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Welcome to the latest edition of THE 603.
 
With the 2018 midterm elections now in the rear view mirror, the 2020 White House race officially kicks into gear in New Hampshire and the other early primary and caucus states.
 
While we could eventually see a Democratic presidential nomination field of over 20 candidates, the first potential White House contender to visit the state that for a century has held the first presidential primary will ironically be a Republican. 
 
That person’s Ohio Gov. John Kasich –unless another possible candidate makes an as of now unscheduled stop in the Granite State before Thursday.
 
When those Democratic contenders do resume their visits, they’ll be coming to a state where Democrats are celebrating impressive victories. While popular GOP Gov. Chris Sununu won a second two-year term steering the state, he didn’t provide any coattails for fellow Republicans, as Democrats flipped the state House of Representatives, the state Senate and the Executive Council.
 
OK, enough of the small talk. Let’s get to the news.
 
Kasich’s coming back 
The Ohio governor’s second place finish in the 2016 New Hampshire Republican primary transformed the one time longshot for the nomination into a potential contender. Kasich camped out here, making countess friends in the state as he held over 100 town halls, as well as taking part in dozens of forums, and headlining a slew of house parties and meet and greets. In New Hampshire.
 
Now he’s coming back – for the second time this year – to say hello and stay in touch wtih old friends and potentially make some new ones, as he mulls a primary challenge to President Donald Trump or a third-party run for the White House.

Concord Monitor

WATCH: Kasich, on his previous trip to New Hampshire, says all his options “are on the table”
 
Kristol’s ‘laying the groundwork’ for someone to primary Trump
Conservative columnist Bill Kristol – arguably the most notorious leader of the never-Trump movement – picked the day after the midterms to make his second trip to New Hampshire this year. Speaking at a midterms post-mortem sponsored by the right leaning NH Journal and the Southern New Hampshire University Republicans, the founder of the conservative opinion magazine the Weekly Standard revealed “we’ve started laying the groundwork for the possibility of a serious challenge to President Trump in the 2020 GOP primary.”
But he added that he won’t be the one to take on Trump. 
NH Journal

Beto bound for New Hampshire?
Will we see the latest rock star in the Democratic Party in New Hampshire soon?
Jay Surdukowski certainly hopes so. The Concord attorney and longtime Democratic activist – who backed Martin O’Malley in the 2016 primary – took to Twitter the day after Beto O’Rourke narrowly lost to incumbent GOP Sen. Ted Cruz – to put out a public invitation
“A scrappy Texan with Bobby Kennedy charm - could be just the ticket to take on a Manhattan billionaire. 
@BetoORourke, you are welcome in New Hampshire anytime,” Surdukowski wrote.
LINK TO TWEET
And the vast majority of the 53 people who took part in the latest informal questionnaire Surdukowski likes to ask on Twitter said they’d be interested in meeting O’Rourke if he decides to explore a presidential run.
LINK TO TWEET

The real highlight from Bernie’s quick NH trip
Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped into New Hampshire last Sunday, to headline two get-out-the-youth-vote rallies just two days before the midterms. But most telling about his 2020 intentions was a private meeting the independent senator from Vermont held with nearly 30 of the top Granite State supporters of his 2016 campaign.
 
Multiple sources who attended the gathering told The Daily Beast that Sanders thanked them for their 2016 efforts and then shared that he’s considering another White House run but hasn’t made any decisions. Sanders captured 60% of the vote in the 2016 primary, crushing eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in what was basically a two-candidate field. His victory launched him into a month’s long battle with Clinton.
 
If Sanders runs again, he likely won’t have the progressive lane exclusively to himself. A leading Sanders 2016 supporter in New Hampshire, who asked for anonymity to speak more freely, said Sanders “doesn’t have a lock” on his followers in the Granite State.
 
But the supporter added that “the default is Bernie,” and said that the other potential progressive contenders in a likely extra-large Democratic field “would have to show that they’re stronger, more viable candidates.”
 
More on his trip from 
AP
 
Will Shaheen run for re-election?
It’s the biggest campaign question in New Hampshire – will former three-term governor and current two-term U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen run for a third term in 2020? And will former Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte make a bid to return to the Senate?

WMUR

No coattails for New Hampshire Gov. Sununu
Gov. Chris Sununu won re-election Tuesday to a second two-year term steering New Hampshire, defeating Democratic challenger Molly Kelly.
But the Republican governor’s coattails didn’t extend down the ballot, as the Democrats kept control of both of New Hampshire’s congressional seats. And the party convincingly flipped of both chambers of the state legislature, as well as the five member Executive Council. The popular GOP governor will now face a dramatically altered political landscape in Concord, as divided government returns to the Statehouse with  a vengeance. And we’ll see more younger and diverse faces in the state legislature

Portsmouth Herald/Fosters Daily Democrat
Union Leader
NHPR 
LISTEN
: The week in New Hampshire politics 

Kuster: ‘I hear it’s a lot more fun’ in the House majority
For the first time in her six years serving in Congress, Annie Kuster’s about to be in the majority. And the Democrat from New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District is looking forward to what that might afford.
 Concord Monitor 
Portsmouth Herald/Fosters Daily Democrat
WATCH
WATCH


So long Sapareto
A Republican lawmaker accused of assaulting a business partner over a pornographic film won’t be returning to the State House.

Concord Monitor
 
Thanks as always for sharing with friends and colleagues, please point anyone and everyone to sign up 
here. That's all we've got, have a great weekend; you can follow Paul Steinhauser, NH's most versatile political news reporter, here, and contact THE 603 co-founder & publisher, Kieran Baker, here.  

Welcome to the latest edition of THE 603.
 
John Kasich returned to his second home this week, repeatedly professing that he has no idea if he’ll run for the White House again. But as expected, his jam-packed 24-hour swing through the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the race for president garnered plenty of national attention and sparked further speculation that outgoing Ohio governor’s positioning himself for a 2020 primary challenge against President Donald Trump.
 
Bill Gardner, the longest serving secretary of state in the entire country, and a person known nationally for being one of the chief defenders of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary status, is fighting to hold onto his job after a very vocal wakeup call.
 
And it’s the biggest campaign question in the Granite State right now – will former governor and two-term Sen. Jeanne Shaheen run for re-election in 2020. 
 
Enough of the appetizers – let’s get to the main course.
 
Kasich’s second 2018 trip to NH puts 2020 in the spotlight
On a trip that had the look and feel of a presidential campaign swing, John Kasich returned once again to the state that boosted his long-shot bid for the 2016 GOP nomination. He pow-wowed with good friends and top advisers, visited the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (a must stop for White House hopefuls) and headlined an annual First Amendment awards gala that he transformed into a town hall type event.
 
He also sat down for multiple media interviews.
Kasich said “I really don’t know what I’m going to do” when repeatedly asked if there’s a presidential campaign sequel.
But in an interview with Fox News, the term-limited Ohio governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate also shared that when it comes to another White House bid, “all the options are on the table.”
 
And the very vocal Trump critic blamed the president’s divisive rhetoric for major GOP House defeats in last week’s midterm elections, emphasizing that “what happened in this election was people rejected his behavior.”

Union Leader 
And makes national news here: 
Fox News
Washington Post

WATCH: Kasich says he has no 2020 timetable and does a pretty good imitation of the wicked witch of the west in the Wizard of Oz.
WATCH: Kasich says he doesn’t know what he’s going to do regarding 2020; takes aim at Trump for 2018 results.
LISTEN: Kasich’s entire 20 minute interview on NHTalkRadio’s ‘On Background’.
 
Yang makes a N.H. impression 
The White House hopeful with arguably the least amount of name recognition become the first to visit the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state post midterm elections.
New York based entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who earlier this year declared his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, held a town hall meeting Monday evening at New England College in Henniker.
During a campaign stop in New Hampshire in 
April, the long-shot for the White House announced he’ll personally give a Granite Stater $1,000 each month next year to illustrate his campaign pledge to pay what he calls a freedom dividend to all adult Americans.
New England College Vice President of Academic Affairs Wayne Lesperance said student expectations in advance of Yang’s visit were minimal.
“He’s not a candidate with name recognition or who has spent enough time in New Hampshire to get widespread attention,” Lesperance said. “By the time the town hall meeting at New England College was over, however, students were buzzing about him and his freedom dividend plan.”

Leading NH Hillary Clinton supporters downplay op-ed suggesting a 2020 bid
Two of Hillary Clinton’s top supporters in New Hampshire are very skeptical about a much talked about opinion piece published last weekend that suggested the two-time presidential candidate would make a third run for the White House in 2020.

Concord Monitor 
 
In NH, it’s been 2020 for months
Lou D’Allesandro says he’s been getting a lot of calls lately.
“Our phone is ringing,” shared the longtime Democratic lawmaker who’s known as the ‘dean’ of the New Hampshire state Senate, as he rattled off the names of a dozen potential Democratic White House hopefuls who’ve reached out to him in recent weeks.

The Daily Beast

Vote of no confidence for Bill Gardner
If you cover or follow presidential campaign politics, or if you live in the Granite State, Bill Gardner’s a household name.
Gardner’s back in the news, but this time it’s not due to efforts to safeguard New Hampshire’s treasured presidential primary status.
Instead, he’s fighting to keep the job he’s held for 42 years.
And after an important test vote which served as a very loud wake-up call, it’s unlikely New Hampshire’s secretary of state will be getting much support from fellow Democrats as he runs for re-election to a 22nd term.

Concord Monitor
Valley News has a pretty scathing editorial here

Will Shaheen run for a third term in the Senate?
While we await a decision and announcement from Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen regarding her 2020 plans, the guessing game continues.
The vast majority of Granite State Democratic consultants and strategists that the Monitor questioned believe that Shaheen will indeed launch a re-election campaign.
“She has been raising money and I think she’s in her groove right now, so I expect that she will be running,” said James Demers, a top Democratic consultant and lobbyist who runs a Concord based government affairs firm.
Shaheen, who serves on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Services committees, has raised her national profile since President Donald Trump entered the White House. And she’s also gained in seniority.The possibility of Democrats regaining the Senate majority in the 2020 election may also influence Shaheen’s decision on seeking another term.
Someone who works quite closely with Shaheen may have given us a hint: Fellow Granite Stater and Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan told the Monitor recently that “Jeanne Shaheen is such a hard worker and she’s just always thinking about New Hampshire and I’m sure she’ll continue to do that.”

Kuster, Pappas votes could be crucial for Pelosi
Rep. Annie Kuster and Congressman-elect Chris Pappas say they’re undecided on whether they’ll back longtime U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker.
And the votes of New Hampshire’s two representatives in the upcoming Congress could be crucial, as Pelosi feverishly works behind the scenes this week to round up the support needed to be elected speaker.

Concord Monitor
WATCH
: Pappas undecided on Pelosi; adds “I do think it’s important we get some new voices into leadership.”

The race is on for NHGOP chair
The first candidate to publicly emerge in the scrum for state Republican Party leader is Stephen Stepanek, a former state House of Representatives majority leader who co-chaired then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in New Hampshire. 

WMUR 

The race is pretty much over for state House speaker
When the new House of Representatives meets and is sworn into office on Dec. 5, current House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff will in all likelihood be elected speaker.

WMUR 
WATCH
: Steve Shurtleff gets choked up as he talks about the honor of winning his party nomination for state House speaker.
WATCH: Renny Cushing, who challenged Shurtleff, said it was important that Democrats have a choice.

Election boost diversity in NH Statehouse
"Over the years we have called the House ‘The People's House,’ but now it will truly reflect the great diverse communities of New Hampshire,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley. “

WMUR 
 
And the votes are in
If you want a Midterm recap look no further than 
here CitizensCount.org have done a really nice job summing up the power divide in Concord and what it could mean for actual policy.

And yes, it cost a lot 
Ever wondered how much your MidTerm vote for Senate actually cost well our Civil.co news partner 
ReadSludge crunches the numbers here
 
Thanks as always for sharing with friends and colleagues, please point anyone and everyone to sign up 
here. That's all we've got, have a great weekend and wherever you are, a wonderful Thanksgiving too; you can follow Paul Steinhauser, NH's most versatile political news reporter, here, and contact THE 603 co-founder & publisher, Kieran Baker, here.  

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