Sep 20, 2016 6:00 PM
Source: NH1 News Political Director
CONCORD – Shawn O’Connor says he’s not concerned that by being on the ballot in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, he’ll take votes away from former Democrat Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and swing the election to incumbent Republican Rep. Frank Guinta.
“I’m in this election to win this election. Not to be a spoiler,” O’Connor told NH1 News on Tuesday.
The Bedford businessman spoke one-on-one with NH1 News on the eve of a meeting by New Hampshire’s Ballot Law Commission where the state Democratic Party will present the panel with new information it believes will knock the independent candidate off the ballot for the November 8th general election.
O’Connor told NH1 News that the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s desperate to keep him off the ballot.
“I think the Democrats are scared. They’re scared that my message is resonating with voters. I am all about upsetting the rigged two party system. I will not take any PAC or super PAC money or political party money so I can’t be controlled by them or anyone else,” he said.
Last year O’Connor launched a Democratic congressional campaign, running against Shea-Porter for the nomination. Earlier this year, as first reported by NH1 News, O’Connor alleged that Shea-Porter and her supporters spread false rumors about him. She and her campaign denied the allegations. At the time, O’Connor threated legal action against Shea-Porter and the NHDP.
Two months later, in June, O’Connor said he was leaving the Democratic Party and would run as an independent.
Some Democrats worry that if O’Connor’s allowed to stay on the ballot, he could pull votes away from Shea-Porter. Guinta, talking to NH1 News last week at the New Hampshire GOP unity breakfast, twice mentioned that he was running against both Shea-Porter and O’Connor.
On Tuesday, O’Connor said “I truly am in the middle here and aligned in some ways with Carol and some ways with Frank and we’re going to fight for every single vote.”
And he touted that some supporters of Republican primary challenger Rich Ashooh, who lost to Guinta by less than 700 votes in last week’s primary, have reached out to his campaign.
“I can tell you that after Rich Ashooh’s defeat we’ve had a number of Republicans approaching us believing that I am a much better option than Carol,” O’Connor said.
O'Connor told NH1 News that he has three full time staffers working in New Hampshire on his campaign and that he's hired political operatives who worked on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's re-election as an independent. O'Connor touted that he intends to run ads on TV and radio.
New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District is one of the most closely watched swing districts in the country. Shea-Porter won the seat in 2006 and was re-elected in 2008. Guinta defeated her in 2010, but she won the 2012 rematch. Guinta defeated Shea-Porter again in 2014.
Take two for Commission
Last Thursday the Ballot Law Commission, by a 4-1 vote, rejected a motion by state Democrats that O’Connor’s ineligible to stay on the ballot because some of the people who signed his nomination papers also signed similar papers for other independent candidates running for the same office.
State election law dictates that no voter can sign “more than one nomination paper for each office to be voted for.”
But the majority of the panel sided with O’Connor because they said the nomination papers didn’t have any warnings that a voter couldn’t sign more than one paper for office. And they said that the law doesn’t give details on what should be done if a voter signs more than one paper.
Because the forms O’Connor used didn’t contain the warning, they were allowed. If they had included the warning, they would have been disallowed and O’Connor would have fallen short of the 1,500 nomination papers needed by law.
But the NHDP says the commission was not given accurate information at last week’s hearing.
“NHDP has not sued Mr. O’Connor. Rather, as is common in administrative proceedings, NHDP has filed a motion for reconsideration at the Ballot Law Commission because NHDP believes the BLC misapprehended a key factual issue relevant to its decision. NHDP is hopeful that the BLC will reconsider its decision in conformance with NH law,” NHDP attorney William Christie said in a statement provided to NH1 News.
The commission is scheduled to meet at 2pm Wednesday in the Legislative Office Building. They can deny the NHDP's motion and let last week's ruling stand or hear the motion and then vote again. Under state law, the commission's decisions are final and cannot be appealed to a state court.