Granite Reports: AFP, Harry Reid continue NH Senate race air war

THE AFP FACTOR. The conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity continues to be a big spender on the state political scene this election season. And, to a lesser degree so does Harry Reid — as reported below.


AFP this week rolled out new television ads attacking Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Ann Kuster for their support for the Affordable Care Act. Click here for the anti-Shaheen ad and here for the anti-Kuster ad.


The total buy, with an online component, is more than $1.4 million. The television component is $750,000 for the Shaheen ad and $600,000 for the Kuster ad. The online piece is about $80,000.


The totals push AFP to just more than $3 million spent on Shaheen and about $2.2 million for Kuster since late last year.


And next Thursday, the AFP Foundation, the group’s 503-c:3 arm, is hosting an event focusing on state right-to-work legislation at the Manchester Country Club. Matt Patterson, who heads the Center for Labor Studies at Americans for Tax Reform, will discuss a white paper on the effect of right-to-work legislation on New Hampshire’s economy. Protestes from the AFL-CIO, and counter protesters from the National Right-to-Work Committee, are expected.
REID PAC AGAIN HITTING BROWN. Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Journal has learned that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Senate Majority PAC will go back on the air with ads expected to hit Scott Brown next week.


The PAC has purchased $374,000 in air time on broadcast and cable television from next Tuesday, July 22 , through Aug. 4.


The content of the ad has not been released, but in May, the Senate Majority PAC spent $350,000 on advertising hitting Brown on news reports, denied by Brown, that he had lobbied Republican Senate leaders to kill Shaheen’s energy efficiency bill.


Reading our Friday Twitter post about the ad, Brown campaign manager Colin Reed reacted, “As Scott Brown’s momentum continues to grow, it’s clear that Senator Shaheen’s allies are getting nervous about her re-election prospects. The out-of-state special interests are going to continue pouring negative ads onto New Hampshire’s airwaves on behalf of Senator Shaheen because they know she is a loyal and reliable vote for President Obama and his agenda. They’ll pull out all the stops to get her back to Washington.”


ABOUT THAT HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION. U.S. Senate candidate and former Sen. Bob Smith was hit with what had to be an unexpected line of questioning on Thursday morning when he appeared on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” with Chuck Todd. Click here for the interview.


While Scott Brown is the one often facing “carpetbagger” charges, Smith, of course, spent at least eight years in Florida, although he continued owning his home in Tuftonboro.


“I’ve never given up my home in New Hampshire,” he told Todd. “I have had a home there since 1970,” and said that home has always been his “family compound.”


He acknowledged that after losing the Senate primary election in 2002 to John E. Sununu, “I spent some time in Florida…”


Todd interrupted: “Do you have a homestead exemption in Florida?”


“No,” answered Smith. “I’m not a resident of Florida. I’m a resident of New Hampshire.”


That is true.


But tax records we’ve reviewed showed that Smith DID have a homestead exemption in Florida, from 2007 until he sold his home in Sarasota in 2011.


The exemptions reduced his taxable property value by $25,000 in 2007 and by $50,000 in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The home was assessed at $925,000 in 2007, but the assessed valued had dropped to $529,000 by 2011.


Smith told the New Hampshire Journal he does not have a homestead exemption on the home he has owned in Key Largo since selling his Sarasota home in 2011. He said he was entitled to exemptions on the Key Largo home in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, but did not take them.


And he said he still owns that home and is trying to sell it.


He acknowledged that he did have homestead exemptions on the Sarasota home, but reiterated that he has not owned that home since 2011.


“He didn’t ask that,” Smith said of Todd.


BOB AND THE CONFEDERATE RAILROAD. Smith is bringing in one of the most raucous bands around on Aug. 29, shortly before the Sept. 9 primary election.


Confederate Railroad is the featured attraction at a “Freedom Concert” Smith fundraiser. Smith’s campaign has reserved the entire Rochester Fairgrounds for the occasion.


Tickets are $20 and a 19-person box is going for $1,000. Sponsorship are going for $2,500.


The campaign is calling it “the Concert of The Year for liberty loving people everywhere.”


Confederate Railroad brings a bit of controversy with it to these northern parts. The veteran country rock band uses confederate flags and sings songs with titles such as “Trashy Women.”


While that may offend some, the band takes the edge off a bit with a tongue-in-cheek approach.


No doubt the event and the band will rally the base four days before the primary.


Speaking of the base, Smith told the Conway Daily Sun this week he tried to get the “Duck Dynasty” crew to the event, but he said they asked $90,000, which was a bit out of his range.


And he said his still working on getting Ted Nugent. Yeah, that’s the same Ted Nugent who called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and sang about having sex with underage girls in the song, ‘Jailbait.”


Smith told us Friday he’s known the lead singer of Confederate Railroad, Danny Shirley, for many years and that the band will follow up its appearance at his event with an appearance at the Lancaster fair.


He said his event, with Confederate Railroad, will have a “patriotic theme.”


ROUGH WEEK FOR SCOTT? The Scott Brown campaign is coming off of a week in which he had a rough time in the media.


Topping the list was the bathroom “incident.” A reporter from The Guardian contended in a story that Brown hid in the bathroom to avoid his questions about the Hobby Lobby decision at a campaign event.


Brown supporters denied their candidate hid in the bathroom. They said he just went to the bathroom.


But because he refused to answer the reporters’ questions, that was enough for Brown to take a hit from Jimmy Fallon on the “Tonight Show” and from a host of sarcastic Twitter posts, including one that said, “when you’re hiding in the bathroom, you’re losing.”


Brown also took heat this week when it seemed at first that he had misspoken when he mentioned “the Massachusetts delegation,” rather than the New Hampshire delegation, in an interview on Boston Herald radio.


A close listening of the audio later showed that Brown, in fact, mentioned “you Massachusetts delegation” (the telephone connection dropped off for a second as he said “you”) to the Boston radio hosts _ apparently referring to “your Massachusetts delegation.”


But it was too late, the story was out. Although some reporters later walked back or corrected their stories, Democrats of course had a field day. They recalled Brown’s slip-up in December when he clearly said “Massachusetts” in an instance he meant to say “New Hampshire.”


Another problem: In the aforementioned Guardian ”bathroom” story, Brown women’s committee co-chair Julie Brown (no relation) said she disagreed with Brown on the Hobby Lobby decision.


“A woman chooses what she decides to do with her body – it is between the woman, her doctor and her God,” she told the Guardian reporter. She said Scott Brown should change his position and that she would discuss it with him.


These tough moments came as another poll showed Brown behind Shaheen in a general election matchup. The NBC News/Marist poll had Shaheen leading Brown, 50 to 42 percent. This came after last week’s WMUR Granite State Poll showing Brown losing to Shaheen, 50 to 38 percent.


The National Journal rated Brown “the most disappointing candidate” nationally at the mid-point in the campaign.


The good news for Brown: He leads GOP primary rivals Bob Smith and Jim Rubens, 61 to 16 to 10 percent, respectively, in the NBC poll, and, as we just mentioned, one of his opponents is bringing in Confederate Railroad and is trying to recruit the Duck Dynasty folks and Ted Nugent.


ON THE 2016 FRONT. An interesting follow up to our lead item last week about musings over a possible “Draft Mitt Romney” movement in New Hampshire is a poll Friday by Vox Populi Polling. Click here for the poll.


The survey of 415 “active Republican primary voters” showed that 30 percent said they would definitely vote for Romney if he ran, 47 percent said they would consider voting for him while 23 percent said they would probably not consider voting for him.


The same poll showed very favorable reaction to Romney in the two other key early states of Iowa and South Carolina.


Meanwhile, a new national Gallup poll on Friday focusing on the GOP 2016 field without Romney showed that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are the best known and best liked potential candidates.


All four are all familiar to more than 60 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and have net favorable ratings of plus-40 or better, Gallup said.




_ The New Hampshire Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign, Granite State Forward, will do door to door canvassing this weekend with local officials. Today, volunteers will canvass in Dover with state Sen. David Watters, while tomorrow canvassing will take place in Nashua with state Rep. Latha Mangipudi.

_ Former Republican state Sen. Mark Hounsell of Conway, now an independent candidate for the state House, had this to say about the flap between the New Hampshire Republican Party and Gov. Maggie Hassan’s campaign over her taking large donations from organized labor union PACS: “It seems quite hypocritical for the Republican State Committee to complain that Maggie Hassan received a mere $25,000 from working men and women, while at the same time they act like shameless tail-wagging dogs as they eagerly continue to lap up the millions of dollars from the sauce pan of corporate interest and hedge fund managers”



_ Influential conservative former state Rep. Bob Giuda this week endorsed Bob Smith for the U.S. Senate, saying Smith “has the courage, the background, the voting record and the integrity to stand on the ballot as the candidate for the party that is supposedly the party of Abraham Lincoln.”



_ Patricia Humphrey, wife of former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey, is listed as the lone donor ($120,000) to the pro-Jim Rubens New Hampshire PAC to Save America in its report filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.



_ Peter T. Paul, the businessman who contributed $25 million for the establishment of the business school in his name at the University of New Hampshire, poured $150,000 in the second quarter into the New Hampshire Priorities PAC he set up to help Dan Innis in his 1st District U.S. House bid. Paul has now put a total of $324,000 into the effort. The American Unity PAC, headed by hedge fund magnate Paul Singer, contributed $65,000 to New Hampshire Priorities, which ended the second quarter with $98,000 in cash on hand.



_ Former United Nations Ambassador and possible 2016 presidential candidate John Bolton’s super PAC – aptly named The John Bolton Super PAC – went up this week with $30,000 in digital advertising hitting U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster for her flub of a question about Benghazi at a meeting last November of the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire.



According to an announcement about the event, Kuster was there to discuss her trip last summer to Israel and the West Bank, and to answer questions on “Israel and the Middle East.”


But when someone in the audience asked about the attack on the U.S. consulate and Benghazi, Kuster said, “I’m certainly not here to talk about it. I’m here to talk about the Middle East.” A few people in the audience advised her that Libya is in fact in the Middle East.



_ Brown this week released a detailed white paper on veterans issues and began a veterans tour, while Shaheen held a major event to focus on veterans issues in Concord. Brown also announced the endorsements of about 100 North Country and Lakes Region Granite Staters.



(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political columnist/reporter in New Hampshire. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column as news breaks. He can be reached at and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)





Author: John DiStaso

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