in the piece, which is a very thorough rundown of her dismal record on women's econ issues. And the reaction on Twitter from Team Ayotte, NHGOP and the Rising folks makes clear they're very scared of this issue," one partisan source answered.


Potential, Republican First District candidate Dan Innis claimed the $110,000 he raised in the past quarter exceeded that of Congressman Frank Guinta and ex-Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and noted he didn’t take PAC money while they did.

"I am grateful for the strong support I have received in my exploration. It is clear that voters are tired of the revolving door in NH CD1, as well as politics as usual in Washington, DC," Innis said in a statement.

"It's time to send someone to Congress who will represent the views of the people of New Hampshire and work to solve problems responsibly in Congress, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve our district, our state, and the nation."

The total barely edged out what Guinta raised.


This is a big week for the two, high-profile mayoral races in New Hampshire.

The Nashua mayor’s race takes center stage Tuesday night at Nashua South High School where former Mayor Jim Donchess faces off against Republican Chris Williams for the non-partisan post.

The League of Women Voters is sponsoring this debate.

"This race is a 50-50," said one Nashua Democrat.

Then on Wednesday and Friday are the fourth and fifth of the six mayoral forums in Manchester pitting Mayor Ted Gatsas versus challenge Joyce Craig.

This race got very chippy last week when Gatsas complained that Craig was breaking the forum rules by using a steno-pad.

Observers on both sides acknowledge the Queen City mayoral seat is very much up for grabs in a little over three weeks.


Right or wrong every decision Governor Hassan makes now will be viewed through the Senate prism.

She’s been a consistent supporter of the Exit 4-A project off Interstate 93 since taking office.

Hassan called this week to push the expensive construction work up forward on the 10-year plan

Now both Derry and Londonderry are big boosters of the project and critical swing towns in the Senate race.

Going back more than 20 years, Democrats who win Derry usually win statewide - ask Jeanne Shaheen, John Lynch and yes Maggie Hassan when she first ran and won for governor against Manchester Republican Ovide Lamontagne.


You don’t see the state’s largest business lobby jump ugly about agency rules but that’s what we saw on Thursday.

The Business and Industry Association considered propose Site Evaluation Committee rules on energy capacity too restrictive for power companies.

President Jim Roche called the rules ``burdensome, lengthen the process for filing, invite challenges and litigation, and may go beyond statutory authority.’’

"This is incredibly disconcerting to businesses, New Hampshire’s job creators. Rules for siting energy infrastructure projects in New Hampshire must be fair, balanced, clear and expeditious, not the reverse," he added.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules took the proposal under advisement with no final action on it this week.


Quote of the Week:

"I’m on my ninth straight day campaigning here; tomorrow I’ll be eligible to vote in New Hampshire or I can claim to be from Massachusetts and just show up on Primary Day and cast a ballot." - Republican presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham joking about his near residency given how much time he’s spending in the first-in-the-nation primary state.


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