Political news from New Hampshire Public Radio, from the State House to the First in the Nation Primary.


The state can now begin spending more than $3 million dollars to address substance abuse in the state budget. That’s after the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse on Friday finalized plans for the money.

Hillary Rodham Clinton firmly defended her record before and during the Benghazi attacks as she came face-to-face Thursday with the Republican-led special investigation of the 2012 violence in Libya, hoping to put to rest the worst episode of her tenure as secretary of state and clear an obstacle to her presidential campaign.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

Republican Jack Flanagan, majority leader of the New Hampshire House, is exploring a run for Congress against Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster.

Kuster, now serving her second term, represents the state's 2nd Congressional District, which spans the western half of the state and includes the cities of Concord and Nashua. Flanagan is the first Republican to announce interest in challenging her.

Flanagan, of Brookline, is in his third term in the House and his first as majority leader.

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Kelly Ayotte that’s meant to address one particularly troubling side effect of the nation’s opioid crisis: growing drug dependence among infants.

The bill requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to review how it deals with “neonatal abstinence syndrome” (or “NAS”). It also calls upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help states improve public health monitoring and data collection around NAS.

Presidential candidates boosted their spending in New Hampshire this summer, spending nearly six times as much as they did in the previous three month period.

The Republican and Democratic candidates doled out nearly $2 million across the state from July to September. The vast majority of that cash, however, went to a small handful of Republican operatives and consultants -- and the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

N.H.’s Executive Council took its show on the road Wednesday to the town of Mason. There was no high-profile item before the council, but regardless of the agenda, expect the council to be front and center politically through next November.

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Following a recent wave of mergers in the insurance industry, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is raising “serious concerns” about the potentially harmful impact of these deals on consumers. She nodded specifically to the projected effects of the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger on New Hampshire’s insurance market.

Turn on the television in New Hampshire these days, and you won’t have to wait long before Jeb Bush, John Kasich or Chris Christie pops up on your screen. 

Joe Biden summoned the attention of the nation at noon Wednesday in the Rose Garden of the White House, where he shared his thoughts and feelings about running for president.

"Unfortunately," the vice president said, "I believe we're out of time — the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination."

Biden said he had thought that even this late in the year, the window of opportunity might still be open for him.

"I've concluded that it's closed," Biden said.

Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he will not be a candidate for president in 2016, sparing Democrats from a shake-up in the race for the White House and removing a potential stumbling block for Hillary Clinton.

The vice president's decision comes after a long, and very public, struggle with whether or not to make a third run for the White House. Overcome with grief after the death of his eldest son, Beau, in May from brain cancer, at many times Biden seemed far from ready for the rigors of the campaign trail.

What motivates someone to give money to a foundering, long-shot campaign?

Just 10 people were major donors to Lincoln Chafee's presidential campaign. By contrast, more than 650,000 people have donated to Bernie Sanders.

NPR called up several listed on his third-quarter financial report, and three explained why they decided to pony up for the former Rhode Island governor.

This post was updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



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Democrat Mark Connolly is best known for an 8-year run leading N.H.'s Securities Bureau, where he pursued high-profile fraud cases, including against Tyco International and the Ponzi scheme known as FRM.  

After clashing with the Attorney general’s office and former Governor John Lynch over the state’s handling of FRM, Connolly resigned in 2010, and wrote a book accusing the state of a cover-up.

He then set up shop as an investment advisor. When Connolly spoke at last month’s New Hampshire  Democratic Convention, he stressed his work policing the world of high finance.

I am I.A.M. via Flicker Creative Commons

There’s been a particularly competitive, expensive campaign season brewing in recent months that could have implications for the future of North American policies on trade, energy, the environment, immigration and more.

We are, of course, referring to the race playing out among our neighbors to the north. Canadian federal elections were held Monday — and, as reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, voters provided the country's Liberal Party with enough seats to upend the Conservatives. 

Credit Kinder Morgan / http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TGP_Northeast_Energy_Direct_Fact_Sheet.pdf

It's one of the more, shall we say, parochial questions presidential candidates have faced on the campaign trail this year: What do you think of the proposed gas pipeline that may be routed through New Hampshire?

The pipeline is officially known as the Northeast Energy Direct Project.  And the question of whether it should run through the southern part of the state has been posed to a number of both Republicans and Democrats, including Jeb Bush. 

Republican donors in New Hampshire are beginning to loosen their purse strings for their party’s primary contenders.

Granite Staters contributed more than $220,000 to GOP presidential candidates in the third quarter of 2015. That’s $70,000 more than Democrats took in, and a big change from earlier in the year, when Republican candidates were out-raised in New Hampshire by a two-to-one margin.

UNH Communications and Public Affairs

Last week we told you about Dante Scala and Andy Smith, the UNH political scientists who occupy a rarefied niche in academia that makes them precious commodities every four years.

That’s in large part due to their impressive resumes.

The pair have both authored books on the New Hampshire primary, and they've developed networks of sources to keep them informed on the state's political landscape.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Before last week's Democratic presidential debate, the first of the primary season,  former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley wasn't on the radar of many New Hampshire voters.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Hillary Clinton told an audience at Keene State College in New Hampshire that more stringent gun laws would save lives, and if she wins election she’d consider implementing a federal gun buyback program, and using executive powers to require universal background checks for gun purchases.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

By most measures of success, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s presidential bid is lagging: low poll numbers, few major endorsements, little money raised. But those challenges aren’t slowing the GOP candidate in his efforts to win over Granite State voters.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

John Kasich has made the budgets he’s balanced – as a member of congress and as Ohio Governor – a central argument for his election. 

File photos

It’s unclear when Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and second-place finisher in the 2004 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, is planning to return to the Granite State. But it's probably safe to assume he won’t be swinging by Bill Gardner’s office anytime soon.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire Congressman Frank Guinta is holding his 12th town hall meeting in New Hampshire this year.

Guinta will take questions from voters Thursday night at Merrimack Town Hall. He says he wants to hear what's on their minds and discuss what he's doing to meet their needs in Washington.

A WMUR Granite State Poll released last week showed that half of New Hampshire residents think Guinta, a Republican, should resign amid his campaign finance troubles and 4 percent said they would back his re-election bid next year.

UNH Communication and Public Affairs

Every four years, as interest in New Hampshire’s presidential primary rises, two UNH political scientists find their services in high demand. Now, the professors are preparing to offer their insights to the general public through a new online course.

GIF created using footage from CNN

The Democratic party’s five major presidential candidates gathered in Las Vegas for their first debate Tuesday night.

But for all intents and purposes — as summed up by POLITICO and a good chunk of the mainstream media — it may as well have been billed as “the Hillary and Bernie Show.”

Last night’s debate between the five Democratic presidential candidates was substantive and spirited. The top two contenders, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, differed over gun control, a no-fly zone over Syria, and Wall Street reform.

Sanders and Clinton shook hands in agreement after he said the American people have heard enough about Clinton’s “damn emails” – the scandal around her use of a private email address while she was secretary of state.

NPR’s Ron Elving breaks down the debate with Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

State and city officials, standing alongside first responders, announced legislation Tuesday  that would provide state funding for drug courts across New Hampshire.

The bill aims to spend up to $2.5 million on existing and future drug courts over the next two years, with half a million dollars going to a new statewide drug court office.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, who is sponsoring the bill, said at a press conference Tuesday that the rest of the cost will have to be picked up by the individual host county, but participation is voluntary.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told an audience at St. Anselm College  he'd use tax credits to help people purchase insurance and eliminate mandates created by the Affordable Care Act.

Jeb Bush derided the sweeping health care law act as written "by special interests for special interests," and said reducing federal control over the health care system would lower health care costs and encourage local innovation.

Via Flickr/Center for American Progress / https://flic.kr/p/8znzKY

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid just made a whole lot of New Hampshire enemies. It didn't take much. He simply insulted the First in the Nation Primary.