Elm Street: Where Politics and Business Meet


MANCHESTER, N.H. (Jan. 5, 2012) — Cupcakes for Newt Gingerich. Headquarters for most of the Republican presidential candidates. Sightings of just about all them.

Those are all along Elm Street, an intersection of politics and business.

In a snow flurry on Thursday, Belinda Scarboro, a parking control officer, was sticking parking tickets on car windshields and recalling her sighting  of Texan Rick Perry back in November at the restaurant Portland Pie Co. She is a registered Democrat. She didn’t start voting until 2000.  “I didn’t know who to vote for before then,” she said.  This time, she said, she would be voting for President Barack Obama in the 2012.

At 786 Elm St.,  Portland Pie Co., formerly known as the Merrimack Restaurant, has been a stomping ground for political figures over the past 20 years. This year alone, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Libertarian Gary Johnson have all dropped in, said Jon Flebotte, the general manager of the restaurant.

“Over the years, it’s become a place where candidates come to get in touch with mainstream New Hampshire voters,” Flebotte said. He’s a registered Republican, Flebotte said . But he’s uncertain of his choice in the Jan. 10 primary.

Right next to the Portland Pie Co. is a small, sweet shop that just made its debut in May — the Queen City Cupcakes. Chelsea Stoddard, 36, quit her job as an insurance agent to start a family business making cupcakes.  She works with her husband and her mother, Deb Shields.
“Newt Gingrich has ordered cupcakes from our store for his campaign,” Stoddard said. Peanut butter cup cupcakes seem to be the consumer’s favorite. But Gingrich chose an assortment of flavors.

Gingrich’s campaign office is a few blocks down. Said Stoddard’s mom, Deb Shields, “We peeked in to see if they were eating them.” Indeed, they were.

Stoddard is hoping for even more business from the primary. “We’re definitely excited,” she said, “ to have more candidates.”

(Kathleen Lees, a graduate student in magazine, newspaper and online journalism at Syracuse University, is covering the New Hampshire.)



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