May 3, 2016 10:08 AM

Steinhauser-First on NH1 News: Guinta to kick-off re-election campaign Thursday

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Rep. Frank Guinta will kick off his 2016 re-election campaign in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District with a two-day tour later this week, NH1 News learned Tuesday morning.

The Republican congressman will campaign in Belknap and Carrol Counties on Thursday and Friday, in what is being billed as “the first of many to take place over the next few months.” In a release that is expected to be widely distributed on Tuesday, Guinta’s campaign says “this week's tour will include stops at small businesses – many serving his state’s tourism industry – and at a local hospital that announced staff cuts, in part, due to Obamacare.”

The campaign swing is being called the “talk is cheap” tour.

Asked why, Guinta told NH1 News “there are those who talk about doing things and there are those who are effective in leadership and deliver on results and throughout my career, whether it’s representing the state’s largest city or in Congress I’ve been delivering on results."

"We started with the ‘We the People’ initiative, asking people in New Hampshire what they wanted me to focus on in Washington. And as a result we’ve put a very aggressive legislative agenda together that has been successful," he added.

The stops on the tour include LRGHealthcare and Thurston’s Marina in Laconia, Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, and Profile Subaru and Green Mountain Rifle Barrel in Conway.

Guinta said the tour “is about listening to people in New Hampshire and delivering when it comes time. That’s been my focus and will continue to do so.”

Guinta calls PAC attacking him 'typical Washington insider approach'

News of Guinta’s campaign kick-off comes one day after state Rep. Pam Tucker announced she was ending her primary challenge against the Republican congressman. Tucker’s announcement was first reported by NH1 News.

Asked if he’s had a chance to speak with her and if he would be seeking her endorsement, Guinta said “we have not had a chance to speak yet. Running for office is a difficult and arduous process. I’ve been through it so I understand the complexities of it. My focus has always been running for re-election, not against somebody. We certainly want to seek everyone’s support. And we’ll see in due time what her decision process will be.”

Tucker became the second Republican candidate to drop out of the race. In March, Portsmouth businessman and 2014 congressional candidate Dan Innis halted his second bid to try and defeat Guinta.

Bedford businessman and 2010 congressional candidate Rich Ashooh remains the only major challenger against Guinta. A newly formed third-party is supporting Ashooh and targeting Guitna. Even though it’s called the Granite Voices PAC, it’s run mostly by people outside of New Hampshire.

Asked about the new third party group that’s attacking him, Guinta said “I think it’s typical Washington insider approach to winning a campaign. You create a super PAC to beat up somebody. I’ve been through that before. I had two super PACs against me last time. This time it looks like I only have one. The reality is that elections are won by Granite Staters, not by outside super PACs trying to influence the vote.”

Watch/Read: Ashooh critical of Guinta

Guinta’s trying to bounce back from a major campaign contribution scandal that dominated headlines last spring. The conventional wisdom is that the more primary challengers the better for Guinta, as the opposition would be splintered. So the departure of Innis and now Tucker from the race would appear to favor Ashooh.

The most recent polling in the GOP nomination race in the 1st CD, from the University of New Hampshire’s survey director Andrew Smith, indicated that 6% of likely GOP primary voters would vote for Guinta, with 37% saying they would consider voting for the congressman. Thirty-four percent were undecided and 23% said they would vote for another candidate in the 1st CD GOP primary race.

The battle for the Democratic nomination is also full of drama, as first time candidate Shawn O’Connor has threatened legal action against former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. O’Connor, a victim of domestic violence, has claimed that Shea-Porter’s campaign spread rumors that he was a perpetrator of domestic violence. Shea-Porter’s campaign has said O’Connor’s allegations are untrue.

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