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Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, may take a pass but a new poll has her locked in a dead heat with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, if the two tangle for the US Senate seat in 2016.

Aug 28, 2015 5:26 PM

NH1 News Political Report: August 27, 2015 - The must-read, weekly NH political tip sheet


Many observers believe she’s already made her mind not to run but Gov. Maggie Hassan continues to be very competitive in a potential, 2016 battle with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, according to a new, independent poll.

Public Policy Polling found Ayotte had 44 percent to 43 percent for Hassan. Interestingly, this Democratic polling firm has handicapped the race three times this year and each time the race was within 1 percentage point.

According to the survey, Hassan remains more popular than Ayotte does with approval/disapproval rating of 48/42 percent.

Conversely, Ayotte is under water with voters with 38 percent approval to 46 percent disapproval.

Ayotte’s less favorable footing is largely a function of her not being as popular with Republicans (68-25 percent favorable) as Hassan is with Democrats.

Should Hassan pass on the race, PPP examined how another prominent Democrat might do against Sen. Kelly Ayotte, that is Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, D-Manchester.

This poll had Ayotte beating Pappas, 45 percent to 31 percent.

The margin of error for this Aug. 21-24 poll was 3.5 percent.


Given their leanings, it’s no surprise that Democrats fare better than Republican candidates do in the latest PPP poll.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich does best, leading Hillary Clinton, 43-to-41 percent mainly because he’s tied with her among independents (38 percent each).

Donald Trump (46-44) and Carly Fiorina (45-42) both barely trail Clinton as well but the results are effectively a dead heat.

Clinton has double digit leads against Rand Paul (47/37), Ted Cruz (49/38), and Mike Huckabee (49/36). All other candidates trail Clinton by 7-8 points.

Bernie Sanders does similarly to Clinton against Bush and Scott Walker but against Trump and Rubio, Sanders actually fares a good deal better than Clinton.

Sanders leads Trump by 9 at 50-41, compared to Clinton's 2 point advantage, and he leads Rubio by 13 while Clinton is up by eight.

"New Hampshire’s generally leaning toward going Democratic for the 4th Presidential election in a row," said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.

"John Kasich does well but the same things that make him appealing to the middle might make him struggle with the conservative voters he needs to get the nomination."


State Libertarians took it on the chin this week with a US District Court ruling that upheld a controversial state law.

The Republican-led initiative was to reduce the amount of time that Libertarians or any other party for that matter has to collect signatures from registered voters to qualify candidates to appear on the general election ballot.

Until this law passed in 2014, these activists had the time right after the last election until August of the election year (about 21 months) to gather names.

The change reduced that window to a little over seven months meaning that petitions for registered voters could not be picked up by these would be candidates until Jan. 1 of the election year.

"To use a metaphor, this signature-collection process is like a marathon that’s hard enough just to finish, and this law now demands that the Libertarian Party run the marathon in less than two hours—all while the major parties are campaigning," said Gilles Bissonnette, legal director for Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire.

"The LPNH is disappointed by the Court’s decision. This law limits voter choice and stacks the deck against candidates who—like roughly 40% of Granite Staters—don’t belong to a major party. The LPNH is considering whether to appeal this decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston."

A federal court in Rhode Island had struck down an identical law imposing a Jan. 1 starting date.


This week’s public meeting of the Legislative Fiscal Committee reveals that privately relations remain very frigid between Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republican legislative leaders.

Both sides had reason to celebrate this week: they had put aside their differences to ensure that state parks remain open.

Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeff Rose needed the committee to declare the park’s need for $1.3 million between now and the end of December amounted to an ``emergency.’’

Why? Because under the terms of the continuing resolution that Hassan and lawmakers approved in June to keep state government running, the parks were only entitled to receive 50 percent of spending.

Problem is the parks spend about 60 percent of the year’s money during the first six months as those come at the height of the summer and fall tourism seasons.

They approved the money but several GOP legislators made a point of saying Hassan was to blame for the dilemma.

And at one point, Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, made yet another overt appeal for Democratic legislators to oppose their governor and override the governor’s budget veto when lawmakers come back to take it up Sept. 16.

Fat chance that will happen.


Trump announced two additional staffers in the Granite State. Lisa Maciejowski Gambuzza has joined the campaign as office manager for the Manchester based operation and Jonathan W. Dimock of Newfields, New Hampshire will serve as a New Hampshire field representative.

As we first tweeted this week, veteran GOP operative Liz Christoffersen was named as a senior adviser to Scott Walker’s campaign.

She managed John Stephen’s GOP run for governor in 2010 and was a top adviser to Marilinda Garcia’s unsuccessful bid for Congress last fall.


Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign profited from a statewide mailing this week targeted to independent voters that highlight his record as a tax cutter and fiscal conservative while serving as governor of Florida.

"Why Jeb? Because conservative results matter," the mailing said.

"Florida created 1.3 million jobs, Jeb balanced eight state budgets, household incomes increased by more than 20 percent, Jeb cut taxes every year totaling $19 billion, Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.4 percent and Florida’s state budget reserves grew to nearly $10 billion."

The mailing also points out that during Bush’s decade as governor, the work force shrunk by 13,000 state jobs and that $2 billion was cut in "pork barrel spending."

"Jeb will bring fiscal common sense to America. It starts in New Hampshire."

The presidential campaign did not pay for the mailing; it was paid for by Right to Rise USA, Bush’s Super PAC.


Could former Gov. John Sununu, 76, actually retire from public life as a result of his brush with death last week?

Not likely for the always-on-the-go, onetime White House chief of staff who to this day still has a stable of corporate and government clients.

"He’s a type a personality. Through the book tour he’s been pushing the past several months and his private clients he still keeps on the consulting side, it is tough for him to walk away a bit," said Councilor Chris Sununu, R-Newfields.

"If anything, though this was a bit of a wakeup call so it could mean we get to spend more time with him in the future."


The state GOP is planning a gala Oct. 2 in honor of Sen. Judd Gregg and his family for service to the state. The hosts for the event are Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, State Chairwoman Jennifer Horn of Nashua, Republican National Committee members Steve Duprey and Juliana Bergeron and Frank Edelblut who is considering a run for governor.


Quote of the Week:

"He feels incredibly lucky he was proactive. He took the initiative to go to the doctor and it really saved his life." - Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, speaks about his dad, former Gov. John H. Sununu, who is still with us because he went to the doctor due to shortness of breath and wound up needing quadruple heart bypass surgery last weekend at a Boston hospital.


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