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Campaign Monitor

Bob Burns, Jim Adams tout personal backgrounds in Executive Council Republican primary

  • Bob Burns

    Bob Burns

  • Jim Adams

    Jim Adams

  • Bob Burns
  • Jim Adams

Jim Adams and Bob Burns, Republican contenders in the Executive Council District 4 Republican primary, don’t seem to have much in the way of common ground. But it’s there.

They were both born and raised in New Hampshire. Both describe themselves as loyal conservatives, in person and online: They say they’re committed to limited government, low taxes, protecting personal freedom and upholding constitutional values at the state and federal level. Both earned 100 percent scores from the Granite State Taxpayers Association, of which Adams is a former chairman. Burns is the national committeeman for the New Hampshire Young Republicans.

From the Executive Council, Burns and Adams say they want more transparency, more thoroughly vetted appointments, more carefully reviewed contracts, more value for taxpayers’ dollars. They both say New Hampshire is behind the curve on information technology, especially in the health sector. They both want more accountability out of the council and the officials it deals with – judges, contractors, the governor and so on – and they want the councilors to be more accessible to the public in general.

They’ve also both been through this kind of primary before, with varying results. Adams ran for executive councilor in District 2 in 2010 and came in third place. Burns won the District 4 primary in 2012 and lost to Chris Pappas, who’s now the incumbent Democrat vying to hold onto his seat in this year’s race. (Burns beat Pappas in a different race in 2010, earning his current spot as Hillsborough County treasurer.)

And each is convinced that his background – Adams, as a Vietnam veteran and a guy who worked his way up the ranks of the U.S. Postal Service; Burns, as a tech-savvy business owner who tends toward skepticism when it comes to the “old boys’ club” mentality of government – makes him the right choice for District 4 this time around.

Experience vs. ‘anti-authoritarian’

Nowhere is the contrast between Adams and Burns more stark than in their campaign strategies.

Adams, who lives in Pittsfield, has been sticking to a traditional playbook: lots of door knocking, lots of hand shaking, lots of effort to make sure people across District 4 (which includes Allenstown, Auburn, Barrington, Bedford, Bow, Candia, Chichester, Deerfield, Epsom, Goffstown, Hooksett, Lee, Londonderry, Loudon, Northwood, Nottingham, Pembroke, Pittsfield and Manchester) recognize his name.

He wants people to get to know him and “what I’m going to do if they give me their vote.”

That’s part of what brought Adams last week to a backyard that has played host to several big-time Republican politicians, at the home of former New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority director Claira Monier.

“This pool made Newsweek,” Monier said just before kicking off a meet-and-greet she had been asked to host for Burns’s campaign last Wednesday. (In this case, she was referencing the time it was featured as the backdrop to Bob Dole’s announcement as a presidential candidate in 1996.)

You won’t see Burns, on the other hand, seeking out many strangers’ handshakes.

“I walk into a diner, nobody’s talking to me,” Burns said last week in the basement campaign headquarters he is sharing with gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway. “If I went around and had a handler who went up to people and said, ‘Would you like to meet Bob Burns, he’s running for executive councilor?’ First of all, I’d feel moronic, and second of all they’d be like, ‘Who the heck is this meatball thinking I want to meet him?’ ”

Burns said he’s not convinced that the “traditional grassroots stuff” is particularly effective in an Executive Council race. Instead, Burns said, he’s focusing heavily on using social media and reaching out digitally to the masses to spread the word about his campaign.

Online, Burns’s presence far outweighs his competitor’s: His campaign has 601 Twitter followers and 1,177 “likes” on Facebook to Adams’s 88, as of yesterday afternoon. The Adams campaign is not on Twitter.

And endorsements? Burns said he thinks they’re “actually the most pointless things in the world” – though his Facebook and Twitter personas might suggest otherwise, as he promotes nods from the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, Stark 360 and the New Hampshire Conservative Majority Project.

Adams, meanwhile, has the backing of former U.S. senator John E. Sununu, the Union Leader, Bedford-area business leaders Rich Ashooh and Chuck Rolecek, former District 4 executive councilor Earl Rinker and Sen. Sharon Carson of Londonderry. Former District 4 executive councilor Raymond Wieczorek, who had endorsed Burns in 2012, is a key part of Adams’s steering committee.

In one other stroke of similarity, both men say they’re not afraid to tell it like it is, to make tough calls or bear the brunt for unpopular decisions – but where Adams stressed diplomacy, Burns said he’s known to be more blunt.

And if you ask the candidates, both say their personal histories are what really set them apart.

Adams touts his years of experience at the postal service – he was the chief of staff for three postmaster generals – and his time in the military with giving him the experience needed for the position of executive councilor.

“I think the huge difference is the fact that I have 27 years of executive experience, and I have almost more executive experience than this young man has been alive. I have endured things he couldn’t imagine, have been through things – have been to places I wouldn’t want anyone to go to” Adams said, adding that he’s been trying to avoid electoral “mud-throwing.”

His opponent sees things differently. Maybe it’s a product of “growing up in the early ’90s, probably listening to a little bit too much punk rock and being a little bit too much anti-authority and anti-establishment,” he said, but he tends to be skeptical of the “lobbyist-lawyer crowd” and government “insiders.”

Burns also is not afraid to throw a little mud, turning Adams’s postal service experience into a point of criticism.

“I’ve worked my entire life in the private industry, in a high-tech industry,” Burns said, adding that his knowledge of databases and other information technologies shouldn’t be overlooked in terms of what he’d bring to understanding the contracts coming before the council.

“He’s worked his entire life for the federal government with a failed organization.”

(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or cmcdermott@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @caseymcdermott.)

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The winner of the Republican primary for the Executive Council District 4 seat will likely face incumbent Manchester Democrat Chris Pappas in the general election. His opponent, Manchester resident Maria Chilson, has not actively campaigned since filing paperwork to run against Pappas in the Democratic primary. A spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party said the party does not have Chilson’s …

Legacy Comments1

Thanks Casey. I like your paragraph #3: " From the Executive Council, Burns and Adams say they want . . . more thoroughly vetted appointments, . . . They both want more accountability out of the council and the officials it deals with – judges, contractors, the governor and so on – and they want the councilors to be more accessible to the public in general." Currently the attorneys wanting to become judges do get the Public Hearings there at the State House. Maybe they ought to take their "show" on the road like the G&C does in the Summer. Then the people the attorneys have dealt with can more easily attend the hearing? Plus when they do take the RSA Ch. 92 oath they appoint their Article 82 clerks to comply with the law of procedure, and them too of to render Article 14 "complete" decisions based on ALL the facts presented to the Clerk who is supposed to process it to them, and send out notices to those of who have Appeared by filing the form, and to notify those required by statute, but when they screw up where does one go now? To RSA Chapter 494:1-7 The Judicial Council http://www.nh.gov/judicialcouncil/ that is supposed to deal in RSA 494:3 administration. And when somebody presents an Article 32-like petition to there it ought to get equal treatment as in the past of for a 3-member investigation team to report to the full committee with the complainant, but currently does NOT, of instead the Director there is a Dictator! by the name of Chris Keating. So much for this joint non-accountability of when, if ever, are they going to have any RSA 494:3,VI public "forums"? Current they just sit around a table and talk to themselves. At least the G&C hears up front of before some of these political hacks are appointed (rather than elected), but what about an Executive Performance Audit to see to it that they have complied with the laws!? They are RSA Ch. 93-B:1-5 bonded to $100,000 for their "faithful performance" that not if, but when they screw up, they ought to $pay!

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