FRIDAY, OCT. 24: PORTMAN TO CALL IN. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman will telephone in to New Hampshire on Monday to give key state Republican volunteers and activists an update on the state of the Senate races around the country.
Portman, who was in the state last week campaigning with Senate candidate Scott Brown in Hampstead, will make the call in his role as the finance chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
But since Portman has said he is thinking of running for President, a call to 100 or so key players in the first-in-the-nation primary state is a potentially effective way to have them better get to know him – just in case.
The NHGOP invitation going out today to activists says Portman will talk about “the chances of obtaining a Republican majority in the United States Senate.”
Portman has also been to other key states helping GOP Senate candidates.
The Republicans hold these calls weekly. Earlier this month, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul spoke with GOP activists on a similar conference call.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
THURSDAY, OCT. 23: MARCO CHIPS IN. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has joined the $10,000 club in contributions to the NHGOP.
Rubio was in New Hampshire today for the second time this month, campaigning with candidate for governor Walt Havenstein and appearing at fundraisers for 2nd District U.S. House candidate Marilinda Garcia and Republican state senators and state Senate candidates.
He joins Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who gave $10,000 to the party earlier this month and has given a total of $61,500 in donations to candidates and local party committees across the state.
Also, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul gave $10,000 to the party last year and this week, gave a total of $30,000 to the NHGOP and 24 candidates.
Rubio, who, like Perry and Paul, is considering running for President, gave $5,000 from his political action committee, Reclaim America, and $5,000 from his campaign committee.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 22: THE EMPLOYER MANDATE. The conservative issues group Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire says it will begin a “heavy, statewide, online campaign” focusing on the Affordable Care Act employer mandate, which is expected to go into effect next year.
The mandate was delayed by the Obama administration after an outcry from businesses concerned about the requirement to provide insurance to full-time employees.
Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, which has been critical of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and other Democratic incumbents throughout the campaign, says Shaheen has been “silent” on the employer mandate issue.
Its new web ad, “Extra Time,” portrays a scenario in which a couple works fewer hours due to an employer cutting hours, and while they have more time for leisure, they have less income and are unable to pay bills, as their cable television and telephone are disconnected..
“Because Sen. Jeanne Shaheen cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, employers may cut work days from eight hours to six to avoid new taxes and penalties, giving you more time to look for that second job.” The ad urges, “Tell Senator Shaheen you can’t afford Obamacare.”
Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire spokesman Derek Dufresne said, “While the Obama Administration delayed the employer mandate until 2015, we are now quickly approaching the time when that delay will expire and new action is required to stop the law’s disastrous effects…Remarkably though, Senator Jeanne Shaheen has been silent on how she would address the fact that once the delay expires, many small businesses will still be forced to cut their employees’ work days to avoid new penalties and fees.
“New Hampshire families simply cannot afford to work less, and many will have to look for additional work, or go without, “ Dufresne said. “It is time for our state’s senior senator to listen to her constituents, recognize her mistake in originally supporting the employer mandate, and finally work towards fully repealing it immediately.”
View the Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire ad below:
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 22: FUNDRAISER WITH JOE. He won’t be in New Hampshire, but Vice President Joe Biden next week will help raise money for 1st District U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who is locked in a tight race with Republican challenger and former Rep. Frank Guinta.
Biden will appear at a fundraiser for Shea-Porter and Massachusetts 6th District Democratic candidate Seth Moulton in Boston on Wednesday, Oct. 29. Tickets range from $500 to $5,000.
Meanwhile, big name Republicans will continue to come to New Hampshire.
Tomorrow, Florida Sen. and potential 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio will return for fund-raisers for 2nd District U.S. House candidate Marilinda Garcia in Amherst and for the NHGOP in Concord. He will also campaign with candidate for governor Walt Havenstein at Next Step Bionics in Manchester.
On Friday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be in the state for a fund-raiser for Garcia in Nashua.
On Sunday, Arizona Sen. John McCain will begin a two-day swing in the state to campaign for Republican candidates. An event with Havenstein is planned for Sunday at the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester.
NEW KOCH AD. The Koch brothers-funded PAC Freedom Partners Action Fund has a “closing argument” TV ad out in New Hampshire today continuing the GOP theme of linking Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to President Barack Obama.
The ad is negative, but in a softer way than many ads, using a young woman to say, “There are many reasons Jeanne Shaheen hasn’t earned six more years.” The woman cites “Obamacare,” and says Shaheen “votes for wasteful spending and more debt.” The ad also says she is “avoiding town halls and accountability.
“But most importantly, a vote for Jeanne Shaheen is a vote for President Obama and his failed policies,” the woman says, asking for a vote for Republican Scott Brown.
The ad is part of a $6.5 million ad campaign in six toss-up Senate races across the country: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa, as well as New Hampshire.
View the ad below:
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
TUESDAY, OCT. 21: RLC IN MANCHESTER. The Republican Liberty Caucus has picked Manchester as the site of its national convention next October – an event that is expected to attract hundreds of liberty movement conservatives and other Republicans to New Hampshire just as the first-in-the-nation primary campaign is reaching high gear.
Ed Lopez, RLC national vice chairman, told the New Hampshire Journal the convention is held every two years and had been scheduled for Portland, Maine in 2015.
“But over time we decided that we wanted this event to be part of the primary excitement in New Hampshire,” Lopez said.
Also, said Lopez, “We feel that there is a strong liberty movement in New Hampshire. We know that a lot of liberty candidates are doing well. But we want to have an even broader representation of Republicans that goes beyond the liberty agenda.”
He said that Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has already committed to being one of the featured speakers at the convention, slated for the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester the weekend of Oct. 23-25, 2015.
Paul has said he does not expect to decide whether to run for President until early in 2015, but perhaps his commitment to appear at the RLC convention next October is a hint as to his plans.
Other potential presidential candidates and elected officials are expected to speak as well, including Rep. Justin Amash and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Former New Hampshire GOP candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway is also expected to speak.
Also confirmed to participate are Mattthew Gagnon, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center; Justin Velez-Hagan, founder and executive director of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, Inc.; Scott Page, a musician and entrepreneur who is recognized as the saxophonist and guitarist for Pink Floyd, Supertramp and Toto; Jason Sorens, a lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College and founder of the Free State Project; Suzanne Bates, policy director at the Yankee Institute for Public Policy in Connecticut; Bob Quasius, founder and president of Café Con Leche Republicans; and Ed Hudgins, director of Advocacy at the Atlas Society.
Also attending will be RLC leaders Matt Nye, RLC national chairman, Dave Nalle, immediate past president of the RLC and current Southwest regional director and RLCNH state chairman Aaron Day.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
MONDAY, OCT. 20: STILL TIGHT. Two polls released from Massachusetts news organizations Monday continued to show a tight U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire, with Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen holding leads over Republican Scott Brown that are within the margins of error.
A Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll shows Shaheen leading Brown, 49 to 46 percent, with nearly 6 percent undecided. The margin of error is listed at 4.4 percent.
In the governor’s race, Gov. Maggie Hassan held a 10 percentage point lead over GOP challenger Walt Havenstein, 49 to 39 percent.
A poll by the University of Massachusetts and WBZ showed Shaheen with a 48 to 45 percent lead, with 5 percent favoring someone else and 2 percent unsure. The margin of error for this poll is listed at 6 percent.
For the Suffolk/Boston Herald poll, click here.
For the UMass/WBZ poll, click here.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
MONDAY, OCT. 20: WARREN HEADS NORTH. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in her latest fund-raising email for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, announced she’ll be in the state during the upcoming weekend to campaign with her fellow Democrat.
Warren, who defeated Scott Brown in 2012, writes in the email blast:
“Never in a bazillion years did it cross my mind that Scott Brown would pack up and move to his vacation house in New Hampshire to run against our friend Jeanne. But that’s exactly what happened – and the race is neck-and-neck.”
Warren goes on to charge that Brown voted against jobs bills, to let the interest rates on student loans double, against equal pay and in favor of the Blunt Amendment, to allow employers to deny insurance coverage for contraception based on moral grounds.
“Scott Brown may claim nowadays that he’s a New Hampshire guy through and through, but you and I know that wherever he parks his truck, he’s the same Scott Brown,” Warren wrote.
Warren has been mentioned as a possible alternative to Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. She has said repeatedly that she is not running, yet she did visit Iowa this weekend campaigning for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley, who is running for the seat being vacated by Tom Harkin.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
SATURDAY, OCT. 18: DEMS ARE “READY.” Hillary Clinton wasn’t in the Armory Room of the Radisson Hotel on Thursday night, but more than 1,400 Democrats (1,226 in the main room and 200 in an overflow room) – or certainly the vast majority of them – were thinking about her.
How could they not? The reminders were everywhere.
In addition to the obvious – her husband giving the keynote address at the Jefferson-Jackson Celebration fundraiser – the super PAC “Ready for Hillary” saw to it as well.
PAC state senior adviser Terry Shumaker said the night was about the New Hampshire candidates – from Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen on down the ticket. And yes, it was.
But “Ready for Hillary” was a major sponsor of the event and by far the most visible.
As the Democrats walked into the massive room, each one found on his or her seat a sign that said either “Ready for Jeanne,” “Ready for Maggie,” “Ready for Carol,” “Ready for Annie” or “Ready to Vote.”
Huge signs in the lobby, also provided by “Ready for Hillary,” thanked outgoing state House speaker Terie Norelli and state Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen.
On either side of the stage were “Ready” signs.
And oh yes, each and every attendee was offered a lapel sticker that simply said — you guess it — “Ready.” Nearly everyone wore one.
While Hillary Clinton’s name was not on any of the material, the message was clear. “Ready for…” has become the staple of the group setting the stage for her likely run for President. She’ll be in the state on Nov. 2, campaigning for Shaheen and Hassan as well as the rest of the ticket.
Bill Clinton did not outwardly campaign for his wife, of course. He focused on the current candidates and his clear message was: You can buck the GOP tide and win this if you don’t stay home or let your friends and neighbors stay home.
“New Hampshire had biggest percentage drop in the United States of America in the percentage of people who voted for President in 2008 and voted in the mid-terms in 2010,” Clinton said. “You dare not let that happen again.”
During his 40-minute speech, however, he said, issued a subtle pitch for Hillary and reminded the crowd of perhaps the major success of his administration – a budget surplus.
“If you like what happened when I was President, it can be a lot better than that,” he said.
Did he really mean under a Hillary Clinton presidency? What do you think?
For now, the question is obviously whether the energy in that room Thursday night – and there was a lot of it – can be transferred outside. Can the Democrats buck what seems to be a GOP current, if not a wave?
The top races are tightening as polling earlier this week clearly showed.
Much was made on Friday about the fact that The Cook Political Report, based on the polling, moved the race from leaning to Shaheen into the Toss Up column.
With two-plus weeks to go, there is still time for a significant movement in either direction.
And, by the way, as we were the first to report on Friday, the party raised more than $250,000 at the event, a record for a Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser.
PUSH ON . Push polling, one of the most annoying features of any campaign season in New Hampshire, isn’t going away anytime soon. And thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling this week, in federal elections, the campaign or group doing the “pushing” against a candidate does not have to tell you who they are.
The ruling brought to an end a fascinating legal saga involving the 2010 Charlie Bass campaign.
That year, the Bass Victory Committee combined with the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee to split the cost of a negative push poll against then-challenger and current congresswoman Annie Kuster.
But the problem was, only the NRCC was identified as the sponsor of the call because the Bass campaign manager at the time did not want Bass to be associated with it.
The Attorney General’s office filed a civil action against the Bass committee in 2012 charging the Bass committee “deliberately avoided” identifying itself as a sponsor of the call, as required by state law.
A push poll is completely legal, as long as the entity sponsoring the call is identifies.
Bass, represented by attorney and former state Supreme Court justice Chuck Douglas, fought the charges vigorously.
Douglas firat argued that the calls were “message testing,” which is different than push polls. And he separately argued that the state has no jurisdiction over how campaigns for federal office are conducted.
Out-of-state pollsters also were concerned that the Attorney General’s office was confusing push polls with message testing, and if upheld would interfere with them doing their jobs during presidential primary campaigns, let alone U.S. Senate and U.S. House elections.
The concern was bipartisan. The key action came when Democratic pollster Greenberg Quinlan Rosner argued before the Federal Election Commission that the Federal Election Campaign Act, and not state laws, govern federal elections and federal campaign laws did not require any such disclaimer in push polls, as New Hampshire state law does.
The FEC issued an advisory opinion that the AG had no authority to enforce on a candidate for federal office the state law requiring the disclaimer. The commission said federal law already required disclosure of candidate and political committee expenditures and those who conduct push polls would be covered under those provisions.
That FEC opinion said, “The New Hampshire statute requiring disclaimers on certain telephone calls is preempted by the (Federal Election Campaign) Act and (FEC) regulations with respect to the proposed telephone surveys made on behalf of federal candidates, their authorized committees or other federal political committees that refer only to candidates for federal office.”
After that opinion, Douglas tried to have the case removed to the federal courts, but was unsuccessful. But no matter. He won at the state court level and this week, on appeal.
Superior Court judge Richard McNamara ruled in June 2013 that the federal law preempted the state law for federal elections.
McNamara wrote in his opinion that advisory opinions are not binding, but in this case, “The consistent interpretation of federal law and regulations by those familiar with its enforcement is persuasive.
“Here,” wrote McNamara, “the FEC is most familiar with the enforcement of (the federal campaign law) and its reasoning is both persuasive and remarkably consistent.”
The Attorney General’s Office appealed and this week the Supreme Court upheld McNamara’s decision.
The Supreme Court, in a detailed 13-page decision available here, wrote that while the scope federal preemption of state election laws has many varying interpretations by various courts, this case was clear.
“Significantly,” the court wrote, “the legislative history reveals that Congress intended ‘Federal law (to) occupy the field with respect to reporting and disclosure of political contributions to and expenditures by Federal candidates and political committees.’”
The court noted that prior rulings have made it clear that federal law supersedes state law when it comes to the:
_ Organization and registration of political committees supporting federal candidates
_ Disclosure of receipts and expenditures by federal candidates and political committees
_ Limits on contributions and expenditures regarding federal candidates and political committees.
States, it noted, have the power to regulate:
_ How one qualifies as a candidate or political party organization
_ Dates and places of elections
_ Voter registration and voting fraud
_ A candidate’s personal financial disclosure
“We recognize that our decision prevents the AG from enforcing (the state push poll disclosure law) against a federal candidate or committee,” the court ruled. “Nor can the AG bring a private action against a federal candidate or committee under the FECA.
“Nonetheless, the absence of a direct cause of action alone is no bar to preemption if, as in this case, Congress has manifested a clear intention to preempt certain state law causes of action.”
What’s it mean? It means that if you start receiving those nasty push polls against a candidate for President, the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House, and if the caller does not identify who is paying for the call, there is nothing the state can do about it.
You would have to wait until the next round of federal campaign finance reports is filed and try to figure it out for yourself.
Bass’s 2010 committee faced potential fines of up to $400,000 had the case gone against it.
But as Douglas noted after McNamara’s 2013 ruling, “Charlie just didn’t say, ‘Oh, I’ll pay a fine and move on.’ He said, ‘No. It’s not right. It’s wrong to apply this law to federal races and it’s going to hurt the New Hampshire Primary if someone doesn’t stand on principle here and fight it.’”
National pollsters had complained that the state law definition a push poll incorrectly covers legitimate opinion research calling. The Market Research Association and the American Association of Political Consultants intervened in the Bass case, supporting Bass’ motion to dismiss.
Some national pollsters had warned the state law, and the Attorney General’s Office aggressive enforcement of it, would deter pollsters from becoming involved in the first-in-the-nation primary campaign, and could, as a result, hurt the primary.
They said candidates may be reluctant to campaign in the state if they cannot have their pollsters fully explore voter sentiment on key issues and test messages about themselves and their opponents without fear of being sued by the state.
So, by that logic, the primary is safe.
FUNDRAISING NUMBERS. While Gov. Maggie Hassan continues to out-raise Republican challenger Walt Havenstein, the latest campaign finance reports filed earlier this week show Havenstein was far ahead in cash on hand with just under three weeks to go until election day.
Hassan’s campaign reported raising $317,596 since the Sept. 9 primary for a total of $1.2 million. Her “Maggie ‘14” committee had $180,000 on hand.
Havenstein raised about $757,000 since the primary but $550,000 of it was his own money. That brings his total personal investment in the campaign to nearly $2 million. He reported having $705,000 in cash on hand.
In the federal races, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and challenger Scott Brown have already announced their third quarter totals — $3.6 million for Brown and $3.5 million for Shaheen.
In the House races, 1st District Rep. Carol Shea-Porter reported raising $279,560 during the third quarter for a total of $1.36 million and had $135,740 on hand as of Sept. 30. Challenger Frank Guinta’s report listed $351,491 raised in the third quarter but did not list a total amount for the campaign. He did list having $373,442 on hand and debts and obligations totaling $289,575.
In the 2nd District, Rep. Annie Kuster continued her impressive fundraising by raising $545,656 in the third quarter, for a total of $3.15 million during the election cycle. She reported having $1.1 million on hand at the end of the third quarter.
Republican challenger Marilinda Garcia reported raising $360,113 during the third quarter for a total of $671,437 since becoming a candidate. She reported having $311,042 on hand.
Garcia, by the way, listed expenditures of $198,459 during the third quarter. Of that, she actually paid herself a salary of $3,335 from her campaign cash. It’s completely legal, but highly unusual.
That’s $10 less than she paid her campaign manager.
Kuster’s campaign manager was paid $8,343 during the third quarter, by the way.
AD PULLED. The conservative group called Secure America Now on Friday pulled down a series of web ads in New Hampshire and other states with vulnerable Democratic senators that contained brief footage of slain New Hampshire journalist James Foley.
New England Cable News reported that the ad was pulled after Foley’s parents told the station the ad was “deplorable” and called for it to be removed.
The president of the group told NECN it “meant no harm” and that the image “is in the public domain” and “has appeared around the world millions of times.”
The state Democratic Party, however, continued to demand that Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown return $10,000 he received from former Ambassador John Bolton, who is a member of the board of advisers of Secure America Now.
The group’s president, Allen Roth, told NECN board members have nothing to do with the creating ads and do not see them before they go public.
The Brown campaign would not address the Democratic demand, saying through spokesman Elizabeth Guyton the ad is “completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Foley family.”
(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 email@example.com and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)