Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown will visit the Seabrook nuclear plant on Wednesday to speak with employees and reiterate his support for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. The visit will again draw attention to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s comments during a debate last Tuesday denying that she was ever opposed to the plant.
Brown will also re-emphasize that Shaheen has supported legislation to “pave the way” for a national energy tax, a Brown adviser said.
The adviser said the meeting of Brown and Seabrook employees will be closed to the media at the insistence of the plant operator.
In last week’s debate on New England Cable News, Shaheen flatly denied opposing the Seabrook plant, saying she was not in office at the time controversy swirled over the plant’s construction and licensing.
But the state GOP accused her of “lying” and released a video of her telling Republican former New Hampshire House speaker Marshall Cobleigh that the cost of nuclear power rose after the accidents at the Three Mile Island plant and Chernobyl, “and the realization that nuclear power is dangerous and we’ve got to protect the public safety.”
A top Brown supporter, former Gov. John H. Sununu, who was the leading proponent of the Seabrook plant in the 1980s, recalled in an interview Shaheen being “a very active opponent” of the plant.
He noted that she was the campaign manager for Democrat Paul McEachern, who opposed Sununu’s successful bid for a third term in 1986. McEachern based his campaign almost exclusively on a promise to “pull the plug” on Seabrook.
The plant was completed in 1986 but did not go into operation until 1990, due in part to opposition from then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who refused to approve the federally-required emergency plans for his state’s portion a 10-mile around the plant.
Dukakis later won the 1988 Democratic first-in-the-nation presidential primary in New Hampshire and went on to win his party’s presidential nomination, losing to George H.W. Bush, who then named Sununu his chief of staff.
Now, Sununu said, it is ironic that Shaheen is apparently trying to distance herself from her opposition to Seabrook, which has been running without any known significant incident for more than 20 years.
“This is an issue that I suspect her polling has shown that she’s on the wrong side of this issue,” Sununu said, “and I guess she is trying to switch positions. She tried to do this in 2008,” which is when the video of her and Cobleigh, who died in 2009, first emerged. That year, Shaheen defeated then-Sen. John E. Sununu.
Sununu recalled, “She and McEachern used to send people to hold candlelight vigils outside of my home in Salem, and she was the grand organizer.”