It’s probably to the chagrin of the state GOP ? though probably not unexpected ? that Democrats appear to be up and running in New Hampshire.
The state Democratic operation is on the attack. The Obama campaign is zinging Mitt Romney everywhere he turns. Vice President Joe Biden shows up every other week in New Hampshire, or at least it seems that way. Democrats are lining up to run for state offices. For a time last year it seemed Democrats were content to cower in the shadows following their losses in 2010. Now they are mobilizing.
It seems pretty clear this won’t be another Republican wave election, as 2010 was. Analysts don’t expect it to be a wave in the other direction either. Analysts do, however, expect some balancing out. The GOP won in such widespread fashion in 2010, it was going to be a particularly tall task to come anywhere close to a duplication of that performance. In 2008, Republicans were dealt pretty significant blows nationally and in New Hampshire. But the GOP bounced back big time.
Democrats are reminding the electorate they are ready to roll.
The state Democratic party recently called out GOP gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne for what it deemed “double talk” on the issue of same-sex marriage. Lamontagne told students at Central High School in Manchester last week he believes in traditional marriage but he’s not running to deal specifically with the same-sex marriage issue. State Democrats noted that Lamontagne said at a rally earlier this year that he would “aggressively work” to return the state to traditional marriage.
The more Democrats can paint Republicans as harping on social issues like this, the better for them.
Perhaps the best example that 2012 is different than 2010 is the polling data for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District race. Rep. Frank Guinta beat former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter easily in 2010, and Shea-Porter was the incumbent. This time, with Shea-Porter running again, polls suggest the race is very close. The guess is that has less to do with anything Guinta has done so far, and more to do with Democrats’ being ready to go. (That said, Guinta’s vote for the House version of the Violence Against Women Act will likely be something Democrats, and specifically Shea-Porter, will work to make sure the public does not forget.)
Democrats are firing on all cylinders. Take this recent missive from state Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley, regarding Rep. Charlie Bass’s reelection announcement: “[Bass] won’t be able to hide from the New Hampshire voters how he continually has put the interests of Tea Party radicals and billionaires ahead of New Hampshire’s middle class. New Hampshire deserves a strong advocate that will protect the middle class, not someone who thinks they can play by their own set of rules to benefit the elite.”
It will be interesting to see how often and to whom Democrats play the tea party card. Republicans would hardly consider Bass a tea party Republican, but Democrats are slapping that label on him. Now, Bass is in perhaps the toughest race of his career with Anne McLane Kuster. He beat Kuster narrowly in 2010, but the reality is that Bass is a Republican in a liberal-leaning district. Any association with the tea party could be a major hindrance for Bass.
The GOP had all kinds of ammo in 2010. President Barack Obama used pretty much all of his political capital to get the massive health care reform bill through. That led to a chorus of charges that Democrats were overreaching and expanding government in the middle of a fiscal crisis. It left Democrats hanging out to dry.
The game plan for Democrats is less clear. That’s not to say Republicans haven’t provided some targets. The state budget, passed last year, cut funding for nonprofits all over the state. Republicans tinkered with legislation to repeal the state’s gay marriage law. Republican lawmakers worked with controversial legislation regarding abortion. They have also tried to pass legislation that would hurt public employee unions. That’s a group that will be ready to play ball this year.
But the chorus isn’t as uniform for Democrats now as it was for Republicans in 2010.
That Republicans are mobilized and energized as well, but it’s Democrats who are trying to make the comeback this year.
Lamontagne keeps on rolling
Lamontagne recently picked up the support of former U.S. senator Bob Smith. Kevin Smith, former executive director of Cornerstone Research, is Lamontagne’s competition on the GOP side.
“I am proud to endorse Ovide Lamontagne for governor today,” Smith said in a statement. “I know both men running for the Republican nomination for Governor, and Ovide has by far the strongest combination of leadership, substance and accomplishments. He is a man of integrity and conservative principles, with a plan to get the Granite State back on track.”
Lamontagne continues to build a base of support in New Hamsphire. He has the support of former senator and governor Judd Gregg, Rep. Charlie Bass and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, to name a few. Many view Lamontagne as the inevitable GOP nominee ? a few months ago many probably viewed him as the inevitable governor. Regardless, he doesn’t appear to be taking anything for granted.
New PAC in play
Conservative activist Andrew Hemingway recently created a political action committee called 4RG (For a Republican Governor) working to elect the next Republican governor of New Hampshire. Hemingway will be the group’s chairman and treasurer. He was the state director for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign and was chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire.
“4RG is my No. 1 day-to-day project through General Election Day, Nov. 6,” Hemingway said. “4RG will work independently, strategically, and tirelessly to elect the next Republican New Hampshire governor.” Visit www.4rg.org