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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Do as he says, not as he does

Kevin Landrigan

Editor’s note: Due to a combination of factors, Kevin Landrigan’s column did not run in the Sunday Telegraph. Here is the column as it should have run Sunday.

Republican Senate candidate Bill Binnie’s recent record of voting in primaries is neither checkered nor questionable.

There is none.

The Rye businessman hasn’t voted in any of the last three state GOP primaries.

Binnie did vote Republican in the 2008 presidential primary and cast a general election ballot in the last four contests going back to 2002. But the 2004, 2006 and 2008 state primaries came and went without Binnie showing up at the polls, according to Rye voting records, which are only required to be kept for five years.

Through a spokesman, Binnie’s campaign would only say this primary is one in which every voter should participate.

“There is no good excuse for not voting,” Binnie said through a spokesman. “And I certainly urge everyone upset with the direction our country is heading to make sure they vote in this primary and stop the insiders’ control of our government.’’

The time line fits with the Chicago Tribune article on Nov. 7, 2003, in which Binnie told reporter Jill Zuckman he was skeptical of both political parties.

“I don’t like the Republican Party because I’m pro-choice,” Binnie said in the Tribune story.

Binnie supporter Bob Clegg, of Hudson, said he has never spoken to the candidate about it, but he wasn’t surprised to learn of the voting patterns.

“My guess is that he’s like a lot of voters who didn’t see a lot of good choices or a lot of stark differences in the past several primaries worth showing up for,’’ Clegg said. “It’s kind of like choosing between rose and fuscia.”

Clegg said much of Binnie’s appeal has been as a fresh-faced, nonpolitical figure who can offer solutions.

Cost of campaigning

Fair or not, Binnie has been in the cross hairs of media coverage for the last few weeks:

 • The Portsmouth Herald reported on his 1998 arrest for driving while intoxicated.

 • New Hampshire Public Radio’s Josh Rogers did an extensive report on several civil lawsuits lodged by residents living near or who were members of Wentworth By The Sea Country Club in Rye, which Binnie owns.

 • Then there was the New Hampshire Union Leader’s report on the Binnie-run Carlisle Plastics Corp., which opened a plant across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, in the late 1980s.

Binnie insisted the company didn’t close a plant in Santa Ana, Calif., and move the jobs to Mexico. He noted that another Santa Ana plant was opened nearby.

The newspaper’s story included a Carlisle company-generated document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that made the very connection of closing one and opening the other.

Binnie bought a full-page advertisement to blast the story as false, and true to form, Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid responded with a front-page editorial the next day blasting Binnie.

In a final bit of irony, a congressional delegation that once toured Binnie’s plant in Mexico included former New Hampshire Republican Congressman Bill Zeliff.

Counterattacking

Did Republican Senate front-runner Kelly Ayotte, of Nashua, have to respond to Binnie’s attack ad with one of her own on Friday? As late as Thursday, there were some Ayotte supporters boasting that their candidate would keep running a positive campaign while Binnie had the long knife out.

Well, it’s probably a good idea on two fronts:

First, statewide polling clearly revealed that Democratic candidate Paul Hodes’ ad assault on Ayotte over the Financial Resources Mortgage scandal took its toll on Ayotte, especially with independents and even some moderate Democrats.

Many observers, including some keen on Ayotte, think Binnie’s use of FRM victims Al and Susan McIlvane and Ronnie Dean is far more effective than Hodes’ was.

So, the first reason is to hit back hard at Binnie to see if he’ll either pull some of his punches or back off. Given how much both these candidates are invested in the outcome, that isn’t likely to happen.

The second reason is more telling, and that’s to reinforce in the minds of undecided conservative voters that Binnie isn’t an acceptable option.

Al McIlvane told The Laconia Daily Sun that the couple had contacted the GOP gubernatorial campaigns of Jack Kimball and John Stephen, but that neither has responded.

The couple first spoke with Binnie last April.

“He wrote a letter to (Gov. John Lynch) out of concern for us,” Susan McIlvane told the Laconia newspaper.

The couple also said Binnie campaign officials contacted them after the ad was cut to make sure they wanted to go through with it.

They said they had contacted the Hodes campaign several months ago, but have never spoken with the Democratic candidate.

Out in the open

Where would Binnie go next if he wished to press the attack against Ayotte in the stretch run?

There are several possibilities. In no particular order, they include:

 • Joint Underwriting Association: Americans for Job Security was the first to rough up Ayotte with a direct mail and Web video campaign lumping Ayotte and Lynch together for pushing the unconstitutional grab of surplus money the JUA had built up over three decades.

 • Stimulus: Letters to the editor, blogs and forums have noted Ayotte’s support for getting stimulus money from the Obama administration and her current call to cancel the program and use any unspent money to lower the deficit.

 • Climate change: As we already know, she opposes the cap and trade legislation. But as attorney general in 2005, Ayotte signed a letter opposing a Bush environmental bill because it failed to restrict carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

The Concord Monitor reported a year ago this month that Ayotte believed global warming was a “real issue.’’ On Wednesday night, she told a Seacoast Federation of Republican Women crowd in Portsmouth that she didn’t think global warming was proven science.

“If global warming isn’t scientifically proven, it sure was a waste of our tax dollars for Attorney General Ayotte to spend her time fighting to limit carbon emissions,” said Emily Browne, press secretary with the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

 • Illegal immigration: Ayotte strongly supports a law in Arizona giving state officials the authority to arrest suspected illegal aliens. While she was AG, Ayotte’s office advised police in Hudson and New Ipswich that they couldn’t charge suspected illegal aliens with criminal trespass. State prosecutors told local police it was a matter for federal authorities to pursue.

 • Gun owner rights: Ayotte’s backing from the law enforcement community is legendary, but many activists disliked that she backed Lynch’s veto of legislation that supporters said would give someone under attack outside the home a right to defend him or herself.

Sure enough, on Friday, the Binnie campaign placed a new commercial on WMUR-TV in which Clegg criticized Ayotte on gun rights and immigration.

Let the fur fly.

Taking up positions

The other two major Senate candidates are hoping to emerge as the real alternative while Ayotte and Binnie fight it out in the muddy trenches.

Ovide Lamontagne, of Manchester, released a signed letter from 40 supporters, including Dr. David K. Murotake, David Mitchell and Keshia Alicea, all of Nashua; Carolyn McKinney, of Amherst; and Shannon McGinley, of Bedford. The letter makes an explicit contrast with all the other candidates, including Jim Bender, of Hollis, who’s working hard to become the stand-in on Sept. 14 should Binnie fall by the wayside.

At week’s end, Lamontagne had designs on a big victory in a straw poll at a Manchester Republican Committee outing Saturday, as that would give him another grass-roots victory to crow about.

Watch for Lamontagne’s long-awaited advertising campaign to begin on radio soon and then migrate to TV.

Rallying the troops

The state Senate Democratic Caucus has been stepping up its attacks against Republican nominees to be.

“Our Democratic state Senate is under attack,’’ the caucus urged in a fundraising pitch it made last week.

“Radical Republicans have begun to go after our Democratic majority in the state Senate, and they are threatening to erase all the progress we’ve made over the past four years. We need your help to fight back against these false attacks and continue to move New Hampshire forward.’’

The appeal including warnings that the GOP would get rid of state employment programs that will “put more people out of work,’’ eliminate job protections, repeal same-sex marriage and pass anti-abortion laws.

Of course, none of the above would happen if Lynch receives a record fourth term as governor this November.

It’s entertaining to watch the campaigns of Lynch and Republican front-runner John Stephen look over their shoulders at each other as to which one will begin airing TV spots.

Lynch had a TV buy responding to the “Lynch Lied’’ ads from the National Organization for Marriage a few months back, but has been dark since.

Stephen’s campaign has been sitting on its $700,000 nest egg until the right time to go up on the air and stay on through the primary vote.

Speaking of that, all state candidates have to make their first campaign finance report by Wednesday night with Secretary of State Bill Gardner.

Making amends

Republican congressional candidate Frank Guinta, of Manchester, amended his personal financial disclosures after The Sunday Telegraph questioned where he’d gotten the money to make $245,000 in personal loans to the campaign.

Guinta told the Union Leader’s Drew Cline last week that only after The Telegraph posed questions last month did he realize his forms for the past two years hadn’t included $250,000-$500,000 in accounts he had with the Bank of America.

“My wife and I have been working in the working world for almost 20 years,” he told the UL. “I have made money in business. I have made money in real-estate transactions. I have this money, and I am willing to invest in my campaign because I believe in my campaign.”

Guinta filed amended reports with the House Ethics Office that listed the Bank of America account and corrected other errors.

“Is it embarrassing that I made the error?” Guinta said. “Of course it is. But I’m not running away from it. I made the error, and I corrected it.

“I suspect that whoever is trying to embarrass me is probably going to back off.”

That isn’t going to happen.

State Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, called on Guinta to show bank statements that reveal the actual source of the income or get out of the race. Bradley has not come out publicly, but it’s expected he’ll end up in the corner of GOP primary rival Sean Mahoney.

Guinta won’t disclose his bank records.

“My answer to that is no, based on principle,” he said. “I have complied with every FEC requirement. And I’m not going to let an allegation by Fergus Cullen that’s based on opinion dictate releasing personal information beyond what the FEC is asking me to do.’’

Cullen is a former GOP party chairman and UL columnist.

Guinta threw his campaign manager, Mike Biundo, under the bus, saying Biundo was mistaken in telling The Telegraph that the money for the loans came from assets listed in his earlier reports.

“He couldn’t get in touch with me because I was on vacation,’’ Guinta said. “When I got back, I took a look at it and said, ‘That’s a mistake,’ and we went back and looked at my information and started amending my reports.”

Keeping with the times

The Nashua Democratic Committee will have its first 2010 fund-raiser on Sept. 1 at the VFW Hall on Quincy Street.

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley will be the guest speaker. The requested donation is $20.10.

New game plan

Belmont gaming executive Rick Newman used the closing of Wonderland Park in Revere, Mass., last week to renew his call for the industry to change its strategy.

“We have to get out of the mind-set of slots or bust,” he said. “We accept the fact that slot machines are not likely to be approved in this state; there are plenty of ways to grow our business that do not involve slots. We just need the government to help by taking down the hurdles.”

Newman is a former Democratic legislator and current lobbyist.

Tilton Democratic Sen. Kathi Sgambati convinced the Senate to approve racing that would have allowed gamblers at Belmont to bet on randomly selected races that had already occurred. The House of Representative soundly killed the bill last spring.

Remaking government

If it’s summer in the second year of a two-year legislative term, something at the Statehouse complex must be under construction.

The Statehouse cafeteria has been closed for two weeks for renovations that weren’t expected to start until this week, and work began late last month on significant renovations to the legislative parking garage on Storrs Street, where rank-and-file lawmakers park their cars. The work includes concrete repairs to the decks, ramps, stairways and pedestrian walkways and new chain link fencing, drain lines, light fixtures and electrical conduits.

Many lawmakers had complained not only about the condition of the garage, but also about the level of security in the building, especially after dark.

Honored for efforts

Three Democratic lawmakers won membership into the hall of fame of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic Violence at its summer meeting this month.

House Democratic Whip Daniel Eaton, of Stoddard; Criminal Justice and Public Safety Chairman Steve Shurtleff, of Concord; and retiring Manchester Rep. David Nixon were inducted.

Eaton made state funding for domestic violence crisis shelters a top priority, Shurtleff authored and managed changes in state law to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act to protect children and Nixon has done pro bono work on domestic violence cases for 15 years.

Providing support

Months ago, New Hampshire was seen by many Democratic partisans as the best place where one of their own could win a Republican seat in the Senate.

Last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reserved $5.3 million worth of TV ad airtime in Missouri and Kentucky, but not in New Hampshire.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning is retiring, and Democrats believe Rand Paul’s libertarian views give Democrat Jack Conway hopes for a big upset.

In a battle of royal families, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt faces a stiff challenge from Democratic nominee Robin Carnahan, whose relatives include a late senator, governor and state treasurer.

Second thoughts

We surely may not have seen the last of Durham Democratic state Rep. Timothy Horrigan, who resigned from the House on Aug. 12. This came after Horrigan posted on Salem Republican Rep. David Bettencourt’s Facebook page that “a dead (Sarah) Palin wd be even more dangerous than a live one.’’

Horrigan can’t remove his name from the Sept. 14 primary ballot, and initially said he wouldn’t accept the nomination if he were to win it. Since then, he has told friends that he may just take the nomination and run with it after all.

In addition, it’s clear he blames leaders of the state Democratic Party, House of Representatives and Lynch’s office for being made a sacrificial lamb once his comments went mega-viral on the Web.

Horrigan stressed last week that he isn’t backing Lynch in the primary, but is supporting Keene Democratic Rep. Timothy Robertson.

“I am in fact not John Lynch’s ‘top supporter,’ ’’ Horrigan e-mailed last week. 'I was supporting him but after the events of last week, I have switched my vote to Tim Robertson. I think Robertson would welcome some publicity.’’

Liberal blogs have contained some strong criticism of party and House leaders for their treatment of Horrigan, and there’s at least chatter about whether there’s a way to undo his resignation. According to legislative sources, that bell has tolled and can’t be un-rung.

The mud grows deeper

The sniping between Democratic congressional candidate Katrina Swett, of Bow and Anne Kuster, of Hopkinton, showed no signs of slowing down last week.

Swett fired the first shot at Kuster’s experience as a Concord lobbyist for the firm of former Attorney General Tom Rath.

The Kuster camp slapped back that Swett was registered as a lobbyist through her firm Katrina Swett and Associates on behalf of a few of its clients, including the late Meyer Berman, a noted short-seller of stocks on Wall Street. Swett insisted she never actually lobbied anyone in Washington.

Last week, Swett rolled out the lobby label with her first TV ad in this exchange.

Swett to camera: “People are hurting, sweating it out over jobs and the economy.” Later, she adds, “Wall Street and their lobbyists aren’t sweating; they’ve gotten billions in bailouts and bonuses and in Washington, they have no idea what makes us worry and sweat.’’

Meanwhile, the Kuster camp unveiled a new website dedicated to showing the contrast between the two candidates on abortion rights, Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bush tax cuts.

The link is http://nhfactcheck.com.

Kuster sent out her first mailing to Democrats or independents who cast Democratic primary ballots in recent elections. The mailing focuses on jobs, and stopping the exporting of jobs overseas, but manages to get in making investments here “instead of spending billions in Iraq and Afghanistan.’’

Swett’s campaign headquarters is in downtown Nashua. She has an impressive group of city Democrats in her corner, including Sen. Bette Lasky, longtime Nashua party Chairwoman and Rep. Jane Clemons and former Sen. Joe Foster.

Kuster hosted two Nashua house parties last week, and got her own good pickups from the likes of former Mayor Jim Donchess; Nashua Reps. Mike O’Brien, Ruth Ginsburg and Brian Rhodes; and Nashua lawyer Helen Honorow.

They’ve opened a Nashua office at 12 Spring St.

Bang for their bucks

Former Congressman Charles Bass picked up the endorsement of the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund at week’s end.

Bass had a solid NRA rating in his 12 years in the U.S. House, and the group’s PAC often maxed out to him as a candidate for re-election. Gun owners across the state played a pivotal role in Bass taking the 2nd Congressional District seat away Democrat Dick Swett in 1994.

“Based on your previous record in Congress as well as your responses to our NRA federal candidate questionnaire, you are rated an ‘A’ by the NRA-PVF this election,’’ Director of Federal Affairs Chuck Cunningham wrote. ‘During your tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, you were a strong and consistent supporter of the Second Amendment.’”

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com.