THURSDAY, APRIL 24: “IMPORTANT MESSAGE.” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign and supporters can’t blame this one on “right wing” media outlets unless it counts The Washington Post and National Journal among them.
A maneuver apparently designed to discreetly telegraph to an outside, third party group the subject and perhaps even content of an anti-Scott Brown ad has received much attention in the political media today.
Campaigns and the third-party groups that support those campaigns are forbidden from coordinating their messages. But as the Post put it today, there have been “creative workarounds” and it called this one a “new level of brazenness.”
Earlier this week, the conservative Americans for Prosperity group began airing another ad attacking Shaheen on Obamacare (this one reportedly involving an ad buy of $457,000,).
Wednesday, a new page on Shaheen’s campaign web site appeared that seems to give talking points for a response that, as the Post put it, “oh-so-closely resembles a 30-second ad script.” The web page also linked to seven pages of background material and to “high resolution images” of flattering photographs of Shaheen talking to constituents.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in a twitter post said “Important Message for NH: Koch Brothers are trying to buy Scott Brown a Senate seat.” And it linked to the Shaheen campaign website message page, which said:
“More attack ads. Paid for by the Koch Brothers and their special interest money.
“More proof big oil, the Koch Brothers and Wall Street think they can buy our Senate seat for Scott Brown.
“When Brown was the Senator from Massachusetts he gave big oil and Wall Street billions in special breaks. They gave him millions in campaign contributions.
“Jeanne Shaheen voted to stop those special breaks.
“She’s leading the fight for a bipartisan bill to lower energy costs for consumers and create jobs.
“Jeanne Shaheen. Making a difference for New Hampshire.”
Brad Dayspring, communications director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, quickly responded in his own tweet: “Will bet you a beer that Harry Reid’s Majority PAC runs this ridiculous message in a #NHsen ad before Cinco De Mayo.”
And today, the Senate Majority PAC reserved $212,000 in television air time.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this pattern, but it is the most egregious,” Dayspring wrote on the NRSC web site.
He cited examples in North Carolina, and Arkansas in which outside pro-Democratic groups aired ads shortly after the DSCC tweeted similar “important messages.”
“Does anyone believe that these are all coincidences?” asked Dayspring. “Of course not. Does anyone have any thoughts as to what script that Majority PAC’s new ad in New Hampshire will follow? We sure don’t.”
The Shaheen campaign denied that the message page on its web site was an attempt to prompt a third party ad.
“That’s not the reason it’s on there,” spokesman Harrell Kirstein told the National Journal, which also ran a full story on the topic today. “We’re making sure New Hampshire voters know the truth about Scott Brown’s record of voting to give big oil and Wall Street billions in special breaks.”
The New Hampshire GOP said it was ironic that Shaheen is “sending thinly veiled smoke signals to Harry Reid begging for help from his outside money SuperPAC” after “spending months railing against outside money.”
Shaheen has repeatedly asked Brown to sign “The People’s Pledge” to limit third-party money in the race.
The Shaheen campaign did not answer our request for a response to the NHGOP statement.
But earlier today, the campaign sent out a fund-raising email entitled “Big Oil Kochs,” a reference to the AFP founders, the Koch brothers, seeking $100,000 in contributions by midnight to “answer these latest attacks” in the AFP ad.
In the email, Shaheen campaign manager Mike Vlacich wrote, “The Big Oil Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity Super PAC just upped their spending against Jeanne to $1.1 million, dumping another $450,000 into new attack ads.
“With more than $1 million in new Big Oil and Wall Street money pouring into the state in support of Scott Brown, it couldn’t be more clear: billionaire outsiders, special interests and third party groups are all in for Brown. They’re now over $2,000,000 in attacks so far. We need your help now to stop them.”
The Post pointed out, meanwhile, that, “Republicans do the same thing,” noting that so-called “b-roll” footage of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., posted by his campaign on YouTube, found its way into an ad aired by a Kentucky group supporting him a short time later.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
TUESDAY, APRIL 22: HAMPTON OFFICIAL FOR INNIS. Republican 1st District U.S. House candidate Dan Innis has earned the endorsement of Hampton selectman and former state Rep. Jim Waddell.
A formal announcement is expected tomorrow.
In a statement, Waddell said, “Like many others, I know that we need positive change in Washington. Dan Innis is an experienced business owner and educator who has the expertise and passion to improve our economy, guarantee our individual freedoms and end the dysfunction in Congress.”
Earlier this week, Innis’ primary opponent, Frank Guinta, also announced endorsements. See item below
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
TUESDAY, APRIL 22: WALKER’S MAN IN NH? New Hampshire just seems to be the place that attracts people who happen to have ties to people in high places who may just have an intense in the state – especially the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
Matthew Seaholm, reported by the New Hampshire Union Leader Tuesday as the campaign manager for GOP candidate for governor Walt Havenstein, has close ties with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is frequently mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, and Walker’s advisers.
Seaholm is the former national field director of the conservative issues advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, but at least equally significant is his prior role as as the Wisconsin state director for AFP.
In that post, he was a major supporter of Walker and his budget reform plan, known as Act 10. Seaholm’s activities included organizing successful rallies and bus tours for the Walker agenda.
Who knows what the future may bring, but if Walker decides to eventually make a pilgrimage to New Hampshire (we know he diplomatically declined at least one recent invitations to come here, not wanting to stir the speculation pot just yet), he’ll have a big time supporter here.
Meanwhile, as is well known, two former staffers of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are in high posts in the Granite State – Colin Reed managing Scott Brown’s Senate campaign and Matt Mowers as the NHGOP executive director.
NO SUPER-PACS? Republican congressional candidate Frank Guinta is asking U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter to back up her opposition to SuperPAC involvement in the congressional race.
Guinta’s camp noted that the House Majority PAC has already reserved advertising time for the fall in support of 18 incumbent Democrats, including Shea-Porter. Also on the “incumbent protection list” is 2nd District U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster.
While the buys for New Hampshire are not huge – about $162,000 in each district – Guinta campaign manager Jay Ruais said it showed Shea-Porter has a “good for thee but not for me” approach.
“The question we posed weeks ago still stands: Will the Congresswoman pledge to hold a town hall meeting in every county in the District, as Frank Guinta did?” Ruais asked.
Shea-Porter several weeks ago asked Guinta and fellow GOP candidate Dan Innis to join her in demanding an end to third-party advertising in the campaign, but Guinta countered with a demand that Shea-Porter hold a town meeting in each county in the district.
So on it goes.
No response yet to our request for comment from the Shea-Porter camp. If we get one, you can be sure we’ll post it.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
MONDAY, APRIL 21: CAMPAIGN NOTES: Former U.S. Rep. and current candidate Frank Guinta Monday released another group of supporters, this one headed by New Hampshire House Republican Leader Gene Chandler, former state Sen. Fenton Groen of Bartlett, former Rep. Maureen Mooney of Merrimack, state Rep. Romeo Danais of Nottingham and former state Sen. Richard Danais of Manchester……..
…..Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., heads to New Hampshire on Wednesday for a fund-raiser organized by Sen. Kelly Ayotte. And, as I reported back in late February, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday will be the featured guest at a fundraiser for Ayotte at the home of former NHGOP chair Wayne Semprini .
Other hosts include U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, UNH benefactor and new New Hampshire Priorities SuperPAC founder Peter T. Paul, Semprini’s wife, Paulette, and GOP activists/donors Anna Grace Holloway, Sean Mahoney and Renee Plummer.
Earlier Tuesday, Giuliani will discuss “Leadership in the 21st Century” at an event at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
SATURDAY, APRIL 19: WHERE DOES WALT STAND? It’s understandable that GOP candidate for governor Walt Havenstein, being a retired businessman, would want to focus on business and the economy in the first few days of his official campaign.
But he quickly learned that he can’t just ignore the social issues.
When radio talk show host Jack Heath on Friday morning asked Havenstein for his position on abortion and gay marriage, Havenstein balked, saying flatly, “No I’m not going to share a position on either today.”
But we were able to get some specifics from his spokesman, Henry Goodwin.
“Walt has no objection to gay marriage and he supports the state’s law,” Goodwin said. “Hypothetically, if legislation to repeal was passed by a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate, he would give it the consideration it deserves, just as he would any bill that came to his desk.”
Goodwin continued, “On abortion Walt is pro-choice, but would support reasonable restrictions. As one example, parental notification.”
SCOTT GOES TO VEGAS. Scott Brown’s organization has so far been running a pretty smooth campaign, even while some of his off-the-cuff remarks (‘Cause, you know, whatever’) and tweets have given Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and the Democratic camp plenty of fodder to try to portray Brown as, well, just a little too laid back.
The Brown announcement in Portsmouth back on April 10, for instance, was pretty well done. His tours before he announced and since he announced have received generally positive reviews.
Which makes one wonder why the campaign, if not Brown himself, did not pull the plug on his plans for a paid appearance on a panel at a conference in Las Vegas sponsored by a major hedge fund investment firm, SkyBridge Capital, next month.
It falls into the “What were you thinking?” category, yet we understand the Brown camp sees no controversy.
The simple fact is, though, that it plays into the Democratic anti-Brown playbook perfectly.
“Brown is a product of Wall Street…Brown true interests lie with the financial industry and the Wall Street power brokers and not every day Granite Staters.” It’s all there for the picking.
Arguably, Brown has a potentially winning issue on Obamacare. That should overshadow the Democrats’ message that alleged “regular guy” Brown is really a “tool” of the Wall Street powerbrokers.
But a paid appearance at a Las Vegas hedge fund firm conference? It’s a hanging curve for the Democrats and a gift that will keep on giving for some time.
The Brown camp sees it as a non-story, and no one is saying that Brown’s appearances are illegal or unethical or un-anything – other than politically unwise.
But quickly, the state Democratic Party issued a lengthy statement beginning with the charge that Brown made moves to aid Wall Street firms during this two years serving Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate while receiving contributions from them.
Friday, the New Hampshire Democratic Party called on Brown to release “a full list of all his paid speaking gigs that have lined his pockets since he left the Senate. Considering Brown’s record, the information will show New Hampshire voters exactly whose interests Brown would serve in the Senate.”
There was no immediate response to the demand from the Brown camp, but earlier, Republicans pointed out that Shaheen, before she was a candidate for the Senate, received honoraria for speeches at colleges and before education-related groups.
She also received $5,000 for a speech to the Fannie Mae Foundation back in 2006.
They also pointed out that she recently attended a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fund-raiser hosted by billionaire liberal hedge fund manager Tom Steyer.
“After collecting $96,000 from hedge fund interests, raising money with liberal billionaire Tom Steyer who has been described as ‘California’s hedge fund king,’ and giving a paid speech to the disgraced Fannie Mae foundation, nobody is taking Jeanne Shaheen’s latest political stunt seriously,” said NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn.
BROWN POLITICAL DIRECTOR. The Brown camp will soon announce another key staff hire, we’ve learned.
Political director Bobby Fraser is the third staffer to come to Brown from Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s office.
He was a field representative in her 2010 campaign for four northern counties, and then from mid-2011 to mid-2013, he was a legislative correspondent in her Senate office in Washington.
Since June 2013, Fraser has been a legislative assistant for U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna of New York’s District 22.
ANNIE LEADS AGAIN. How does she do it? Sure, fund-raising prowess does not win New Hampshire elections by itself, but it can help. And in the U.S. House, New Hampshire’s Annie Kuster continues her impressive ways.
After raising $402,000 in the first quarter, she has now raised $1.7 million since being elected in November 2012 and ended the quarter with $1.37 million on hand. She even out-raised Nancy Pelosi, who raised $240,000 in the quarter in her principal campaign committee and $1.37 million in the cycle, with $485,000 on hand. (Qualifier: Pelosi will have a lot easier time winning her San Francisco district than Kuster will in her very much of a swing district.)
The more Republicans argue that U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster is vulnerable, Kuster’s most effective response is not through rhetoric, but with her fund-raising ability.
And it’s not as though she is a PAC woman.
Her filing shows that so far in this cycle, nearly 69 percent of her contributions have come from individuals.
The fund-raising gap between Kuster and her two 2nd District GOP opponents is huge.
Gary Lambert raised $75,700 in the quarter and $321,153 since becoming a candidate last September. Lambert ended the quarter with $259,814 on hand. Since September, he’s raised all but $1,500 of his funds from individuals.
Marilinda Garcia, who formally announced in late January but had filed papers as a candidate last November, reported $69,050 raised and $44,622 on hand. She received $5,100, or 7 percent, from PACs.
In the 1st District, incumbent Carol Shea-Porter raised $742,000 so far in the cycle with $513,000 on hand. She received 61 percent of her funds so far from individuals and 39 percent from PACs.
Republican Frank Guinta has raised $323,000 so far in the cycle and has $220,000 on hand. He has received about two-thirds of his funding from individuals and one-third from PACS. Guinta still has outstanding loans totaling $288,500.
Republican Dan Innis has raised $168,000 and has $56,669 on hand. He contributed $20,000 to his own campaign and received $3,000 from PACs and $144,000 from individuals.
ADAMS STEERING COMMITTEE. Republican District 4 Executive Council candidate Jim Adams of Pittsfield tapped former councilor Ray Wieczorek to co-chair his steering committee and act as his campaign’s fiscal agent.
Former NHGOP chair Jayne Millerick will co-chair the steering committee with Wieczorek. Other members are former state Sens. Jack Barnes and Tom DeBlois, Merrimack County Sheriff Scott Hilliard and long-time national VFW officer Paul Chevalier.
Finance committee members are Carol Holden, Dick Wentzell, Walter Morse and state Rep. Dan McGuire.
(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political columnist in New Hampshire. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)