CONWAY — Carroll County Commissioner Mark Hounsell is sounding more and more like a candidate for Congress. The former state senator said last Friday he is doing an “exploratory initiative” to consider running for the 1st Congressional District seat opening up this year.
Hounsell, a Conway Republican who also serves on the Conway School Board, said there is a difference between an exploratory committee and an exploratory initiative.
“You don’t need something as complicated as a committee to make a decision. Under the rules (of running for Congress), if you raise or spend $5,000, then you would declare (yourself as a candidate), which I would do. What I want to do now is talk to people who should support me and ask them if they would.”
Two Republicans — former South Hampton Police Chief Eddie Edwards of Dover and Andy Sanborn, a state senator from Bedford — also are vying for Shea-Porter's seat on the GOP ticket.
Chris Pappas (D-Manchester), 37, a three-term Executive Councilor from District 4, appears the clear-cut Democratic favorite.
Hounsell believes the race “needs a voice from the northern wilderness.” He pledges not to speak ill of GOP colleagues but seemed eager to talk about Pappas.
“If the Republicans want this seat, then you better put me in there (as the nominee),” he said. “I’m the only one who can take on Chris Pappas. I’m friends with a lot of Democrats.”
Hounsell shared the following prepared statement:
“Should I eventually make the decision to run, it will be to first seek the Republican nomination in September of 2018. In my estimation, it is essential that the next congressman from the Granite State be a Republican. In recent days, I have become deeply concerned by the divisive tone that the Democratic front-runner, Chris Pappas, is broadcasting in his multifaceted fundraising campaign. It is clear to me the Democratic Party leadership, as well as their candidates, are either unwilling or incapable of working in a manner that benefits the people of New Hampshire. Their socialist and liberal partisan agenda that invades personal freedoms, stifles economic prosperity and inadequately addresses any number of issues that are vital to New Hampshire’s tradition of independence and self-determination must be stopped.
“As a Republican, I stand in full support of each and every plank in the NH GOP platform save the one that supports so-called Right to Work and merit pay. However, I am convinced the GOP, unlike the Democrats, allow for various and differing opinions to be expressed without penalty. As a Republican, I pledge to keep the eleventh commandment as expressed by President Ronald Reagan, ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.’
“My consideration is driven in part by the realization that my four decades of experience in politics and state, county and local government is an asset for all the people of the Granite State. I am honest, hardworking, trustworthy and loyal. I am well-connected and most importantly, I will speak openly on any number of issues.
“As a 12th generation New Hampshire native, I am driven to use the talents God has blessed me with to serve the people of my state. I begin this initiative with a belief that service to others is paramount to a Christian life. I proceed with confidence in my ability to stand for what is right rather than what is politically convenient. As my mentor, Governor Meldrim Thomson Jr. so aptly declared, I shall continue to put ‘people above politics.’ If I was to describe my political philosophy it would be Paleoconservative in the manner of Pat Buchanan.
“As I continue to explore the possibility of running I am hopeful that others will join me and together we can provide the representation in Washington D.C. the people of this congressional district so desperately need and deserve. I am available to meet with people, the press and organizations who might be intrigued with what I offer. Mine will be a classic grassroots campaign.”
Hounsell left the GOP, becoming an Independent briefly in 2014, before returning to the party.
“I felt driven out for awhile,” he said, “but now the GOP, under the direction of Chairman Jeanie Forrester, has been busy building increased support from unaffiliated voters. Her efforts are attracting more moderate voters to join with the strong conservative base of the Republican party. The insistence of the Democrats to move to the left will cause them votes. I intend to let people know what a real conservative sounds like.”
The seat is currently being held by Carol Shea-Porter (D-Rochester), who announced last spring she does not intend to seek another two-year term.
“For the past decade the NH CD-1 seat has been a back and forth wrestling match between both the Republicans and the Democrats,” Hounsell states. “This has not only been tiring and frustrating it serves to maintain domination of one party over the other at the expense of all the people who expect and deserve fair representation irrespective of party alliances. The 2018 midterm elections offer New Hampshire a great opportunity to rescue ourselves from this unseemly partisan grip on our federal government. The ongoing corruption and logrolling on the part of the Democrats demonstrate it is unwise to support their predisposed prejudices by supporting their party candidates.
He added: “What the Republican party needs is a viable moderate candidate to match up against the promised liberal Democratic nominee for the NH CD-1 seat in 2018. I have been approached by many to consider being that candidate for the Republican nomination. I am giving serious thought to that possibility.”