Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lamontagne requested meeting with party leaders he now criticizes

November 9, 2009 by Staff Reporter  
Filed under News & Politics

As he enters the race for U.S. Senate to replace the retiring Judd Gregg, Manchester attorney and 1996 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontagne is assuming a decidedly anti-establishment posture.

He was the first Republican candidate in New Hampshire to back the third-party efforts of Doug Hoffman over the establishment party candidate in NY-23 (Kelly Ayotte also backed Hoffman). And he has been critical of party leaders for backing candidates in competitive primaries.

Just this weekend, Lamontagne repeated those criticisms to the POLITICO’s Josh Kraushaar:

“I’m the only candidate who’s running for this race who has run for office before. I know how to win in a primary. I’ve decided this is the right time to do it,” said Lamontagne. “I’m not the establishment candidate, and I never will be. I’m going to run based on conservative values.”

In the interview with POLITICO, he criticized GOP Senate leaders in Washington for weighing in on behalf of Ayotte’s campaign well before the primary field even developed. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) headlined a fundraiser on Ayotte’s behalf in September.

This isn’t the first time Lamontagne has run against the party establishment. In 1996, he stunned New Hampshire political insiders by defeating then-Rep. Bill Zeliff to win the GOP nomination for governor before losing to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

Interestingly, though, it appears as though Lamontagne himself sought, well something, from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, though it is unclear what exactly. In early-June, Lamontagne requested a meeting with the committee to discuss his then-exploratory senate efforts. According to National Journal:

Sources say that Ovide Lamontagne, a NH atty, visited the NRSC yesterday. Another sign, if one was needed, that the GOP bench in the Granite State isn’t deep.

The meeting was at his request; NRSC staffers will sit down with any credible candidate who expresses an interest in running. Lamontagne ran unsuccessfully for GOV in ’96 against Dem Jeanne Shaheen.

Whatever they discussed, few doubt Lamontagne’s conservative bona fides and his vote-earning work ethic as a candidate, though some pro-life leaders reacted angrily to his involvement in a deal to merge Catholic Medical Center with Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

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