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Entrepreneur, political activist Andrew Hemingway to challenge Hassan for governor

Last modified: 2/1/2014 1:01:42 AM
New Hampshire’s Republicans finally have a name to top their ticket come November: Andrew Hemingway.

Hemingway, a 31-year-old entrepreneur and political activist, announced his candidacy to challenge Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, at the Yard restaurant in Manchester last night. During his speech, he criticized Hassan for her health care and education policies and promised to limit government in both areas. He also promised to create a more business-friendly atmosphere.

“Our state is going in the wrong direction, and our status-quo governor’s not willing to stand up to outside influences to change that,” Hemingway told the crowd. “And I am willing to do something about it.”

First-term governors in New Hampshire almost always win a second term, and a recent poll from Public Policy Polling had Hassan leading Hemingway, 51 to 25 percent. But Hemingway challenged the idea that he has no chance against Hassan.

“We can absolutely win this seat,” he said. “Do not let those who you talk to tell you, ‘Oh, Hemingway’s a nice little guy, but he’s never going to win.’ ”

Hemingway, who lives in Bristol, is known in Republican circles for being state director of Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign. He also came in second to Jennifer Horn to lead the New Hampshire Republican Party last year.

Outside of politics, Hemingway has started several tech-based companies, the latest being Grassloot, a company allowing candidates to raise money online and through text messages. He also founded a company called Digital Acumen that does technology consulting for businesses.

Fellow Republican speakers at last night’s announcement said this entrepreneurial background will make Hemingway a problem-solving governor.

“He’s the best combination of a problem solver, an optimist and a pragmatist I’ve ever seen in a single individual,” said former state senator Jim Luther of Nashua.

As Hemingway outlined his platform, references to small government in everything from health care to education to business policy drew cheers from the crowd of more than 100 people, some holding red signs bearing Hemingway’s name.

“We have seen massive expansion of regulations, budgets and taxes, and we all know when government expands individual and economic freedom decrease,” he said.

On health care, Hemingway pledged to “put patients first” and remove bureaucracy from the doctor’s office. He said he’ll look for ways to reward providers for competitive pricing and reject federal dollars, a swipe at Medicaid expansion, which the Legislature has been wrangling over and Hassan supports.

On education, his platform reflects Republican priorities including an embrace of school choice and a rejection of the Common Core education standards, which New Hampshire is in the process of implementing. If elected, Hemingway said he’d promote the teaching of real-world skills and lessen the focus on test taking.

Hemingway called the third leg of his platform a “workers-first plan” with the goal of making New Hampshire the “No. 1 business state in the country.” That plan includes rolling back taxes and regulations and incentivizing companies to raise wages and hire more workers. (Hemingway said after his speech that he does not support legislation that would increase the minimum wage.)

In his speech, Hemingway said he’d work to create a “safe harbor” for New Hampshire-based companies from the National Security Administration. When asked to expand on that after his speech, he said he’d promote legislation to eliminate the use of metadata in state courts and assemble a task force of encryption experts to try to find ways to protect companies from data collection.

“I’m going to do everything in my power possible that if you move to New Hampshire and you set up shop here, we are going to go to bat to protect you,” he said.

Hemingway closed his speech by imploring those in the room to pledge their support financially and by helping to get out the vote. He also mentioned his two children, ages 4 and 6, and said he’s running to create a better New Hampshire for their futures.

Also during yesterday’s event, Executive Council candidate Joe Kenney made a pitch for the March 11 election for the District 1 seat. Kenney is running against Democrat Mike Cryans, and he told the crowd this special election would set the tone for the rest of 2014’s elections.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party was quick to label Hemingway as a far right, Tea Party candidate.

“Granite Staters can’t afford to have Hemingway in elected office, his radically right-wing agenda is radically wrong for New Hampshire,” party spokesman Harrell Kirstein said in a statement.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)


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