Jul 15, 2016 4:56 PM
NH1 News Political Director
CONCORD – With less than two months to go until primary day, the race for New Hampshire’s GOP gubernatorial nomination is turning into a four way fistfight.
And the first debate between the major candidates is more than enough proof that the war of words is getting as hot as the summer temperatures.
Three-term Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, who enjoys the best name recognition among the Republican contenders and is considered the favorite at this state of the race, was expected to come under attack from his rivals, and those expectations were more than met.
State Rep. Frank Edelblut, the conservative first-term lawmaker who is the least well known candidate but who’s quickly energizing activists on the right, criticized Sununu minutes into the start of Thursday night’s debate at Windham High School.
Edelblut zeroed in on Sununu’s stance as a candidate to supports abortion rights.
“I would challenge chris as well because the platform is very specific about life,” Edleblut said, answering a question about the NHGOP’s platform.
A few minutes later, Sununu’s recent high profile swing vote on the Executive Council to restore state funding for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which is opposed by many conservatives, was on the docket. The candidates were asked if as governor, the would sign a bill prohibiting such funding. Edelblut, state Sen. Jeanie Forrester and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas all said yes, with Sununu answering “if there are no options for quality health care, no.”
Sununu introduced his economic plan the day before the debate. The New Hampshire Democratic Party described the proposal as “far-right talking points” which consist “of little more than red meat for the Republican base.”
But Forrester, the conservative lawmaker from Meredith, had a vastly different opinion, saying “I have to say when I saw that plan I thought it might have been written by Maggie Hassan.”
The line become one of the most talked about moments in the debate.
Sununu quickly responded, asking “what part was that.”
“All of it,” Forrester shot back.
Following the debate, NH1 News asked Forrester about Sununu’s plan, pointing out that it’s doubtful Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan (who’s running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte) would include a push for a Right to Work law and language calling to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“He also talked about spending more money on infrastructure,” Forrester said. “There were some things in the plan that really didn't sound like a Republican plan and that's what I was referring to.”
While Forrester criticized Sununu’s proposals, Edelblut took on all of his rivals, saying “we have structural problems that won't be fixed by gimmicky plans that politicians tend to create.”
That comment incited spirited responses from Gatsas and Forrester.
Later, Gatsas told NH1 News “Rep. Edelblut doesn't have any ways that he's going to solve problems. You tell me one answer that he gave you that you feel comfortable to a solution to a problem."
“He has no plans. He has not come up with an economic plan, or a government reform plan or a plan for the heroin and opioid epidemic,” Forrester added. “When somebody doesn't have a plan they tend to lash out at other people.”
Common Core Clash
Some of the biggest fireworks came late in the debate, when the candidates argued over the Common Core educational standards, which are fiercely opposed by many on the right.
Standing next to Sununu, Gatsas said “when somebody stands here and says they support choice, but yet they vote to fund Common Core, that's a big question. And counselor Sununu voted to fund Common Core.
Sununu shot back at Gatsas, saying “there's no one standing on this stage that dislikes Common Core, Smarter Balance testing more than I do. And I take real offense to that.”
Sununu explained his vote, saying “I’m not going to play a game of financial chicken with our kids in these schools. I’m not going to do it.so what did we say. we were very clear. We told the department of education that they better come back with a system designed by New Hampshire.”
Edelblut then jumped in to the fight, criticizing both Sununu and Gatsas over the issue.
Asked following the debate if we’ll see a very aggressive Edleblut going forward, the candidate responded “I just think it's important for the people of New Hampshire to know the facts going into the election. So I don’t' really call that aggression. I call that making sure that we have all the information out on the table so people can make an informed decision about who they want to lead this state.”
In an apparent sign of his growing strength with conservative Republican activists, Edleblut easily won a straw poll of those who attended the debate.
“This debate was about establishing the battle lines for the next two months. Ted Gatsas and Chris Sununu are fighting over the more establishment and moderate groups, Jeanie Forrester is focusing on the conservative base and Frank Edelblut is working to consolidate both the conservative and libertarian aspects of the Republican primary electorate," Greg Moore, state director for Americans for Prosperity in New Hampshire told NH1 News.
"The real takeaway was the crowd – who could turn out their supporters on a hot Thursday in July. That speaks to the kind of enthusiasm that these candidates are creating in the grassroots. By that measure, the night was a huge win for Edelblut. The real question is if he can convert that fervor among the activists into broad support across the state," added Moore, who's staying neutral in the GOP nomination battle.
The race for the Corner Office isn’t grabbing a lot of headlines right now. It’s summertime, and most people other than engaged activists have checked out from politics. And those who are tuned in can quickly get distracted by the star power of the White House race and New Hampshire’s blockbuster U.S. Senate battle.
It’s a shame, because the race for the Corner Office is turning into a very compelling contest.
13 hours 26 minutes agoAlmost a month after 34 cats were seized from a Barnstead home, up to 10 of the cats are still pending surgery at the...
12 hours 42 minutes agoPolice arrested a woman after she left her 2-year-old in her running vehicle while she shopped at Target Saturday. (More)
14 hours 18 minutes agoThe newly appointed deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee says the Democratic party can't spend all of its energy focusing on Republican President...
19 hours 38 minutes agoA Tilton felon is facing drug and gun charges after police allegedly saw him slumped over the wheel of his car Saturday around 1...
Mar 24, 2017 5:19 PMWhile executing a search warrant, police seized what is believed to be psilocybin mushrooms, marijuana, and butane honey oil. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 9:33 AMNew Hampshire State Police arrested to wanted fugitives after stopping a van full of people who entered the United States illegally. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 3:59 PMTwo influential members of New Hampshire’s state Senate predict that a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession will pass their chamber. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 3:51 PMSnow fell faster than expected today, accumulating a few inches in parts of central and northern New Hampshire through late-afternoon. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 12:39 PMA woman is facing drug charges after being found in possession of heroin during a parole check-in. She was arrested for possession of a...
Mar 23, 2017 4:16 PMState Police rearrested a Wales man for stealing electricity from a Central Maine Power pole and transformer. (More)
Mar 23, 2017 4:59 PMA Stafford County corrections officer allegedly tried bringing thousands of dollars of drugs into the jail was supposed to get deployed. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 11:09 AMIt's the first Friday of spring, but Granite Staters will have some snow to deal with. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 9:02 AMThe effort to crack down on drug-related crimes - known NH-wide as Operation Granite Hammer - led to the arrests of 2 suspected heroin...
Mar 23, 2017 3:02 PMA Keene man was indicted for allegedly strangling two of his then-girlfriend's cats. (More)
Mar 23, 2017 1:28 PMDemocrats filed a complaint with the ethics committee arguing Sununu violated rules against using his position to secure advantages for himself or others. (More)
Mar 22, 2017 5:27 PMNicole Guida, owner of Chic & Unique, a boutique shop located in Littleton, is requesting a jury trial against a former customer who caused...
Mar 22, 2017 6:02 PMA Strafford County corrections officer allegedly attempted to bring heroin into the jail before being detained by police. (More)
Mar 22, 2017 11:01 AMChelsea Blais plead not guilty to abusing children in her care at the Alpha Bits Learning Center, where police say she force fed and...
Mar 22, 2017 10:15 AMNYPD seized over $4.1 million and over three kilograms (6 pounds) of heroin, unraveling a multi-state drug ring — involving New England. (More)
Mar 22, 2017 4:06 PMNew Hampshire is often in the 'weather battle zone' this time of year, which isn't a good thing if you are looking for spring...
Mar 22, 2017 10:45 AMNew Hampshire’s top public officials Wednesday marked the death of state Sen. Scott McGilvray. The first term Democratic state senator from Hooksett and president...
Mar 22, 2017 7:33 AMThe National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory from 10 a.m. Wednesday to midnight. (More)
Mar 21, 2017 10:29 PMA report released on Tuesday by the state agency that licenses childcare centers revealed multiple incidents of verbal and physical abuse committed by a...
Mar 21, 2017 6:40 PMA mother and her friend who injected her with heroin while she was in labor in September 2016 will not be facing felony charges...
Mar 21, 2017 4:09 PMA 74-year-old Mass. man living in public housing for the elderly faces drug trafficking charges after police say they found cocaine valued at about...
Mar 21, 2017 12:09 PMDerry Police say a home was shot at and struck at least 6 times early Tuesday morning, but no one was hurt. (More)
Mar 21, 2017 12:26 PMA woman has been charge with assault against three infants at a Manchester day care center. The three victims are all younger than 1-years-old....
Mar 20, 2017 4:05 PMA man who pleaded guilty to supplying a person in Rochester with a deadly dose of drugs will spend between 8- and 16-years in...
Mar 20, 2017 4:01 PMOnlyInYourState.com has provided nine places in the Granite State where you might be able to spot a ghost. (More)
Mar 20, 2017 2:31 PMPolice are searching for a man who allegedly punched and injured another man at a diner in Manchester. (More)
Mar 20, 2017 3:56 PMA 21-year-old man destroyed his family home after trying to exterminate ants with wooden matches, killing their two cats and a dog. (More)
Mar 20, 2017 4:14 PMA state representative cited house rules when she told a New Hampshire man to stop recording a committee meeting - rules that apparently do...
Mar 19, 2017 5:08 PMA new kind of roller coaster experience is set to premiere next month at Six Flags New England. (More)
Mar 20, 2017 9:40 AMAuthorities say Super Bowl LI and Super Bowl XLIX jerseys "found in the possession of a credentialed member of international media." (More)
Mar 18, 2016 10:37 AMA drug sweep on Thursday afternoon and evening netted four arrests, a pound of suspected cocaine and $7,000 in cash. (More)
Mar 19, 2017 11:56 AMDisney's live-action 'Beauty' was a beast at the box office, opening with an estimated $170 million in North American ticket sales and setting a...
Mar 19, 2017 10:06 AMToll booth workers could be a thing of the past under a bill before the New Hampshire House. (More)
Mar 19, 2017 10:48 AMA Windham man sustained life-threatening injuries when his snowmobile collided with a tree. (More)
Mar 19, 2017 11:23 AMA snowmobiler fell through thin ice, causing a difficult rescue by Wakefield Fire and EMS. (More)
Mar 18, 2017 1:33 PMA Boscawen man is accused of driving 104 mph in a 65 mph speed zone around 9:40 a.m. Saturday. (More)
Mar 17, 2017 5:07 PMAn Exeter High School guidance counselor has pleaded not guilty to aggravated sexual assault against an underage female student. (More)
Mar 17, 2017 4:26 PMA Pembroke mother held a gun to her daughter's head and shouted "You (expletive) piece of (expletive)," according to court paperwork. (More)
Mar 18, 2017 8:24 AMUtility crews are still mopping up in New Hampshire after a powerful nor'easter. (More)
Mar 17, 2017 11:30 AMA 62-year-old man passed away after his snowmobile got stuck in while attempting to get up a hill on Trail 21 in Stewartstown. (More)
Mar 17, 2017 1:13 PMThe Nashua Police Department arrested five more people for various drug-related crimes in connection with Operation Granite Hammer Thursday. (More)
Mar 17, 2017 10:37 AMCitizens Bank is experiencing transaction delays affecting customer accounts. The company acknowledged the problem on its social media accounts Friday. (More)
Mar 17, 2017 8:42 AMThe New Hampshire Attorney General identified the man who was found dead in a Farmington home Wednesday. (More)
Mar 17, 2017 7:52 AMA Pembroke mother is facing charges after allegedly pointing a gun at her daughter during an argument. (More)
Mar 17, 2017 8:22 AMPolice responded to the hotel around 11:30 p.m. to find a 43-year-old man that was "actively" bleeding due to severe injuries on his face....