Mar 30, 2016 10:25 PM
Steinhauser: Forrester jumps into race for governor; touts conservative credentials and jabs at GOP rivals
NH1 News Political Director
MEREDITH – Saying that “with the right candidate in this race, Republicans can win, and by the way I am the right candidate,” Jeanie Forrester officially jumped into the race for New Hampshire governor.
And the three-term state senator took a shot at her rivals for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, saying “all of the other candidates in this primary can talk the talk but I’m only one who has walked the walk.”
Forrester made her announcement Wednesday evening in front of a couple of hundred supporters packed into the Wicwas Lake Grange # 292 in her hometown of Meredith.
The 57-year old chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee touted her conservative credentials, telling the audience that ”I believe in limited government and personal responsibility. I support the Second Amendment. And I believe we need to preserve and defend our Second Amendment rights. I also believe we must protect the life of the unborn child.”
Forrester pledged that “it’s time to take power away from Concord,” adding that “I will be a Governor who empowers our communities and stops the overreach of state government.”
Forrester spent a good portion of her speech addressing the state’s acute heroin and opioid epidemic. She touted that “I’ve been working on this issue for years; long before any of the politicians in Concord woke up to the crisis.”
“My firsthand experience on the issue of drug and alcohol abuse is fundamentally different from the politicians in this race. That’s because for five years I worked at Odyssey House; a residential treatment home for teens struggling with addiction,” she continued.
Standing in the front row just feet from Forrester was her friend Judy Tilton, who’s 21-year old son died last year due to substance abuse.
“Judy, I grieved with you then and I grieve with you now,” Forrester said.
She vowed a tough approach to the crisis, saying “know this drug dealers. Under a Forrester administration there will be zero tolerance. We are going to lock you up and we’re going to throw away the key.”
But she also pledged that “I’ll beef up early prevention programs. Prevention education needs to happen early and often. We need to make it as second nature for kids to stay off drugs as it is to buckle up for safety.”
Forrester jabs at GOP rivals
Forrester is the first woman to announce for the Corner Office this election cycle. And she becomes the fourth Republican in the race, joining Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, and state Rep. Frank Edelblut.
Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern and Mark Connolly, a former state representative who served for years as the state's top financial watchdog, are running for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan launched a Democratic challenge to Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte rather than run for a third term as governor.
Talking about her GOP rivals, Forrester said “Republicans have lost 9 out of the last 10 elections for Governor because we keep putting up the same type of candidate. We can’t keep doing that and expect different results.”
And she took a shot at some of her competitors, adding that “I won’t be campaigning for money on K Street in Washington like some others. I’ll campaign on the Main Streets in New Hampshire.”
Last week Sununu welcomed Forrester into the race, telling NH1 News that “the more the merrier. Jeannie’s a friend, Ted’s a friend. Frank’s a friend.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley wasn’t as welcoming.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Buckley said “State Senator Jeanie Forrester’s entrance into the governor’s race gives New Hampshire Republicans yet another far-right ideologue to choose from. Her attacks on a woman's right to choose, and her sweetheart legislation benefiting special interests demonstrates just how far removed she is from everyday Granite Staters.”
Forrester’s top political adviser in her campaign for governor is veteran GOP consultant Mike Dennehy.