Nov 4, 2014 8:19 AM

Kevin Landrigan: Shadowy special interest groups pour record money in NH Senate race

Ending spending. Next Gen Climate. Reinventing a New Direction. Unlocking Potential. What do these groups have in common?

They are a few of the shadowy special interest groups placing bets on the US Senate race.

Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown will spend at least $22 million. These groups are kicking in another $30 million, by far a New Hampshire election record.

New England College politics professor Wayne L'esperance said it's hard for political professionals much less rank and file voters to figure out who's behind these attacks.

"When you do figure out who runs it, you have these amazing names like Women Vote and the May Day PAC. It means absolutely nothing. I mean who is against women voting?

NH1 tries to untangle just who's behind all this big, largely secret money.

Let's take a look at some of the conservative groups backing brown.

Joe Ricketts is founder of Ameritrade whose family owns the Chicago Cubs. He formed ending spending that's dumped tens of millions into a select number of races.

The group doesn't always support Republicans; it weighed in for Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2012.

The four top groups supporting Shaheen including some whose founders are alumni of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama's presidential campaigns.

Tom Steyer, a hedge fund manager, put $58 million behind his belief in left-wing environmental causes forming Nextgen Climate Action.

- Americans for Responsible Solutions: $210,000 for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH. This group supports gun control and is controlled by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who was shot in an assassination attempt three years ago.

- Council American Job Growth: Spent $720,000 in support of Shaheen and its principals include Todd Schulte, former chief of staff to Priorities USA - a pro-Obama interest group, ex-Congressman Scott Murphy, D-New York and Joe Lockhart, ex-press secretary during the Bill Clinton White House years.

- Unlocking Potential PAC: This conservative, pro-Scott Brown organization supports free market candidates, spent $169,000 and its chairman is Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard and GOP nominee for US Senate in California.

State Senate hopeful Dan Feltes of Concord believes voters became overwhelmed and stopped being influenced by them weeks ago.

"I think it's Nov. 3, the election is tomorrow and my experience in talking with people, canvassing and calling is that people are tuning it out at this stage,'' Feltes said.

Unfortunately for them as state races become more nationalized this looks like the new normal.


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