Updated: Ayotte hires former Sullivan campaign manager Sparks to lead ’16 reelection operation


With the general election of November 2016 nearly 21 months from now, Sen. Kelly Ayotte is moving early to begin building a reelection campaign team. Today, the New Hampshire Journal has learned, she hired Ben Sparks,  the former campaign manager for Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, to fill the same leadership post for her reelection bid.




Ben Sparks, new Ayotte campaign manager


Sparks will be based in Manchester and will oversee all political operations and staff, GOP sources said.


Sparks led Sullivan’s successful Senate bid in Alaska and previously served as communications director for the New Jersey Republican Party. He was also the Wisconsin communications director for Romney for President in 2012. In 2011, he was the communications director for the Wisconsin GOP during Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election.


Ayotte, a former state Attorney General, was elected in 2010 in a landslide over then Rep. Paul Hodes, but she first faced a tough primary battle against former New Hampshire attorney Ovide Lamontagne and businessmen Bill Binnie and Jim Bender. She has quickly risen in visibility in the Senate and has even been mentioned as a potential vice presidential candidate, both in 2012 and again for 2016. But she first announced that she is running for reelection to the Senate in an interview with the Journal just a few days after last year’s midterm election.

Many Democrats are urging Gov. Maggie Hassan to challenge Ayotte, but the governor has just won a second term to the State House corner office and has avoided talk of a Senate bid. There are a number of other Democrats viewed as ready to run if Hassan does not — possibly among them Rep. Ann Kuster and former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.


Perhaps anticipating a tough reelection bid against a sitting governor in a presidential election year, Ayotte has moved unusually quickly on a campaign team. With Sparks on board detailed financial and strategic planning will ramp up, and eventually, additional staff will be hired.


Ayotte has also continued raising substantial funds during her first term — more than $3 million so far since her 2010 victory, and with more than $2 million in cash on hand as of the end of 2014, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission by the Friends of Kelly Ayotte Committee.


In a statement obtained by the New Hampshire Journal, Ayotte called Sparks “a talented and battle-tested manager with a proven track record of success. As I continue my ongoing dialogue with the people of New Hampshire about how we can grow our economy, cut spending and keep our country safe, Ben will bring valuable leadership to my campaign team.”


Sparks, said, “Now more than ever it’s critical that New Hampshire and our nation have strong leaders who can work through Washington’s partisan gridlock and deliver results. Kelly Ayotte is the strong leader New Hampshire needs to fight government waste, ensure our national security and stand up for the middle class.”


Sparks led Sullivan’s campaign that unseated Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in a razor close election. According to The Associated Press, Sullivan led Begich by about 8,100 votes on election night, and when state officials counted absentee and questioned ballots a week later, Sullivan’s victory became final.


The Alaska seat had been viewed as key to the GOP’s goal of taking control of the Senate, but the Republicans took control of the Senate on election night, with Sullivan’s victory, announced a week later, adding to the Republican majority.

Author: John DiStaso

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  • Anaias

    Is no one from New Hampshire up to the job in Ayotteland? Or, in her mind, is she choosing a national figure she can move over into a Veep race?

  • JP

    I suspect its more representative of the situation with her constituents.

    When you consistently kick your constituents in the nads with big gov progressive anti-freedom votes time and time again the outcome is inevitable.

    Ayotte has same prospects of winning re-election as the last couple big gov progressive GOP candidates did…..the writing is on the wall with Sununu, Brown and others failures

  • Ebonybull

    In 2007, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte subjected an African American father and disabled veteran to an unlawful First Amendment retaliatory arrest for lawfully exercising his constitutional right to complain and criticize the State for a malicious case of Judicial Racism in 2003. She apparently believed that the appearance and stigma of impropriety and blatant act of judicial racism could simply be removed from the judiciary by turning a blind eye to racially offensive conduct of the Brentwood Family and the NH Supreme Court Justices rather than carry out her sworn duty to vigorously enforce the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause, anti-discrimination laws in education and Part I, Articles 2, 8 and 10 of the NH State Constitution against the NH Judicial Branch officials involved in the unconstitutional race-based child custody decision. .

    In Palmore v. Sidoti, 466 U.S. 429, 104 S.Ct. 1879, 80 L.Ed.2d 421 (1984) the U.S. Supreme Court rejected race as a permissible consideration in custody disputes between two natural parents. The Court made it abundantly clear that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of Constitution to factor race into a custody decision. The Palmore opinion, written by Chief Justice Burger, noted that the appeal important federal concerns arising from the Constitution’s commitment to eradicating discrimination based upon race and that the Court was compelled to reverse the decision to change custody made only on racial considerations. The paramount importance required the State to make decision that were in the best interest of the child’s education and support, which legal and constitutional responsibility was abdicated by the NH Supreme Court Justices. (They refused to hear his appeal of the race based custody decision and court ordered segregation for unexplained reasons. The decision was contrary to factual evidence of known harm to the child socially, educationally, physically and economically )

    The father, a Disabled Veteran, former honorably discharged USAF Law Enforcement Supervisor and former Federal Police Officer, who served this country for more than 27 years, swore and oath to defend and protect the constitutional rights of all citizens but, was maliciously deprived of the very same rights entitled to other U.S. citizen’s and resident’s of NH. Ayotte is a pathetic excuse for a State or Federal public official.


    Ralph Holder, Master of Arts, Criminal Justice, University of Massachusetts-Lowell