Tent warfare

It’s not a good idea to bite a hand that feeds you, but sometimes an unintended rap on the knuckles can have the same effect.

Bob Bevill of Merrimack, the long-shot challenger to incumbent Jeb Bradley in the Republican 1st District congressional primary, made a $30 contribution to the Republican State Committee earlier this summer and got a nice “thank you” note from Chair Jayne Millerick. At least Millerick thought it was nice. Bevill was not entirely pleased with it.

“You are helping to ensure,” Millerick wrote, “that President Bush, Gov. Craig Benson, Senator Judd Gregg, Congressman Charlie Bass, as well our State Senators and State Representatives, will have the resources they need to be successful in November.”

Millerick later explained that the form letter had been drafted before the candidate-filing period, when the Republican primary opponents to Benson (New Castle Selectman Charles Tarbell), Bass (State Rep. Mark Brady) and Bradley (Bevill) had not yet made their candidacies known.

But Bevill claims there have been other indications that the welcome mat is not out to primary challengers at the GOP “big tent.” He claims, for example, that he was told he could not have signs at the recent Bush rally at the Scamman farm in Stratham, though Gregg and Bradley signs were there in great profusion. And, he said, the agenda at a recent Hillsborough County Republican picnic allowed for speeches by incumbents only. The organizers relented after he complained about it, Bevill said, and allowed the challengers to have their turn at the microphone.

“These people don’t want us conservatives,” said Bevill, who is to the right of Bradley on issues like gay rights and abortion. “It’s all inclusive for gays and people who favor social experimentation in things like gay adoption. But not for those who are supportive of family values.”

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