On the trail: Gary Hirshberg mulls gubernatorial run

  • Sen. Tom Sherman said he will be aggressive in challenging Gov. Chris Sununu's record.

  • Gary Hirshberg Courtesy

  • Gary Hirshberg

  • Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Organic’s Co-Founder and longtime former CEO and an organic activist since 1977, is announcing a new partnership that is a first for the agriculture, retail, and food industries: the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership.

For the Monitor
Published: 3/18/2022 2:51:10 PM

Democratic state Sen. Tom Sherman officially announced his bid for governor of New Hampshire this week. But he may soon have some company in the race for his party’s gubernatorial nomination.

Multiple Democratic sources tell the Monitor that Stonyfield Farms co-founder and chair Gary Hirshberg has been making calls and reaching out to political leaders as he “actively considers” running for governor. Those sources add that Hirshberg is expected to make a decision regarding a potential gubernatorial campaign within the next month.

The Manchester native served nearly three decades as Stonyfield chief executive officer, helping to build the company into one of the world’s leading producers of organic yogurt products. Hirshberg, who was mentioned as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate in 2008 and governor in 2012, over the years has hosted numerous top-dollar fundraisers at his home in the Squam Lakes Region for high profile Democratic candidates.

Hirshberg, whose net worth is estimated to be in the millions, could self-finance if he decides to run for governor.

Debby Butler, a longtime Democratic activist who served as co-chair of former Gov. John Lynch’s gubernatorial campaigns and who’s part of Hirshberg’s wider political orbit, told the Monitor that “he is speaking with lots of folks as he considers campaigning and governing.”

Butler said that “should Gary decide to run, I’ll be in that quite large gang of people who will move heaven and earth to make that effort successful!”

And she noted that “I had an inside seat watching Gary build and run Stonyfield. He’s a rare combination of unfailing optimism, pragmatic thinker, and tireless servant.”

Sherman: Democrats ‘stronger without a primary’

State Sen. Tom Sherman made it official this week, as the doctor from Rye declared his candidacy for governor.

The gastroenterologist and ranking member and former chair of the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee touted his credentials in an interview Thursday with the Monitor, saying “I am highly qualified for this. I have been in the Legislature for eight years. I know how it works. I know how to lead. I know how to get things done.”

Sherman’s campaign noted that the candidate raised $120,000 in the first 48 hours after declaring his candidacy. Sherman highlighted that “I have demonstrated whether it’s in the Senate or in this last week that I can fundraise aggressively.”

Asked about a potential primary race with Hirshberg or any other Democrat, Sherman told the Monitor “if a primary is that Democrats are fighting Democrats, it’s not helpful. But if the primary is where Democrats work together and want to unseat Sununu, then it could be great.”

And he emphasized, “I think we’re stronger without a primary but if we have a primary, my focus is going to be 100% on unseating Chris Sununu.”

Sununu, a Republican from Newfields, announced last November that he would seek a fourth two-year term in the corner office steering New Hampshire. The governor’s reelection team took aim at Sherman after the Democratic state senator jumped into the race on Monday.

Sherman said that when it comes to Sununu, “you’re going to see me hold him accountable for what he has not done, for what he has not taken responsibility for, for what he has taken credit for that he did not do.”

But he pledged that “I’m not going to go down to saying something like they’ve said about me, ‘mopping the floor with me.’ That’s disrespectful. It’s undignified. And certainly, it is not the level of discourse that you would expect from a sitting governor. I’m not going to go there.”

Sherman told the Monitor in an interview in February that he would aim to unify the state if he ran and won the governorship.

Asked how he could act as a unifier while still running an aggressive campaign against the Republican incumbent, Sherman argued this week that “Sununu has gone so far to the right. Don’t listen to what he says. Look at what he’s done. He’s gone so far to the right, he doesn’t represent the values of the vast majority of New Hampshire residents. I will unify Republicans, independents, and Democrats who still believe in those values.”

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