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Outside spending is 'where the action is'

dtuohy@unionleader.com
October 08. 2014 9:22PM


In our barn burner of a U.S. Senate race, outside groups have so far spent more than Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Scott Brown combined. It's $15 million and climbing, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, based on the latest available figures.

And that's not including the so-called "dark money" groups, which do not disclose donors.

It is true for the congressional races, too, and these groups are shelling out big bucks for both Democrats and Republicans. "Outside spending is where the action is," said Russ Choma, the Money-in-Politics reporter for the Center for Responsive Politics.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United judgment, groups have dialed in what they can and cannot do in terms of political spending, according to Choma. Organizations are simply better organized. "In general," he says, "there's more money all around."

The candidates' 3rd Quarter finance reports are due out next week. The Brown campaign said it raised $3.6 million; the Shaheen campaign says it raised bout $3.5 million.

A snapshot of outside spending in the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' review of FEC data includes:
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee PAC: $1,679,469 (for Shaheen, against Brown)
  • Ending Spending Action Fund Super (PAC, 501c): $3,267,539 (for Brown, against Shaheen)
  • NextGen Climate Action: $3,141,403 (against Brown)
  • Senate Majority PAC: $2,293,222 (for Shaheen, against Brown)
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $1,502,870 (for Brown, against Shaheen)

The center currently lists 25 line items for outside spending in the U.S. Senate race. Others contributing lesser amounts include: Planned Parenthood Action Fund, $140,414 (for Shaheen); NRA Institute for Legislative Action and NRA, $126,414 and $66,128, respectively, (for Brown); and John Bolton Super PAC, $296,905 (for Brown). The Mayday PAC, during the primary, spent $1,640,991 against Brown, in support of its candidate, Republican Jim Rubens.

The Mayday PAC has spent $200,001 for Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who is again facing Republican Frank Guinta in the 1st District general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently spend more money in the race, and has now spent $903,302 on Shea-Porter's behalf, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

About a dozen different outside groups have spent more than $4 million so far in the 2nd Congressional District race between Democratic incumbent Ann McLane Kuster and Republican opponent Marilinda Garcia. The groups and their spending include:
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $1,745,273 (against Garcia)
  • Americans for Responsible Solutions, $532,513 (against Garcia)
  • Freedom Partners Action Fund, $1,067,799 (against Kuster)
  • Club for Growth, $532,321 (for Garcia, with some opposing one of her primary opponents)

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PASSENGER RAIL? U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, a Democrat seeking a second term representing the 2nd District, criticized Republican opponent Marilinda Garcia's response to a question on the possible return of passenger rail during a forum hosted by the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. Kuster zeroed in on Garcia's response to a rail question by moderator Chris Williams, the chamber president. Garcia said she would like to learn more about it. "I'll get back to you on that," she said.

Williams proved a tough moderator. He followed up with question of whether she was "naive or ignorant" on the issue. Garcia responded that if passenger rail is something Nashua and New Hampshire needs, and it will not be a "tax liability," "then why not."

Kuster promised she would do everything in her power to help advance proposed passenger rail from Lowell, Mass., to Nashua and beyond to Manchester. It was an interesting exchange (Kuster and Garcia appeared separately on stage with Williams), and one Kuster may revisit in the final 24 days of the campaign. It was not noted at the Nashua event, but Garcia did vote in support of a bill to repeal the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority. The 2011 bill was ultimately vetoed by then Gov. John Lynch.

A feasibility study on the Capitol Corridor project is due out later this year. According to the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, in a poll for the Nashua chamber released in February 2014, 68 percent of residents said they support passenger rail service, even with taxpayer costs included. Over half of the respondents didn't change their mind when told it could cost the state $100 million in initial costs and up to $15 million in annual operating costs, according to the survey.

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Quick takes:
  • Republican Senate nominee Scott Brown delivered the GOP weekly address Saturday. Brown again accused Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) of voting with President Obama 99 percent of the time and being his No. 1 foot soldier. "Like many other Republicans, I'm running to restore American leadership," he said, according to prepared remarks. "And how about we start by protecting our own borders?"
  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) campaigned Saturday with Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (and accused Brown of siding with Wall Street and supporting companies that outsource jobs overseas). She was scheduled to cap the day with a stop at the Lebanon Diner in Lebanon, and discuss Social Security and Medicare.
  • Gov. Maggie Hassan does not have to travel far for her next debate. The first-term Democrat from Exeter will debate Republican opponent Walt Havenstein of Alton on Sunday night at 7 at Riverwoods in her hometown.

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Send news tips, story ideas and political information to dtuohy@unionleader.com and follow on Twitter: @tuohy

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(The Oct. 9 edition of the Granite Status is below here:)

Campaign means it's time to get up close and personal 

POLITICAL DOVES bird-dogged Sen. Marco Rubio as he talked about the importance of a muscular foreign policy.

Members from the New Hampshire office of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group devoted to non-violence and peace, were in the crowd as the Florida Republican endorsed Scott Brown for Senate in Derry on Tuesday.

These close encounters happen when you’re a potential presidential hopeful in the leadoff primary state.

And they could happen more often thanks to the American Friends Service Committee’s new project, “Governing Under the Influence.” The project, which was recently launched, will focus on education and civic engagement in New Hampshire and Iowa in the 2016 election cycle.

At his New Hampshire stop, Rubio was fielding questions from local veterans on U.S. military might, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and the growing ISIS threat when Arnie Alpert asked him about corporate cronyism in connection with the military industrial complex.

Rubio deftly handled the question, though Alpert, the co-director of the New Hampshire office of the American Friends Service Committee, didn’t think he actually answered it. Rubio responded, in part, by saying the U.S. had to ensure America’s military is the best in the world.

“You see these pro-war pundits on TV working for different think tanks which get their funding from Pentagon contracts,” Alpert said in an interview after the event. Will Hopkins, an Army veteran from Belmont who served a tour in Iraq, was another audience member who asked Rubio a question. Hopkins is an undecided, registered independent voter. And he’s also director of New Hampshire Peace Action.

In an interview after Rubio had left the Halligan Tavern, Hopkins said America’s foreign policy is flawed and both parties share the blame.

“I think the problem that we’re facing in Iraq and Syria has been caused by decades of bombing and war, decades of sanctions and decades of funding an army of people without properly looking at what their objectives are,” Hopkins said.

If you missed “Governing Under the Influence” in Derry, you can bet that GUI will be at a future political event near you. Alpert says they will be outside the Radisson in Manchester on Oct. 16 when former President Bill Clinton speaks at a Democratic Party dinner.

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Expect the first-in-the-nation primary buzz to get louder. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie will visit Friday to campaign with Republican gubernatorial nominee Walt Havenstein. Christie is chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association, a role that puts him on the front lines of trying to elect Republicans. In New Hampshire, it also puts him on the front lines of presidential primary politics. Christie will join Havenstein at stops in Berlin and Lancaster. Let’s face it: would-be White House aspirants are not truly seasoned until they stump around the North Country. Bonus for Christie: It’s about peak foliage time in those parts, according to the NH Foliage Tracker on VisitNH.gov.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also returns to New Hampshire on Oct. 10. He is scheduled to speak to students at the University of New Hampshire at 5 p.m.

And U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will continue in his role as a Republican rally man next week. Paul will make four stops in New Hampshire, from the White Mountains to just north of the Massachusetts border.

Plus one more? Former New York Gov. George Pataki will be returning to the Granite State Oct. 19-21 to stump for local Republican candidates. He will also be speaking at “Politics & Eggs,” a go-to event for prominent leaders that is a partnership between the New England Council and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library at St. Anselm College.

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The national spotlight is on the U.S. Senate race, and some nationally known journalists will be participating in the televised debates. It was just announced that Chuck Todd, of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” will moderate the Senate debate co-sponsored Oct. 21 by NECN, the Concord Monitor and the University of New Hampshire. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will co-moderate the Senate debate on NH1 and CNN, along with NH1 political director Paul Steinhauser, on Oct. 23. And, as previously reported, George Stephanopoulos will co-moderate the Senate debate, with WMUR’s Josh McElveen, sponsored Oct. 30 by WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader, in partnership with St. Anselm College and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library.

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Quick takes:

• We’ve learned that the National Federation of Independent Business on Thursday will endorse Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, a Democrat from Manchester, in his race against Republican Bob Burns. It’s an interesting endorsement, outside of Pappas’ roots as a businessman and restaurateur. A week ago, when NFIB endorsed Scott Brown for Senate, Democrats called NFIB a “Koch Brothers-funded” group.
  • UPDATE: Bruce Berke, NFIB-NH state director, called Pappas a pro-small business councilor. In a statement endorsing Pappas Thursday, Berke said, "He believes in sensible regulations that encourage small businesses to grow and create jobs."

• State Sen. Peggy Gilmour, a Democrat from Hollis seeking another term representing District 12, announced a list of about 50 Republicans who have endorsed her re-election. They included two Nashua aldermen, Brian McCarthy and Rick Dowd, and former state Sen. Jim Squires. Kevin Avard, her Republican opponent, said he is working hard to capture the seat on Nov. 4. “She’s looking at the numbers and she’s getting nervous,” said Avard, a reference to a motivated Republican base in New Hampshire.

Dan Tuohy is covering politics and government for the Union Leader and Sunday News. Email news and information to dtuohy@unionleader.com.


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