Sep 22, 2015 11:11 PM

Steinhauser: Guinta optimistic about 2016 re-election; Shea-Porter says she wants to restore 'integrity'

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – Rep. Frank Guinta’s optimistic about his re-election efforts.

The Republican congressman told NH1 News Tuesday that “things are going fine. I think we’ll be strong in every aspect of a campaign.”

Guinta, who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District, sat down for an interview at NH1’s Concord studios a couple of hours before headlining a re-election fundraiser at Milly’s Tavern in Manchester. The 1st CD is one of the nation's most closely watched congressional district's and is often considered a bellwether.

Guinta saw his second quarter fundraising plummet. He collected just $113,000 in contributions in the April through June period, about a third of what he brought in during the first quarter of the year. Of course it was during the second quarter that the congressman’s campaign finance controversy dominated headlines.

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 for the state's 1st Congressional District. 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 $15,000 fine.

Some top Granite State Republicans, such as Sen. Kelly Ayotte and state Senate President Chuck Morse, have called on Guinta to step down. But he resisted those calls and is now moving towards a 2016 re-election campaign.

Guinta predicted an improvement in fundraising, adding that “I’ve always felt that the politics and the campaign side will take care of itself.”

As for the campaign finance controversy, Guinta told NH1 News that “that’s resolved.”

Guinta will likely face a primary challenge from former congressional candidate Dan Innis, who recently stepped down as New Hampshire Republican Party finance chairman as he moves closer to 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 who was just named the interim executive director of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy, may also launch a primary challenge.

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.

Asked about a four-peat, Guinta said “I think the question is whether the people are ready for that again. And the reality is everybody has a right to run. We’ll see if she gets through a primary.”

Shea-Porter announced her bid Saturday, as she spook at the New Hampshire Democratic Party convention. In an interview Tuesday with NH1 News, the former congresswoman took a shot at her longtime rival, saying “I’m running again to restore integrity, competence, and experience, in the NH01 seat.”

“I was right and that he really did have a problem there and I don’t think that that’s going to hurt me at all. I think it’s going to hurt Mr. Guinta,” she added.

And Shea-Porter insisted she won’t make any dramatic changes to a Congressional bid.

“I’m going to do this exactly as I’ve always done this,” she said, adding that “I stick by the same agenda. I never change the message. I don’t test the political winds. I am what I stand for”

As for Guinta, he was more interested in talking policy.

Guinta touted his efforts to save New Hampshire’s dwindling number of commercial fishermen.“We have in New Hampshire nine commercial boats left. As of October 31 NOAA has decided that they’re going to force the boats to pay for the monitoring, which is about $750 per day. The reason for that is NOAA shifting their dollars to another program, a climate change program. So I bet with the fishing industry and the owners of the boats, they have said specifically that they can’t afford it. If that happens they literally go out of business Nov.1st. So we’re trying to work with NOAA to modify that change. It’s not a legislative change, it’s a change made by NOAA with very little notification. We’re hoping that NOAA will see this for what it is, and we don’t want to see the fishing industry in New Hampshire go away.”


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