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Capital Beat

Capital Beat: N.H. political operatives are finding 2014 work in Iowa, Minnesota and Texas

From Minnesota to Iowa and Texas, political operatives from the Granite State have snagged some high-profile gigs ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

There’s been a little less activity at home. New Hampshire’s primaries are still more than a year away, and the races for two U.S. House seats, a U.S. Senate seat and the governor’s office have been slow to start.

“When the Labor Day barbecues are done and the kids are back in school, you’re going to see things start to heat up here,” said Republican strategist Mike Biundo.

Among those finding work these days outside the Granite State is Nashua native Matt Burgess, who ran Maggie Hassan’s successful gubernatorial campaign last year. U.S. Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, hired him this spring to be the campaign manager for his re-election bid.

Hancock’s Dave Carney, a longtime strategist for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is working

for the Lone Star State’s attorney general, Republican Greg Abbott, who’s running to succeed Perry.

Phil Valenziano, who ran Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s general-election campaign in New Hampshire last year, is now in Iowa, where he’s political director for Gov. Terry Branstad’s likely re-election campaign.

Biundo, who lives in Manchester, is keeping busy, too. RightOn Strategies, which he founded after the 2012 election with two ex-Frank Guinta aides, is the general consultant for Sam Clovis, an Iowa Republican running for the U.S. Senate. The firm’s also opened a Midwest regional office, in Indiana; “We have a client that I can’t announce yet in Indiana,” Biundo said.

It’s a bigger field of play for Biundo, who worked for Pat Buchanan’s 1996 presidential campaign in New Hampshire, led the 2008 push to establish a tax cap in Concord and ran Guinta’s successful campaigns for Manchester mayor and Congress.

His big break came in 2011. Presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum hired Biundo as his New Hampshire state director, then made him national political director and, in October 2011, promoted him to national campaign manager.

Santorum won 11 states, including a narrow first-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. After Romney secured the nomination, Biundo became his deputy coalitions director.

Biundo said he’s drawing now on the connections he made on the Santorum campaign – especially in Iowa, where Clovis, a conservative radio host, was a supporter.

“Obviously, most of my body of work was New Hampshire up until the Santorum campaign, and if you remember correctly, I didn’t get hired to do anything but New Hampshire. . . . It was just circumstances and hard work there that put me into a position where I could capitalize on it,” Biundo said.

Let’s make a deal

Got $9 million? The home of the New Hampshire Union Leader could be yours.

The newspaper has put its building at 100 William Loeb Drive in Manchester on the market, with an asking price of $9 million.

But that doesn’t mean the newspaper is moving anytime soon, said Publisher Joe McQuaid.

“We don’t need all the space here, now that printing, etc., is done elsewhere,” he wrote in an email. “So the building is for sale or lease and whether we stay or go, continue to own or end up staying as a renter, very much depends on the nature and circumstance of whoever makes us an offer.”

The Union Leader outsourced its printing in June to Dover, where Seacoast Media Group took over the Foster’s Daily Democrat production facility.

Animals all around

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte is a fan of horses, and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen thinks catfish are just fine the way they are.

Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, and Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, last week introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act to increase enforcement and penalties for “soring,” an illegal horse training practice. A similar bill was introduced in the House this spring.

“Horses hold a special place in the hearts of citizens across New Hampshire and the nation,” Ayotte said in a statement.

“These animals are an iconic part of our national heritage, and they must not be subjected to inhumane training practices that purposefully cause pain.”

Meanwhile, Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, is working with Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, to eliminate a planned new catfish inspection program they say is redundant.

They sent a letter last month to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, describing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s planned catfish program as “wasteful and duplicative,” since the Food and Drug Administration already inspects catfish.

Silva’s comeback?

Pete Silva is looking to make a political comeback.

The Nashua Republican became House majority leader in May 2012 after D.J. Bettencourt resigned amid the revelation he tried to fabricate a law school internship. He wasn’t in the job long, losing his seat last November as Democrats retook the House.

Now, Silva’s filed to run in this fall’s special House election in Nashua’s Ward 8. Two Democrats, Carl Andrade and Latha Mangipudi, have filed for the seat, with the primary Sept. 17 and the general election Nov. 5.

In Manchester’s Ward 7, a special election for a vacant House seat is shaping up as a showdown between Democrat Mary Heath and Republican Ross Terrio. If no other candidates file, that election will be held Sept. 17.

Additional candidates can file in either race through tomorrow.

Capitol Hill chic

Rob Fallon is, apparently, a very beautiful man.

The State Department employee from Nashua made The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People list, which came out last week. The list is an annual tradition for the Capitol Hill newspaper; Ayotte made the cut last year.

According to his profile, Fallon, 32, is “spoken for” in the relationship department, plays the guitar and prefers “ ‘wacky’ socks with dashes of color, a stone pendant and bracelets that remind him of the places he’s traveled, and suits that look like they were made just for him.”

Welcome and bienvenue

New Hampshire’s getting some big-name political visitors this week.

Romney, the former GOP presidential nominee, is headlining a fundraiser Tuesday in Wolfeboro for the state Republican Party.

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, will be in Concord on Thursday for a “Young Professionals Reception” at the state Democratic Party’s headquarters.

And former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, who’s dropped hints he’s open to a run for the Republican nomination to face Shaheen next year, will be in Salem on Friday for the “Restoring Trust in Government Dinner,” a fundraiser for Republican state Rep. Joe Sweeney.

Joe’s for Maggie

Hassan is getting a big name for an early campaign fundraiser: Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden will headline an Aug. 22 event at Democratic lobbyist Jim Demers’s house in Cape Neddick, Maine, with tickets ranging from $500 to $5,000. Also on the marquee: former Maine governor John Baldacci.

Details of the event were first reported Friday by WMUR.

There’s a lot to untangle here in terms of 2016 prognostication: Demers was President Obama’s campaign co-chairman in 2008, Biden has dropped plenty of hints he might run for president again and Hassan supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary.

News of record

∎ Happy birthday to state Sen. John Reagan (tomorrow).

∎ Obama last week nominated Michael O’Rielly, a former aide to New Hampshire Republican senator John E. Sununu, for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission.

∎ The baklava ice cream at Manchester’s Puritan Backroom made Food Network Magazine’s “50 States, 50 Ice Cream Treats” list of the “most delicious frozen desserts in America.”

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

Legacy Comments1

The baklava ice cream was created by Exec Councilor and co-owner of the Puritan Backroom Chris Pappas! My fav is coffee Oreo, though, also a creation of Chris.

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