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John DiStaso's Granite Status: A new GOP candidate for governor surfaces

By JOHN DISTASO
Senior Political Reporter

A NEW GOP CANDIDATE? The Republicans may have a second candidate for governor, after all.

With just four weeks left before the opening of the June 4-13 filing period, James "Jim" Adams of Pittsfield has Republican leaders excited.

Adams, the recently retired former New Hampshire/Vermont district manager for the U.S. Postal Service, said yesterday he is seriously thinking of running because he's upset by what he views as excessive spending in Concord.

Adams said he will make a final decision before the filling period opens and is currently trying to raise money. He says he's been encouraged by state party leaders.

While Adams would be making his first run for elective office, he's not a political novice, said state GOP Chair Fergus Cullen.

"Jim's initial strengths are management experience with a large organization with large budgets and a less tangible set of political skills that comes from rising to the top in a large political, bureaucratic organization and staying there," he said.

Adams, a New Hampshire native, spent 36 years at the postal service, the first 10 as a letter carrier. In 1988, he went to Washington as senior advisor to the assistant postmaster general and then as chief of staff to postmasters Anthony Frank and Marvin Runyon. He said he helped Runyon cut $14 billion in costs from the postal services in six years and was liaison to the White House, the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and worked with congressional leaders.

He returned to the state in 1997 as the district manager and "cut costs by 2.5 to 3 percent a year in every year I was here."

He retired on Feb. 29 and about three weeks ago, became interested in running.

"I was concerned with the state of the economy and with the 17.5 percent spending increase in the state budget," he said. "Where I came from, that sort of budget would have meant the individual in charge would no longer be there."

Adams called Democratic Gov. John Lynch "a good man and a very popular governor," but he believes the budget and government can be cut.

He took the anti-broad based tax pledge in an interview, and said that no, he is not related to former White House chief of staff and Gov. Sherman Adams.

Joe's still in

If Adams runs, he'll likely face state Sen. Joe Kenney in a primary.

Kenney shows no signs of quitting and has recently been "dogging" Lynch at the governor's "state of the state" speeches, according to aid Rep. Casey Crane.

Kenney has been calling Lynch's new plan for a higher cigarette tax and a tax on Texas Hold 'Em charity games "tax and hold 'em," Crane said.

The hearing is on

After a two month delay, the 2002 GOP phone jamming scandal has been scheduled to be taken up by two U.S. House Judiciary Committee subcommittees next Wednesday, May 14.

U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes said he will ask in testimony that the joint panel look into "numerous calls that were made to the (Bush) White House around the critical times leading up to the 2002 election and the jamming operation."

Court records show most of those calls were made by former Republican National Committee official Jim Tobin, whose acquittal on criminal charges related to the scandal has been appealed by the Department of Justice.

Refresher: It all began when the former executive director of the Republican State Committee hired a telemarketer in the fall of 2002 to make hundreds of hang-up calls on the morning of Election Day aimed at disrupting get-out-the-vote phone banks at five state Democratic offices and a Manchester firefighters union office.

Hodes, who called for the congressional probe last year, he hopes his colleagues probe those White House calls and find out "who was involved, who knew what and when they knew it."

He also said he will ask subcommittees to probe "an apparent delay in prosecution" by the justice department until after the 2004 election and "whether the prosecutors were somehow instructed to delay or were impeded for political advantage," Hodes said.

Among those also testifying will be Allen Raymond, who pleaded guilty and served prison time for being the middle-man in helping to set up the jamming by linking the state committee to the telemarketer, Democratic attorney Paul Twomey, and professor Mark Miller of New York University.

Twomey said he was pleased the issue is finally getting a hearing because "it raises serious questions about the federal justice system. The Department of Justice is our last defense against government run amok and if it's politicized, we don't have any real defenses."

Beefing up

State Democratic Chair Raymond Buckley a few weeks ago predicted on the BlueHampshire.com web site, "I absolutely believe that there will not be a single Republican state senator north of Derry after November."

If staffing up is a measuring stick, Buckley, Senate President Sylvia Larsen and the party are working toward that end.

The Senate Democratic Caucus PAC, chaired by Larsen, has so far hired a seven-member full-timers.

The new caucus director is Ian Graves, who worked on the 2002 election in the state, went to Washington and returned in 2005 to work for the John Kerry campaign and then the state party as 1st Congressional District field director.

The finance director is Meagan Coffman, who was a volunteer coordinator for the 2002 campaign, worked in the presidential election in 2004 and returned in 2007 after stint in Washington to coordinate Katrina Swett's brief campaign for the U.S. Senate. She has also worked for the Manchester Democrats and Hillary Clinton's campaign.

They join Senate Caucus staffers Dan McKenna, Jamie Judd, Nigel Henry, Jarad Kings and Silas Russell, who have been on board since early February and are sharing coordinating activities in the 24 districts.

Buckley said that each Senate campaign will also eventually have its own paid manager.

At least 11 of the 14 Democratic incumbents are expected to run again. Peter Burling announced on Monday he won't seek a third term and Iris Estabrook of Durham and, in the past few days, David Gottesman of Nashua, have emerged as question marks.

Manchester attorney Bob Backus is expected to challenge Senate Republican Leader Ted Gatsas again, while first-term Rep. Steve Spratt of Greenville plans to take on Milford Republican Peter Bragdon.

In June 2006, the Democrats' caucus had $148,000 on hand heading into the campaign season. We're told that when this June's report will show "a much larger" total.

Separately, the House Democratic Caucus has hired Ken Hodges, who ran Backus's campaign in 2006, while the state party has hired Mara Lee as coordinated campaign field director, who has been with the Clinton campaign in Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Indiana.

As for the GOP

The Senate Republican Committee PAC has no staff, yet, and no firm challengers to the Democratic incumbents.

Other than Kenney and Bob Clegg, who is running for Congress, the eight GOP incumbents are expected to seek reelection.

Expected to run for Kenney's District 3 seat are former Reps. Sam Cataldo of Farmington and David Babson of Ossipee. Reps. Sharon Carson of Londonderry and James Lawrence of Hudson are expected to run for Clegg's District 14 seat.

In the First CD

Republicans from New Hampshire to Washington are talking up this week's UNH poll showing Democrat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in potential reelection trouble.

The poll had Jeb Bradley ahead of the incumbent 45 to 39 percent, with 13 percent undecided, and Shea-Porter ahead of John Stephen 43 to 35 percent with 20 percent undecided. The margin of error was 6.2 percent.

Democrats are unconcerned. They reason that the many self-described "independents" who favored Bradley over Shea-Porter by 20 percent are actually registered Republicans who like to call themselves independent.

They note that among registered undeclared voters, Shea-Porter bests Bradley by 4 percent.

Meanwhile, Stephen tomorrow will host Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and sign the group's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." He'll formally announce his candidacy during a district-wide bus tour on Monday.

Today, he'll announce that his campaign co-chair is former state Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Morse and co-chairs are businessman John Stabile, attorney Chuck Douglas, former GOP chair Wayne Semprini, former Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin, Sen. Jack Barnes, former safety commissioner Dick Flynn and Reps. Peter Batula and Carolyn Brown.

Norquist will appear on Chuck Morse's (not the same Morse as mentioned above) WSMN talk show tomorrow morning.

Bradley will be endorsed today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the president of which says Bradley's election "will help produce sustained economic growth and promote America's competitiveness in world markets."

Big Clegg endorsements

In the 2nd District GOP race, Clegg today will be endorsed by former Gov. Walter Peterson, Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams and Merrimack County Commissioner J.D. Colcord.

Jennifer Horn's campaign, meanwhile, is touting the UNH poll numbers showing that she does just as well (or just as poorly) against Hodes (25 to 52 percent) as veteran politician Clegg (24 to 51 percent).

Shaheen and Sununu

Pumped from the UNH poll showing her with a 52 to 40 percent lead over John Sununu, Jeanne Shaheen's campaign today will unveil an upgraded Web site by Liberty Concepts.

The site is loaded with multimedia features and a link to "create your own fund-raising page."

Sununu, meanwhile, has given his first interview attacking Shaheen to veteran Republican blogger/activist Patrick Hynes's Web site, NowHampshire.com. He called Shaheen a flip-flopper on the Bush tax cuts, U.S. involvement in Iraq and on broad based taxes.

Ready for November?

The Barack Obama campaign yesterday began reaching out again to Granite Staters through Google ad purchases.

His ads began appearing on UnionLeader.com for the first time since the presidential primary and include a link to "sign up for invitations to campaign events."

Does this mean Obama is planning a return visit, this time as the presumptive nominee?

Smith: Everything's fine

A Florida newspaper reports that former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith, a longtime Florida resident, has joined Coldwell Banker to sell homes in southwest Florida.

"I have a lot of confidence in the market now," Smith says. "I think the market is coming back."

John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

YOUR COMMENTS


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To this reader, I see Mr. Buckley as it goes in the saying; "The deer in the headlights look". He doesn't realize that the Republican party is strong and now with 'no straight ticket' voting in NH it may be a changing tide for those in Concord. People are listening and watching. NH can't hold it's breath (blue) for that long, the people of NH will decide in November what will happen. Getting back to the principles is what is in order for NH and keeping the NH Advantage alive.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Ray Buckley is too funny.

"I absolutely believe that there will not be a single Republican state senator north of Derry after November."

That could be possible, but from the wonderful job you did recruiting in Manchester in 2006 (sense the irony) and their no show reps, would these new senators ever show up for a vote, heck even a roll call, or are you just looking to fill a seat with a warm body.
- Gavin G., Concord, NH

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