Jul 13, 2015 5:57 PM
CONCORD - Gov. Maggie Hassan’s fight with Republican legislative leaders over on the state budget and speculation on if she will run for US Senate overshadows that she's the top prize for Democrats who want to succeed President Obama in 2016.
There are both logical and very political answers for if an when Hassan would make such a move and why to this point it's been so quiet.
Any New Hampshire governor needs to go slow and be careful coming from the state known as the place where anyone can seriously compete and win.
William Hinkle, the governor’s communications director, said Hassan is "proud to welcome leaders from both parties to the Granite State.’’
Indeed, this two-term Democrat was at charity St. Patrick’s Day events with Republican candidates George Pataki and Lindsay Graham and also appeared at one May event where Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich also was.
But Hassan has not even met privately with any of the Democratic hopefuls this year.
Most observers believe Hassan will wind up backing frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
"Eventually i think everyone expects the governor will go there but she’ll take her time going there since she’s the most important endorsement in the state,’’ said Charles Arlinghaus, executive director of the conservative Josiah Bartlett Center and a seasoned Republican campaign operative.
Here’s the strong circumstantial case. In 2007, then-Senate Majority Leader hassan picks candidate Clinton over Barack Obama.
When Hassan faces a competitive primary fight in her first bid for governor five years later, ex-President Bill Clinton comes to the rescue and headlines Hassan’s biggest fund-raiser.
Last fall, Hillary raises big money for Hassan days before she wins again.
Now Hassan also has strong ties to ex-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
In 2012, O’Malley ran the Democratic Governors Association that pumped a record, $8 million into Hassan’s first race.
Months later, a former O’Malley aide comes north to become Hassan’s office spokesman and 2014 campaign manager. O’Malley also raised money for Hassan’s campaign twice last year.
Sources confirm to NH1 News that Hassan has spoken to Hillary Clinton on the phone this spring and also with O’Malley shortly before he formally entered the race in late May.
These endorsements usually come late and don’t always go as planned. In 1988, GOP Gov. John H. Sununu parlayed it into becoming President George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff.
But seven years later, Gov. Steve Merrill backed Bob Dole only to have Pat Buchanan win our primary.
Then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen’s well-timed backing in 1999 proved critical to Vice President Al Gore getting past rival Bill Bradley.
In a final, ironic twist, many New Hampshire leading Democrats blame the national party and Gore’s campaign for failing to commit enough resources in the final weeks here to capture the state’s four electoral votes and win the presidency.
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