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AG Report: GOP Lawyer Talcott Killed by Wife in Self Defense

Alex Talcott’s frightening spiral of depression, abuse, and suicide threats ended in an attack on his wife that forced her to kill him in self-defense, according to a report released Thursday by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.

“I’m going to kill you and kill the kids, and then I am going to kill myself because you know I can’t take care of them,” Alex Talcott reportedly told Kristin Talcott during the Aug. 26, 2023 attack.

Kristin Talcott will not be charged for fatally stabbing her husband in the neck, as the Attorney General’s Office ruled it a legally justifiable act taken in self-defense.

A long-time GOP activist, news of Alex Talcott’s death sent shockwaves through his circle of friends and the state Republican Party, though the details of his tortured final months were not known. At 41, Alex Talcott was deeply in debt, unemployed, and resigned to losing the house where he lived with his wife and their three young children.

Friends who had interacted with Alex Talcott in his final months told investigators he seemed depressed and stressed, but they did not know the full details of his struggle. 

Several GOP sources told NHJournal he had reached out to them looking for help finding a job, a sign of financial trouble that caught them by surprise.

Kristin Talcott told investigators she did not know about the family’s precarious financial position until early in 2023. That was when she learned her husband’s real estate ventures collapsed, the family did not have health insurance due to missed payments, they were several months behind on the mortgage, their credit cards were maxed out, and Alex Talcott had not filed tax returns in years.

Kristin Talcott, 41, was a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled their children and left the family’s money management to her husband. The couple met while attending Dartmouth College. Alex Talcott was a licensed attorney, though he had stopped practicing law to venture into real estate entrepreneurship. 

That was when Alex Talcott’s mental health started failing, according to the report. He fell into depression and told Kristin Talcott he wanted to kill himself. He also started to be verbally abusive, she told investigators.

There were also instances of Alex Talcott’s behavior stooping to “physical aggression,” according to the report. Kristin Talcott told investigators there were isolated incidents, and she did not report them out of embarrassment. 

Last summer, Alex Talcott borrowed more and more money from friends and family as he looked for a job with a high salary. Kristin Talcott, a licensed social worker, renewed her license and started a practice in order to bring in money for the family.

Kristin Talcott begged her husband to seek therapy and take medication for his eroding mental health. But he became more erratic and volatile, she told investigators. It was at that point she started to make plans to leave with the children.

Kristin took the children for an overnight trip to Massachusetts to visit her parents on Aug. 24, returning on the evening of Aug. 25. She went to bed around 8:30 p.m. in the area of the house where the children slept. The couple had slept separately for some time, and Kristin Talcott had begun sleeping with a can of pepper spray due to fear of her husband.

At 1:30 in the morning on Aug. 26, Alex Talcott woke his wife to talk. She told investigators he seemed calm when they went to the master bedroom and sat on the side of the bed. Alex Talcott revealed he found notes she had written about her plans to separate. Kristin Talcott kept the plans secret, fearing Alex Talcott’s reaction.

“You really think I would let you and the kids leave?” He reportedly said.

He pulled out a kitchen knife and began cutting Kristin Talcott, she told investigators. She begged him to stop, but he continued to cut her, telling her he would never let her leave. Kristin Talcott took the pepper spray from her pocket and sprayed him. He fell back on the bed, and she grabbed the knife and stabbed him in the neck, she told investigators.

Kristin Talcott dropped the knife after she stabbed her husband. Alex Talcott’s demeanor seemed to change after his wife fought back. He started to tell her he loved her and how he was “going to get this fixed.”

Kristin Talcott, still terrified, tried to get Alex Talcott to lie down. He would not let her call the police but instead went on about how he would “figure this out.”

“You’re crazy,” Kristin Talcott responded.

That set Alex Talcott off again. He got the knife and pushed her against the wall. He thrust the knife at her stomach, jabbing it toward her. As he did so, he told his wife of 17 years he was going to kill her, the children, and then himself.

Kristin Talcott struggled and got control of the knife. Again, she stabbed him in the neck. He stopped attacking her and stumbled into the master bathroom. Kristen Talcott told investigators she did not have her cell phone, and she could not unlock her husband’s cell phone to call 911. She did not want to leave, as she was still frightened he would attack her again.

“I wasn’t going to leave him while I still thought he could still come after me,” she told investigators.

From the bathroom, Alex Talcott asked his wife for a piece of fruit. He also asked her to call the police. Kristin Talcott lied and told him the police were already on their way. He then fell to the floor of the bathroom. Kristin Talcott told investigators she felt it was now safe to leave and ran to get her cell phone from the room she shared with her children.

Kristin Talcott called the police and then got an apple to bring to her husband. She told investigators she knew fetching the apple was “weird” but explained, “This is the person I loved for 20 years.”

Alex Talcott was alive when his wife called 911 but died soon after, according to the report. Police found Kristen Talcott bleeding from her many wounds. She had cuts on her hands, arms, abdomen, shoulder, neck and chest. 

The couple’s children were not physically harmed during the violence, according to the report.

Anonymous Call to Fire Chief Targets Haley Event in Keene

An anonymous caller tried to get Nikki Haley’s campaign rally in Keene shut down Saturday, telling the city’s fire department her crowd at the Keene Country Club was over capacity.

Fire Chief Donald Farquhar told NHJournal the caller complained too many people showed up Saturday morning to see Haley as she hopes to win an upset victory over former President Donald Trump in the state’s First in the Nation GOP presidential primary.

The ballroom area at the Keene Country Club lists a maximum capacity of 350 people. Farquhar said the space was well over capacity. He worked with Haley’s staff to keep exits clear, and he and other fire department staffers conducted a patrol during the event. Farquhar praised Haley’s team for its response to make sure the event could continue safely.

“Her staff was on point,” Farquhar said.

With Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) polling in the single digits, Haley has emerged as Trump’s only viable competitor in the Granite State primary. In recent days, Trump has directed his ire, and that of his legion of MAGA fans, at her. About a dozen Trump supporters demonstrated on the road outside country club property.

There’s no evidence the call to the fire department came from Trump’s campaign or its supporters.

Even before the call came in, Haley’s campaign appeared on alert for possible mischief at the event. Her staff scrutinized press credentials and directed attendees to an overflow area.

Keene Mayor George Hansel introduces Nikki Haley at a FITN primary event on January 20, 2024.

As for the candidate, Haley played it safe during her appearance. After an introduction from Keene Mayor George Hansel, she stuck to her stump speech and did not take questions from the audience.

The crowd was friendly and positive toward Haley, if not showing the same tent-revival enthusiasm seen at Trump events.

Haley didn’t shy away from criticizing Trump. While she voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, Haley said he is too old now for the job, as is current President Joe Biden.

“Do we really want to go into this election with two fellas who are gonna be in their 80s?” Haley asked.

She also referenced a moment from Trump’s rally in Concord Friday when, while discussing the lack of security on Capitol Hill the day of the January 6, 2021 riots, he confused Haley with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

“You know, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley, you know they– do you know they destroyed all of the information and all of the evidence?” Trump said. “Everything. Deleted and destroyed all of it. All of it because of, lots of things. Like, Nikki Haley is in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people.”

Haley said Trump’s flub is another sign Trump is not fit for the job.

“They’re saying he got confused,” Haley said. “I’m not saying anything derogatory, but when you’re dealing with the pressures of the presidency, we can’t have someone else where we’re [questioning] whether they are mentally fit.”

Trump’s expressions of admiration for despots like Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and Russian President Vladimir Putin show he’s not the leader America needs, she said.

“Donald Trump has got to stop praising these dictators,” Haley said. “I had to sit down and have a conversation with him because he was having too much of a ‘bromance’ with Putin.”

Trump consistently leads all comers in primary polls, but Haley has been gaining ground. Part of her pitch in the Granite State is her electability in a race against Biden. Polls consistently show her beating Biden by as much as 17 points, while Trump runs neck and neck with the current president. 

Even with Biden clearly in decline, Trump is not a sure bet to beat him in November, she said.

“Here’s something that should send a chill up your spine: President Kamala Harris,” Haley said. 

Keene Mayor George Hansel told the crowd they would regret not voting for Haley on Tuesday, thereby handing the nomination to Trump. It’s time for the country to move past Trump and his chaos, Hansel said.

“For the first time in a long time, you and I have the opportunity to vote for someone we believe in,” Hansel said.

No Answers in NHGOP Activist’s Slaying

It has been almost two months since GOP activist Alex Talcott was killed in his Durham home, and there are still no answers about what happened.

Talcott, 41, was stabbed in the neck and killed in the early morning hours of Aug. 26. His body was found by police in his garage, and the death is considered a homicide.

Talcott’s violent death made national news as those who knew and worked with him in politics publicly grieved. Former House Speaker William O’Brien, state director of the New Hampshire chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association, and Chris Ager, current Chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, both eulogized Talcott soon after the death was announced.

“He came to me many times just asking, ‘Hey Chris, how can I help?’ Never asking for anything in return. He was that kind of person. We’re really going to miss him a lot,” Ager said.

But in the weeks that have followed, officials have said nothing about the case. Republicans, particularly in the seacoast area, have filled the void with rumors and speculation, angering friends of Talcott and his family.

“Alex was a friend. He’d been a guest in my home. I’ve run past his house many times,” said former NHGOP state chair Fergus Cullen. “I have emails and text messages and even a voicemail from him on my phone. Something went terribly wrong. We shouldn’t be left to wonder what that was.”

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office told NHJournal the case is still under investigation. Michael Garrity, the spokesman for the state Department of Justice, said there will be a public report about Talcott’s death once the investigation is done, but he could not give a timeline on the investigation or report.

“At this point, the investigation into Mr. Talcott’s death remains active and ongoing, and it includes whether the person who stabbed Mr. Talcott acted in self-defense,” Garrity said.

Police and Garrity have said there is no danger to the community stemming from the case. No arrests have been made, and police know who stabbed Talcott.

Under New Hampshire law, a person may legally claim self-defense when using deadly force if they are faced with an aggressor who reasonably poses a deadly threat to that person or another third party. The state generally does not prosecute cases where self-defense is credibly raised as a possible explanation, avoiding trials in such instances. Whoever stabbed and killed Talcott may never be charged.

Since his death, little has been said publicly about Talcott. Friends and associates contacted by NHJournal have been reluctant to talk. Even information about his funeral and burial arrangements is not known. That is typically published in an obituary, though an internet search did not find one for Talcott. Obituaries are generally written by family members or by a funeral home employee with input from the family.

Talcott lived at the home with his wife, Kristin Talcott, and their three children.  

Kristin and Alex Talcott both graduated from Dartmouth College. Alex Talcott went into corporate law and was the CEO of New Constellation Capital Residential Real Estate and Venture Capital Investing, as well as an adjunct instructor in business law and finance at the University of New Hampshire Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. 

A long-time GOP activist, Alex Talcott, made an unsuccessful run for state representative in 2022.

Kristin Talcott is a clinical social worker and therapist. 

Few Answers in Stabbing Death of NHGOP Activist

Authorities are offering few details about what happened last weekend when GOP lawyer Alex Talcott was stabbed in the neck and killed, a story that has rocked his fellow Republicans across the state.

Police found Talcott, 41, dead inside his Bennett Road home in Durham during the early morning hours Saturday after being called there, according to statements released by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. The official autopsy confirmed on Sunday that Talcott’s death was a homicide.

No one has been taken into custody since Attorney General John Formella’s Sunday statement, though investigators seem to know who killed Talcott. And whoever the killer might be, it is possible they may not face charges in the killing.

“The parties involved in the incident have been identified, and based on the information known to investigators, there is no danger to the public. The investigation into Talcott’s death is ongoing and includes whether the person who stabbed Talcott acted in self-defense.”

Under New Hampshire law, a person may claim self-defense when faced with an aggressor who reasonably poses a deadly threat to that person or a third party. If self-defense is deemed justified, criminal charges are not filed.

Matt Mowers, who’s been both a GOP consultant and candidate, knew Talcott well, and he told NHJournal the news “left us all shocked.” Mowers took to social media after the news broke:

“Incredibly sad news. Alex and I were just talking the other day. He was the kind of friend who was there for you in the tough times as well as the good times.”

Talcott lived at the home with his wife, Kristin Talcott, and their three young children. Kristin Talcott did not respond to a message left by NHJournal.

Kristin and Alex Talcott both graduated from Dartmouth College. Alex Talcott entered corporate law and was CEO of New Constellation Capital Residential Real Estate and Venture Capital Investing. He also worked as an adjunct business law and finance instructor at the University of New Hampshire Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics for many years.

A long-time GOP activist, Alex Talcott briefly ran for state representative in Carroll County in 2022 though his name did not appear on the ballot. He was remembered fondly by many in the state party, including former House Speaker William O’Brien, state director of the New Hampshire chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association.

O’Brien told NBC 10 Boston that Talcott was a skilled lawyer and advocate.

“Within the RNLA, his leadership was unwavering in promoting our shared values, ensuring every member felt empowered and well-prepared,” O’Brien said. “We will forever honor Alex’s selfless dedication and profound contributions to our shared vision of liberty through legal processes.”

Talcott was also one of the regulars on the GOP’s Election Day legal response team.

Chris Ager, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee and Alex Talcott’s friend, told WMUR that Talcott was always ready to pitch in on behalf of the party.

“He came to me many times just asking, ‘Hey Chris, how can I help?’ Never asking for anything in return. He was that kind of person. We’re really going to miss him a lot,” Ager said.

Alex Talcott won accolades from his UNH students on Rate My Professor, who considered his class easy.

“Easy A! two exams. don’t have to go to lectures even though you should cus their [sic] interesting and he gives very good advice! You know he is a smart guy and super personable. Take any of his classes!” one student wrote.

Kristin Talcott built a career as a clinical social worker and therapist. She taught graduate-level social work classes at Simmons College and built her own practice specializing in anxiety, depression, and helping people with trauma. The couple have two daughters and a son. 

The investigation into Alex Talcott’s death is active. Formella’s office has not said when the investigation’s results will be released.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The story has been updated to add more context to Talcott’s brief bid for state representative in 2022.

Hansel Kicks Off NH-02 Campaign With Sununu Endorsement

Gov. Chris Sununu made an unannounced stop at Mayor George Hansel’s campaign kickoff event Tuesday in Keene to back the GOP mayor’s bid for Congress in the Second District. 

“George Hansel is the first congressional candidate I’m endorsing,” Sununu pointed out. “I’m behind George 100 percent. His record of public service, the fact that he’s a businessman, and you’ve never seen someone better at constituent service. He really is just phenomenal at getting at the touchpoint, and that’s exactly what people want out of Washington D.C.,” Sununu said.

Hansel’s electoral success as a Republican in one of the Granite State’s most liberal cities has surprised many and has marked him as a rising star in the party. State GOP insiders have been speculating for weeks that he might enter the race, particularly after Sununu favorite Jeff Cozzens dropped out in April.

Hansel said he’s running on his record of fiscal responsibility in the face of growing economic uncertainty and crippling inflation that is hurting New Hampshire families.

“Inflation is really starting to erode our quality of life. I can’t stand by while Granite State families continue to fall behind through no fault of their own,” Hansel said. “Gas prices are surging, groceries are going up, our retirement savings are going down. Reckless federal spending has been bailing out big urban centers and it’s been raising costs for the rest of us.”

Hansel’s team sees an opportunity to unseat Rep. Annie Kuster, D-Hopkinton, the five-term incumbent they say has been AWOL during much of the current economic crisis. The campaign feels it has a real opportunity to win, especially given the support from Sununu.

Hansel said New Hampshire families are dealing with Washington’s inaction and economic malpractice.

“This winter, I can’t even imagine, families are going to be sitting around their kitchen tables and they’re gonna be opening the heating bills and figuring out how to get by,” he said. “They are going to have to make heartbreaking decisions between investing in the future of their children and just heating their homes.”

Hansel, an executive at the family business Filtrine Manufacturing in Keene, still needs to convince GOP primary voters he’s the best choice to take out Kuster and he’s got a big hurdle: winning a Republican primary in the era of Trump.

“I’m the only conservative running,” said Bob Burns of Pembroke, an outspoken Trump supporter who is running in the Second District GOP primary along with another far-right Republican, Lily Tang Williams.

Burns has not wasted any time going after Hansel, tweeting Tuesday, “I’d like to welcome woke BLM activist and mask mandater @GeorgeHansel to the #nh02 Republican primary race!”

Burns says Hansel is to his left on abortion, and he criticizes the mayor for attending a Black Lives Matter rally in Keene and supporting a mask mandate. He said Hansel is just like Kuster when it comes to welcoming federal dollars for projects in Keene.

While Hansel did attend a Black Lives Matter rally in the summer of 2020 during the unrest following the murder of George Floyd, he has maintained he was there to talk to protestors and learn their concerns. He was at the rally with Cheshire City Sheriff Eli Rivera and Keene police officials.

Keene’s mask mandate ended in February when Hansel voted to break the tie. As mayor, Hansel can only vote to break ties under the city charter. Hansel says that while he supported people wearing masks if they choose, he thought the city-imposed mandate was too divisive.

Political analysts say the race is shaping up as a classic case of party purity vs. winnability. The district has tilted more to the left than the state as a whole for years. Even when it did elect Republicans, they were moderates like Charlie Bass and Judd Gregg. The Granite State GOP base remains solidly conservative and supportive of President Donald Trump, polls show.

Burns rejects the argument that he is too conservative to win in November. (Tang Williams did not respond to requests for comment). “Annie is barely in the district,” Burns said, a complaint often heard from Granite Staters on both sides of the aisle.

Kuster’s team did not respond to a request for comment.

Hansel’s team sees his opportunity as running as a “George Hansel Republican,” who focuses on the issues important to the voters. As for “energizing the base,” Hansel supporters note the most popular Republican in the state was at his event to endorse him: Chris Sununu.

Sununu thinks Hansel has a good shot.

“The polls say it all, 53 percent of people in this district want someone else to have a chance at Congress and George is the one to do it,” Sununu said.

Keene’s Hansel Creates Committee for NH-02 Run, Hit With Twitter ‘Dirty Trick’

Keene Mayor George Hansel has yet to announce his candidacy in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District race, and he has already been targeted by a political dirty trick.

The Keene Sentinel ran a story on Sunday declaring, “Keene Mayor George Hansel announces run for Congress.” It was based on “a tweet from his new campaign account.” The paper did not speak to Hansel.

Less than 24 hours later, the Sentinel pulled the report and posted a correction: “A story written by The Sentinel and posted on our website Sunday evening claiming that Keene Mayor George Hansel would be running for the N.H. Congressional District 2 seat, currently held by longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, has been removed.”

The account, @Hansel4Congress, became active in just the past few days and it followed news outlets like NHJournal. Its few posts featured anti-Trump and pro-abortion messages likely to hurt a candidate’s efforts in a Republican primary, a sign that it was a political dirty trick. Sources familiar with the account tell NHJournal it was created by a Republican who opposes a Hansel candidacy.

On Monday, the account had been suspended by Twitter.

Hansel’s actual Twitter account had no mention of a potential congressional bid as of Monday afternoon. However, the Federal Election Commission reports the “George Hansel for Congress” committee was formally created on Friday, May 27. The treasurer is listed as David Hansel.

Republican insiders have been buzzing for weeks about the possibility Hansel might challenge Democrat Kuster, particularly since businessman Jeff Cozzens dropped out of the GOP primary in April. With polls showing President Joe Biden’s approval rating below 40 percent — and Kuster not doing much better — Republicans believe a 2022 wave could be big enough to bring down the five-term incumbent, despite her $2.4 million war chest.

After the GOP’s surprising successes in the 2021 election cycle, the National Republican Congressional Committee put Kuster on its expanded target list.

Hansel did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the FEC filing. He was first elected mayor of Keene in 2019 and had easy re-election in November, facing no serious challengers. Before becoming mayor of the left-leaning college community, Hansel was a two-term city councilor. He is currently vice president and manager of innovation/engineering and Keene’s Filtrine Manufacturing Company, a business founded by his uncle, Peter Hansel.

Because the lines of New Hampshire’s new congressional districts have yet to be finalized for November’s election, political analysts at organizations like the Cook Political Report have not released their view of the Second District’s midterm prospects. No Republican presidential candidate has won in the district this century, and the last Republican to represent the district was Rep. Charlie Bass, who won in the 2010 red wave midterm.

Hansel positioned himself as fiscally responsible in his first term as mayor. He pushed for an economic development action plan for the city and the creation of a home weatherization/renovation program for Keene’s eastside homes through a public/private partnership, according to his campaign. He also lobbied for the adoption of RSA 79E that allows Keene businesses to take advantage of New Hampshire’s development incentives.

He has also supported the Black Lives Matter movement and maintained a local mask mandate after the state order expired — positions likely to be problematic in a GOP primary.

Already in the race are Bob Burns and Lily Tang Williams.

 

‘Trump Is F’ing Crazy!’: Sununu Steals Show at D.C. Insider’s Dinner

It may have been a Washington event for D.C. insiders, but it was New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu who stole the show at the return of the annual Gridiron Club dinner Saturday night.

And his biggest laughs came at the expense of former President Donald Trump.

The white-tie and snark affair is part of the fabric of elite D.C. culture, with politicians, lobbyists, and journalists gathering for a night of schmoozing. Always a bipartisan affair, Sununu was representing the GOP while Rep. Jamie Raskin did the comedy work for the Democrats.

According to Politico’s reporter on the scene, Sununu went straight after Trump:

“You know, he’s probably going to be the next president,” Sununu said of Trump, musing about his “experience,” “passion,” “sense of integrity” and the “rationale” he brought to his tweets. As the room quieted to see where he was going with this, he paused, then yelled: “Nah, I’m just kidding! He’s F***ING CRAZY!” The ballroom roared with laughter. “ARE YOU KIDDING?! Come on. You guys are buying that? I love it … He just stresses me out so much! … I’m going to deny I ever said it.”

It didn’t stop there: “The press often will ask me if I think Donald Trump is crazy. And I’ll say it this way: I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution. But I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out!”

While edgy comedy is a Gridiron Dinner tradition, Sununu went out of his way to target the former president. When he mocked conspiracy theorist and pillow manufacturer Mike Lindell, he threw in a shot at Trump.

“This guy’s head is stuffed with more crap than his pillows, Sununu said. “And by the way, I was told not to say this, but I will: His stuff is crap. I mean, it’s absolute crap. You only find that kind of stuff in the Trump Hotel.”

Also from Politico:

Sununu also told a story about a time Trump visited him in New Hampshire and invited him to ride inside the presidential limo, The Beast. The then-president suddenly stopped talking and pointed out the window at people lining the road holding American flags, saying, “They LOVE me!” Only problem, said Sununu, was that the man he pointed to held a sign that read, “F*** TRUMP.”

While some Granite State Republicans shrugged it off as comedy — “It’s a Gridiron roast. Political jokes. I don’t take any of it seriously,” said RNC Committeeman Chris Ager — Trump allies like longtime advisor Corey Lewandowski were not amused.

“Chris Sununu is not his father. His father is very tough and a true Trump supporter,” he told NHJournal. “If Chris had any guts, he would have run for U.S. Senate, and instead took the easy way out. And if the right Republican were to run against him, I’d be willing to bet Donald Trump would endorse [Sununu’s] opponent.”

Former GOP state Rep. Josh Whitehouse, who served in the Trump administration, was even blunter:

“Chris Sununu has positioned himself to be the anti-Trump guy. He is appointing Democrats to judgeships, supporting anti-Trump candidates, and spiking a great redistricting plan to protect his beer buddy [Jeff Cozzens] in CD2. I guess the only thing I am surprised about is that he isn’t running on the other side of the ticket.

“Of course, nothing should surprise any of us when the governor is a guy whose only real qualification was his last name,” Whitehouse added.

In February, Lewandowski told radio host Howie Carr, “The president is very unhappy with the chief executive officer of the state of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu. And Sununu, in the president’s estimation, is someone who’s never been loyal to him. And the president said it would be really great if somebody would run against Chris Sununu.”

This is a far cry from the days when Sununu infamously called himself a “Trump guy through and through.”

Team Sununu took the reaction in stride.

“The Gridiron dinner is an annual comedic event built around using self-deprecating humor to instill a spirit of bipartisanship,” Sununu advisor Paul Collins, said in a statement Sunday. “Gov. Sununu began by making fun of his own father and family and included jokes on everyone from CNN to Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Jenn Psaki. It was a great night where no one took themselves too seriously, and given the crowd’s reaction to some of the governor’s jokes, he will be keeping his day job.”

While attacking Trump isn’t exactly the third rail of GOP politics, it does put Sununu at the center of the biggest debate dividing the Republican Party. Last week’s St. Anselm College Survey Center poll found Trump’s approval rating is 84 percent among registered Republicans and 94 percent among very conservative Granite Staters.

That compares to 86 percent among GOP voters who approve of Sununu, and 83 percent of very conservative Republicans.

Trump is even more popular in early primary states like Iowa and South Carolina, where he handily defeated Biden in the 2020 election. (Trump lost New Hampshire by 7.5 points.)

Republican strategists in New Hampshire and D.C. told NHJournal Sununu’s aggressively anti-Trump stance is a sign he is looking seriously at a presidential bid in 2024. He appears to be betting big that GOP primary voters will have a very different view of Trump in 18 months than they do today.

“This is a huge gamble,” one GOP strategist said. “There is no walking this back.”

“I’d say it’s a win for the governor,” GOP campaign vet Craig Stevens told NHJournal. “He took advantage of the moment and he showed people he’s not afraid of President Trump. And he did with charm, humor, and humility.”

Stevens, who worked on the George W. Bush and Mitt Romney campaigns said that, as a result of this speech, “Republicans and independents all over the country who had never heard of Chris Sununu are going to be talking. And many who may be looking for an alternative to Trump and his acolytes have someone new to watch. And, in this case, that’s the definition of a win.”

If that was Sununu’s goal, it worked. In addition to being the top story in the Politico Playbook, his comments made headlines in The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and the Big Three broadcast newsrooms, plus the London (U.K.) tabloids.

While more than 600 people attended the purportedly bipartisan event, only two GOP members of Congress, Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Susan Collins (Maine), showed up for the dinner. President Biden was also a no-show, but he sent a video in which he thanked Sununu for “helping Democrats keep the Senate.”

In January, Biden gave Sununu a shout-out during a press conference, using Sununu’s criticisms of Senate Republicans to defend his own record in the White House.

Few Granite State Republicans wanted to speak on the record about Sununu’s take on Trump. In the U.S. Senate primary, retired Gen. Don Bolduc and state Senate President Chuck Morse declined to comment. However, former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith said he believed the goal among Granite State Republicans should be unity as the midterms approach.

” I continue to believe our party is better and stronger when we are united, and I have no doubt that in November, we will be. As for me, I’d gladly go back to when we had no inflation, $2 gas, were energy independent, had secure borders and our country was safer.

“Say what you want about Trump, but we were much better off two years ago than we are today – and that’s no joke,” Smith said.

Don’t Call Me ‘Kasich:’ Sununu Rejects ‘Anti-GOP’ Label

Gov. Chris Sununu is happy to debate his support for Education Freedom Accounts, his push to get communities to build more affordable housing, and his problems with the congressional maps drawn by the House GOP majority.

Just don’t call him “John Kasich.”

The New Hampshire Republican has been making news of late by criticizing members of his own party, in particular former President Donald Trump. He has said Republicans in the U.S. Senate are “just as bad” as their Democratic counterparts — a comment quoted by President Joe Biden in his most recent press conference to push the blame for his legislative failures on the GOP.

He has criticized Trump’s suggestion criminals who participated in the January 6 Capitol riot should be pardoned, and he called Trump “misinformed” when he repeatedly claimed (without evidence) New Hampshire’s 2020 election results were in doubt.

But when asked if he is moving into the “John McCain, John Kasich” lane of GOP politics — “The Republican who runs on the fact that he hates Republicans” — Sununu says absolutely not.

“Don’t compare me to John Kasich. John Kasich is an angry guy who goes out of his way to bash his own party. That’s crazy,” Sununu told NHJournal on Wednesday.

As for his critiques of the GOP, Sununu said he was simply upholding a standard he believes leaders of both parties should maintain.

“I’ve expressed frustration, but I didn’t call anyone out by name. Most Americans are frustrated with both parties. Democrats spent four years stonewalling President Trump, and Republicans stonewalling now. And both parties, when they’re in a majority, not reaching out to find consensus.

“I just demand a higher sense of accountability from my fellow elected officials. I think everybody does. I’m not about bashing Republicans,  not at all.”

A few hours later, Trump advisor and Granite State GOP strategist Corey Lewandowski told radio host Howie Carr the former president had tasked him with “finding someone to run against Chris Sununu.”

The governor did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Sununu was traveling between Cato Institute appearances in Florida and flying to the island Republic of Cabo Verde for a signing ceremony to officially establish a State Partnership under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.

A few days earlier, he met with Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman. Asked if he was burnishing his foreign-policy credentials in advance of a 2024 presidential bid, Sununu just laughed.

The New Hampshire governor was in Florida to tout his state’s Cato ranking as the freest state in America. And for Sununu, that also includes the state’s new Education Freedom Account (EFA) program. Democrats spent most of this week pushing legislation to dismantle or restrict EFAs, which allow students to take the state’s share of their public school funding and use it for private, parochial, or other non-public education options.

The program, in its first year, has more than 1,600 participants.

“The EFAs have been a phenomenal success, and folks who are trying to get rid of them are stuck in an antiquated mentality, as opposed to saying ‘the family and the kids come first,” Sununu said. “Everybody sees it as a success, and most importantly those families are seeing the success — especially the lower-income ones. So we’re excited to keep it growing.”

He also had harsh criticism for EFA opponents like state Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsborough), who recently testified before the House Education Committee that she pulled her own son out of public school and sent him to a private academy. “It was good we had that option,” she said, though she opposes letting low-income families use state funding to do the same.

“That’s exactly the type of hypocrisy we need to get out of government,” Sununu said. “People see right through that. They’re disgusted by it. The ‘good enough for me, but not for thee’ type of mentality.”

Interestingly, education is also part of what Sununu believes is the biggest challenge facing New Hampshire — a lack of housing. Communities are reluctant to allow new housing construction, particularly housing for younger families because they are convinced educating their children will increase property taxes.

Sununu says that’s misguided NIMBYism.

“Just because of demographics, our schools are going to lose three to five percent of kids over the next few years, so it’s not like they’re going to be overrun with children,” Sununu said. In fact, if we can bring in families, it’s just the opposite. The community’s going to grow, you’re going to avoid funding crises. So you want a healthy balance, I get that.

“But this 1990s mentality of fearing young families moving into your community because they’re going to increase costs to your community? That’s old-fashioned thinking that will just lead to bad economics for that town.”

GOP House Kicks Off 2022 With Big Redistricting Win

MANCHESTER — House Republicans notched a big win Wednesday on the first day of the legislative year, passing the redistricting bill that gives them an edge in the 1st Congressional District currently held by U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas.

“It’s the biggest thing that matters,” said state Rep. Steve Smith, R-Charlestown, vice-chair of the House Special Committee on Redistricting.

The new map moves 75 towns from one district to another and makes the 1st District favorable to Republicans. It also makes the 2nd Congressional District, currently represented by Democrat U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, more favorable to Democrats.

Rep. Ross Berry, R-Manchester, a member of the House Special Committee on Redistricting, said making one Republican and one Democratic district in the state is the right thing to do for voters.

“I think it was the right thing to do, we’re making two districts that are competitive,” he said.

House Speaker Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, said the committee ought to be congratulated on the hard work the members did in order to generate the bill, including holding 10 pubic sessions, one in every county.

“They made transparency and open dialogue a priority throughout these sessions by being present in person and live streaming every public meeting. They included public testimony as part of the decision-making process, as well as an online map and testimony submissions.”

Democrats like Nashua Rep. Manny Espitia decried the map as an example of “partisan gerrymandering” and accused Republicans of gaming the system to their advantage. Rep. Paul Bergeron, D-Nashua, said the Republicans on the committee ignored the will of the people when they drew the new districts.

“Granite Staters gave clear direction requesting compact House districts that keep cities together and that local representation be provided to communities. It is a shame that community interests have been ignored in favor of blind partisanship,” Bergeron said in a statement.

Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, said the redistricting bill that was passed on Wednesday is laughable.

It is extremely disappointing to see the New Hampshire GOP reject that public input, choosing to draw laughably gerrymandered districts instead.  We will no longer be able to brag about doing it ‘the New Hampshire way’ if these districts pass into law, as the Granite State will have become just another state that favors partisanship over community interests,” Smith said. 

Berry rebutted Democrats’ claims about “fair maps” with a bit of math:

“While the minority of the committee speaks of fairness of the current districts, they have won 90 percent of the contests under the current map,” he said from the floor. There have been five congressional elections in each of the two districts since the maps were re-drawn after the 2010 Census. Democrats won them all except Rep. Frank Guinta’s 2014 win in the 1st district amid a national GOP surge.

The vote totals for the redistricting bill and amendments ended up being close in some cases, and there there was an effort to delay voting in order to allow members not present on Wednesday to vote on Thursday or Friday. 

It’s not clear if the Democrats could have overcome the votes even if they had all their members present. Republicans had both the majority and the desire to win, according to Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry.

“Republicans are together on redistricting,” Baldasaro said.

Democrats began Wednesday’s session by yet again expressing their concerns over meeting in person during the COVID-19 pandemic, even in the 30,000 square-foot space at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Manchester. Republicans responded that most working Granite Staters were on the job and in person, and there was no reason House members couldn’t meet in such a large, well-ventilated space.

There were attendance issues, but they were a result of ice-covered roadways in parts of the state, not the virus. State police said icy conditions on roads in central and southern New Hampshire Wednesday morning were responsible for at least 80 crashes in five hours.

Sources tell NHJournal the House GOP leadership was uncertain about whether to “special order” the vote on the newly-drawn maps on Wednesday. But after seeing a solid Republican margin throughout the morning, the decision was made to bring them to the floor. A minor rebellion by a handful of Republicans nearly tabled the vote on the new state House district map, but Speaker Packard cast the tying vote to keep the motion from passing.

With the big win early, the trick for the GOP is to make no unforced errors for the rest of the legislative session. The party got a black eye nationally over a few members engaging in vaccine conspiracy theories last year, among other controversies. There are still bills coming up for a vote on vaccine mandates, bail reform, and abortion. Rep. Dan Eaton, D-Stoddard, said the GOP is likely to trip itself up without any help from his fellow Democrats.

“I don’t think they can resist the urge, and I don’t think they need us to throw bait,” Eaton said. “They have their own folks who can’t resist the temptation to shoot themselves in the foot.”

NSFW: Clip From “Cream Pie Apocalypse” Appears to Back Rep. Sapareto’s Accuser’s Lawsuit

Documents, images and videoclips obtained by NHJournal appear to back claims made in a lawsuit against Republican state rep and House Speaker candidate Frank Sapareto of Derry, claiming he was involved in a video project to produce porn–and that the male lead in the movie was the Republican legislator himself.

“Yes, I have seen the video. There’s hours and hours of it,” Eric Dubin told NHJournal. Dubin is representing Jonathan Carter, the plaintiff in a lawsuit claiming that Sapareto assaulted him due to the representative’s displeasure over the quality of the filming.

“My client lost consciousness. He was treated for a concussion in the emergency room,” Dubin said. “The idea that an elected official would completely lie about this is very disturbing. I’m not judging anyone’s personal behavior, but there are jobs that require public confidence.”

Dubin supplied NHJournal with images and a video clip to support his client’s claims.

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING CLIP CONTAINS NUDITY:

 

 

 

Dubin also provided an extensive email chain of communications between his client, Rep. Sapareto and at least on other person involved in the porn project. Many of the communications involve potential female performers and their willingness/availability to participate in the movie.

 

As of late Tuesday morning, Rep. Sapareto was assuring NHJournal that he was the victim of a “scam.”

“The guy [Jonathan Carter] is a dirtbag. He’s making a living off scams like this,” Sapareto told NHJournal. “This is a political hit job. He said he would kill my political career unless I paid him $5,000. And now he’s keeping his word,” Saparto said.

According to email correspondence between Sapareto and another person involved in the project, possible titles considered for the porn film—based on the premise of Rep. Sapareto playing the last male on Earth available to continue the human race after a horrific disaster—were:

  • Last Sperm on Earth
  • Armageddon Sperm Donor
  • Doomsday Babymaker

Rep. Sapareto’s choice: Creampie Apocalypse.