Three file for governor

Last modified: Friday, June 15, 2012
Secretary of State Bill Gardner's office was buzzing with activity yesterday, as gubernatorial candidates Kevin Smith, Ovide Lamontagne and Jackie Cilley officially filed to seek the state's top office.

Republicans Smith and Lamontagne took different approaches to the filing process. Lamontagne, a Manchester attorney who has previously run for governor and U.S. Senate, was surrounded by supporters, who cheered after he gave a short speech inside the packed room.

"There's a lot of work to be done, but I can't do it alone," Lamontagne said. "So I'm ready to roll up my sleeves to get to work for the people of New Hampshire. I want to bring a positive, optimistic message that we can do for ourselves what the Constitution and the founding fathers intended."

Smith's afternoon filing was a quieter affair. He entered the room just after 3 p.m. accompanied by his parents, his wife Suzy and their three young children, Colby, Lindsay and Tommy. Smith, a former state representative and past executive director of the conservative advocacy group Cornerstone Action, said "we're running a very aggressive, grassroots campaign," including a series of 14 town hall meetings over eight weeks.

"I'm running a campaign of substance and people are recognizing that," Smith said. "People appreciate that substance. That don't want just rhetoric anymore."

Due to Lamontagne's prior statewide campaigns, he is better known among New Hampshire voters than Smith or the Democratic candidates. But Smith said multiple failed bids for public office "isn't of itself a prerequisite for being governor."

"There are maybe some who thought this race was going to be inevitable as few as six months ago, and I think they're starting to realize now that's not the case," he said.

On the Democratic side, Cilley, a former state senator from Barrington, was escorted to the secretary of state's office by three of her grandchildren: Adam Cilley, 8, and 6-year-old twins Aaron and Nathan Cilley.

Cilley, 60, is the only candidate who has refused to take a pledge against an income tax.

By "eliminating any discussion of another other revenue source, that pushes the burden onto property taxes and businesses," she told reporters yesterday. Republicans at the national level, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, have spoken out against no-new-tax pledges, she said.

"We are starting to see a momentum of getting rid of the pandering of the pledge politics, not only in this state but across this country," Cilley said. "And it's time we have an honest conversation with the people of New Hampshire as to what our priorities are going to be and how we are going to fund them."

As governor, Cilley said she would oppose a constitutional amendment giving the Legislature authority over education funding and would work to bring public employees, college officials and business leaders "back to the table" for legislative discussions.

Cilley also emphasized her background growing up "in poverty" in Berlin and her success in business. She has taught business courses for 20 years at the University of New Hampshire and owns her own marketing and consulting firm. She served two terms in the House and two terms in the state Senate.

Democrat Maggie Hassan of Exeter, also a former state senator, will file her paperwork today. Bill Pearce Kennedy, Democrat from Danbury, has already filed his candidacy. A third Republican, Robert Tarr of Manchester, has also filed to run.

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @mattspolar. Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323 or atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)