Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas is flanked by former Nashua Mayor Bernie Streeter and former Nashua Chamber of Commerce President Chris Williams as the GOP gubernatorial candidate announces his economic plans, on August 1, 2016

Aug 1, 2016 10:17 PM

Only on NH1 News: Gatsas and Sununu trade fire on drug crisis

NH1 News Political Director

NASHUA – Ted Gatsas predicts the Gate City may be “the battleground” in the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

And in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News, the Manchester mayor also pushed back against one of his GOP rivals for the nomination, saying that Executive Councilor Chris Sununu failed to address New Hampshire’s acute heroin and opioid epidemic when he announced his campaign for the Corner Office.

Gatsas spoke exclusively with NH1 News on Monday morning, moments after unveiling his economic plan at Nashua Millyard Technology Park.

WATCH: Gatsas unveils economic plan; fires back at Sununu over drug crisis

“As governor I will get Concord off your backs,” Gatsas pledged, adding that “no matter who you are, where you live, or how big your business is, the Granite State economy will work for you.”

The candidate said that his proposal, titled “The Gatsas Granite Growth Agenda,” is a ten point plan to grow the state’s economy.

Taking aim at some of his rivals plans, Gatsas told NH1 News that “people need to read them. Because some of them are very specific and others are not. If you take a look at our education plan, it’s very specific. If you look at our opioid plan, it’s very specific. If you look at this economic plan, it ties those two plans in with this one.”

“I would just ask people to go out and read them. And then make their own decision about that. Because I think they will see that I give you definite answers on definite situations and look you straight in the eye when I give you that answer. And we need to find simple solutions, get it done,” he added.

Last week, at a GOP gubernatorial debate hosted by “New Hampshire Today with Jack Heath” and broadcast on 99.1 NH1 News, Sununu criticized Gatsas for not mentioning the state’s drug crisis during his 2015 “State of the City” address.

Gatsas returned fire on Monday, telling NH1 News “I appreciate that Chris Sununu is reading my state of the city addresses. But I would look and say that he should look at his own address when he came out and announced last September that he was running for governor. Because nowhere in that address did he talk about the opioid issue.”

“I’ve been talking about this opioid issue for over a year and a half. We started off calling it a heroin epidemic. It is now a fentanyl epidemic. So I appreciate Chris looking at my plans and looking at the speeches that I’ve given, but I would suggest that maybe as I’ve said when you point a finger at somebody you point three back at yourself,” Gatsas added.

Responding to the comments by Gatsas, Sununu campaign spokesman David Abrams told NH1 News that “this is just more predictable behavior from a professional politician. Mayor Gatsas continues to dodge from his own failed record and lack of action in the City of Manchester, instead looking to score cheap political points."

Gatsas: Nashua ‘the battleground’

Monday’s event was the second time Gatsas has traveled to Nashua to unveil a major policy plan. On June 15, in front of Nashua City Hall, he introduced his proposals to combat the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic.

Gatsas was recently endorsed by former Nashua Mayor and former Executive Councilor Bernie Streeter. And last week he landed the endorsement of former Nashua Chamber of Commerce president and 2015 mayoral candidate Chris Williams. Both men introduced Gatsas at Monday’s event.

Asked how much their support helps him in the Gate City, Gatsas said “they have a great network down here and I think it’s important that we work in Nashua because I think that this may be the battleground for this governor’s race.”

Starting Tuesday Gatsas will promote his economic proposals. He plans stops in Newport, New London and Claremont. Wednesday Gatsas will make stops in Exeter, Raymond, and Newfields, where Sununu lives. Gatsas will tour businesses in Hudson on Thursday, and stop in Gorham, Berlin, and Colebrook on Friday.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party took aim at his proposals.

“Rehashing failed Republican economics and repeating far-right talking points can’t hide the fact that Ted Gatsas’ ‘plan’ would do nothing for middle-class families trying to get ahead. He opposes establishing a state minimum wage and supports Donald Trump’s disastrous economic policies that would blow a $10 trillion hole in the deficit,” NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement.

“His record offers more of the same. Gatsas has spent his time in office blocking investment in New Hampshire’s clean energy future and implementing deep education cuts that led to massive layoffs,” Buckley added.

With Gov. Maggie Hassan running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte, the race for the Corner Office is wide open. Besides Gatsas and Sununu, state Sen. Jeanie Forrester and state Rep. Frank Edelblut are also running for the GOP nomination. Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, Mark Connolly, who served nearly a decade as the state’s top financial watchdog, and former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand are running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

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