The battle lines for the U.S. Senate general election were drawn even before the first GOP primary vote was counted on Tuesday night.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, assuming that Scott Brown will win the GOP Senate primary, began airing two television ads that clearly reflect the themes her campaign will press through Nov. 4:
One ad, entitled “Makes a Difference,” shows Shaheen working hard for the state – particularly in defense of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, to get the federal prison in Berlin open, help small businesses obtain loans and to fight for funding for the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth and for the widening of Interstate 93 from Salem to Manchester.
The second ad attacks Brown a tool of “Big Oil,” Wall Street and as someone who personally made more than a quarter of a million dollars as a member of the board of Kadant, Inc., a company that exported jobs.
“Scott Brown,” the ad entitled “Selling Out” says, “not for New Hampshire. Never was. Never will be.”
“These ads highlight the very clear choice voters will have in November,” Shaheen campaign manager Mike Vlacich said in announcing the new ads. “Scott Brown is in this race for his own interests, his bank account, and for the Big Oil and Wall Street corporate interests that fund his campaign. Jeanne Shaheen has spent her entire career fighting to make a difference for New Hampshire, and Granite Staters know she’s the only candidate in this race who puts their interests first.”
Brown campaign spokesman Elizabeth Guyton reacted, “Negative attacks didn’t stop Scott Brown in the primary and they’re not going to stop him now, nor will they obscure the major difference in this race: Jeanne Shaheen votes with President Obama 99% of the time. Scott Brown will be an independent senator who votes for New Hampshire first.”
The message from the Shaheen ads and Shaheen campaign reflect the same line of attack she and the Democratic Party here and nationally have used against Brown since even prior to his formal entrance into the race last March.
It’s an effort to focus voters’ attention on what Democrats view as Shaheen’s trustworthiness and former Massachusetts Senator Brown’s alleged lack of concern and compassion for the Granite State. The overall theme of here campaign, after all, is “New Hampshire First.”
Brown and the Republicans on the other hand, will be focusing on Shaheen’s allegiance to President Barack Obama.
For not only Shaheen, but also for Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster, “it’s really going to be a referendum on their support for President Obama,” said Jim Merrill, a veteran state GOP strategist and former state campaign manager and adviser to Mitt Romney.
“It’s just a fact that they are absolutely in lock step with him in their support of the President and have shown no independence. And that is not what New Hampshire expects from them.”
Merrill said that while the Shaheen camp attacks Brown as being essentially out for himself while she portrays herself, he said, as “the mayor of New Hampshire,” Shea-Porter, Kuster and the Democrats will attack their opponents as radical right-wing extremists.
Shea-Porter has already begun that line of attack on Frank Guinta, and the New Hampshire Democratic Party has focused on Marilinda Garcia.
“It’s the same old stuff,” Merrill said.
The toughest top Democrat to unseat will be Gov. Maggie Hassan, but Merrill said it is not impossible.
Assuming Walt Havenstein wins, Merrill believes he has a stronger leadership style and “it’s not like she is locked in like John Lynch was for his second and third term,” he said.
Merrill believes that ultimately, the party will unite behind the winners of the four major primaries.
In the Senate race, for instance, he said Bob Smith and Jim Rubens supporters “will get up tomorrow morning and remember that in two months they will have a chance to unseat Jeanne Shaheen. Scott Brown may not be perfect to them, but I think they agree on most issues.”
Even in the nasty 2nd District U.S. House GOP primary between Gary Lambert and Garcia, “once there is a common opponent, I think they will come together.”