Update: Rubens claims victory in ‘Unity’ spat, to sign NHGOP letter; Smith still holdout

 

By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor

 

Wednesday, June 18

 

CONCORD — Jim Rubens, saying he is “forcing the debate” in the GOP Senate contest, agreed Wednesday afternoon to sign state GOP chair Jennifer Horn’s “Unity Letter” requesting that all candidates in the primary agree to back the nominee chosen in the Sept. 9 primary.

 

Rubens had refused because ,he said, candidate Scott Brown had not agreed to participate in enough debates and forums to allow voters an opportunity to hear all three candidates debate the issues.

 

Brown Wednesday afternoon agreed to two additional debates, bringing to four the number of joint appearances including Rubens, Brown and former Sen. Bob Smith before the primary. Rubens then agreed to sign the Horn “Unity Letter.”

 

Earlier, Smith still refused to sign the pledge. It is unclear if Brown’s decision to add two more debates and Rubens’ decision to sign the letter will change his mind.

 

Rubens, meanwhile, took credit for “forcing the debate,” saying in a statement, “I am encouraged to see that Scott Brown has relented, agreeing to my requests and will now participate in two additional debates…It will be up to Republican voters to decide if Scott Brown agreeing to these two debates is sufficient.

 

“I am proud to have restored the process that New Hampshire voters deserve,” Rubens said. “I am confident in their judgment on this matter and am now comfortable signing the pledge.”

 

“I took this stand for the benefit of our party because I know the only way to defeat Jeanne Shaheen in November is to have a strong Republican candidate who can debate and contrast her on all the issues where she is wrong,” Rubens said.  “More important to Republican victory than who I endorse is who the voters support. Shielding our candidates from debate leaves voters disengaged and does not prepare our nominee to defeat Jeanne Shaheen in November.

 

“That is why I felt it was in the best interest of our party to force the issue to be sure the debates happen.”

 

Smith, however, appears to be holding fast to his refusal to back Brown should  Brown win the GOP Senate nomination.

 
Horn wrote the letter (which is printed in full below) earlier this week, and after Smith and Rubens’ initial refusal to sign it at this time, wrote them another letter early Wednesday raising concern that they are creating “very serious questions about your commitment to Republican victories in November.” She also said it they are creating suspicion that they might endorse a Democrat or a third party candidate.

 

Smith’s statement was issued after Brown announced the two additional debates, but makes no reference to them.

 

 
“My refusal to sign a ‘unity pledge’ in the heat of a primary campaign means exactly what I said, ‘It is a premature decision,’ Smith said. “Brown has refused to appear on any forum with his opponents to discuss any issues. He also has refused my challenge to him to debate the issues, so that the Republican primary voters can make an intelligent decision as to who best represents Republican values.”

 

Smith continued, “There will be a time to answer this question, but not now. I intend to win the nomination, so endorsing myself will be easy. I do not prefer to speculate or engage in hypotheticals, when it comes to decisions like this.

 

“In regard to your incorrect assumption that it means that I might be considering supporting the Democrat or supporting a third party candidate, I state the following: Under no circumstances will I endorse the Democrat nominee or a third party candidate in this race.”

 

Smith said he supported the GOP platform more than 98 percent of the time during his 18 years in the U.S. Senate and House and backs “every plank in the Republican platform.”

 

“Who else in this race can say that? If you had extended me the courtesy of a private letter and allowed me to answer these questions prior to making your accusations in public, I would have made this known to you,” said Smith.

 

Horn responded to Smith, “The only purpose behind the unity letter is to reassure the hard working Republican activists who will be dedicating thousands of hours to making sure Republicans win in November that our candidates are equally committed to the same goal.  Your comments over the past several months have suggested you may not be and some NH Republicans have reasonably begun to question your motives.  The only way to send a clear message that you will unite behind the effort to elect all Republicans in November is to immediately sign the unity letter and return it to me. ”

 
(Our earlier reports follow.)

 

 

Wednesday, June 18:

 

CONCORD — U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens minced no words in his response to state GOP chairman Jennifer Horn’s assertion that he and fellow candidate Bob Smith are raising questions about their commitment to the party by refusing to sign her “Unity Letter” pledging to back the Senate primary winner.

 

Horn wrote Wednesday morning to Rubens and Smith, “You have created the perception that you might be open to supporting a Democrat or a third party candidate over our Republican nominee. If this is something that either of you are considering, you should make this known in advance of the primary to the Republican grassroots activists who are working so hard on your behalf.”

 

Rubens responded that he will sign the pledge once fellow GOP candidate Scott Brown “agrees to a series of debates/forums with all three candidates.” He said Horn should put pressure on Brown to participate instead of trying to pressure him and Smith to sign the pledge.

 

Rubens wrote that he has been active in the party for more than 20 years, has chaired the Republican Party Platform Committee and as a state senator “fought for and passed multiple priority Republican agenda items.

 

“I have never refused to sign this pledge and have told Chairman Horn in unambiguous terms that I will not run a third party or write-in campaign of any kind,’ Rubens said in a statement to the New Hampshire Journal.

 

“Commitment to the Republican Party includes respecting the voters by engaging with them and answering the tough questions,” Rubens said. “Scott Brown has so far refused to participate in debates, public forums, or any venue that allows unscreened questions. It would be irresponsible to pledge support to a candidate when we haven’t heard where he stands on Republican principle issues.

 

“Instead of putting pressure on me to sign a pledge, the NHGOP should be putting pressure on Scott Brown to actively participate in the primary process,” said Rubens. “Republican voters deserve to know where Scott Brown stands on the issues, and have him demonstrate that he could effectively debate Senator Shaheen on these topics. Once Scott Brown agrees to a series of debates/forums with all three candidates so that the voters can have the answers they deserve, I will have no problem signing the pledge.”

 

Sources said Rubens and Horn had a frank discussion about the issue Tuesday night at a meeting of the Windham GOP.

 

(Our report from earlier today follows.)

 

CONCORD – State Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn has told U.S. Senate candidates Jim Rubens and Bob Smith their refusal to pledge to support the party’s nominee in the general election is raising “very serious questions” about their commitment to the party.

 

“Your refusal to sign our party unity letter raises very serious questions about your commitment to Republican victories in November,” Horn wrote the two candidates in a letter that contains some blunt language today.

 

“You have created the perception that you might be open to supporting a Democrat or a third party candidate over our Republican nominee. If this is something that either of you are considering, you should make this known in advance of the primary to the Republican grassroots activists who are working so hard on your behalf.”

 

Horn notes that fellow U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, as well as candidates for governor Walt Havenstein and Andrew Hemingway, 1st District House candidates Dan Innis and Frank Guinta and 2nd District House candidates Jim Lawrence, Gary Lambert and Marilinda Garcia have pledged to sign the letter, which says that they will support the nominee of the party in their respective races and attend the party “Unity Breakfast” a few days after the Sept 9 primary.

 

Rubens and Smith have refused to sign at the current time because Brown has refused to participate in some debates and forums with them, while agreeing to participate in others (see earlier reports below.) Smith called signing the letter now “a little premature,” but neither ruled out eventually signing it.

 

But Horn wrote, “The other candidate in this race (Brown) has already pledged his support for you as well, should you become the nominee, and I have made it clear that the party will put its full resources behind whichever candidate our primary voters choose.”

 

Here is the text of Horn’s letter to Rubens and Smith, followed by Rubens’ full reply and our earlier reports on this developing controversy.

 

Dear Jim and Bob,

 

Congratulations again on officially filing to run for US Senate. Serving your neighbors in elected office is one of the great honors of our Democratic Republic and I wish you the best as you pursue this most worthy goal.

 

I am writing in follow up to the letter I sent to candidates running for NHGovernor, US Senate and the US House about party unity. The letter discussed the need for Republicans to stand united behind our party’s nominees in the General Election and asked that all candidates attend the Unity Breakfast and support our primary winners.

 

 

At this time, both candidates for Governor, Andrew Hemmingway and Walt Havenstien, have pledged party unity. So have candidates for the US House Frank Guinta, Dan Innis, Marilinda Garcia, Gary Lambert and Jim Lawrence and US Senate candidate Scott Brown. As of now, you are the only candidates to receive this letter who have curiously declined to make this simple promise.

 

 

Sen. Shaheen has been a disaster for the families of New Hampshire. She has voted with President Obama 99% of the time, supports a national energy tax and was the deciding vote for Obamacare. I am sure that you agree with the thousands of Republican activists who are dedicated to returning responsible leadership to Washington that Sen. Shaheen must go.
Since becoming Chairman I have worked closely with our dedicated, principled activists to rebuild our party, strengthen our unity, and do the hard work of preparing for the General Election. Those activists stand at the ready, prepared to fight for victory on your behalf should you become our party’s nominee. The other candidate in this race has already pledged his support for you as well, should you become the nominee, and I have made it clear that the party will put its full resources behind whichever candidate our primary voters choose.

 

I ask you again to join Mr. Hemmingway, Mr. Havenstien, Mr. Brown, Mr. Guinta, Mr. Innis, Mr. Lambert, Mr. Lawrence and Ms. Garcia in signing the unity letter and pledging your full effort to returning responsible Republican leadership to Washington and Concord. The thousands of good Republican activists across this state deserve no less.

 

Best wishes,
Jennifer Horn, Chairman
New Hampshire Republican Party

 

Update: Rubens’ statement responding to Horn’s latest letter:

 

I have been highly active in the Republican Party for over 20 years including serving in office, raising and spending tens of thousands of dollars for dozens of candidates, hosting house parties, and standing alongside my wife in the snow and freezing rain at polling places every cycle. I was recognized with the Lane Dwinell award for Republican service.

 

I chaired the Republican Platform Committee. In office, I fought for and passed multiple priority Republican agenda items.

 

I have never refused to sign this pledge and have told Chairman Horn in unambiguous terms that I will not run a third party or write-in campaign of any kind.

 

Commitment to the Republican Party includes respecting the voters by engaging with them and answering the tough questions. Scott Brown has so far refused to participate in debates, public forums, or any venue that allows unscreened questions. It would be irresponsible to pledge support to a candidate when we haven’t heard where he stands on Republican principle issues. I say this as a candidate but also as a Republican voter. We know Scott Brown is backed by millions in Wall Street dollars, but we do not yet know whether or not he supports Republican principles.

 

Instead of putting pressure on me to sign a pledge, the NHGOP should be putting pressure on Scott Brown to actively participate in the primary process. Republican voters deserve to know where Scott Brown stands on the issues, and have him demonstrate that he could effectively debate Senator Shaheen on these topics. Once Scott Brown agrees to a series of debates/forums with all three candidates so that the voters can have the answers they deserve, I will have no problem signing the pledge.”

 

(Our earlier reports follow.)

 

Wednesday, June 18:

 

Candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway added his name to those who will sign the “Unity Letter” (see story and updates below), according to his adviser, Alicia Preston.

 

Tuesday, June 17:
CONCORD — Former Sen. Bob Smith has joined fellow U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens in refusing – for now – to agree to back Sen. Scott Brown if he wins the GOP Senate nomination.

 

“I basically agree with what Jim Rubens said, that it’s a little premature,” Smith told the New Hampshire Journal in an interview Tuesday. “I’m not going to sign the letter at this time.”

 

Horn on Monday sent letters to all of the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, the two U.S. House districts and governor asking them to promise to attend the NHGOP Unity Breakfast on Sept. 12 “and to put your full and vocal support behind the nominee, to campaign for him or her and to do all you can to help all Republicans be successful in November.”

 

Signing, or agreeing to sign the letter so far are U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, 1st District House candidates Frank Guinta and Dan Innis, 2nd District candidates Marilinda Garcia and Gary Lambert, and candidate for governor Walt Havenstein.

 

Smith said, “We’ve had numerous chances where all of us could have been together over and over again across the state,” and Brown has not appeared.

 

Brown has cited a scheduling conflict as the reason he will not attend a highly-publicized debate before the Merrimack Business Association Wednesday night. All three candidates are scheduled to be together for a forum sponsored by WMUR television, to be televised on Sunday.

 

Smith also said that Brown “voted 38 percent of the time with the (Republican) party” when he served in the Senate, representing Massachusetts. So we need to wait and see what develops begfore we make that kind of a statement.”

 

Also, Smith said, he does not like such pledges because “I really don’t like to assume that I’m going to lose. I just feel like I’m going to be the winner and I’m not going to have to be endorsing somebody else.”

 

(Our earlier report follows.)

 

 

(Monday and Tuesday, June 16-17:)

CONCORD – With primary races heating up and rhetoric escalating, New Hampshire Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn wants to ensure that when the dust settles, there is unity going into the general election. So far, the results are mixed.

 

Horn on Monday sent letters to all of the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, the two U.S. House districts and governor asking them to promise to attend the NHGOP Unity Breakfast on Sept. 12 “and to put your full and vocal support behind the nominee, to campaign for him or her and to do all you can to help all Republicans be successful in November.”

 

But U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens refused to commit to support primary foe Scott Brown.

 

“I have been consistently active in the New Hampshire GOP for the past 20 years,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to the opportunity to support the GOP slate of nominees in November.”

 

Rubens, who in the early 1990s tried to build an arm of the independent New Majority Party in New Hampshire before becoming a Republican, continued:

 

“In this case, however, another candidate in this race is someone who has not participated in any debates or public, unfiltered, forums. It would be premature of me to pledge my potential support to that candidate at this time before I have a clearer view of who they are, who they represent and what they stand for.”

 

Spokesmen for  Brown, candidate for governor Walt Havenstein,  1st District U.S. House candidates Dan Innis and Frank Guinta, and 2nd District U.S. House candidates Marilinda Garcia and Gary Lambert said they will support the nominees in their races.

 

Brown spokesman Elizabeth Guyton said, “Yes, he will agree to the letter.”

 

Havenstein spokesman Henry Goodwin said on Tuesday that Havenstein had signed the letter.

 

Innis adviser Chris Stewart said, “Dan has said publicly and repeatedly on the trail that he will support whoever the nominee is.  And we have already made plans to attend the Unity Breakfast. So Dan is happy to sign the letter.”  Guinta spokesman Jay Ruais said Tuesday Guinta will sign the letter.

 

Garcia said in a statement: “As someone who has witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the reckless policies and care-free spending of Rep. Ann Kuster, I know that it is time for a change in New Hampshire. That’s why I will support the Republican nominee in my race if I am not chosen by the people of New Hampshire’s 2nd District, and help to ensure that Rep. Kuster is no longer able to burden New Hampshire’s hardworking families and individuals.”

 

Lambert on Tuesday said, “It’s important for Republicans to come together after the primary to stop the job-killing policies of Barack Obama and Ann Kuster. I will sign the Unity Letter and enthusiastically support the Republican nominee in the 2nd District.”

 

It will be of interest to Republicans to learn how Brown’s other top primary foe reacts.

 

Former Sen. Bob Smith has called Brown “(Jeanne) Shaheen-Lite” and has said that if the party nominates Brown, “and if they (the GOP) lose, they deserve to lose because he does not represent a bright line of distinction between who we are and who they (Democrats) are. And I do believe that if Brown is the nominee of the party, because he doesn’t represent the party, he will lose.”

 

Smith in 2002, after losing to John E. Sununu in a party Senate primary, did not attend the party Unity Breakfast, but did say in his concession speech that he would support Sununu. He did not try to stop a write-in campaign on his behalf after his loss to Sununu.

 

 

The text of Horn’s letter follows:

 

June 16, 2014

 

Dear (Candidate),

 

Congratulations on becoming an official candidate for (office) in New Hampshire. As I know you understand, it is critically important that Republicans win back the (office) in 2014 and return strong, Republican leadership to Washington.

 

As Chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee I am committed to making sure that all of our nominees have the support they need to win. That is why we have been working for over a year now on identifying voters, building a vast network of dedicated volunteers and investing in new technology.

 

The promise I have made to all of our grassroots activists is that I will put 100% of party resources behind our Republican nominees for every seat. As I have traveled across the state, thousands of Republicans have made the same promise in return – committing to being there to do the hard work of the general election for whomever is nominated in the primary.

 

Today I ask you to join us in this promise. I am asking you to promise your full support for the Republican nominee in your race, regardless of which Republican candidate is chosen by our primary voters. I am asking you to promise to attend the NHGOP Unity breakfast on September 12, 2014, to put your full and vocal support behind the nominee, to campaign for him or her and to do all you can to help all Republicans be successful in November.

 

Your signature at the bottom of this letter, and returned to me, will send a clear message that you share our commitment to returning Republican leadership to every level of government in 2014.

 

Thank you for all you do to promote and preserve Republican principles in New Hampshire, and for your willingness to serve your neighbors.

 

Best wishes,

 

Jennifer M. Horn, Chairman
New Hampshire Republican State Committee

 

Author: John DiStaso

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  • Kevin Craig

    Scott Brown is in the wrong primary. He should run for the Democrat nomination against Shaheen.