Looking from Durham to D.C.
Innis officially announces candidacy
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 10:10
Dan Innis, dean of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics and Portsmouth Republican, announced his candidacy for a chance to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in the 1st Congressional District on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
The announcement ends speculation that stemmed from Innis’s decision to resign from his post as dean of the Paul College, a move he made in part to focus on the exploratory phases of his candidacy.
It also marks a first for Innis, as he heads into the Republican primary race a first-time political candidate. At the moment, Innis will compete against former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta for the opportunity to compete against Shea-Porter in the 2014-midterm elections.
Talk of Innis running for public office became public around late July through WMUR’s James Pindell. According to Innis, the original idea to run for office came up in late spring or early summer during a conversation he and a friend had.
“It was my fault, I made some comment about infrastructure investment, and then I went on one of my little mini rants about how important infrastructure is for business and the economy,” Innis said. “At the end I laughed and said, ‘I sound like a politician, don’t I?’ and he said, ‘Well, as a matter of fact you do, have you ever thought about running?’”
This was, according to Innis, the initial question that caused him to think about a run for Congress. After talking with several more people, the positive reactions he received caused him to take the idea more seriously.
After considering whether he would be able to garner support, withstand the rigors of election and adequately fundraise, Innis said he saw himself as “a viable candidate.”
Innis’ concern over the current state of affairs in the United States was also a major factor in his decision to run for office.
“I worry an awful lot about our country, more now than ever … I’m worried enough that I want to jump in and try to help fix it,” Innis said.
With a background in business – Innis owns and operates Portsmouth’s Ale House Inn alongside his husband Doug Palardy, in addition to working as an academic administrator – Innis hopes, if elected, to utilize the skills he has learned in the business world down in Washington, D.C. Innis said he believes that a lowered deficit, a built up economic environment that works for business and creates jobs would provide “a multi-year solution for what has been a multi-year problem.”
“We got to right the ship,” Innis said. “We just have to.”
Whether or not Innis earns the chance “to right the ship” will be unknown until the Republican primary in September 2014. Until then, he will have to work on getting his name known around the district.
According to UNH political science professor Dante Scala, Innis’ biggest task at hand as a first-time candidate will be gaining name recognition. This is something he will need to work on heavily heading into the midterm election.
“[Innis is] a new face in New Hampshire politics,” Scala said. “That comes with pluses and minuses.”
While a lack of name recognition may be a minus according to Scala, he also said that at this moment, the Republican Party needs new faces in New Hampshire politics.
With only Guinta and Innis currently in the Republican primary race, whether or not New Hampshire Republicans want to give Guinta another shot could be a major factor as to how Innis does next September, Scala said. It may turn out, Scala added, that the Republicans want a new face to go against Shea-Porter, who has won three out of the last four elections.
Innis said that he is up for the challenge, however, as he plans on spending the time between now and September working his way around the 1st District. Come Nov. 1, when Innis has his last day as dean of the Paul College and the recently appointed Arnold Garron – who was named to the post on Oct. 4 – steps in as interim-dean, Innis will be able to turn his full attention towards his campaign.
It is at this point that Innis can more thoroughly invest his efforts on the campaign trail, drawing upon his previous experiences – UNH included – to aid his efforts.
“I’ve got a breadth of experience, and life experience, that has prepared me pretty well for this. I think I understand people,” Innis said. “I’m not a politician, and I think we need more people in Washington.”