October 21, 2020 Press Releases

NHPR: Messner’s Slender Granite State Ties An Issue On Senate Campaign Trail

October 21, 2020
Contact: Ally Livingston, alivingston@jeanneshaheen.org

ICYMI – Republican U.S. Senate candidate “Colorado Corky” Messner’s opportunistic move from Colorado to run for New Hampshire’s Senate seat and his weak ties to the state are a problem for New Hampshire voters, according to the latest reporting from NHPR.

Messner, who has spent his entire adult life in Colorado, launched his campaign from Denverused his Colorado address for political contributions as recently as August 2020, and moved to New Hampshire just a year before announcing his run. Having voted for the first time in New Hampshire in 2018 by absentee ballot, Messner has never even voted for the U.S. Senate seat for which he is running.

NHPR: Messner’s Slender Granite State Ties An Issue On Senate Campaign Trail

By Josh Rogers and Peter Biello

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is running for a third term this year against challenger Republican Corky Messner. Shaheen is a former governor of New Hampshire, whose political career in the Granite State spans decades, while Messner, a 63-year-old Army veteran and attorney, recently moved to the state from Colorado.

NHPR senior political reporter Josh Rogers spoke with All Things Considered host Peter Biello about Messner’s background and whether New Hampshire roots really matter in campaigns.

Peter Biello: So, Josh, tell us about Messner’s background. He spent most of his adult life outside of New Hampshire, correct?

Josh Rogers: Yes. Corky Messner was born in Pennsylvania and attended West Point in the 1970s. And while a cadet, he says he visited New Hampshire somewhere near Mount Monadnock to help close up a fellow cadet’s family’s camp for the season. And according to a biography on Messer’s campaign website, that brief visit was when he “fell in love with the state.” And it was then, again, according to his campaign bio, that he promised himself that “one day I’d be a Granite Stater.” Must have been a heck of a visit.

By Messner’s own telling, which appears on that website under the heading “Proud Granite Stater,” it took him a while to consummate his status as a Granite Stater. He first served in the military. He became a lawyer. He put down roots in Denver, and then first purchased a vacation house in Wolfeboro, on Lake Wentworth, in 2007.

And his website also details very precisely his acquisition of another lot next to his house and two other parcels in the area. It talks about how he offers free legal advice around town and that he sublets office space to the Lake Wentworth Watershed Association at a “submarket rate,” it notes he sure to use local contractors and companies for numerous projects at his properties. I’ve read a lot of candidate bios, and I’ve never seen one with those sorts of details included.

Biello: Ok, so he’s pitching himself as a property owner and active community member. But Messner’s only claimed New Hampshire as his full-time residence recently.

Rogers: Yes. He owns still owns houses in Colorado, but Messner has voted in New Hampshire absentee in 2018. And, as has been pointed out, that means he’s never actually voted in a U.S. Senate race in a state he now hopes to represent in the U.S. Senate.

Biello: And given that background, opponents have taken swipes at him, calling him “Colorado Corky.” Is that as bad as the criticism of him gets?

Rogers: Well, it’s certainly the central critique of Messner. He did obviously win the Republican primary. He defeated Don Bolduc, whose family has deep New Hampshire roots that stretch back to the colonial era. Messner spent a lot more money, mostly his own, and he certainly benefited by being endorsed by President Trump. But, you know, Bolduc’s campaign definitely tried to make Messner’s alleged carpetbagging an issue. And incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, her campaign is doing the same with more resources and really on behalf of a stronger candidate who’s been deeply involved in New Hampshire politics for a really long time, basically since the time, you know, Messner made his initial visit to New Hampshire that he says set him on his course to living here.