MANCHESTER — Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte are taking sides in next week's special election for the District 1 Executive Council seat.
Hassan and Ayotte are among the leaders of their respective parties in New Hampshire, but Hassan, as governor, has a direct interest in who serves beside her on the five-member Executive Council, which currently has three Democrats and one Republican. Hassan is viewed as a potential challenger to Ayotte in 2016.
Hassan's campaign organization on Monday sent an email to supporters asking for contributions to Cryans' campaign against Republican former state Sen. Joe Kenney in the March 11 election to succeed the late Raymond Burton.
She took aim at Kenney, writing, "Mike's opponent has become synonymous with the Tea Party agenda in New Hampshire. In my time in the (state) Senate, he stood for obstructing progress, voting to defund Planned Parenthood and blocking access to basic health services for women. And now he's vowed to do it again if he wins on March 11."
Hassan will continue her active support of Cryans Tuesday by campaigning with him at the Lakes Region Community College in Laconia.
Ayotte, according to a senior Republican, "supports Joe Kenney. He's a good friend. She's pleased that many of her supporters have been working hard for Joe, and she's helping to support his campaign with a $1,000 donation."Kenney is also getting some help from the state Republican Party in the form of two mailers. The second mailer should be arriving in District 1 mailboxes any day now.
Cryans has the support of former Gov. John Lynch, who recently donated $500 to his campaign. Last Thursday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen spoke at a Cryans event in Plymouth.
Responding to Hassan's criticism of Kenney, NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn called Cryans "a typical tax-and-spend liberal who supports ObamaCare even though its forcing North Country residents to lose their doctors and hospitals.
"Governor Hassan is desperate to get Mike Cryans elected because she knows that will be a reliable vote for more reckless spending that will result in higher taxes for middle class families. Joe Kenney has consistently fought for responsible budgets, and he will serve as an independent voice and a strong advocate for taxpayers," Horn said.
Cryans Monday picked up the endorsement of Republican former U.S. Rep. Bill Zeliff of Jackson, who represented the 1st Congressional District from 1991 through 1996.
In a statement released by the Cryans campaign, Zeliff said Cryans and the late Burton "are men cut from the same cloth who share many of the same qualities. Just like Ray, Mike is a good listener, a gentleman and he has worked and lived in the North Country his entire life."