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Oct 29, 2015 11:40 PM

Steinhauser: Innis tells NH1 News he'll be a more effective candidate second time around

NH1 Political Director -

PORTSMOUTH – Dan Innis says “this time we’re going to win.”

The Portsmouth businessman and University of New Hampshire professor spoke with NH1 News on Thursday, a couple of hours after he announced his bid for the Republican nomination in the state’s first congressional district.

For Innis, it will be a rematch with GOP Rep. Frank Guinta, who narrowly edged out Innis in the 2014 primary.

Asked what he learned from his first run for elective office, Innis said “you learn so much the first time you run and that was my first campaign ever. I’ve learned where to spend my time and very importantly where to spend my money and where not to. And I think you’ll see a very different race this time. You’ll see a candidate that’s a little bit different. And you’ll certainly see a campaign that’s run a little bit differently. I think I’ll be much more effective this time and much more efficient.”

Guinta’s in a much weaker political position this time around, as he tries to get past a campaign contribution controversy from earlier this year.

In May the Federal Election Commission fined Guinta $15,000 and ordered he repay his 2010 campaign $355,000 he received from an account under his parents’ financial control. Guinta used the money to win a hard fought multi-candidate GOP primary, and then to defeat Democratic incumbent Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in the general election. The loan was an issue in the 2010 general election, in the 2012 rematch Shea-Porter won, and in the 2014 three-peat, when Guinta was victorious.

Guinta insisted he did nothing wrong and that the money in his parent’s account was his. But some top Granite State Republicans, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, state Senate President Chuck Morse, state House Speaker Shawn Jasper, and Executive Councilor Chris Sununu called on Guinta to resign after the agreement between Guinta and the FEC was made public.

Asked about Guinta, Innis said “it’s clear he’s got a problem with some of the issues he’s had with the finances. I think it’s up to the people of New Hampshire to decide how much of an issue this is for them and I think when it comes time to vote next September they’ll make that call.”

Innis remains in the red from his 2014 congressional campaign. But he told NH1 News “I don’t think it’s uncommon to find campaigns that have debt and I don’t feel that I was in a particularly unique situation. So we’ve developed a plan to pay it back.”

“We’ll have this taken care of by the end of the year if not before,” he added.

Innis is a fan of the new House Speaker Paul Ryan, saying “I think he’s the right choice at this point in time. He’s got a good record on budget issues.”

But he’s not a fan of the new two-year federal budget deal that passed the House with bipartisan support.

“It’s hard to say if I would have voted for while being there. I am not a fan of the way it was done. I will say that. I think we need to be much more strategic in the way that we approach budgeting and the way we approach governing. And right now Congress is lurching from crisis to crisis, patching things over instead of planning ahead. And we know we’re facing an enormous fiscal crisis in this nation if we don’t change this direction. So the process was poor,” Innis said.

Innis, a former dean of the UNH business school and a former co-owner of the Ale House and Hotel Portsmouth, with his husband Doug Palardy, said “I think for the most part I hang with the party on the major issues.”

While it’s currently a two person race for the nomination between the incumbent and Innis, the GOP field is expected to expand. Rich Ashooh, a former director of planning and strategy at BAE Systems and the current interim executive director of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy, may launch a campaign early next year. And state Rep. Pam Tucker is once again seriously considering a bid.

"To me, the more the merrier," Innis said.

The winner of next September’s primary would face off against former Shea-Porter or businessman Shawn O’Connor.

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