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Innis kicks off run for Congress, teeing up a contested GOP primary in N.H.’s 1st District

  • Dan Innis<br/><br/>Courtesy photo

    Dan Innis

    Courtesy photo

  • Dan Innis<br/><br/>Courtesy photo

Dan Innis, the dean of the University of New Hampshire’s business school, will run for the U.S. House and face former congressman Frank Guinta in next year’s Republican primary for the 1st District seat now held by Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

“I am running for Congress to give New Hampshire a stronger voice in Washington on the things that really matter to us – things like smaller government, lower taxes, more freedom,” said Innis in an online video announcing his campaign. “If New Hampshire does not send people who will boldly stand up for these values, who will? We are the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, and that can’t just be a slogan. It’s a part of who we are, and it’s time for Washington to listen to us.”

Innis, 50, lives in Portsmouth and has been at UNH since 2007. He plans to step down Nov. 1 as dean of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics as he makes his first run for public office.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Innis was a professor and administrator at Ohio University before moving to New England in 2002 to become dean of the College of Business, Public Policy and Health at the University of Maine.

He and his husband, Doug Palardy, own the Ale House Inn in Portsmouth. He has three children from a previous marriage.

If he wins the Republican nomination, Innis would face Shea-Porter, 60, in the November 2014 election. Shea-Porter, a Rochester Democrat, was elected to Congress in 2006 and served two terms before losing her seat in 2010. She won it back in 2012.

But first, Innis must face Guinta – the 43-year-old former Manchester mayor who beat Shea-Porter in 2010 and lost to her two years later – in next September’s GOP primary.

Innis said in his announcement video that the country needs “new leaders, who will fight to make the American Dream available to the next generation,” but he didn’t mention Guinta by name.

“Frank Guinta welcomes Mr. Innis to (the) Republican primary and Frank is looking forward to earning the Republican nomination so he can continue to put people first by working together and creating a stronger middle class,” wrote Ethan Zorfas, the Guinta campaign’s general consultant, in an email.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party was quick yesterday to attack both men.

“With Dan Innis in the race, New Hampshire Republican primary voters will choose between a disgraced former congressman and tea-party extremist in Frank Guinta, or a corporate puppet more concerned with Wall Street profits than working families in Dan Innis,” said party spokesman Harrell Kirstein in a statement.

Kirstein added, “The truth is that Granite Staters can’t trust Dan Innis. He desperately wants to be a D.C. insider and will say anything to get there.”

Innis, who wasn’t available yesterday for an interview, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he doesn’t think being gay will be an issue in the campaign.

“It shouldn’t be a factor at all,” Innis said. “It’s part of who I am, but it certainly doesn’t define me. New Hampshire has marriage equality, (the Defense of Marriage Act) is a thing of the past, the issue has been decided in New Hampshire.”

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

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