John DiStaso's Granite Status: Secretary of State predicts a 70 percent NH turnout for Election 2012
- - - - - - - -BATTLEGROUND NEW HAMPSHIRE. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is pouring it on in its effort to win battleground New Hampshire's four electoral votes. Friday, Dr. Jill Biden will be in the state for campaign events in Concord, Berlin, Conway, and Laconia. Saturday, President Obama will arrive for the second time in 10 days for a stop at the Elm Street Middle School in Nashua. It will be his fifth campaign visit and sixth overall visit this year. Obama's 'warm-up act' will be legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor. What, no Boss? And on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden will return for the seventh time this year, with details to be announced. Why the big Obama push? Is his campaign nervous about losing New Hampshire? Of course it is, but so are the Romney folks. Given these polls, who wouldn't be nervous? There are several scenarios in which New Hampshire could literally decide the election, as it did back in 2000.
- - - - - - - -ROMNEY'S COMING. Mitt Romney will return to New Hampshire on Tuesday, Oct. 30, for a major campaign event in Manchester, the Granite Status has learned. Veterans Park in Manchester is a potential venue for the rally, although the precise location will depend on weather conditions. There is a threat of inclement weather early next week due to a storm brewing that may become a hurricane and proceed north along the East Coast to New England. It will be Romney's first campaign event in the state since Sept. 7. His wife, Ann, is scheduled to campaign in the state on Monday. Battleground N.H.: Candidate visits in 2012
View Battleground N.H. - 2012 candidate visits in a larger map
- - - - - - - -ANOTHER BIG DONATION. Wealthy New York hedge fund manager Paul Singer is again trying to make a big imprint on the shape of next year's state Legislature. Singer has made his second huge contribution of the campaign to the pro-same sex marriage New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality PAC. After giving the PAC $100,000 in late August, within the past week he gave another $140,000. And just to review, it's entirely legal. As we reported in early September, the attorney general has determined that under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, the state no longer has authority to limit contributions to New Hampshire PACs that make independent expenditures on behalf of candidates. Limits on contributions to candidate committees still apply. Singer is a well-known contributor to Republicans nationwide. He has been a major supporter of Romney and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and cut a $1 million check to help fund the Republican National Convention. The NHRFE PAC has used the money to fund direct-mail pieces for 55 incumbent Republican legislators who either voted against repeal of the state's same-sex marriage law or who have 'publicly supported equal rights for gays and lesbians,' said spokesman Christine Baratta. Another 12 GOP candidates being helped are running for open seats. Included are state Sen. Nancy Stiles and Rep. John Reagan, who is running for the open state Senate seat being vacated by Jack Barnes. Everyone else is a House candidate. The PAC helped 41 candidates with direct mail prior to the Sept. 11 primary, and 30 of them, or 73 percent, won. NHRFE Chairman Sean Owen said the PAC is having an impact not only on those who are benefitting, from the mailing but also on those who are not. He said he is hearing 'more tempered' statements from those who support repeal than in the past. The mail pieces do not mention the candidates' position on same-sex marriage. They don't specifically mention the issue at all. The closest references we could find were on the pieces for Stiles and Reagan, with phrases such as, 'Preserving individual, parental and family freedom,' and 'Empowering families to make their own decisions without government interference.' 'The mail pieces are 100 percent positive and highlight the candidates' commitment to job creation and individual freedom,' Baratta said. So far, the PAC has spent more than $250,000 in the cycle for Republicans who support same-sex marriage. In addition to Singer, the PAC also received a recent $25,000 contribution from Tim Gill, a Denver-based software entrepreneur and well-known LGBT activist.
- - - - - - - -KELLY CANCELS. Ayotte Wednesday canceled a planned trip to Indiana to campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after he made a controversial statement on abortion. At a Tuesday debate, the Tea Party-backed Mourdock was asked whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest. He said he 'came to realize that life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended.' His comments were widely reported, sparking criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Ayotte spokesman Jeff Grappone said she canceled because she 'disagrees with Treasurer Mourdock's comments, which do not represent her views.' Mourdock is the Indiana state treasurer.
- - - - - - - -KELLY TO THE RESCUE? With Lamontagne facing what appears to be a big gender gap in his run for governor, Ayotte is trying to help shore up support for her former rival with a new radio ad. The 60-second spot doesn't address women-specific issues, however. It talks about taxes, which affect women and men. Ayotte defends Lamontagne as 'a strong voice in the fight against tax increases,' adding, 'When he says he will veto a sales or income tax, you know he means it.' Will she help? That depends. Her approval ratings have been high in the state, but a recent poll by Public Policy Polling for the Progressive Change Campaign committee, a liberal group, asked New Hampshire voters whether her role as one of Romney's surrogates improved or hurt voters' image of her. According to the poll, 42 percent said it hurts her image, while 36 percent said it improves her image, while 21 percent said it made no difference. O'BRIEN V. BUCKLEY. Oral arguments are scheduled this morning at 9 a.m. in Hillsborough County Superior Court on NHDP Chair Buckley's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him and the party by House Speaker Bill O'Brien in September 2011. O'Brien sought $1.2 million in damages after the party and the Attorney General's Office signed a consent agreement last year. The Attorney General said the party failed to properly identify who paid for 'robo calls' that targeted O'Brien in 2010. The party paid a $5,000 fine under the agreement, but did not admit violating state election law.
- - - - - - - -FAILING TO FILE. The New Hampshire Republican Party was looking into whether it has filed the required state committee finance reports for any of the last three deadlines: Oct. 17, Sept. 19 and Sept. 5 - all absent from the Secretary of State's web site. 'We are looking into this and any oversight,' said spokesman Meg Stone. 'All of our federal report filings are up to date, and anything outstanding will be filed as soon as possible.' Asked the NHDP's Buckley, 'How can voters believe that the Republicans will be stewards of New Hampshire's economy when the state party won't even comply with the most basic requirements?'
- - - - - - - -THE AD BLITZ. Here's just a sampling of television ads currently on the air: -- The conservative advocacy group American Action Network Wednesday released the final television ad in a more than $2 million campaign against Shea-Porter. The ad, airing on Manchester and Boston stations, targets Shea-Porter for wasting tax dollars on frivolous projects such as a mule museum in California and a shrimp study in Louisiana. -- The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has a new ad up supporting Shea-Porter and accusing Guinta of voting to end Medicare. -- The Republican Governors Association, in a new ad, continues to hammer Hassan for not paying property taxes on the home she lives in on the campus of Phillips Exeter Academy while she wants to 'have a discussion' about raising some taxes.
- - - - - - - -MAILBOX WATCH. Snail-mail in our neck of the woods this week included an anti-Bass piece on health care from the Jonathan Soros-backed Friends of Democracy PAC, an anti-Lamontagne piece paid for by the Service Employees International Union and an anti-Hassan piece paid for by Americans for Prosperity. We also received a negative piece about Democratic District 9 state Senate candidate Lee Nyquist, paid for by the Liberty for All SuperPAC-NH, with a return address of Alexandria, Va. The national Liberty for All SuperPAC was founded by college student millionaire John Ramsey of Texas to promote Libertarian and pro-Ron Paul causes. Local PAC leaders include Paul backer Jared Chicoine. Nyquist's Republican opponent, Andy Sanborn, backed Paul in the January presidential primary.
- - - - - - - -QUICK TAKES: -- The Democratic mayor of Berlin, Paul Grenier, endorsed Republican Bass over Democrat Kuster this week, citing Bass' 'willingness and commitment to work with members of both parties to solve the challenges facing our nation.' Grenier endorsed neither candidate in 2010. -- Bass this week was also endorsed by the state Association of Letter Carriers. -- The New Hampshire Democratic Party will hold its annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser Friday at the Executive Court in Manchester. Not sure what's on the menu, but there should be plenty of red meat served from the podium. -- Catholics for Romney? Yes, the Romney campaign unveiled a coalition of 216 'New Hampshire Catholics for Romney' headed by former U.S. Attorney and Executive Councilor Tom Colantuono and former state Rep. Maureen Mooney. -- Kal Penn of 'Harold and Kumar' fame will campaign for Obama today at New England College, Plymouth State University and Southern New Hampshire University. -- Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund,campaigned with Hassan Wednesday, calling the gubernatorial candidate a 'longtime champion of women's right to control their own health care.' - (Thursday Update:) Hassan on Thursday was endorsed by the New Hampshire Police Association. She has also been endorsed by public safety-related unions the New Hampshire Troopers' Association, the Manchester Police Patrolman's Association, the Concord Police Patrolmen's Association, and the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire
- - - - - - - -John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @jdistaso.