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  • Frank Guinta

    Office Sought: U.S. House of Representatives, New Hampshire’s 1st District.

    Age: 41

    Address: Manchester.

    Years of residence: Unavailable.

    Political background: U.S. Representative, 2010-current; Mayor of Manchester, 2006-10.

    Occupation: Former insurance consultant.

    Education: Bachelor of Arts degree from Assumption College (Worcester, Mass); Master’s Degree from Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord.

    Affiliations: Has served on the board of directors of Neighbor Works, Intown Manchester, Helping Hands, and the SEE Science Center.

    Personal: Wife, Morgan; two children.


    On the Issues:

    Education: “We must have an education system that prepares our children for the jobs of the future. To do that, we have to reduce the federal government’s role in education and return power to states, local officials, educators and most importantly, to parents. I’ve worked to streamline spending and free teachers, administrators, and parents from the confines of federal regulations.”

    Health care: “Health care plays a critical role in the daily lives of all Americans. Today, medical decisions lie more in the hands of bureaucrats or insurance companies rather than doctors and patients. That’s why I have led the charge to repeal or defund the Administration’s Healthcare Reform Law passed last Congress.”

    Immigration: “I’m a strong supporter of legal immigration, but I strongly oppose illegal immigration. We are a nation of laws and we must enforce those laws. Our first priority is to secure our country’s border for both our national security interests and to stop the flow of illegal immigrants. That means increased border agents, construction of permanent walls, and the use of new technology.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Congressional race tightens in the First District

Once considered a one-horse race, the Republican campaign for New Hampshire’s First Congressional District has grown to a wide open field.

Former Manchester mayor Frank Guinta, the initial favorite to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, has given way, analysts say, to a number of candidates who are competing for the Republican nomination for New Hampshire’s First District seat.

While Guinta still leads the field, former national committee-man Sean Mahoney and business executive Rich Ashooh have emerged in recent months, gaining visibility and raising funds to challenge for the nomination, according to analysts across the state.

The Republican primary, featuring eight candidates on the ballot, is scheduled for Sept. 14. The First District runs from Derry to North Conway, including Merrimack and Bedford.

Shea-Porter, seeking her third term, is unopposed in the party primary. The general election is Nov. 2.

“The race has gotten a lot more crowded,” said Dean Spiliotes, a political science professor at Southern New Hampshire University, referring to the field of candidates, which also includes Peter Bearse of Danville, Bob Bestani of Newmarket, Andrew Kohlohfer of Fremont, Richard Parent of Wolfeboro and Kevin Rondeau of Manchester.

“Early on, people were wondering if anybody would really challenge (Guinta),” Spiliotes said. “But (Shea-Porter) is perceived as vulnerable in this campaign, so a lot of people have stepped in.”

According to an opinion poll released last month by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, Guinta, Manchester’s mayor from 2006 to 2010, remains the greatest threat to Shea-Porter.

But 55 percent of respondents to the UNH poll still don’t have an opinion of him, according to the survey.

“People in Manchester know him, but he’s not as well known on the Seacoast or in other parts of the district,” said Andrew Smith, director of the Survey Center.

One of Guinta’s main competitors, Mahoney of Portsmouth, has better name recognition along the Seacoast.

As the publisher of Business NH Magazine, Mahoney has campaigned as a political outsider. He led the other Republican candidates with about $927,000 collected as of the end of June, including more than $800,000 of his own money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., which tracks campaign contributions across the country.

But Mahoney’s work with the Republican National Committee has left him better known among political insiders than in the general public, said Smith, of the UNH Survey Center.

“That’s true for a lot of them,” Smith said. “They have to ramp up efforts to boost their name recognition.”

A rush of media attention jump started Ashooh’s campaign early on after officials reported collections of more than $200,000 in the first fundraising quarter – more than Guinta and the other competitors.

But the fundraising has since leveled off, leaving him with $322,000 at the end of June, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Unlike many of his opponents, Ashooh, a Bedford businessman, has prior experience in Washington, serving on the staffs of former U.S. Sens. Gordon Humphrey and Warren Rudman. But he is campaigning more on his business background, which includes more than 15 years as an executive at BAE Systems, a global aerospace company in Nashua.

“As someone who has worked for New Hampshire’s largest manufacturer for the past 17 years, I understand what it takes to make a business successful along with the role government should play in advancing business interests … ” he said in a recent statement.

Newmarket businessman Bob Bestani also touts his business background on the campaign trail. But, with experience in government, with the U.S. Treasury, and with world banking, at the Asian Development Bank, Bestani says he has a fuller background than his Primary opponents.

While Guinta, Mahoney and the other candidates have focused their campaign attacks primarily on Shea-Porter, the only Democrat running in the race, Bestani has taken aim more at his Republican challengers.

“With all due respect to my competitors, I would happily step aside if I felt there was anyone better equipped to represent New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District,” Bestani wrote last month in a letter to the Telegraph.

But his efforts have yet to catch on. Of those surveyed, 94 percent do not have an opinion of Bestani, according to the UNH poll. Through the end of June, he had collected $202,000, according to the Responsive Politics center.

Reports on the four remaining candidates – Bearse. Kohlhofer, Parent and Rondeau – were not available.

Rondeau, of Manchester, did not return calls for comment.

Bearse, an economic consultant from North Hampton, calls himself a Reagan Republican, but is quick to reference Abraham Lincoln. In a campaign video posted on his website, Bearse promises to spend as little time in Washington as possible, instead scheduling more meetings with voters through the First District.

“I am running to … bring back a people-based politics – the politics of Abe Lincoln – and reduce reliance upon a big-buck-based politics,” Bearse wrote on his campaign website. “We have the best Congress money can buy.”

Similarly, Kohlhofer of Fremont is running on a “citizen-first” agenda, saying voters need to exert their will to push financial reforms and limit government spending.

“I believe there are not government solutions to our problems, but there are people solutions,” the mental health professional wrote last month in a letter to the Telegraph. “I do not believe the government is the agent of change. I believe the American citizens are.”

And in Wolfeboro, Parent proposes to introduce legislation to limit government spending, and he supports Congressional term limits of 18 years in the Senate and 10 years in the House of Representatives.

“We have to start putting checks and balances back into the way we do business,” Parent, who works as an engineer on a Navy ship, wrote on his website.

“When you have a field like this, you could see the votes split pretty evenly between the top two or three (candidates),” said Spiliotes, of Southern New Hampshire University.

“Someone could potentially win with a plurality. ... It’s hard to know what will happen.”

Jake Berry can be reached at jberry@nashua or 594-6402.