JEB WRITES A CHECK. On the same day Jeb Bush scheduled his first visit to New Hampshire and began organizing a campaign team here, the likely presidential candidate personally promised a $10,000 contribution to the state Republican Party.
The New Hampshire Journal has learned the former Florida governor emailed NHGOP chairman Jennifer Horn on Thursday night and promised that his Right To Rise PAC will make a $10,000 contribution to the party. While the email was private, we understand it was brief and to the point and in it he expressed that he hoped it would “helpful” to the party’s “efforts.”
Bush became the first likely presidential candidate to donate to the NHGOP since the midterm election. It puts him in the party’s “Chairman’s Circle” of contributors of $10,000 or more.
Prior to the midterm election, several potential presidential candidates contributed at least $10,000 to the NHGOP and various local Republican committees and candidates. The NHGOP received “Chairman’s Circle” level contributions, or more, from Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Ambassador John Bolton.
Horn said, “We are extremely grateful for Governor Bush’s generous donation and his strong support for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. Granite Staters are excited about the governor’s potential candidacy and we look forward to hearing more about his plans to strengthen our economy and close the opportunity gap during his upcoming trip to our state.”
Bush’s team announced on Thursday that he plans to come to New Hampshire March 13 and 14. It will be his first visit in 15 years, when he campaigned for his brother, the former President. The Bush team also announced that veteran New Hampshire Republican operative and strategist Rich Killion has joined the Right to Rise PAC as its senior adviser in New Hampshire, and presumably, he will stay on in a similar role if – as expected – Bush officially becomes a candidate.
The party is also working to attract candidates to its major “#FITN (First-in-the-Nation) Leadership Summit” in Nashua on April 17 and 18.
THE VERMONT CHALLENGE. Earlier this week, the New Hampshire Journal reported on a challenge in Vermont to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status. A state Senator has introduced a bill that would, quite simply, tie a Vermont presidential primary to New Hampshire by making it on the same day as the Granite State’s traditional election.
We reported that the party rules will punish any state – other than the four early “carve out” states – that jumps ahead of a March 1, 2016 designated start date by withholding delegates. And if necessary, of course, Secretary of State Bill Gardner will wait until the last possible moment before setting the date of the primary. Read our report here.
But there’s more that will deter Vermont’s effort — if the bill happens to make any headway and happens to become law in Vermont.
State Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey, who also headed the RNC’s special Debate Committee, told us Friday that Vermont GOP officials have told him the bill would require a change the Vermont town meeting dates, and that is not popular.
“I don’t think there is significant risk this will happen,” he said. “That said, the RNC is serious about enforcing calendar discipline in order to make sure every candidate has a fair chance. If states start jumping the calendar it puts lesser-known candidates with fewer resources in jeopardy.”
Duprey noted the RNC rules automatically call for a 90 percent delegate forfeiture, but he said, the RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, is “empowered to consider a number of other penalties.”
And if that doesn’t work, he said, the RNC could consider adding a penalty provision either in May or later that would prohibit any candidate who puts his or her name on the ballot of any state that doesn’t follow the RNC calendar from participating in ANY debates.
“I am confident such a provision would pass overwhelmingly and would effectively end efforts by states to disrupt the calendar the party has put forward,” Duprey said. “The RNC has lots of tools in its tool box if they are necessary.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, a member of the DNC Rules Committee since 2009, says there is little to be concerned about.
“From what I am told this bill was introduced by a rogue legislator in Vermont,” he said. “I don’t think it’s necessary to get the vapors every time some backbencher introduces a bill in some other state.”
And New Hampshire DNC member Kathy Sullivan noted, “While both the DNC and RNC have rules in place to establish an orderly early calendar, ultimately it is Secretary of State Gardner who sets the date of the New Hampshire primary. And I have the utmost faith in Secretary of State Gardner’s ability to ward off any challenges to New Hampshire’s primary, especially in this upcoming centennial year.”
BUCKLEY TO HEAD ASDC FOR FOURTH TERM. State Democratic Party chair Buckley on Thursday will be reelected as President of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, an arm of the Democratic National Committee, for an unprecedented fourth term. Buckley is unopposed for the post.
He’ll be leading a group of top New Hampshire Democrats to the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting in Washington, D.C. on Thursday through Saturday.
NHDP Chairman Raymond Buckley
It will be the first meeting for newly elected state DNC member Bill Shaheen, while also attending will be state DNC members Sullivan, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark and DNC member-at-large Joanne Dowdell. Party executive director Sean Doyle and Senate Democratic Caucus director Gene Martin will be there to attend training sessions.
2015 marks the sixteenth year on the DNC for Buckley and Sullivan, who preceded Buckley as NHDP chair. It is Fuller Clark’s eighth year on the DNC and Dowdell’s fifth. It is Buckley’s 14th year on the DNC Executive Committee and he has been a member of the powerful DNC Rules Committee since 2009.
Dowdell serves on the DNC Resolutions Committee, while Fuller Clark is on the Credentials Committee.
SPURRING ACTION. Democratic businessman Shawn O’Connor’s formal filing of a statement of candidacy for the 1st District U.S. House seat held by Republican Frank Guinta has spurred early action in support of the possible candidacies of former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and Executive Councilor Chris Pappas.
O’Connor’s move has jump-started Shea-Porter’s grassroots machine. Two dozen Shea-Porter team leaders spent last Saturday working on strategy for a likely 2016 campaign. If O‘Connor decides to spend part of his personal wealth on his campaign, Shea-Porter supporters point out that she was outspent 10 to 1 in her 2006 primary win over then-House Democratic Leader Jim Craig.
Also, those close to Pappas are making it known that if Shea-Porter decides not to run, as one put it, “Chris will be in the race the next minute.” An underground draft movement for Pappas has bubbled to the surface with the creation this week of a Twitter account. One Democratic leader said, “These aren’t the old days when we had to beg people to run for office. We’ve already developed a great bench, and it’s not for sale.”
Supporters of Shea-Porter and Pappas are also taking notice that the operative who headed the “Draft Shawn for New Hampshire” campaign has parted ways with O’Connor now that he is a candidate. Some Democrats had expected MIke McCollum to be O’Connor’s campaign manager, but he has moved on, O’Connor said, to other activities in field organizing.
O’Connor says the parting was amicable, but backers of Shea-Porter and Pappas are skeptical.
NORQUIST AT THE MONDAY MEETING. Grover Norquist, who has made the “Wednesday Meeting” a coveted place to be among conservatives as president of Americans for Tax Reform, is headed to New Hampshire for a “Monday Meeting.”
The group of local conservatives who modeled their regular monthly meetings after Norquist’s DC gatherings will be the guest speaker at the February New Hampshire Monday Meeting on Monday (Feb. 16) at the Country Inn and Suites, 250 South River Road, Bedford. The Monday Meetings are off the record and by invitation only.
CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. It’s getting that way quickly. After a slow January, New Hampshire – along with Iowa – are fast becoming the dual epicenter of politics as the 2016 campaign ramps up.
As we have reported, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be in the state on Monday for a series of private meetings with Republican elected officials, activists and business leaders before keynoting the Merrimack County/Concord City Republican Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Grappone Center.
Looking ahead to the following week, Sen. Marco Rubio will be in the state on Feb. 23 and 24. Scheduled events so far are a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Manchester on Monday at 6 p.m. and an appearance at a “Politics and Eggs” breakfast the following morning at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki will return on Feb. 24 and 25, with no public events yet announced. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore will be back on Feb. 27.
Looking further ahead to March, Carly Fiorina is scheduled for a return visit on March 7, speaking to a New Hampshire Young Republicans “Gipper Awards” event. And of course the following weekend will be huge – with Jeb Bush in the state on March 13 and 14 and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the state on March 14. And then on Sunday, March 15, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be keynoting the Grafton County Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Indian Head resort in Lincoln.
Pataki is scheduled to be back in the state, along with Democratic former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, on St. Patrick’s Day, while O’Malley will be in the state the night prior, March 16, to address a Democratic fundraiser in Concord. And then on March 19 or 20 (yet to be finally confirmed), Donald Trump is expected in the state to speak to a group of conservatives, headed by House Republican caucus leader Rep. Bill O’Brien.
CARSON COMING IN OCTOBER. It’s a long way off, but Wayne Jennings, founder and chairman of the National Cultural Diversity Awareness Council, tells us that he has secured likely presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson for a luncheon meeting on Oct. 6 at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester.
RISING STARS RAISING $$. Democratic Executive Councilors Pappas and Colin Van Ostern have upcoming events planned. Pappas on Wednesday will host a reception at the Barley House in Concord.
A house party and fundraiser for Van Ostern is set for March 26 – and it is in Manchester, which is, of course, outside of Van Ostern’s council district, suggesting the possibility of an upcoming statewide candidacy. It will be held at the home of Gray and Tara Chynoweth and the host committee includes Kathy Sullivan, Bill and Kathy Gillett, Ben Kelley, Paul Mailhot, Phil Taub and Kari Thurman.
(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political reporter/columnist in New Hampshire. He has been reporting on Granite State politics since 1980. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column and of course separate stories on NHJournal.com as news breaks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)