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Feb 17, 2016 2:39 PM

Steinhauser: Pam Tucker announces for Congress in NH's crowded 1st C.D. race

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Pam Tucker’s in.

The four-term state representative from Greenland Wednesday announced her bid for the Republican nomination in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.

“I’m going to run for U.S. Congress,” Tucker said in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News.

“I talked to a lot of people in the district and they’re looking for someone who’s not part of the establishment, someone who’s unique, who has a principled voting record and I fit that bill. I have a record of being a Republican. They know how I’m going to vote. They know who I am and what I stand for. I’m not going to change if I go to DC,” Tucker added.

And Tucker touted her conservative credentials, saying that “what we need is true leadership of someone who truly is a proven conservative Republican and that would be me.”

In a statement, Tucker added that she “can also draw a stark contrast between the establishment candidates of both parties on the issues. Imagine what a fresh perspective and conservative leadership could bring to Washington, particularly with a new, reform-oriented President.”

The congressional seat is currently held by GOP Rep. Frank Guinta, who’s running for re-election.

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 last month formally announced his re-election bid.

Besides Tucker, Guinta’a also facing a primary challenges from former congressional candidate Dan Innis, who last year stepped down as New Hampshire Republican Party finance chairman before launching 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.

In the race for the Democratic nomination, former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s running to reclaim her old seat. First elected to the seat in 2006, Shea-Porter was defeated by Guinta 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.

Asked about Tucker's entry into the race, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley slammed Guinta, saying "when you've got a corrupt member of Congress running for re-election, all sorts of people are going to think of themselves as being able to run. But it doesn't matter because the Republicans aren't going to win in November."

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