Perhaps you have heard, or been the bearer of, the result of the latest party game making the rounds among the state’s political class.The game: Let’s all talk about Paul Hodes.The object: To keep the discussion going, mostly through innuendo, about any combination of the following a) the congressman has no friends or b) the congressman has friends who don’t like him or c) the congressman has no friends and even they don’t like him.The point of the game is to avoid at least one aspect of reality while playing. Usually that aspect involves a candidate getting people to vote for him – an aspect, by the way, at which the congressman has seemed particularly adept of late.Bench pressNever let it be said that the New Hampshire GOP doesn’t have a bench. Whether it’s the bench that the powers-that-be in the party want – well, that’s another matter.Later this month, the party is expected to get its second gubernatorial candidate when Karen Testerman is slated to announce her plans to form an exploratory committee to run for the nomination. That means the party – which has in recent years had a hard time finding one candidate will now have at least two, since Dover businessman Jack Kimball has already announced his intentions.Testerman, founder and former executive director of the right-wing organization Cornerstone Policy Research, apparently waited until December to announce her plans because she had been living in Seattle for the last year or so. (Wouldn’t look good to announce your candidacy for governor from across the country, would it?)With Testerman joining Kimball as a candidate, the GOP big shots are getting a little antsy over the current field – meaning the pressure on either John Stephen or Sean Mahoney to join the race is getting a little more difficult to withstand.Sarah’s geography lessonYou may remember the last time Sarah Palin, that roguish (or is it rouge-ish?) former governor of Alaska, was in New Hampshire.It was October 2008, and by many accounts she didn’t really want to be here in the first place. Nevertheless, she took one for the team (which team is a matter of debate) and found herself in Laconia on a fine Oct. 15 day, where the friendly crowd eagerly awaited her every word.She didn’t disappoint, although you could argue she disappointed her middle school geography teacher.“I like being here,” she told the crowd, “because it seems like here and in our last rally too — other parts around this great Northwest — here in New Hampshire you just get it.”Fast-forward to October 2009, and apparently the ex-governor doesn’t particularly care for us Granite Staters anymore. How else to explain the demands her people have come up with in order to procure her appearance in the spring of 2010 up here in the Northwest?According to Mark Halperin of Time magazine, a New Hampshire organization made an inquiry about booking Palin next year. The organization was told by the agency that arranges her appearances that she would require:• $100,000, plus first-class travel for two and coach for one and lodging expense• No media would be allowed to cover the speech• No taping for archival purposes, unless Palin herself personally approves it.There is a happy ending to the story, however. Apparently the New Hampshire group was told that Palin wasn’t snubbing New Hampshire – she had thus far not scheduled any events in the northeastern United States. So look on the bright side: She finally figured out where New Hampshire is.F&J Tote Board Kevin Koonce: U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg’s former legislative director and counsel, is cleared by the Justice Department in connection with charges of accepting more than $10,000 in sports tickets from imprisoned former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. David Lovejoy: The candidate who lost a bid for the Rockingham County Sheriff’s seat in 2008 against the recently resigned Sheriff Dan Linehan says he’ll file suit over Linehan’s role in allegedly disseminating information about Lovejoy’s annulled criminal record during the race. New Hampshire Political Library: The shrine to the first-in-the-nation primary lays off its paid staff due to financial difficulties.The Legislative Ethics Committee opens a preliminary investigation into whether the state rep violated ethics guidelines when he dealt with legislation and state negotiations over the railroad company he runs. John DeJoie: The state rep and Concord firefighter announces his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd C.D. James Pindell: The founder of NHPoliticalReport.com takes the site from the realm of the free to the paid with a $399-a-year subscription fee. Rich Ashooh: The BAE Systems executive takes a step toward entering the GOP primary in the 1st C.D.It’s been making the rounds…• The grumbling you’re hearing about Paul Hodes may morph itself into a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.• Too bad when Jim Leach, the newly appointed chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, was in New Hampshire Dec. 1 he didn’t get a chance to talk about his role as one of the architects of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which arguably was a leading cause of last year’s financial meltdown.• Justified or not, state Republicans really are confident about their chances to take the Senate.• Whoever got the guv to name his committee studying whether we should have gambling in New Hampshire the “Gaming Study Commission” deserves a bonus, dontcha think?
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This article appears in the December 4 2009 issue of New Hampshire Business Review