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Your need-to-know memo: Tulsi Gabbard to join GOP candidates in NH visit

Also: A new poll suggests the NH01 race has tightened, and the NH Secretary of State weighs in on voter confidence.
Your need-to-know memo: Tulsi Gabbard to join GOP candidates in NH visit
Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii speaks in August at Revolution 2022 hosted by Young Americans for Liberty in Kissimmee, Florida. (Gage Skidmore | CC BY-SA 2.0)
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Tulsi Gabbard, a former U.S. representative from Hawaii who ran in the Democratic presidential primary in 2020, will stump in the coming days for GOP nominees in two high-profile New Hampshire races. She'll join Don Bolduc as he aims to beat Democratic incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan, and she'll join Karoline Leavitt as she aims to beat Democratic incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas.

Gabbard's visit comes after she announced this week, with Quite the rhetorical flourish, that she's leaving the Democratic Party, which she called "an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness."

NH Democratic Party Executive Director Troy Price released a statement Friday in both English and Russian: "I want to thank Tulsi Gabbard for taking a break from her Putin-sympathizing to visit us in New Hampshire again," Price said, criticizing Gabbard for her 2017 meeting with "brutal despot" Bashar al-Assad in Syria and for "spouting widely debunked conspiracy theories on election fraud."

A few quick Gabbard-related notes for today:

  • Lahut: "Gabbard entering the fray may provide a spark of novelty to the Bolduc campaign, but her seventh place finish in the 2020 New Hampshire primary and relatively niche status as a political celebrity on the right likely won’t be enough to move the needle among the group of voters Republicans need the most." (Jake Lahut for Daily Beast)
  • Bolduc: "I've been having a long dialogue with her ... we don’t agree on everything, imagine that, but we can still come together for the important things." (Marissa Tansino for WMUR)
  • NHDP: "By campaigning with a pro-Putin, extreme conspiracy theorist like Gabbard, Don Bolduc is making only more clear how out of step he is with NH." (Aubrie Spady for Fox News)
  • Flashback: In her meeting with the Seacoast Media Group editorial board (which I was on at the time), Gabbard dismissed speculation that she would mount a third-party bid for president in 2020 if she failed to secure the Democratic nomination. (Alex LaCasse for Seacoastonline)

More on the #nhsen race:

Hassan and Bolduc agree on little during separate pitches to business group. "The Nashua chamber wanted both candidates to appear on stage together, but Hassan refused, citing three debates she had committed to before Bolduc won the Sept. 13 primary. ... Bolduc said voters would hold Hassan accountable on Nov. 8 for not holding open-to-the-public town hall meetings." (Kevin Landrigan for Union Leader) #nhsen

Bolduc defends his record of supporting women. "I am tired of the lying," he said. "I am tired of people supporting the lying." Bolduc said he's never endorsed a national abortion ban and would vote against one if elected. Hassan said she doesn’t believe him. “Bolduc’s record makes clear that he would be a clear yes vote for a nationwide abortion ban,” she said. (Kevin Landrigan for Union Leader) #nhsen

Bolduc calls disposal of embryos for in vitro fertilization "a disgusting practice." He made the comments Monday "in conversation with an undercover Democratic operative" during a Portsmouth meet and greet. "The operative, posing as a conservative supporter, asked Bolduc whether he was aware that fertility clinics dispose of embryos, characterizing it as 'a pretty disgusting practice.' Bolduc agreed, repeated the characterization, and when asked about the 'possibility of a national ban' on the practice, waffled." Bolduc said he views this as "a separate issue" from abortion restrictions. (Abigail Tracy for Vanity Fair) #nhsen

Bolduc attacks Hassan and "Washington elites" at Hooksett town hall. Bolduc said, if elected, he would limit himself to two terms as a U.S. senator. "I stand here in front of you as an option, someone who God has given experiences to go down and be your ambassador, your conduit, someone who doesn’t have any other agenda than to do that,” he said. “We have a role to play, this is mine, but I need your help." (Andrew Sylvia for Manchester Ink Link) #nhsen

Senate candidates tussle over manufacturing policy. "Hassan says legislation she helped pass this year (including the infrastructure bill and the CHIPS Act) will finally help bring back American manufacturing, but her Republican challenger, Don Bolduc, says more government spending is not the answer." (Adam Sexton for WMUR) #nhsen


Karoline Leavitt is challenging Rep. Chris Pappas. (Steven Porter | Granite Memo)

The contest between Democratic incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas and Republican challenger Karoline Leavitt seems to have tightened. An independent poll by AARP New Hampshire, released on Wednesday, shows Pappas with a slight lead, 48% to 47%. That's well within the 4.4% margin of error. (Christian Wade for The Center Square) #nh01

What do other #nh01 polls say? Three other recent polls show Pappas leading Leavitt by between 5% and 8%. The race is considered a "toss-up." (Real Clear Politics) #nh01

Follow-up story: Late last month, Leavitt held a press conference outside a Manchester school to criticize a former district policy that barred teachers from talking to parents about a student's gender identity without the student's consent. The NH Bulletin published a very informative follow-up article Friday explaining the backstory. (Ethan DeWitt for NH Bulletin)  

School districts struggle to balance transgender protections, parental notification
New Hampshire school boards are increasingly reversing course on some of their transgender student policies.

More #nh01 notes:

  • Karoline Leavitt answers voter questions on economy and calls Biden the "legitimate president." (Adam Sexton for WMUR)  
  • Pappas ad snafu: Kitchen table "here in New Hampshire" was stock video filmed in Russia. (Michael Graham for NHJournal)

Comments on voter confidence

NH Secretary of State David Scanlan spoke on Friday, Oct. 7, at the UNH Law Review's annual symposium in Concord, where he said election officials face significant challenges these days, often related to public trust in the process:

It used to be, even a decade ago, running an election was kind of a sleepy thing. It was a ministerial duty. You made sure that the polling places were equipped with ballots and everything they needed to run the election. Voters for the most part had faith in the outcome of the election. They trusted the process. But that's changing.
David Scanlan on earning NH voter confidence: ‘There shouldn’t be any secrets’
The idea is to improve confidence by educating the public about how they can watch the voting process from start to finish.


How abortion policy is playing in the race for NH governor. Sununu and Sherman call themselves pro-choice, but their views differ. Sununu says he supports some restrictions later in pregnancy. Sherman says the state should affirmatively protect abortion rights. He criticized Sununu for signing a 24-week ban. Sununu "has said he would like to see the criminal penalties removed, and exceptions for rape and incest added." (Paul Cuno-Booth for NHPR) #nhgov

Comparing Sununu and Sherman on issues other than abortion. Here are three key policy areas where the two candidates differ: (1) On housing affordability, Sununu touts his team's $100 million InvestNH program, while Sherman said the state should keep that program and add $35 million per year for his housing plan in the state budget. (2) On energy pricing, Sherman said NH should be diversifying its energy sources and lifting the net metering cap, while Sununu argues Democrats are pursuing ideas that would drive up costs. (3) On education, Sununu backs Education Freedom Accounts, while Sherman opposes them. (Steven Porter for Granite State News Collaborative via Seacoastonline) #nhgov

Sununu ranked nation's 10th most popular governor. Morning Consult showed Sununu with a 59% approval rating. Earlier this year, Sununu was ranked the sixth most popular governor, with a 63% approval rating. (Morning Consult) #nhgov

Sherman shaky in first debate, picks abortion over inflation as most important issue. "Sherman struggled to make his case for firing incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. Along the way, he stumbled on several hot-button issues involving parental rights and energy policy." (Michael Graham for NHJournal) #nhgov  

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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) are stepping up their political operations with an eye on 2024. Brian Colas, a top Cotton aide who ran his 2020 reelection campaign, is leaving Cotton's office "to launch a political consulting firm and to work on Cotton's PAC." Expect a Cotton book tour. Meanwhile, longtime Scott adviser Jennifer DeCasper recently left Scott's office "to help guide his political activities ahead of the midterm election and to advise a newly created, pro-Scott super PAC." (Alex Isenstadt for Politico) #fitn


U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear case from Democrats in NH House who sought remote access for lawmakers with disabilities. "Without comment, the court denied the request to take up the dispute ... The core legal question remains whether the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act trump a legislative leader’s rule-making authority. (Kevin Landrigan for Union Leader) #nhleg

Campaign spending in support of 'right to work' paying dividends for conservative group. "Americans for Prosperity ... wants New Hampshire to become a right-to-work state, and in the last two years it has spent over $1 million promoting candidates who share that view. Both Americans for Prosperity and the Republicans it has ousted agree: They’re succeeding. ... Twenty-one of the 25 candidates Americans for Prosperity endorsed won their primaries, according to Moore." (Amanda Gokee for NH Bulletin) #nhleg


The politics of New Hampshire, America's quirkiest state, explained. "In an age of increased political homogenization, even New Hampshire is illustrative of national trends. Its shift from red to purple is one of the clearest examples of the impact of educational polarization in American politics. And, of course, the nationalized media environment means that Granite Staters are getting their information from many of the same sources as everyone else." (Ben Jacobs for Vox)

Voters will decide two constitutional questions. "One asks whether a convention should be held to change the New Hampshire Constitution." That question is required every 10 years. "The other inquires whether a reference to county registers of probate should be stripped from the constitution, effectively eliminating this position." That question was described as a "housekeeping measure" to eliminate an obsolete constitutional provision. (Rick Green for Keene Sentinel)

Massachusetts aims to launch sports betting in late January. "Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill in August legalizing betting on professional and collegiate sports, joining more than 30 other states, including several neighbors. Baker said that he supports it because state residents are already traveling to Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut to place legal wagers." (AP)

Voters 50 and older will loom large in NH midterm elections: 5 takeaways
There are still persuadable voters in these age groups, pollsters said.

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Have feedback? Contact editor Steven Porter via news@granitememo.com.