Mar 25, 2016 5:08 PM

Steinhauser: New shot in air wars in Ayotte-Hassan Senate battle

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – The leading super PAC supporting Democratic Senate candidates Friday launched a new television commercial in New Hampshire that targets Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte over her refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

“Since 1875 every pending Supreme Court nominee has had a hearing or a vote in the U.S. Senate. Until today. Kelly Ayotte opposes a hearing on this Supreme Court nominee. Instead Ayotte’s playing a dirty Washington game with party bosses. Newspapers call her behavior a new low and say it makes a mockery of government,” charges the narrator in the spot by Senate Majority PAC.

“Kelly Ayotte abandoning her Constitutional duty: unimaginable, until today,” the narrator concludes.

The third-party group is spending $340,000 to run the ad in New Hampshire, including on WBIN-TV. Earlier this week NH1 News broke the news that Senate Majority PAC was going to go up with a new commercial.

This is the second commercial this month from Senate Majority PAC to criticize Ayotte over the high court vacancy. The first spot tied Ayotte to Donald Trump, the Republican president front runner.

“Donald Trump wants the Senate to delay filling the Supreme Court vacancy so he can choose the nominee next year. And Senator Kelly Ayotte is right there to help,” said the narrator in the commercial.

Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative outside organization, went up earlier this week with an ad that supported Ayotte over her stance that the next president rather than President Obama should name the successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month.

“President Obama wants to rush through another liberal nominee. Kelly Ayotte disagrees. She believes the people of New Hampshire should have a voice in this nomination,” said the announcer in the commercial.

When it comes to big bucks third party groups are spending on the Senate race, each candidate blames the other for a lack of consensus on what to do. The infusion of money by outside organizations in one of the most expensive and negative Senate battles in the country comes as Ayotte and Hassan fight over their efforts to limit third party spending in their race.

Last month Ayotte challenged Hassan to sign the Peoples Pledge.

The pledge is based on the 2012 agreement between then Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren. It would require either candidate that benefits from third-party spending (from Super PACs, 501c4 groups, and other outside organizations) to folk over 50% of the cost of that ad buy to a charity of the opponent’s choosing.

Hassan’s campaign responded to Ayotte’s offer a day later with what they called a “Strengthened New Hampshire Peoples Pledge” which would limit each campaign to a $15 million spending cap. Ayotte termed Hassan’s move disingenuous and turned down the counter proposal.

Thursday Ayotte told NH1 News that “I offered Gov. Hassan the Peoples Pledge. It was the pledge that worked in Massachusetts in 2012. The same pledge that Sen. Shaheen offered. But it’s clear she doesn’t want to keep this outside spending out.”

“She could of with one stroke of a pen ended this, but I’m going to continue to focus on a positive campaign,” Ayotte added.

Hassan pushed back, telling NH1 News that “I support overturning Citizens United. And I’ve been a proponent of campaign finance reform. Both are things my opponent opposes. My opponent has had $8 million of outside spending spent on her behalf.”

Watch/Read: Ayotte and Hassan sit side-by-side; both talk 1-on-1 with NH1 News


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