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Apr 24, 2017 2:24 PM

Marchand tells NH1 News his 'unusual' early announcement a sign of the 'unusual times'


SALEM – Steve Marchand admits that his announcement last month that he was launching a 2018 gubernatorial bid “is earlier than you tend to see candidates get in the race. It’s a little unusual in that regard.”

But in an interview with NH1 News, the former Portsmouth mayor and 2016 Democratic gubernatorial candidate added that “I think we’re in a real unusual times, both at the federal level,” where Marchand pointed out that President Donald Trump’s “already doing 2020 rallies.”

And he added that “it’s unusual times at the state level as well,” spotlighting that the new governor, Republican Chris Sununu, “is already doing fundraisers.”

“Once you’ve made the decision it’s something you want to do, you’ve got something to say, and you believe you can lead the state in a really good direction, you need to get started. It’s a really long process. So once you make the decision, you get going,” Marchand explained as he spoke with NH1 News Sunday prior to the start of a Martin O’Malley house party in Salem.

WATCH/READ: Did I just witness the start of the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign in NH?

Although he trailed far behind his rivals last year in campaign fundraising and organization, Marchand came in a surprise second in September’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern easily won the contest, but Marchand grabbed around a quarter of the vote, beating Mark Connolly for second place.

“I got in about as late as late as anybody’s every gotten in last time, and I closed very fast. I gained about 20 points in the last several weeks, with very little money and very little time,” Marchand touted.

“And I made a lot of friends and I appreciated that very much. And those were the folks that told me even during the holidays ‘we loved you but we didn’t get to know you. Start earlier this time.’ And clearly that’s one lesson that I learned big time in the last election,” he explained.

Last month’s announcement by Marchand came extremely early in the 2018 cycle, with three months still to go in the state budget process. Reacting to Marchand's move, Connolly told NH1 News "it's premature. It's too early."

But Marchand says the early announcement gives him “the luxury of time. I get to learn a lot.”

“I’ve already gone to over 30 town and regional and county Democratic committee meetings. There are a number of groups that are not the official Democratic groups but are progressive and activist groups like the indivisible groups that are all over the state. So by the end of June I’ll have gone to over 60 of them. That’s very important. And obviously I’m raising early money in order to build it up and to have the resources next year to communicate with a wider audience that’s paying attention,” he added.

Marchand served as director of corporate relations for the University of New Hampshire and later served as Portsmouth mayor from 2005-08.

In 2014 he became state director for No Labels, the national movement of Democrats, Republicans and independent voters who say they’re dedicated to bipartisan efforts to solve the nation’s problems. But during last year’s primary, Marchand ran to the left of Van Ostern and even Connolly on numerous issues, including the legalization of marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana is a theme of his new bid for the Corner Office. Two weeks ago at a Rockingham County Democratic Committee gathering in Exeter he argued that the Granite State should follow the examples of states like Colorado, Washington and Massachusetts by legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

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