CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Former state Sen. Jim Rubens has become the first Republican to launch a campaign against Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
In his announcement speech Wednesday morning in Concord, Rubens declared that the nation now faces more serious threats than any time since World War II or the Great Depression.
“But blocking the path to solutions is career politician and party rubber stamp Jeanne Shaheen, who is so wrong in so many ways,” he said.
Rubens attacked Shaheen for allowing the nation’s debt to grow under her watch, linked her to government spying and said she encouraged the Internal Revenue Service to target political enemies.
He also seized on Shaheen’s support for President Barack Obama’s call for military strikes in Syria.
“Jeanne Shaheen is dangerously wrong on national defense,” he said. “Syria poses no national security threat to the United States.”
Shaheen’s campaign declined to comment on Rubens’ announcement.
The state Democratic Party released a statement describing Rubens as “out of touch with New Hampshire.” The party highlighted statements on his website in which he said he lives in a million-dollar home and chartered private flights for vacation.
Despite his harsh rhetoric, Rubens faces an uphill climb.
Having last served in elected office in the mid-1990s, he is not well-known across the state. Polls suggest that Shaheen, a former governor and first-term senator, remains popular. And while Election Day is more than a year away, the incumbent senator has a huge head start in the money race, with more than $2 million in her campaign account at the end of June.
Rubens said he’s prepared to raise millions of dollars for his campaign.
New Hampshire Republicans also expect more GOP candidates to emerge. In particular, party leaders are courting former U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass following revelations that another top recruit, former congressman and state Sen. Jeb Bradley, would not run.
Rubens, who describes himself as “a private venture investor,” served as state senator from 1994 to 1998 and ran for governor in 1998. More recently, he led the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling and worked to defeat bills to legalize casinos.
He said Congress should “repeal and replace” Obama’s health care overhaul, but he suggested that Republicans “would be better served” if they avoided plans to shut down the federal government to block funding for the law.
“I’m not your typical candidate,” Rubens said.