Tag Archives: gay marriage

Democrats begin firing shots, start with lobbying

21 Jul

After a few months of cordial campaigning, the Democrats have started finally started taking shots — at each other.

Katrina’s Swett‘s campaign manager told the Nashua Telegraph‘s Kevin Landrigan that Kuster should “be candid” with voters about her lobbying career, using the dirty word that most politicians, including Kuster, would rather avoid.

Below is what Swett’s campaign manager Meagan Coffman told Landrigan. You can read the entirety of the post here.

“Over the past several weeks, Ann Kuster’s campaign and her surrogates have cried foul when our campaign has mentioned the word ‘lobbyist’, and last month her campaign manager told the Valley News that such an assertion was a smear,” said Swett campaign manager Meagan Coffman.  “Now the Kuster campaign has told a Union Leader columnist that they are proud of her lobbying background.  If they are so proud of her work as a paid lobbyist, why does she euphemistically refer to herself as a public policy advocate?  She either is a well-paid lobbyist or she isn’t a well-paid lobbyist.  And she was clearly a well-paid registered lobbyist.”

Kuster’s campaign fired back with an email to supporters, with the subject line titled “Katrina’s attacks.” Below is a portion of that email:

Today my opponent in the Democratic primary, Katrina Swett, launched a political and misleading attack against me – so I wanted to give you the straight facts:

Despite her attacks, I have never  worked as a Washington lobbyist at all.  I’ve worked here on the state level, helping businesses and nonprofits work with state legislators to create programs like the Medication Bridge, which has distributed free prescription medicine to over 16,000 New Hampshire seniors and families in need.

It was an interesting divergence for the two women to trade barbs in such a public manner. Neither Kuster nor Swett spends much time criticising the other at campaign events, preferring to instead harp on Republican psuedo-incumbent Charlie Bass.

On one hand, the shenanigans make Swett look fairly petty — she’s coming off a disappointing second quarter haul, media questions about her support for gay marriage, and watching Kuster earn support from gay marriage and progressive groups. Firing off about lobbying this week makes Swett’s campaign seem anxious about her ability to win in September.

But on the other hand, it raises real questions about Kuster’s explanation of her background. She is clearly trying to avoid being cast as the “liberal lobbyist,” but she did do lobbying work for more than 20 years. Giving long descriptions of the positive benefits of her work doesn’t change that.

And it’s probably appropriate for someone to point this out — although it might not have been to Swett’s benefit to do it this week.

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Weekly Wrap — July 11-17

18 Jul

Each weekend I post a “Weekly Wrap,” or my impressions of the race as they played out during the past seven days.

With second quarter fundraising reports rolling in and less than two months until the primary, it was a fun week to be in New Hampshire. Here are my observations on the five candidates:

1. Katrina Swett is a smart lady

Bob Giuda’s campaign manager said this to me about a month ago, and I didn’t entirely understand what he meant by it — the Democrat hasn’t been particularly visible on the campaign trail in the past few months.

But as I have watched Swett begin to unveil her campaign and interact with voters, I’ve been impressed with her clear message and determination. She has more than $1 million on hand, extensive name recognition and a clear passion for politics and the people she wants to serve.

Swett is a strong moderate in a state that is reluctant to elect ideologues. The Democrats must feel lucky to have her.

  • Raised this quarter: $187,984
  • Cash on hand: $1,150,607

2. Ann McLane Kuster reminds people of Obama

I’m not saying Ann McLane Kuster is Obama. But when I asked her interns why they were motivated to work for her, they spoke with the deep convictions and starry eyes that graced Obama supporters in 2008 and propelled his buzz words of “hope” and “change” into the modern lexicon.

One young woman told me, “you just know when you see the real deal.” So far, I haven’t seen similar sentiments expressed about any of the other candidates.

Kuster’s challenge in this election will be mobilizing Obama liberals to continue believing in that hope and change that made 2008 historic. She is the underdog, the idealist and the liberal.

She is smart to focus her rhetoric on creating jobs, because if voters get frustrated by the economy or lack of results from national Democrats, her more moderate competitor will pick up votes.

But Americans love an underdog and a populist, and for many, Kuster is “the real deal.” The Democrats must feel lucky to have her.

  • Raised this quarter: $316,307
  • Cash on hand: $745,048

3. Charlie Bass is like vanilla ice cream

Stephanie Micklon, a 62-year-old resident of Salem who served in the NH legislature as a Republican and then a Democrat in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, made this comparison about Charlie Bass when I spoke to her at a fundraiser for Swett. I thought it was a clever description for the moderate Republican who hasn’t shown much pizzaz so far on the trail.

“Charlie I always felt was like vanilla ice cream. If you go into an ice cream store vanilla isn’t your first choice. You probably wouldn’t pick it out. But by itself, it’s fine. It’s not offensive — it’s just blah.”

  • Raised this quarter: $178,749
  • Cash on hand: $370,899

4. Jennifer Horn will always win a seat at the Tea Party

While the candidate lacks broad appeal among voters (who will not forget how she was trounced by Paul Hodes in 2008), there is room for a conservative to Bass’s right in the race. And for many who don’t know of or care for Bob Giuda, Jennifer Horn fits the mold.

Polished, professional and articulate, Horn gives a fresh face to the Tea Party movement and continues to win support from a growing number of conservatives in the state, as evidenced by recent straw polls. She’s a former radio show host who knows how to talk so people will listen, and this has served her well on the trail.

But this hasn’t translated into fundraising might. And whether she can overcome Bass in a state-wide election is still doubtful.

  • Raised this quarter: $50,611
  • Cash on hand: $31,407

5. Bob Giuda is still chugging

While the candidate has raised almost no money and will probably be known as the man who made some seriously questionable remarks about gay marriage, Giuda is still plugging away.

I’m not surprised. He loaned his campaign more than $80,000 so far — he is clearly in the race for strong personal and political convictions. Those weren’t likely to go away with one misstep.

  • Raised this quarter: $4,749
  • Cash on hand: $115,377

Note: Finance numbers came from posts by Red Hampshire, Open Secrets, and The Washington Post. Check out these sources — all are great to look at to learn more about the candidates and fundraising.

NH Freedom to Marry Coalition endorses Kuster

16 Jul

Democrat Ann McLane Kuster‘s campaign announced today that she has been endorsed by the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition. She was endorsed by the NH Firefighters Union this week.

Her opponent, Katrina Swett, told the Nashua Telegraph that she favors civil unions but not same-sex marriage nationwide.

See the press release below:

CONCORD, NH – Pointing to Kuster’s crystal-clear support for equality for all citizens, New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition’s board of directors voted unanimously last night to endorse Ann McLane Kuster in her race for New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Ann McLane Kuster’s uncompromising support for marriage equality and her commitment to working families of all kinds made this an easy decision,” said Mo Baxley, Executive of Director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry.  “Annie is exactly the kind of leader we need in Washington”

The New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition includes tens of thousands of active supporters in New Hampshire.

“I was proud to be a vocal supporter for passing marriage equality here in New Hampshire and I’ll continue to support marriage equality in Washington,” said Ann McLane Kuster. “We should have less government interference in our personal lives, at both the state and federal levels.”

Weekly Wrap — June 27 – July 2

4 Jul

Each weekend I post a “Weekly Wrap,” or my impressions of the race as they played out during the past seven days.

This past week has been pretty crazy. Primary Wire got many new visitors after I reported on a series of comments Republican candidate Bob Giuda said about gay marriage.

Giuda sat down with a news outlet to explain his remarks and several bloggers declared that I had caused the “death of a campaign,” (although this was probably a bit dramatic). Read the original story here.

I’m proud of the reporting I did and how the story evolved, although I would welcome your comments or suggestions. Leave one below or email me at elizakern@gmail.com

Here are the three things I took away from the experience:

1. Bob Giuda certainly stands behind his words — whatever those words may be

On Monday, Bob Giuda told a group of high school students that gay marriage was the “downfall of the nation,” the cause of the fall of Sparta, and now-famously said “What’s next? Men and sheep? Women and dogs?”

As I wrote these words down in my notebook, I knew that they would cause a stir. And I half expected Giuda to dispute them. They were unscripted, spoken to teenagers arguing with him about controversial topics, and probably not ones campaign managers would advise a candidate to deliver.

But to Giuda’s credit — and in a manner that is quite reflective of what I’ve seen of his campaign so far — he basically stood behind what he said. He unfortunately tried to qualify his statement about animals, but he did not issue a wholesale recall.

There is no doubt that his words were offensive to many people. But you have to hand it to the guy for sticking to his word.

2. But this really wasn’t what Giuda needed

But while the candidate’s sticking to his word were admirable, the words themselves were not — and others were quick to point this out. Gay rights activists as well as other politicians and political commentators labeled the remarks highly offensive, and called on Giuda to apologize.

And as politics guru James Pindell pointed out so aptly, “The most attention his campaign has ever received was on this gaffe.” Bummer.

3. Technology and journalism are each powerful — and together, can make a lethal combo

This statement might seem highly obvious. Of course journalism and technology are powerful. But watching one quote go from the candidate’s mouth to a talking point on the New Hampshire Democratic Party‘s website was really stunning.

In some ways, I thought the experience was more a testament to the failure of the “traditional” news media to cover the race than any of my own journalistic skill. Most papers don’t have the resources or the time to send reporters to every campaign stop,which is understandable, but means I am often the only reporter attending events.

There’s no reason for papers not to hire a tech-savvy intern to do some blogging or camera work, provide a forum for interested readers, or even get political activists to write about their experiences online. I’m as much of a print news junkie as the next girl, but it is a race for the United States Congress, after all. It’s time to get creative in covering it and take advantage of the resources modern journalism can offer.

One such resource that played an important role in this week’s event was Twitter. A micro-blogging website, it has become an invaluable resource both to reporters and politicians working to get their message out to a wider public, and I think it will only continue to do so. (For those politicians who haven’t mastered the art yet, you should. Soon.)

With one re-Tweet from the right person, an obscure blog post like mine can become a virtual internet sensation. While it does promote the sort of “sound bite” media we’ve become accustomed to, it also provides a vast amount of information to interested audiences and makes “on the ground” reporting possible. It also means candidates like Bob Giuda can’t make off-hand remarks and expect them to go un-heard.

It’s certainly not your grandmother’s journalism. But it’s pretty cool.

Guida explains comments on same-sex marriage

29 Jun

Republican candidate Bob Giuda gave an interview with WMUR today, explaining comments he made Monday regarding same-sex marriage.

Primary Wire reported Monday that the candidate made several comments in opposition to gay marriage, calling it the downfall of the nation, and saying, “What’s next? Men and sheep? Women and dogs?”

In an interview with WMUR, he says he was referring to the institutionalization of marriage with this comment, but that he does oppose same-sex marriage. Read the full story here.