Gubernatorial Race

NH1: Sununu tells NH1 News he’s stepping up campaign “in a really agressive way” Speaking one-on-one with NH1 News, the Republican executive councilor also said he welcomes more rivals for the GOP nomination, saying “primaries can be a very good thing.”And Sununu, who in the past opposed Medicaid expansion, said a state House of Representatives bill that would extend Medicaid expansion for another two years is “probably a good step forward.” Sununu spoke with NH1 News on Monday, after returning from a weekend visit to the nation’s capital, where he took part in meetings with the Republican Governors Association and with individual GOP governors who are supporting his gubernatorial campaign. Sununu, who’s Labor Day announcement that he was running for governor made him the first candidate to officially jump into the race, said “we’re out raising a lot of money, bringing in a lot of endorsements. We’ve had a tremendous amount of success.” The presidential primary “obviously took up a lot of the political oxygen in the room,” said Sununu, “so we kind of bided our time for little bit.”

Fosters: Letter: On Sununu, keep facts in mind I have a book which I purchased many years ago called “Murphy’s Law and other reasons why things go wrong.” It humorously deals with some workplace and life incidents. One of these is called Maier’s Law, and states “If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.” In a previous letter, I implied that this seemed to be a mantra by which Chris Sununu lives, if not his whole life, at least his political life. He recently offered an op-ed piece in Foster’s to explain his continued refusal to approve funding for Planned Parenthood of NH. He originally indicated that his reasoning was based on a video provided by an anti-abortion group which purported to show a Planned Parenthood official negotiating to sell fetal tissue for research. That video has now been totally discredited, and the people responsible have been indicted in, of all places, Texas. Now, Chris says that this is no longer the reason for his refusal to approve funding. He now cites as his reasons: That Governor Maggie Hassan refused to authorize a witch hunt to try to dig up “something” to accuse Planned Parenthood of, and also that some members of Planned Parenthood had hurt his feelings by criticizing his decision. Really Chris!

Senate Race

NH1: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Gov. Maggie Hassan both with qualms about closing Guantanamo Bay prison Closing Guantanamo Bay is a hot political potato that Sen. Kelly Ayotte has opposed since coming to the Senate in 2010. With a new plan to close the prison put forward by President Obama, both Ayotte and her challenger Gov. Maggie Hassan remain skeptical. “I think to call it a plan is an overstatement because in this so-called plan he doesn’t even identify where in the United States he would send these dangerous terrorists,’’ says U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH. Her Democratic rival for the Senate, Governor Maggie Hassan, has her own doubts. “I will study the president’s plan but I am very skeptical that it is going to meet those goals,’’ Hassan said. Hassan lays down her markers on the issue. “I have long said that any plan to close Gitmo needs to ensure the safety of our citizens and that enemy combatants that are detained there won’t return to the battlefield,” Hassan observed. Ayotte is co-writing a bill to block Obama from transferring the base back to Cuba. “It’s not only the detention facility there but also it is a very strategic base,” Ayotte says.

Laconia Citizen: Opinion Editorial: Maggie Hassan-Sen. Ayotte puts politics before her constitutional duty One of the most important constitutional duties that the Senate is entrusted with is that of advice and consent following the nomination of a Supreme Court justice. Unfortunately, Washington’s dysfunction is now derailing this critical process, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte is a part of the problem. Ayotte has chosen to join with her party leadership in abdicating their constitutional duties, instead of ensuring that hard-working Granite Staters and Americans can promptly get the justice they are due from the courts. While citizens across the country were sending our condolences to Justice Scalia’s family, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was vowing to ignore the Senate’s constitutional duty to advise and consent by refusing to even consider a Supreme Court nominee until after the election…

Nashua Telegraph: NH’s Hassan, Ayotte want base to stay open without better plan U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte said Tuesday she will lead the fight in Congress to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open while New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, who is challenging for the seat on Capitol Hill, also supported retaining the controversial Cuban site until a more comprehensive plan is presented.Ayotte, a Republican serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the presentation from President Barack Obama to close the facility is an “un-serious plan” and called for maintaining Guantanamo to keep terrorists “off the battlefield” and within U.S. custody to attempt to gather intelligence related to possible future attacks. “We do have a top-rate detention facility in Guantanamo – I’ve visited it twice since I’ve been in the Senate and most recently in the fall – and this is certainly a facility that right now … we should keep open for our national security,” Ayotte said.

Esquire: Here’s the Scary Thing About This Supreme Court Nomination Fight Given the unusual number of duck calls and air-horns infesting the presidential contests at the moment, it’s easy to lose sight of other important races and the issues that are driving them. Recent polling (h/t TPM) is starting to indicate that stonewalling whoever the president nominates to replace the late Antonin Scalia is becoming a liability for Republican incumbents in those states where enough citizens are fed up with that sort of thing. To those two I might add Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who’s already gone all in on the no-nomination side of the debate. Her opponent, incumbent Democratic governor Maggie Hassan, is already making Ayotte’s disinclination to do her job an issue in what is going to be an expensive and bloody campaign.

Governor Maggie Hassan

Nashua Telegraph: Editorial- Insurance Dept. is a closed book Three companies that offer health insurance in New Hampshire – Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and Harvard Pilgrim – have denied claims for substance abuse treatment at significantly different rates, according to a report by the New Hampshire Insurance Department. The department provided that information during a Feb. 19 report to the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. The study found the companies denied opioid treatment claims 9.5 percent, 15 percent and 28.3 percent of the time during the first nine months of 2015. That’s a pretty significant spread, so you might think it would be helpful for consumers and policymakers to know which carrier went with which percentage. In other words, which insurance company was most likely to deny claims when people sought treatment for opioid abuse, and which was least likely. Then again, this is Gov. Maggie Hassan’s administration, and Hassan and transparency have not always been on speaking terms. (You may remember that she declined to turn over the reports she asked department heads to compile and submit as part of the budget process.)

WMUR: Hassan ‘skeptical’ of Obama ‘Gitmo’ closure plan; Ayotte staunchly opposedGov. Maggie Hassan said Tuesday she is “skeptical” that President Barack Obama’s plan for closing the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility will adequately ensure national security and the safety of Americans.

NHPR: Hassan Defends Her Pick To Regulate State Banks- Governor Maggie Hassan says the qualifications of her pick to be the state’s top bank regulator are significant and unique. Hassan’s vote of confidence in GOP state senator Jerry Little comes as a online petition urging her to rescind Little’s nomination has gathered more than 700 signatures. Little spent 21 years running the New Hampshire Bankers Association before stepping down in 2011. Critics argue that makes him ill-equipped to the state’s next Banking Commissioner. But Hassan says says she’s confident Little is right for the job,  and points to votes he took as a state senator as proof that Little values consumer protection. “I think if people look at his actual record as well as understand the kind of personal integrity he has they will understand why I nominated him. I look forward to the hearing process.”

Union Leader: Editorial: Running the asylum: Giving inmates the right to voteNot content to merely let out-of-staters vote illegally in New Hampshire elections, Democrats are now trying to open up New Hampshire elections to people convicted of other crimes. Dover Democrat Peter Schmidt has introduced a bill (HB 1532) to let inmates serving time in state prison vote by absentee ballot from where they lived before going inside. They would, of course, have to promise that they intend to return to the same community when they get out. And if we can’t take the word of a convicted felon.The House Election Law Committee voted 15-3 against HB 1532. The full House will take up that recommendation. New Hampshire might not be able to strengthen its voting laws while Maggie Hassan is governor, but it should not weaken them.

Business Wire: PixarBio Corporation Answers the Governor’s Call for Non-Opiate Pain Treatment by Expanding Salem, NH OfficePixarBio Corporation today announced that it has expanded operations in Salem, NH by leasing 5,000 Sq. feet of additional office space. There are many options for growing pharmas in New England but Salem NH’s favorable real estate market will help the company recruit outstanding talent, as well as, be their base to meet the market demands for non-opiate treatment around New England. Salem NH offices along with PixarBio’s Labs in Cambridge and Medford, MA will accelerate the company’s growth. “Combating the heroin and opioid crisis is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and we must also partner with the private sector, from manufacturers to pharmacies and health care providers, to find solutions and change the way we treat pain in America.” New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Ripon Advance: Baker joins call for end to nation’s opioid epidemic– Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker joined a unified call on Saturday for an end to the country’s opioid epidemic. The rate of overdose related deaths in America increased 137 percent from 2000 to 2014, while the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids increased 200 percent over that time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Baker, the chairman of the National Governors Association’s Health and Human Services Committee, was joined by New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, the vice chairwoman of the committee, and American Medical Association chair-elect Patrice Harris in calling for an end to the opioid epidemic in a joint statement.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Nashua Telegraph: NH’s Hassan, Ayotte want base to stay open without better plan– Fellow U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., agreed with the Obama administration’s steps to close the detention facility. She echoed the president’s sentiments that it undermines the country’s standing as a world leader in justice and worried not only that it serves as a recruitment tool for terrorists, but the mounting cost to secure less than 100 detainees. “I believe we can and we must do better. Our country has a proven track record of trying terrorists, delivering the justice they deserve, and imprisoning them safely and securely,” Shaheen said in a statement.

HuffPost: Some States Throw Untested Rape Kits In The Trash. These Survivors Want To Change That– Massachusetts has a 15-year statute of limitations on prosecuting sexual assault crimes, but the state only requires that untested rape kits be stored for six months. Victims can get an extension, but Nguyen said she had to hunt to find out how. “It really makes no sense to have 15 years in which the survivors can bring charges against someone, and then to destroy the evidence that’s going to be so critical to convicting them, in a six-month period,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told HuffPost on Tuesday.Shaheen introduced a bill called the Sexual Assault Survivors Act on Tuesday that would create a right for victims to have their rape kit preserved free of charge for the duration of their state’s statute of limitations; the right to be notified of the information found in medical forensic examinations; and the right to get, in writing, the policies governing a rape kit. Her bill attempts to create a “baseline” for rape survivors to understand what their basic rights are, Shaheen said. “We need to do a better job of letting people who have been victims of sexual assault know what their rights are and know how to pursue justice,” Shaheen said.

Washington Post: ‘Acronyms kill, ma’am’: One admiral’s wisecrack about military abbreviations The U.S. military’s top officer overseeing operations in the Pacific cut to the heart Tuesday of something that has both perplexed and amused people who have been in and around the U.S. military for years: the difficulty in keeping up with an ever-changing alphabet soup of acronyms. Adm. Harry Harris, chief of U.S. Pacific Command, was asked by Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether  he saw the Air Force’s planned Long Range Strike Bomber, or “LRS-B,” as something that could be deployed from the United States to carry out strikes if aircraft carriers are forced away. The program is expected to cost at least $55 billion and is a centerpiece of Air Force plans for the future, but its acronym remains a bit clunky. “Senator, I’m sorry,” Harris told Rounds. “I don’t know the acronym.” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) then followed by saying she was “so glad to hear someone in your position who doesn’t know one of the acronyms that’s being used.” She added, “Makes me feel so much better.”Shaheen complimented the admiral’s “pun,” and then asked whether there should be concern about growing Chinese investments in U.S. national security efforts. Harris responded that it depended upon where the investments were made — and then went back to using acronyms. “We need to look at each one of these investments carefully,” he said. “We have a process called CFIUS. … Another acronym that I couldn’t begin to tell you what it stands for.” Shaheen responded that she knew that one, and Harris said that it was “a legal mechanism to perhaps prevent China from buying or investing in certain areas.”

Sentinel Editorial: Russell was a pioneer among women, Democrats-That Keene is seen as a Democratic stronghold within the larger, traditionally conservative body of New Hampshire politics may be attributable to several factors. Two that are often cited are the city’s proximity to more-liberal Vermont and the influence of Keene State College. Those factors have certainly contributed to a culture favorable to the politics of the Democratic Party, but as anyone involved in politics knows, establishing, much less expanding, a political base takes work. And that takes individuals.If there has been a single person most responsible for the growth of the Democratic Party in this area, that person was likely Pat Russell. Russell, who died last week at age 84, spent 12 years in the N.H. House of Representatives and served for nearly a decade on the N.H. Liquor Commission, including as chair. She was the state’s Democratic National Committee member. She helped elect governors, senators and, arguably, presidents.Upon hearing of her death Thursday, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said, “Pat was one of the first women I met in politics and was a dear friend and mentor. New Hampshire has lost one of its finest public servants.”

Senator Kelly Ayotte

WMUR: Hassan ‘skeptical’ of Obama ‘Gitmo’ closure plan; Ayotte staunchly opposed– Ayotte, meanwhile, continued her long-held staunch opposition to closing the facility and charged that Hassan has not yet made her position clear. “Our first priority must always be to keep our citizens safe and protect America’s security,” Hassan said in a statement first reported by WMUR.com on Twitter.

Union Leader: Lawmakers declare Obama’s plans for Guantanamo Bay prison closure a non-starter President Obama launched a final push on Tuesday to persuade Congress to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but lawmakers opposed to rehousing detainees in the United States declared his plan a non-starter. The day before Obama’s announcement, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and three fellow Republican senators introduced a bill that would forbid the President from giving the United States naval base at Guantanamo back to Cuba without proper congressional approval. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arizona and Richard Burr of North Carolina joined Ayotte in introducing the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Protection Act.

WMUR: Ayotte supports Judiciary Committee Republicans’ decision not to hold SCOTUS hearing U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte supports a decision by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee not to hold a hearing on a U.S. Supreme Court justice until the next president takes office, a campaign spokeswoman said Tuesday. Members of the committee, after meeting behind closed doors, said that they will not hold a hearing on any nominee offered by President Barack Obama to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republican members of the committee then signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stating that they will “exercise our constitutional authority to withhold consent on any nominee the Supreme Court submitted by this President to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy.”

Salon: The price of obstruction: Republicans gamble that blocking Obama’s SCOTUS nominee won’t hurt them too badly While this may be the best play for Republicans, it’s still risky as hell and fraught with political danger. The Republicans are defending a large number of Senate seats this election cycle, a number of which are in blue states, and they’ve just guaranteed that Republican obstructionism and congressional dysfunction will be campaign issues going forward. We’ve already seen vulnerable Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois adopt a much more accommodating posture toward the president on this, likely because he realizes how hard-line opposition to the president could imperil his reelection chances. In New Hampshire, Democrat Maggie Hassan is slamming Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte for siding with the obstructionists.

Nashua Telegraph: Ayotte urges action on opioid crisis– U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte took to the Senate floor Tuesday to urge the incoming head of the federal Food and Drug Administration to take a more aggressive approach to the ongoing opioid and prescription drug abuse hitting states like New Hampshire. Ayotte, a Nashua Republican seeking re-election this November, questioned the recent FDA decision to approve a powerful hydrocodone drug without an abuse deterrent formulation, as well as sanctioning the use of OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old. She renewed concerns about the agency’s Opioid Action Plan and its need for more consistent consultation with an advisory committee. Ayotte made her remarks the day after a confirmation for Robert M. Califf, a South Carolina cardiologist with strong ties to the pharmaceutical industry, to serve as the new FDA commissioner. Lawmakers had backed efforts to prevent efforts to block a vote on his nomination, but Ayotte and other dissenters could speak on their concerns. “The FDA has an important watchdog role here in my opinion,” she said.

WMUR: Ayotte introduces bill to stop Obama from turning over Gitmo base to Cuba As President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility on Tuesday morning, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte announced that she is among four Republican senators who have introduced legislation that would block the president from turning over the naval base to Cuba. Ayotte’s campaign, meanwhile, called on her Democratic Senate challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan, to be “up front with New Hampshire voters” and say how she stands on the president’s “dangerous plan” to close the detention facility. Update: Hassan later issued a statement saying she was skeptical of the Obama plan and that if “bipartisan consensus cannot be reached on a proposal that would ensure national security, Guantanamo should not be closed.”

Washington Free Beacon: Ayotte Announces Opposition to Obama Plan to Close GitmoNew Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte renewed her effort to keep suspected terrorists confined to Guantanamo Bay, while calling out her Democratic rival for refusing to stake out a position on the War on Terror on Tuesday. Ayotte teamed up with Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) to block any attempt from the Obama administration to close the military prison that has houses suspected terrorists captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq and transfer them to the United States. The bill, titled the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Protection Act, was released shortly after Obama called on the United States to shutdown the prison, which is nicknamed Gitmo. Ayotte’s proposal would force Obama to seek congressional approval before making any changes to the U.S. ownership of the Cuban base.

Nashua Telegraph: Letter: Ayotte channeling Nixon on appointmentFrom the beginning, Sen. Kelly Ayotte has aligned herself with the highest-profile, most partisan members of the Senate. With the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, she continues to support the “Stop Obama at all costs” aspect of the party. When President Barack Obama was first elected, Sen. Mitch McConnell announced intent to make him unsuccessful. Even a second term hasn’t legitimized the president for the GOP. The Republican party’s anti-democratic refusal to accept the outcome of elections and acting to sabotage the will of the people reminds me of ex-President Richard Nixon and the book about him titled “Blind Ambition.” Sen. Ayotte seems to have inherited the former president’s ambition.

Concord Monitor: Letter: Protect Advantage plans- My wife and I make use of our health insurance and expect it to always be there when we need it. Health insurance improves the quality of life for millions of seniors, and our elected officials should protect the health care coverage that we need. It’s good to know Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Congresswoman Ann Kuster oppose cuts to the Medicare Advantage program. With their continued support, I am hopeful that others in Congress will follow their lead. Advantage plans are not only more affordable than regular Medicare, but they also offer access to comprehensive services such as fitness programs and vision care. These benefits are in danger of being eliminated if cuts are approved. Going to the gym helps many stay active and healthy, which contributes greatly to better health outcomes at the doctor.

Washington Post: Trump’s tax returns are important to the GOP. And what about his VP selection? If Trump becomes our party’s nominee, GOP candidates on the 2016 ballot everywhere will have to determine how to orient their campaigns with the Trump campaign. How will a dignified, gracious man such as Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) handle sharing the podium with crude, oafish Trump? How will an intellectually honest leader such as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) react when confronted with Trump’s wacky, unrealistic economic plans? How will a real defense policy expert such as Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) handle it when she is confronted with the reality of Trump’s nonexistent knowledge of the United States’ national security challenges or military capabilities?

Congresswoman Annie Kuster

Keene Sentinel: Kuster to hold telephone town hall about heroin crisis Members of the public will get U.S. Rep. Ann M. Kuster’s ear Wednesday for a discussion about New Hampshire’s heroin crisis during a telephone town hall. Kuster, D-N.H., invites people to share stories about how the opioid epidemic has affected them personally and to give feedback on how Congress can help local and state efforts to fight the problem. She’ll also talk about her work on the issue, including as co-chairman, with U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic. The call is at 6 p.m. Those who want to participate can call Kuster’s office at 226-1002 for call-in information.

Congressman Frank Guinta

Daily Kos: Morning Digest: Iowa’s ethanol industry shops for a primary foe for Steve King Did Frank Guinta just get lucky? The tainted Republican congressman had been facing a rematch with his 2014 primary opponent, former business school dean Dan Innis. In a one-on-one matchup, Guinta was likely to have a very tough time thanks to the hammering he’s endured from his own party over an illegal $355,000 campaign donation he took from his parents in 2010. But now Guinta has a second GOP opponent, state Rep. Pam Tucker, who just announced her entry into the race. While state representatives are a dime a gross in New Hampshire, Tucker’s a cut above Some Dude as she actually served as deputy speaker back when the loony toons Bill O’Brien was still in charge of the state House. As always, though, the key here will be whether she and Innis wind up splitting the anti-Guinta vote, allowing the better-known incumbent to win renomination with a plurality. If you’re a regular reader of the Digest, you know this phenomenon as “getting saved by the clown car”—and Democrats would very much like for Guinta to be the last clown standing.

NH General Court

Concord Monitor: Bill would regulate ride-hailing services such as UberAs Uber faces new scrutiny over driver background checks, the state Legislature is seeking to regulate the ride-hailing service. Republican Rep. John Hunt filed a bill this session that would require all ride-hailing companies to get a permit from the Department of Safety at an annual cost of $500, and to conduct background checks of all drivers. Uber is a smart phone app that connects drivers with riders and is widely available in Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth.he bill, HB 1697, would bar some from becoming drivers, including those who are in the National Sex Offender Registry database and those without a valid driver’s license. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan said the proposed legislation would help ensure adequate security measures, protect workers in a changing economy and give people another transportation opportunity. Ride-hailing services make New Hampshire more attractive to students, visitors and entrepreneurs, Hassan said. “It will also help people who want to continue to live independently in New Hampshire but don’t, perhaps, feel they should be driving anymore,” she said Tuesday during Uber’s “Work on Demand” event at Saint Anselm College.