WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 24: ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER POLL. Today’s installment comes from New England College, showing 1st District U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and challenger former Rep. Frank Guinta tied at 45.2 percent, and Democrats Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan and Ann Kuster ahead in their respective races.
Shaheen leads Republican Scott Brown 50.1 to 42.8 percent with Shaheen ahead by 12 percentage points among women.
Hassan leads Walt Havenstein 52 to 39.6 percent, while in the 2nd District congressional race, Kuster leads Marilinda Garcia, 48.9 to 38.1 percent.
The poll also showed that President Barack Obama’s job approval rating is 45.7 percent while 49.7 percent disapprove of his job performance. In a poll last week by CNN?ORC, only 35 percent of Granite Staters approved of Obama’s job performance, while 60 percent disapproved.
NEC’s poll was conducted Sept. 19 and 20 and included 1,494 responses, 715 from the 1st Congressional District and 779 from the 2nd CD. NEC said the margin of error for the statewide races was 2.54 percent and the margin of error for the two House races was 3.6 percent in the 1st District and 3.5 percent in the 2nd District.
According to the NEC crosstabs, 35.7 percent of those polled were self-described Republicans, 33.2 percent identified with the Democratic Party and 30.9 percent considered themselves independents.
Click here to go to the NEC polling website and for access to the crosstabs.
The 1st District matchup between Shea-Porter has been close for months.
In July, a WMUR Granite State poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center showed Guinta leading, 46 to 43 percent.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 24: GOP’S CHIDES ‘TAXIN’ HASSAN.’ The state GOP today is launching a new website charging that Gov. Maggie Hassan has supported “more than 100 tax and fees… and counting.”
The site taxinhassan.com is “dedicated to chronicling Governor Maggie Hassan’s failed fiscal leadership and support for reckless tax increases and spending,” the NHGOP says.
“Throughout her political career, Governor Maggie Hassan has supported reckless tax increases and failed to provide fiscally responsible leadership for New Hampshire. Instead of managing state spending, Hassan proposed a bloated state budget that would have burdened working families and small business with more taxes and fees,” said NHGOP chairman Jennifer Horn. “The Republican majority in the state Senate can only do so much to put the brakes on Governor Hassan’s tax and spend agenda. It’s time to put a proven leader and responsible manager like Walt Havenstein in the corner office.”
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
TUESDAY, SEPT. 23: PRAISING, CRITICIZING MARILINDA. Republican 2nd District U.S. House candidate Marilinda Garcia was praised and endorsed by 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney today just hours after Democrats released a new television ad criticizing her as “extreme.”
Romney called Garcia “a thoughtful and independent leader, and she is the best choice to defend New Hampshire’s interests in Washington.”
He noted that she wants to cut federal spending and return power to the states and is committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act, “lowering taxes, and creating good-paying jobs that put America back on track.”
She called Romney “a proven leader whose support will be extremely helpful in my fight to keep New Hampshire independent and to preserve and promote freedom, liberty, and opportunity for all.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, meanwhile, unveiled its first television ad attacking Garcia. The ad calls her “extreme” in her stance on against abortion.
View the ad here.
Responding to the ad, Garcia campaign spokesman Kenny Cunningham said: “This new negative ad represents yet another page taken from the Democrats old, worn-out playbook and further illustrated the fact that Rep. Ann Kuster cannot run on the issues that Granite Staters care about most, like our nation’s struggling economy and jobs. The true extremist in this race is Ann Kuster, who has voted in lockstep with her party leadership 94 percent of the time and even called herself one of President Obama’s ‘strongest supporters in the entire Congress.’ Granite Staters deserve a principled, independent thinker who will represent them in Washington. They will get that in Marilinda Garcia.”
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner will be in New Hampshire tomorrow to host separate receptions for Garcia and for 1st District GOP House candidate Frank Guinta.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 23: WALT’S NEW AD: “POOF.” GOP candidate for governor Walt Havenstein is out today with a new ad portraying Gov. Maggie Hassan as a bad magician trying to “deceive” voters about him.
The ad says she used “smoke and mirrors” to pay for her budget by counting on $80 million in revenue from a casino that did not yet exist.
“We can’t afford any more of Maggie Hassan’s act,” the ad says.
View the ad below
The Hassan campaign called the ad a “misleading (and completely un-sourced) attack ad that recycles the same baseless claims that failed candidate Ovide Lamontagne tried two years ago.”
The campaign said, “As PolitiFact reported in 2012, ‘Lamontagne campaign officials declined to release their list of nearly 100 increases’ and PolitiFact was unable to find a source who could produce a list to backup Lamontagne’s charges.
“No matter how hard he tries to mislead voters, Walt Havenstein won’t be able to hide from his disastrous record as CEO of defense contractor SAIC, where he implemented a failed strategy, the company shed thousands of jobs, and it’s stock price nose-dived,” said Hassan campaign spokesman Aaron Jacobs.
“Havenstein may not have realized that while he was still living in Maryland, Governor Hassan balanced the budget without a sales or income tax, while restoring investments in education, public safety and other critical priorities that Havenstein’s ally Bill O’Brien had slashed.
“Now Havenstein’s so-called ‘plan’ would blow a $90 million hole in the state’s budget and take us back to those devastating cuts, driving New Hampshire’s economy into a ditch just like he did to SAIC,” said Jacobs.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 23: “COSMO” BACKS SHAHEEN. Not surprisingly, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen today picked up the endorsement of Cosmopolitan magazine, which called her a “fierce advocate for women’s rights.” The magazine said GOP challenger Scott Brown position on the issue is far less clear.
“Scott Brown may have been Cosmopolitan‘s ‘sexiest man’ in 1982, but in 2014, we’re picking brains over brawn — and that’s Jeanne Shaheen,” Cosmo wrote.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
MONDAY, SEPT. 22: HRC ENDORSES 10. The Human Rights Campaign on Monday endorsed 10 New Hampshire Democratic candidates, citing their “strong record(s) of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.”
HRC backed Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster, Gov. Maggie Hassan, as well as state Senate candidates Rich Leonard in District 6, Linda Tanner in District 8 and Lee Nyquist in District 9 and incumbent Sens. Andrew Hosmer in District 7, Peggy Gilmour in District 12 and Donna Soucy in District 18.
Reacting to the endorsement, Shea-Porter spokeswoman Marjorie Connolly said that the congresswoman “has been a courageous supporter of equality since the very beginning, because she’s not afraid to stand up for what she thinks is right.
“She was a leader in the fight to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and ensure equal rights for LGBT service members.”
She said GOP challenger Frank Guinta has a “shameful anti-LGBT record” that includes opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, a vote to delay ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and in opposition to “domestic violence provisions.
“This past weekend, Guinta was in attendance when the NHGOP voted against supporting marriage equality,” Connolly said. “Frank Guinta wants to drag us backwards and deny Granite Staters basic civil liberties. His retro position on LGBT rights is wrong for New Hampshire and wrong for America.”
MONDAY, SEPT. 22: SPAULDING FOR VAN OSTERN. Democratic District 2 Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern today picked up the endorsement of a Republican who held the seat for 11 terms: Peter Spaulding.
Spauding, who is currently a Merrimack County Commissioner said, Van Ostern “puts progress over politics. That’s what we need more of in our government.” He cited Van Ostern’s business experience and his “bipartisan view of appointments and operating our state government.”
Spaulding was first elected to the council in 1983 and served until 1993. He then resumed his tenure on the council in 1995 and served until 2007. He has also been a delegate to several Republican National Conventions and has been a key player in John McCain’s two victorious New Hampshire Primary campaigns.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
SATURDAY, SEPT. 20: JOINING WALT. When Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal returns to New Hampshire next Friday, he’ll do more than appear at a private evangelical event called “Pastors and Pews.”
We’ve learned that Jindal, vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, will campaign for part of the day with GOP candidate for governor Walt Havenstein.
Among the stops will be a fundraiser in Portsmouth.
Jindal will no doubt be talking about the new energy and jobs plan rolled out last week by his policy organization, America Next. The plan calls for immediate approval if the Keystone XL oil pipeline, increasing offshore drilling for oil and gas, allowing fossil fuel production on federal lands and stopping potential federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing.
Jindal, of course, is thinking seriously about running for President. Next week’s visit will be his second to New Hampshire within a month.
Expect to see Jindal on the campaign trail for U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown as well, if not next week, then certainly before Nov. 4.
FOCUS ON ‘THE PROMISE.’ The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will launch its second ad of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate campaign on Saturday, this one focusing on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act. As we first reported on Friday, the ad campaign is a three-week, seven-figure buy on broadcast and cable television, as well as in digital format.
In the 30-second ad, a narrator says, “Senators are meant to be a check and balance on the White House,” but says Shaheen “parroted” President Barack Obama’s promise that “if you like the (insurance) plan you have, you can keep it.”
The Obama administration later admitted the claim was not true, and, the narrator says, “New Hampshire families and senior are left to face the consequences.” The ad then urges voters to “say no” to Shaheen and to vote for her GOP challenger, Scott Brown.
The ad follows the Chamber’s initial ad campaign that featured 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney endorsing Brown as a candidate “who won’t take orders from the White House.”
View the new Chamber ad below.
“Since he was voted out of the Senate, Scott Brown has been paid more than a quarter of a million dollars by a company that shipped American jobs overseas, so it’s no surprise at all that the pro-outsourcing Chamber of Commerce is now spending millions to get him back,” said Vlacich. “When he represented Massachusetts, Scott Brown even voted to protect tax breaks for companies that send American jobs overseas. Big Oil, Wall Street, and corporate interests are spending millions to get Scott Brown in the Senate to vote to protect their special breaks not New Hampshire’s.”
STATE SENATE OUTLOOK. There are still six weeks until the general election but behind the scenes state Senate contests are heating up.
Anything can happen and we are not making predictions for Nov. 4 at this point, but here’s the current outlook.
At the moment there are seven competitive races and 17 that are essentially no contest.
Here’s a quick look at the seven in play:
_ District 4: Dover Democratic incumbent David Watters is facing Republican Eddie Edwards. This is a potential pickup opportunity for the GOP, especially if the overall election continues trending in the Republican’s direction. But for now, Watters remains the favorite.
_ District 6: Farmington Republican incumbent Sam Cataldo remains the favorite in this race, but Democrats view it as a pickup opportunity with Richard Leonard. There is no middle ground here. Cataldo is a strong conservative and Leonard is a strong liberal.
_ District 8: Democrats view this race as a pickup opportunity as well with Republican incumbent Bob Odell not seeking reelection. The edge at the moment goes to Republican Jerry Little, but Democrat Linda Tanner of Sunapee is expected to be formidable.
_ District 12: Republicans believe that because this district has favored Republicans in the past, there is potential for their candidate, Kevin Avard, to upset Democratic incumbent Peggy Gilmour. That is largely up to the kind of race Avard runs and how strongly he is carried by a GOP tide. Gilmour is popular and remains the favorite today. And as we report below, she has a substantial campaign warchest, while his is virtually empty. That’s important.
_ District 16: Republican incumbent David Boutin has just come through a tough primary in which he was hammered constantly by the right-wing and by the Americans for Prosperity group. Democrats view Maureen Raiche Manning as a strong candidate even though she has been out of the political game for some time now. This should be a very interesting battle. Boutin is favored going into the final six weeks.
_ District 23: Republican incumbent Russell Prescott is being challenged by Democratic state Rep. Doinna Schlachman, a state representative who has a strong base of support in Exeter. Democrat view Prescott as extreme and a weak candidate, but the registration numbers and the likelihood of a GOP trend favors Prescott, who is often underestimated.
_ District 24: Democrats are expected to target this race believing that Republican incumbent Nancy Stiles is ripe for an upset by Democrat Chris Muns. But her very strong showing in the primary against Steve Kenda makes her the clear favorite going into the general.
In the other races, we see these strong favorites: Democratic incumbent Jeff Woodburn in District 1; Republican incumbent Jeanie Forrester in District 2; Republican incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley in District 3; Democratic incumbent David Pierce is unopposed in District 5; Democratic incumbent Andrew Hosmer in District 7; Republican incumbent Andy Sanborn in District 9; Democratic incumbent Molly Kelly in District 10; Republican Gary Daniels in District 11; Democratic incumbent Bette Lasky in District 13; Republican incumbent Sharon Carson in District 14; Democrat Dan Feltes in District 15; Republican incumbent John Reagan in District 17; Democrat incumbent Donna Soucy in District 18; Republican Regina Birdsell in District 19; Democratic incumbent Lou D’Allesandro in District 20; Democratic incumbent Martha Fuller Clark in District 21; and Republican incumbent and Senate President Chuck Morse in District 22.
WHERE THE MONEY STANDS. New campaign finance reports for state candidates filed Wednesday show Gov. Maggie Hassan leading Republican challenger Walt Havenstein by about $350,000 in cash on hand heading into the general election.
Reports on file with the Secretary of State’s office show “Maggie ‘14” raised $100,000 since the last report, filed on Sept. 3. She has now raised a total of $2.27 million during her campaign and reported $949,282 in cash on hand.
Havenstein raised $26,150 in the past two weeks, for a total of $2 million during the campaign. Of that amount, he has personally given his campaign $1.4 million during the campaign. His cash on hand is currently $598.728.
In other filings, the Committee to Elect House Democrats raised $17,000 in the past two weeks and has $122,930 on hand. The Committee to Elect House Republicans raised $870 during the two-week period and listed $55,935 on hand.
The Senate Republican Majority PAC listed $154,917 on hand, while the Senate Democratic Caucus PAC, after raising $67,636 in the past two weeks, reported $152,360 on hand.
In key state Senate races, in District 9, Bedford Republican Sen. Andy Sanborn trails Democratic challenger Lee Nyquist in cash on hand, $68,702 to $91,241.
In District 24, Republican Sen. Nancy Stiles reported having $55,674 on hand, while her Democratic challenger Chris Muns reported having more — $64,469 — on hand.
In District 16, Republican Sen. David Boutin reported having $66,803 on hand while Democratic challenger Maureen Raiche Manning reported having $30,999 on hand.
In District 12, Democratic incumbent Sen. Peggy Gilmour listed $72,962 on hand while GOP challenger Kevin Avard had $990 on hand.
In the District 4 Executive Council race, Republican challenger Bob Burns reported $355 on hand, while Democratic incumbent Chris Pappas reported – ready? — $119,041.
WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN? Who knows what to make of this week’s polls, which were truly all over the place, but seemed to indicate the U.S. Senate race between Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen is getting closer.
The CNN poll had them tied. A Republican poll had Brown up by 1.6 percentage points, while a Democratic poll had Shaheen up by 6 percentage points. Three different results, but even the Democratic poll had it close.
But then along came the New England College poll, showing the race pretty much back where it was in the early and mid-summer. Shaheen was at 51 percent, Brown 40 percent. That was followed by a poll by GOP pollster Vox Populi Polling, which had Brown up by 4 percentage points.
Democrats of course criticized the GOP polls. And Republicans complained that NEC’s polling regularly leans Democratic. But the breakdown of the survey sample for party identification in the NEC poll was 39 percent Republican, 38.5 percent Democratic and 13 percent independent and 8.6 percent unsure.
In other results, the NEC poll had Gov. Maggie Hassan leading Republican Walt Havenstein by a comfortable 51 to 36 percent; Rep. Carol Shea-Porter leading Republican Frank Guinta 46 to 41.6 percent and Rep. Ann Kuster leading Republican Marilinda Garcia, 49.6 to 36.7 percent.
While other recent polls have had President Barack Obama’s approval rating in the low- to mid-30s, and had him far “under water” regarding favorable/unfavorable, NEC had him doing not too badly with 48 percent approving of his job performance and 48 percent disapproving.
UP PROJECT TRAINING. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, founder of the Unlocking Potential Project and current Chair of the American Conservative Union Foundation, today will host a free “UP Project” training session for women GOP activists with Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
The event will be held at 12 noon at Southern New Hampshire University’s Frost Hall, Walker Auditorium.
This morning, Fiorina will give the keynote address at the state Republican Party’s annual convention also at SNHU.
AFSC VOTER EDUCATION. The American Friends Service Committee will launch its New Hampshire-based Presidential Campaign Project next Saturday, Sept. 27, at a benefit dinner featuring John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation and co-author of “Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.” (An earlier version of this column listed the wrong date for the dinner.)
The AFSC says it plans to conduct programs through the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary on “Governing Under the Influence,” a slogan AFSC says is “meant to illuminate the outsized control over government policy held by major corporations.”
“Since President Dwight Eisenhower warned the nation about the military-industrial-complex, corporations have found even more ways to exercise their influence over public policy in Washington,” said Arnie Alpert, the Quaker organization’s long-time New Hampshire Director. “The loud voices of the corporations threatens to drown out the voices of real people.”
Alpert says AFSC will train grassroots activists to make corporate influence a key issue in the presidential campaigns in New Hampshire and first-caucus state Iowa. The project’s “Governing Under the Influence” banners first appeared outside Senator Tom Harkin’s annual “Steak Fry” in Iowa.
The AFSC event will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 274 Pleasant Street in Concord Sept. 20 at 5:30 p.m. Suggested donation for the event is $20 to $75 per person “as you are able.”
John Nichols also is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin.
MAJOR PLAYER. The League of Conservation Voters is including the New Hampshire Senate race as one of the key races it will continue to focus on over the next six weeks.
In a memo to the media the week, the LCV said that it and it’s “related entities” intend to have spent a total, nationally, of $25 million by the time the 2013-2014 election cycle ends on Nov. 4. That is a “five-fold increase” over the 2010 mid-terms and “by far the most we have ever spent.”
The group has spent $600,000 in New Hampshire so far, says League vice president for communications David Willett.
“It’s too soon to say how much of the overall total will be spent in the state, but I do expect us to make announcements of additional activities in New Hampshire in the coming weeks,” Willett said.
LCV has aired two ads and has released a poll so far.
In the memo, Daniel J. Weiss, senior vice president for campaigns for LCV, writes, “Climate change, clean energy, and clean water are salient issues in important Senate races, including Michigan, New Hampshire and Colorado. Moreover, while some have attacked EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, environmental champions across the country are embracing it. In fact, support for limits on carbon pollution has not become the wedge issue that its opponents had hoped.”
LCV also promises “sophisticated ground operations targeting over one and a half million drop-off voters in key federal and state races.”
AYOTTE AGREES. Sen. Kelly Ayotte this week criticized the move by Senate Democrats to block Sen. Ted Cruz’s bill that would strip the citizenship from Americans who fight alongside the terrorist group.
Senate candidate Scott Brown had earlier ripped Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for not protesting the action by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono.
Ayotte told Granite Reports: “This is just the latest example of an ongoing pattern of Harry Reid blocking Republican legislation from consideration.”
While some believe the bill is unconstitutional, Ayotte, a former New Hampshire Attorney General, voiced no such concern.
“Americans fighting for ISIS are traitors and they should face justice on the battlefield or be tried for their crimes against our nation,” she said. “I have also introduced legislation calling on the Secretary of State to use his existing authority to revoke passports of Americans who materially support or fight with ISIS abroad and to regularly report to Congress on how that authority is being used.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Reps. Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter split on Thursday night on a vote giving President Obama authority to train and arm Syrian rebels against ISIS. Kuster voted for the bill, and Shea-Porter opposed it.
THE ELDER CRUZ. Pastor Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, will be in New Hampshire on Oct. 9 as the keynote speaker for the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women’s annual meeting and lunch at The Draft in Concord. The elder Cruz has become something of a Tea Party rock star himself, and has sparked controversy by comparing President Obama to Fidel Castro.
THE TOOLKIT. The non-partisan Peter G. Peterson Foundation this week unveiled an “Election 2014 Fiscal & Economic Toolkit,” which is describes as a “multimedia resource for research, information and analysis related to the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges.
The nonprofit group says the Toolkit provides “infographics, charts, polling data, and videos illustrating the connection between fiscal health and economic strength. In addition to being made publicly available online, the materials contained in the toolkit will be provided to all general election candidates for federal office this year.”
“Fiscal and economic issues remain at the top of voters’ minds this election season, and this resource will help inform a critically important conversation about America’s future,” said Michael A. Peterson, president and COO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “By illustrating the nature of the challenge – and demonstrating that there are many viable solutions – we hope this information will spur a productive dialogue between candidates and voters about ways to secure our economic and fiscal future.”
The group says fiscal and economic issues continue to rank among the most important for voters. As seen in a recent poll, 91 percent of voters believe a stable fiscal foundation will lead to economic growth, and 8 in 10 say addressing long-term debt will make economic mobility and opportunity more attainable for everyday Americans. Voters clearly expect fiscal plans from their candidates as the latest Fiscal Confidence Index poll shows 83% of voters are calling for Washington to spend more time addressing our long-term fiscal challenges.”
TROOPERS FOR HASSAN. It’s no surprise, but the New Hampshire Troopers Association will endorse Hassan for reelection on Monday in Concord.
(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political columnist/reporter in New Hampshire. He has been reporting on Granite State politics since 1982. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column and of course separate stories on NHJournal.com as news breaks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)