Jan 29, 2016 9:23 AM

Steinhauser: Guinta formally launches re-election bid

NH1 News Political Director

MANCHESTER – Rep. Frank Guinta’s making if official.

The Republican lawmaker in the state’s first congressional district formally announced his 2016 re-election bid, saying in a statement that “I first ran for office because I have a passion for public service, an interest to give back, to create a better future for generations to come. Always, I have sought to better serve our cities, our state and our nation, fighting to make Washington work for Granite Staters, and I am proud of the successes we have had in 2015.”

The formal announcement is no surprise, as Guinta’s said since last summer that he was moving towards running for re-election. In a live interview Friday morning on “New Hampshire Today with Jack Heath,” Guinta told Heath and this reporter that with the new year underway, he felt it was time to officially launch is bid.

Guinta’s trying to bounce from a campaign finance controversy that dominated headlines for much of last spring and summer. The Federal Election Commission ruled that a $355,000 loan from an account in his parents’ name that Guinta used to help boost his first election to Congress in 2010 was illegal.

Guinta used the money in the 2010 cycle to win a hard fought multi-candidate GOP primary, and then to defeat Democratic incumbent Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in the general election. The FEC declared the donation excessive and illegal, fining Guinta $15,000 and ordering him to repay the entire donation. Although Guinta has long insisted that the funds were his, in May he signed an agreement with the FEC in which he agreed to return the $355,000 and pay the fine.

Some top Granite State Republicans, such as Sen. Kelly Ayotte, state Senate President Chuck Morse, state House Speaker Shawn Jasper, and Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, all called on Guinta to step down. But he resisted those calls and is now running for re-election.

Guinta’s facing a primary challenge from former congressional candidate Dan Innis, who last year stepped down as New Hampshire Republican Party finance chairman before lauching a bid for Congress. Guinta defeated Innis in the 2014 GOP primary in the 1st CD.

Rich Ashooh, the director of strategy and planning at BAE Systems and current interim executive director of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy, may also launch a primary challenge. And state Rep. Pamela Tucker is also mulling a run for Congress.

If he survives the primary, Guinta could face off for a fourth straight general election against Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. First elected to the seat in 2006, Shea-Porter was defeated by the then-former Manchester mayor in 2010. Shea-Porter came back to top Guinta in the 2012 election, but he once again won the seat back during the 2014 midterms.

Shea-Porter announced her bid last year. Bedford businessman Shawn O’Connor is also running for the Democratic nomination.

According to raised $71,435.48 in fourth quarter of 2015, according to his campaign statement. That’s less than the $110,000 he brought in in the third quarter and the $118,000 he raised in the second quarter.

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