Rauh shifts from business to politics

by Jacqueline Rose | 7/3/96 5:00am

Adjusting his crimson and gold striped tie, the New Hampshire Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, John Rauh, a Sunapee businessman and Harvard graduate, explained that his recent transition from business to politics was not a surprising change.

In an interview with The Dartmouth, Rauh recalled the death of his father when he was a young boy and said the close relationship he subsequently developed with his uncle, a prominent civil rights lawyer, served to instill in him a deep sense of civic duty.

"Uncle Joe Rauh is one of the century's greatest civil rights lawyers," he said. "From him I learned about public service."

"Deep within me, I have always had a desire to serve," he added.

Rauh, who has never held elected public office, said he honed his interest in politics by taking political science courses while attending Harvard.

Recalling his failed attempt for one of NH's U.S. Senate seats in 1992, Rauh grimaced as he spoke of the difficult decision that confronted him earlier this year when he deliberated over whether to vie for the Senate again.

Rauh said once he realized the election was "win-able," he decided to wage a second bid for the Senate.

"My choices were very different from someone who had never ran before," he said. "I decided to run once I realized I had an obvious base of support."

Gesturing with his hands, Rauh said campaign finance reform became a crucial issue for him while he was engaged in his first run for the Senate.

"In the general election against [incumbent Republican senator] Judd Gregg, I first saw what I had never seen before," he incredulously exclaimed. "Wealthy constituents were giving to both parties. It was appalling."

"The tax breaks and subsidies were also appalling," he added. "That destroys the trusting relationship between the American community and Washington."

Rauh said he vowed in 1992 that if he ran for Senate again, campaign finance reform would hold a privileged place in his campaign.

Rauh affectionately referred to his wife Mary, who vigorously shook hands with audience members before and after her husband's speech, as, "My partner."

"Mary has a tremendous number of skills, the strongest of which is building cohesion," he said.

Smiling broadly, Mary said she enjoys working full-time on her husband's campaign.

"New Hampshire is a fun place to campaign in because it is small and you can always get to talk to people," she said. "You get a lot of psychic reward."

Rauh said he "doesn't know" if his political aspirations extend beyond the Senate, but his wife quipped, as she was once told by the wife of another candidate for U.S. Senate, "Honey, they all want to be president."

Rauh said he is not a stranger to the College. He has taught classes in the sociology department over the last several years and is a personal friend of Chair of the Education Department Reese Binswanger.