EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 1, 2012

Sandy was a bump, not a roadblock for NH campaigns

By John Toole jtoole@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Sandy disrupted, but didn’t halt, political campaigns in New Hampshire.

The candidates are adjusting, coping with the challenges posed by the big storm.

“I’m putting my signs back up,” Rep. Walter Kolodziej of Windham said yesterday. “Most of them blew down. They are in the woods and I’m looking for them.”

Kolodziej, a Republican, is one of eight candidates vying for four House seats in Windham, which Public Service of New Hampshire has described as one of the communities hardest hit by Sandy.

It turns out campaign sign restoration is an issue upon which both political parties can agree.

“I picked up a few signs before the storm. I should have picked up a lot more,” said Carolyn Webber, one of Kolodziej’s Democratic challengers. “A lot of them are down.”

Kolodziej said he doesn’t think the storm will be a big factor in this race.

“I think most voters are fully committed to the idea of whether they are going to vote for me or not,” he said.

Kolodziej plans to be back on the trail this weekend for the traditional handshaking at the town transfer station.

“I will be at the dump this weekend and see how that goes,” Kolodziej said. “Three-quarters of the town will be there.”

Webber put off any door-to-door campaigning until the weekend, when she also plans to be at the transfer station.

Sandy threw off one part of Webber’s campaign strategy.

“The visibility was a big impact. You stand on the street corner, hold your sign, wave at people and smile,” she said. “I didn’t do that Tuesday.”

Higher up the ballot, Mitt Romney spokesman Tommy Schultz said safety was a primary concern this week for volunteers and staff.

“We have still been able to make an extraordinary amount of volunteer contacts by making phone calls and knocking on doors,” he said. “We’re right on schedule with our campaign efforts.”

President Obama’s re-election campaign urged staff and volunteers to take appropriate safety precautions and follow the advice of safety officials, spokesman Holly Shulman said.

“Where it’s safe to do so, our historic grassroots organization is running at full speed in eastern battleground states to persuade undecided voters and get our supporters out to the polls between now and Election Day,” Shulman said.

The Obama office in Salem temporarily lost power, but it has been restored, she said.

Both campaigns also were looking to help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, encouraging donations through the Red Cross.

The Romney campaign also was collecting food and supplies for disaster relief, Schultz said.

The hurricane also affected town government.

Pelham’s Budget Committee canceled its meeting Monday because of the weather.

The Windham School Board, with 90 percent of the town without electricity, postponed its meeting Tuesday, when it had expected to hear from citizens about school facilities. That forum was rescheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the high school, 64 London Bridge Road.

Salem selectmen rescheduled their meeting Monday to tonight, while a School Board forum on elementary school renovations was canceled. It has not been rescheduled.