By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — For the past six years, Jeanie Forrester has treated her friends to a picnic at the Wicwas Grange and this year, when she reminded some 40 guests on Sunday "You may have heard I'm running for governor," was no exception.
Forrester, who is completing her third term in the New Hampshire Senate, is among four Republicans — Ted Gatsas, the mayor of Manchester, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu and Rep. Frank Edelblut — competing for the gubernatorial nomination in the primary election on Sept. 13.
Forrester is bidding to become both the first candidate from Belknap County ever to be elected governor and the first Republican woman ever to be elected governor. Three times she has carried Senate District 2 , which consists of 27 towns in Belknap, Grafton and Merrimack counties, and in 2014 captured nearly two-thirds of the vote. After weeks of campaigning around the state, especially in its most heavily populated reaches, on Sunday she returned to her stronghold less to court voters than to express her thanks.
Forrester's constituents contributed $88,840 or 43 percent of the $207,730 she has raised, according to the report of receipt and expenditures filed last week. She is the only GOP candidate to pledge not to spend more than $1.25 million on her campaign. Among her rivals, Gatsas has raised more than $1 million, including $75,000 from his own pocket, Sununu has raised $645,971 and Edelblut has raised only about $80,000 while contributing $750,000 to his own campaign.
Speaking briefly, Forrester remarked that her decision to run for governor prompted some to ask "Why would you want to do that?" She explained that when she ran for the Senate she believed that state government has taken too much power from and wielded too much power over cities and towns.
"I wanted to be a voice for our communities," she declared. "I'm not from the establishment. I work for you and you keep me honest."
As governor, she said she would continue to serve the people of New Hampshire. Forrester cut her remarks short, referring her listeners to four plans to address major issues posted on her website. She named the opioid epidemic, jobs and the economy and health care, then laughed as in a Rick Perry moment she forgot the fourth, a proposal to reform state government.
The Tim Keefe of Plymouth, on guitar, set the populist tone of Forrester's campaign to music by inviting everyone to join his rendition of "I Dream of Jeanie in the Governor's Chair," to the tune of Stephen Foster's classic. "We know our Jeanie and just where she stands," they sang, "Life, truth and justice, these are in her plans. Bold and powerful the pundits they proclaim with Jeanie as our leader prosperity will reign. She's an outsider that we really need, dearly loves New Hampshire. She's proven she can lead. I dream of Jeanie in the governor's chair. She is for the people and she really, really cares."
Wearing jeans and bright red top, for the most part Forrester set politicking aside in favor of drawing raffle tickets for a chance to honor a friend by flying a flag over the United States Capitol and lending a hand as children swung to burst a piñata laden with candy, and tossed balls to dunk Mike Pelczar, a Meredith selectman in a tub of cold water. For Forrester Sunday was less a day for campaigning than for renewing the friendships that have brought her to the brink of the state's highest office over hot dogs and ice cream.
Tim Keefe of Plymouth reworked an old Stephen Foster classic to contain the lyrics "I dream of Jeanie in the governor's chair." (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
Jeanie Forrester had a good laugh over the lyrics to Tim Keefe's song. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
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