Remembering Kennedy, meeting Bestani

There is little I can add to all of the coverage of the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the second Kennedy sibling to pass away in August.

The national observance of Kennedy’s death was respectful, sobering and on a scale usually reserved for a president. More than one observer noted that for a generation of people who remember the election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960 and the election of the 29-year-old Ted Kennedy in 1962 to fill his brother’s term in the Senate, references to Kennedy’s having served for 47 years was striking. Indeed, for that generation which remembers when Ted Kennedy was elected, and even for those who remember when John F. Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1952, this passing reminded them of the passage of time and of their own humanity as well.

One such memory of Kennedy in his early years was a speech he gave for Sen. Thomas McIntyre in 1966 in Dover. McIntyre, many will remember, was elected to the Senate in 1962 and served four years remaining in the term of the late Sen. Styles Bridges. As a freshman UNH student, I went to hear Kennedy. He was impressive then, although from the perspective of years, he was very, very young at the time.

Obviously, Ted Kennedy had a good working relationship with New Hampshire senators, and whether or not they agreed with him philosophically, they recognized him as a diligent and hard-working senator, and his staff as one of the best, if not the most effective on Capitol Hill. That kind of talent and Kennedy’s often-cited ability to reach across the aisle to get things done will be missed in New England and the nation.


The congressional elections in New Hampshire are more than a year away, and this column appears just about one year before the respective primaries for selection of candidates for Congress. The 2nd District election will select a new congressman if Paul Hodes follows through on his declared intent to seek the U.S. Senate vacancy that will be created by the retirement of Judd Gregg. In the 1st District, incumbent Carol Shea-Porter is expected to run again, and the candidate receiving most of the publicity in the Republican Party has been Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta. Indeed, most people have thought Guinta to be the only candidate for the job.

However, a year is a long time, and recently I became aware of another candidate running for Congress, or at least stating his intent to do so.

Robert M. Bestani of Newmarket, a 61-year-old businessman and government official/academic has an interesting résumé. Those considering the Republican challenge to Carol Shea-Porter might compare Bestani’s résumé with that of Guinta, who has served for four years as mayor and has little, if any, experience in business or government administration apart from those four years.

By comparison, Bestani has work experience in a variety of Fortune 100 companies. He served as deputy assistant secretary for international monetary affairs in the Department of the Treasury under President George H.W. Bush and was a director general of private sector finance at the Asian Development Bank.

At the local level, Bestani is chairman of the Newmarket Municipal Audit Committee and of the Newmarket Energy Committee. He is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, where he works at the Collaboratory for Research on Global Projects.

He has been in international banking and corporate finance covering high tech, petroleum/oil and gas power industries. He has lived in various countries in the world, including the Middle East, and is fluent in languages other than English. His foreign policy knowledge was learned on the ground.

All of the above résumé characteristics are pluses for Bestani. On the negative side for a potential candidate, he is not well known in the 1st District yet and has a lot of work to do to become known. Also, until he gets on the radar screen, he has a disadvantage in terms of fund-raising, at least compared to Guinta, who has been identified by national Republican fund-raisers as a potentially effective candidate.

While Shea-Porter, with her incumbency and experience in being elected twice, will be a formidable candidate, the 1st District is identified as one that may be a swing district, and 2010 may be a year for a Republican comeback.

Brad Cook is a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.

Categories: Cook on Concord