Former Strafford County attorney, Somersworth mayor to seek seat being vacated by Shea-Porter

John DiStaso
October 18th 2017

Former Strafford County Attorney Lincoln Soldati said Wednesday that he is following “a message from the universe” and is now a candidate for the 1st District U.S. House seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

In an interview with WMUR, the 68-year-old Portsmouth Democrat promised to continue what he called “his lifelong fight for social justice.” He also promised to oppose “the out-sized influence of money in politics,” which, he said, “has eroded our institutions and diminished the voice of the average citizen.”


Soldati said that he is not interested in a career on Capitol Hill and will follow Shea-Porter’s lead in pledging to refuse all contributions from corporate political action committees and Washington lobbyists.

Soldati last week joined a long list of Democrats who expressed interest in running for the post following Shea-Porter’s surprise announcement on Oct. 6 that she will not seek a fifth term in 2018.

He is the second Democrat to formally declare for the seat and said he will file a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission within the next few days. Earlier this week, Rochester city attorney Terence O’Rourke made his candidacy official.

A Portsmouth native and resident, Soldati describes himself as a proven “workhorse.” He has nearly 40 years of experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney, teacher, criminal justice reform advocate and elected public official.

He was the Strafford County attorney for nine terms, from 1982-2000. In that office, he said, he created a victims’ assistance protocol, which he said, “has become the state standard for prosecutions and investigations into sexual assault and child abuse cases.”

Soldati said he testified dozens of times before state legislative committees on legislation involving victims’ rights and compensation, child protection, juvenile justice, bail reform, competency and commitment procedures, abolishing the death penalty and expanding wiretap use in drug cases.

Soldati was elected mayor of Somersworth in 2009. He said he was forced to resign in September 2011 before his term ended after fire destroyed his home and he and his wife relocated to Portsmouth.

During his years in Somersworth, Soldati also served on the city’s school board and charter commission.

After leaving the mayor’s office in Somersworth, he resumed his private law practice in Portsmouth, retiring at the beginning of this year.

Soldati in November 2016 drove to North Dakota to help Native Americans tribes in protest of the Dakota Access pipeline. He lived in the Oceti Sakowen camp for several weeks, reporting back to New Hampshire on the protest.

“The outcome was rather sad,” Soldati said, noting that the tribes were forcibly evacuated early in 2017. Court battles on the pipeline continue.

Soldati said the experience in North Dakota “instilled in me the Sioux value, ‘to be of use.’”

“Everything I did in my career, I did for a simple reason, to try to make the biggest difference I could for the people who needed it the most,” said Soldati, who is also a U.S. Army veteran.

Since his retirement, he said, he has been asking himself, “What is my next challenge? What can I do now?”

He said that when he heard that Shea-Porter would not seek re-election, “I felt it was a message from the universe,” and he felt it was his calling to run.

“Quite frankly, what I see happening in this country right now is what compels me to, in my view, answer the call,” he said. “It’s a call to speak out for the people who are suffering in this country and have lost their voice.”

“To me, the sense of community, trying to make a difference in people’s lives, that’s been the motivating force in my life,” Soldati said.

In Washington, he said, “There are no checks and balances right now. Congress has completely given up its authority to check the executive, and this has catastrophic consequences for us if something isn’t done.”

Soldati said Republicans have abdicated their constitutional responsibilities, “and sit quietly in the corner.”

“We now are faced with an administration that is unchecked and unbalanced,” he said.

“You have to walk the walk, you can’t just talk the talk,” Soldati said. “And there’s too much talking and not enough walking, in my view.”

He said that people who know him realize, “I’m not going to play some game down there. I’m going to tell it like it is.”

Soldati and his wife, Kathleen, have four children and two grandchildren. Both are lifelong Democrats, and Soldati said he was active in Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Portsmouth during the general election campaign.

New Hampshire Democrats who continue to consider running for the 1st District seat, but have not yet formally announced candidacies, include Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, former New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie, both of Manchester; current Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard; Portsmouth businessman Deaglan McEachern; and state Reps. Robert “Renny” Cushing of Hampton and Mindi Messmer of Rye.

Republicans who have declared for the seat are former law enforcement official Eddie Edwards and state Sen. Andy Sanborn, while Matt Mayberry, a former Dover city councilor and former New Hampshire Republican Party vice chairman, is strongly considering a run.

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