State rep from Rye latest to enter race to replace Carol Shea-Porter

  • Mindi Messmer Courtesy

For the Monitor
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

State Rep. Mindi Messmer of Rye on Tuesday became the sixth Democrat to officially launch a campaign for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.

“I bring a proven track record of being able to get legislation passed in the State House that’s helped citizens of New Hampshire,” Messmer told the Monitor in an interview conducted hours before she formally kicked off her congressional bid at an event in Portsmouth.

Messmer, a Rye resident, was elected last year to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. She’s an environmental scientist who has owned and operated the consulting company Terra Nova Environmental since 1999.

Messmer said she “blew the whistle” on what was later designated the Seacoast Cancer Cluster. She was a member of the Governor’s Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster investigation, which was set up in 2016 by then-Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Messmer highlighted her role as a freshman state representative sponsoring several pieces of legislation on public health and the environment that became law.

In her official statement, Messmer said she is running “to ensure clean drinking water for all Americans, to take precautions to mitigate the environmental causes of cancer, and to stand up to industry-backed attacks on science by federal agencies like the EPA.”

She hopes to succeed Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. The Rochester congresswoman, who has served a total of four two-year terms over the last 12 years, announced last month that she would not run for re-election in 2018.

Messmer praised “the model Carol Shea-Porter has (provided) as a progressive woman fighting for the rights of citizens of New Hampshire,” saying that she hopes to carry on that legacy.

She touted her professional experience, noting that she “brings to the table a background as a scientist and a small-business owner for 20 years.”

“I come from union-member background. I’m a third-generation union member,” she said. “My mother was a fighter for workers’ rights. She was a union organizer for SEIU 1199 in New York City.”

Fighting for workers’ rights “is in my fiber,” she added.

The minimum wage in New Hampshire and across the country is too low, Messmer said. She added she would also “push for high-quality health care for all Americans” and said she was extremely concerned about nearly daily media reports regarding abusive treatment of women.

“We are seeing women under attack,” she said.

Messmer said last year she strongly supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, and later joined Sanders’s steering committee in the Granite State.

A top member of the Granite State team backing Sanders in the New Hampshire primary is already running to represent the 1st District. That’s state Rep. Mark MacKenzie of Manchester, who was president of the state AFL-CIO for more than two decades.

Last week, three-term Executive Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester, the biggest name to date, launched his campaign for the seat. Also running for the Democratic nomination are Iraq War veteran and former Obama Pentagon official Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth, former Strafford County attorney Lincoln Soldati, and Rochester City Attorney Terence O’Rourke. Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard has said she is seriously considering a bid, but she has yet to declare her candidacy.

State Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford and former state law enforcement official Eddie Edwards are the two Republican candidates who have launched campaigns. Former New Hampshire Republican Party vice chairman Matt Mayberry is also likely to announce a bid in the near future.

The 1st District, which covers much of southeastern New Hampshire, the Lakes Region, and up to North Conway, is one of the most high-profile and closely watched swing congressional districts in the country. And it’s pingponged between Shea-Porter and former GOP congressman Frank Guinta the past four elections.