BEDFORD, N.H., August 30th — Carol Shea-Porter, the former congresswoman who represented the Granite State’s First Congressional District from 2007 to 2011, attended an ice cream social put on by Bedford Democrats at the Old Town Hall. Townspeople had been invited to attend the event to meet and greet Democratic candidates from up and down the ticket.
There were seventy people, supporters and their children as well as the politicians, in the town hall meeting room at any one time. In addition to Shea-Porter, other candidates attending the ice cream social were Chris Pappas, who is running for Executive Council, and Lee Nyquist, who is running for a seat in the State Senate.
New Hampshire is unique in that its state legislature, the General Court, is made up of 400 representatives and 24 senators, making it the fourth-largest legislature in the English-speaking world.
Carol Shea-Porter was upbeat and smiling as she greeted old friends and made new acquaintances. She has a reason to be smiling: she is up in the polls over Frank Guinta, the former Manchester mayor who beat her during the 2010 by-elections.
In early August, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCC) named her as one of its “Red-to-Blue” candidates, contenders who have the best chance of winning. RealClearPolitics has listed New Hampshire’s First Congressional District as one of the top 25 House seats most likely to change hands, even before Shea-Porter’s recent surge in the polls. And the Washington Post cited her as one of the candidates the Democratic Party is counting on to retake the majority in the House of Representatives.
It was not just the ice cream that made the social-goers and politicians happy at the Bedford Town Hall, but very good ice cream it was. The ice cream was supplied by the Puritan Restaurant, which is owned by Chris Pappas’ family.
The Puritan has played host to prominent people recently, including Caroline Kennedy when she was in Manchester stumping for President Barack Obama, and Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate.
Ryan had stopped by the Puritan on his way to a $10,000-per-plate fundraiser to provide a photo opportunity for the media that contrasted with the exclusive Republican “Fat Cat” dinner he was headlining. The New Hampshire Union Leader, which was handling press pool coverage of the fundraiser inside the Radisson Hotel, put a picture of Ryan hobnobbing with regular people at the restaurant on its front page rather than a picture from inside the fundraiser.
Pappas said that he was surprised when Ryan arrived at the Puritan with his entourage. Pappas is a hospitable fellow, which is fitting for a person who makes his living in the hospitality industry, and he greeted the Republican vice presidential candidate as he entered the restaurant. Their meeting was cordial and Pappas was amused that the length of their conversation prevented Bill O’Brien, the right-wing Republican who serves as Speaker of the New Hampshire House, from finagling his way into the photo op.
The Executive Council, which is also known as the Governor’s Council, is part of the state executive branch and was created in the 18th Century to provide a check on the power of the governor. The council can veto gubernatorial appointments and has to approve any state contract worth in excess of $5,000. All five positions on the council currently are held by Republicans.
Pappas previously served two terms as a state representative and two terms as the treasurer of Hillsborough County.