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John Gregg: Hanover Republican Highlights Differences With Brown on Guns

Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, the emigre from Massachusetts, is drawing most of the media attention and national Republican money in his likely run for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire.

But that hasn’t stopped former state Sen. Jim Rubens, the Hanover Republican already in the primary, from ramping up his aggressive grassroots campaigning in recent weeks.

Rubens, a centrist who has notably opposed both expanded gambling and global warming, last month met with gun rights supporters across the state to highlight his opposition to an assault weapons ban, which Brown supported on the federal level.

“I’m not in favor of an assault weapons ban because it doesn’t work,” Rubens said, noting that no Republican has ever won a statewide Republican primary in New Hampshire while running on a “platform of compromising Second Amendment rights. Not one, not ever.”

This week, Rubens is visiting charter schools throughout New Hampshire to highlight the fact that as a state senator he wrote the law that led to the creation of what are now 22 charter schools.

“The only way we are going to solve our huge problems (in Washington) is with new ideas,” Rubens said. “I did that with charter schools.”

Though he raised only $35,000 in political contributions last year — Rubens loaned his campaign another $250,000— he said voters in New Hampshire are experienced and pay attention to policy.

“We are a demanding, picky voter here in this state,” he said. “We open up and read the middle pages of the book.”

Rubens last month also hired former radio personality Brian “Bulldog” Tilton, a North Sutton resident who railed against the Northern Pass project, to be his campaign spokesman.

Here Comes Bernie

Want more proof that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, is seriously considering a run for the White House in 2016? Sanders is slated to hold a town hall forum on Saturday, April 12, at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics, a regular stop on the campaign trail.

What does Sanders, a Brooklyn native, know about New Hampshire politics? At the very least he can call his son Levi, a Claremont resident, who has run unsuccessfully for City Council in the past. If Sanders does run, here’s the big question: does he do so as a Democrat and take on the Hillary Clinton machine, or does he run as an independent and risk tipping a close national election to Republicans? He has told The Nation he does not want to be a “spoiler” in November.

Act 250 Ace

An unsung Vermont Republican who has played a key role in southern Vermont over the past 16 years has stepped down from the District II Environmental Commission, which rules on Act 250 applications in Windham and southern Windsor County.

South Londonderry, Vt., resident Michael Bernhardt, the GOP nominee for governor in 1988, retired as chairman of the commission. Bernhardt, 77, and his wife are moving to Delaware to be closer to family after 50 years in Vermont, where he owned a plastics manufacturing company and a radio station in Springfield, Vt.

Bernhardt oversaw development applications from major ski areas, such as Mount Snow and Okemo Mountain Resort, as well as “a lot of gravel pits” that are also key to keeping Vermont running.

Asked about Vermont’s landmark Act 250 law, Bernhardt said, “It works when it becomes a team effort between the applicant and the commission. If an applicant tries to cut corners, they are not going to be successful.”

Bernhardt was praised by Thomas Durkin, a judge in the Vermont Superior Court’s Environmental Division who previously served on the District Commission with him for five years. Durkin, via email, said Bernhardt always kept an open mind and was always willing to serve his community and state.

“Mike immediately earned my respect, due to his fairness and objectivity. He will speak bluntly to people when needed, but always respectfully,” Durkin said.

The Boies Factor

There appears to be some real legal firepower with the company behind the Quechee Highlands project, which is appealing a denial of an Act 250 permit. Pomfret resident Scott Milne , the head of Milne Travel American Express, has been the public face of B&M Realty, the developer of the proposed mixed-use project on Route 4 near Interstate 89.

But the “B” in the company is David Boies III, the son of noted superlawyer David Boies (think Bush v. Gore and the pro-gay marriage ruling in California). Milne and the younger Boies were friends at University of Redlands in California more than 30 years ago. Boies is himself an attorney with a law firm in Virginia, and he lives in Florida, Milne said. Boies worked in commercial real estate in Los Angeles before attending law school, Milne said, and together through B&M the pair “have done several smaller deals over the past dozen or so years,” Milne said via email.

Like Milne, Boies also appears to lean Republican. He gave $20,000 to the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008 and $2,500 to Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2011, according to federal campaign records.