Gregg: Happening in Hanover
The Hanover Inn will again be the center of the political universe, albeit briefly, on Saturday as former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., headlines a Grafton County Republican luncheon.
Brown, who lost his seat in November to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, has hinted that he might consider a Senate run in New Hampshire, where he has family ties and owns a beach house in Rye.
Asked about a possible Senate bid in the Granite State on Fox News Sunday, Brown demurred, but when pressed said, “Nothing is off the table, and nothing is on the table. Right now I’m recharging the batteries and working hard.”
Brown is working as a contributor to Fox News.
His pending appearance at the Grafton County Republican Committee’s Lincoln-Reagan Luncheon has spurred strong interest in the fundraiser in Hanover, with tickets at $50 a person for the lunch and social hour, and $150 for the lunch and a “VIP reception” with Brown, including an autographed copy of his autobiography.
Grafton County GOP Vice Chairman Tyler Drummond of Littleton said ticket sales have been brisk and that a couple of hundred attendees are expected.
“This would be double the size of any other countywide event we do on a regular basis,” said Drummond.
The Hanover lunch is also part of Drummond’s efforts to build a grassroots Republican base in southern Grafton County, which has become heavily Democratic in the past two decades.
“We as a county organization feel it’s time to reorganize our efforts in the Upper Valley and revitalize the Republican organization in that area, because there are a lot of activists down there,” said Drummond, a 27-year-old Littleton native. “But in the past few years they haven’t had a place to get involved.”
Brown drew national attention when he won a special election in Massachusetts to replace the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, and remains popular with moderate Republicans.
“He’s a lively guy, and I think he’ll appeal to a lot of independents and Republicans in that area,” Drummond said.
Among other attendees are New Hampshire Republican Chairwoman Jennifer Horn, Vermont GOP Chairman Jack Lindley, and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro.
Bradley, a former congressman from New Hampshire, has established himself as a central player in Concord and is also said to be weighing a Senate run.
Brown and his wife, Gail Huff, a former television reporter in Boston, are Massachusetts residents, but have owned a beach house in Rye, now assessed at $512,000, for 20 years.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, the only requirements to run for the U.S. Senate from New Hampshire are that candidates must be a New Hampshire registered voter, at least 30 years of age, and have nine years of residency in the United States. (That’s a lesser standard then running for the New Hampshire Senate, which requires a candidate to have been a Granite State resident for seven years.)
Left unsaid in all this is that should Brown run in New Hampshire, he would be challenging U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor and the savviest Democratic politician in the state.
Shaheen also has solid standing with voters throughout the state, registering a 59 percent approval rating in a February WMUR Granite State Poll, with just a 22 percent unfavorable rating.
She had spent $403,000 during the 2012 election cycle, and reported $431,000 cash on hand at the end of last year. Look for her to raise millions this year in a bid to discourage a serious challenge.
North Pomfret resident Dottie Deans, the former chairwoman of the Windsor County Democrats, last weekend was elected chairwoman of the Vermont Democratic Party, where she had been vice chairwoman since 2011.
A former elementary school teacher in Colorado, Deans said in a statement, “As a teacher I know that an integral part of learning is listening and staying focused on the tasks at hand. I will concentrate on working with all Democrats to grow and strengthen our outreach and presence throughout our state.” Deans has been active with the Lebanon-based H2RC, the Lebanon-based HIV/AIDS service group, since 1999.
∎ A UNH Survey Center poll last week shows 63 percent of residents favor building a casino in New Hampshire, while 30 percent oppose it. But at a Kilton Library forum on Statehouse matters on Monday, not one of the 25 audience members favored expanding gambling.
∎ Orford Republican Tom Thomson, an anti-tax activist, is trying to rally opposition to a proposed increase in the gas tax. Thomson is highlighting an Americans for Prosperity New Hampshire petition at www.stopnhgastax.com. AFP has longstanding ties to the Koch brothers.
∎ If you can see it, don’t miss The Central Park Five, the documentary by Walpole, N.H., native Sarah Burns (with help from her father Ken) about the wrongful convictions of five teens from Harlem in the rape of a white jogger in Central Park. At the very least, it will help you think more deeply about the pitfalls of pack journalism, the reliability of “confessions,” and the power of parents’ faith in their children.