Politics

Frank Guinta Primary Challenger Suspends Campaign

The vulnerable Republican still faces a tough re-election road ahead of the September primary

Guinta lost one primary challenger Friday, but still faces a tough path to re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

University of New Hampshire professor Dan Innis announced Friday that he is suspending his primary campaign against vulnerable Republican Rep. Frank C. Guinta in the Granite State's 1st District.  

“After long discussions with my family and staff I have decided to suspend my campaign for Congress. My commitments to the University of New Hampshire, to my business interests and, most importantly, to my family, do not currently align with the needs of a full-time congressional campaign," Innis said in a statement.  

Innis first challenged Guinta in 2014, garnering 41 percent of the vote to Guinta's 49 percent. He out raised Guinta in the last quarter of 2015 before suspending his second bid for Congress, which began in October.  

"I will continue to be active in the New Hampshire Republican Party and look forward to supporting the eventual nominees for Senate, governor, and the 1st  Congressional District," Innis said. That includes supporting Guinta if he's the nominee, Innis campaign spokesman Bill Lockhart said. Depending on who else gets in the primary, Innis is likely to make an endorsement soon.  

Former state GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen suggested that Innis, who has a successful academic and business career, may have been looking ahead to the general election when making his decision to get out of the race.  

"If Donald Trump is the nominee it’s going to be a disaster for Republicans in the Northeast," Cullen said. Innis' growing professional and family commitments motivated his decision to get out of the race, Lockhart reiterated. But he admitted that "depending on the nominee, it might make for a harder race," come November.  After being fined by the FEC for campaign finance violations , Guinta has struggled to raise money. Many of the state's Republicans, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, have called on him to resign over the scandal, in which he accepted a $350,000 loan from the "Guinta Family Fund" during the 2010 election. After paying back the loan, he ended 2015 with $12,000 in his campaign coffers.  

Innis' departure from the race doesn't change much for Guinta, said Cullen, one of the congressman's earliest and most vocal critics. Although Guinta would probably prefer more primary challengers — "the more the merrier for him," Cullen said — he still faces several credible threats.  State Rep. Pam Tucker announced her campaign in February. Rich Ashooh, an interim executive director at the UNH School of Law, who finished third in the 2010 GOP primary, is still considering a bid. Once an executive at BAE systems, Ashoosh worked for former New Hampshire GOP Sen. Warren Rudman in the 1980s and early 90s. Landscape construction supervisor Jamieson Gradert is also running.  

The filing deadline for New Hampshire's Sept. 13 primary isn't until June 10, leaving time for the field to grow.  

If Guinta survives a challenge, he'll face a tough general election fight — likely a rematch against former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter — in a district that President Barack Obama twice carried by single-digit margins.  

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.