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June 9, 2013

N.H. campaigns heat up well ahead of election cycle

State sees early start to 2014, 2016 elections

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte are taking political hits this month via ads over the New Hampshire airwaves.

Shaheen, a Democrat, is up for re-election in 17 months. Ayotte, a Republican, is more than three years away.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, recently visited the state as he ponders a run for president, another election three years away.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., getting early attention as a prospect for the 2016 campaign or potential running mate, attends a New Hampshire fundraiser for Shaheen later this week.

While pundits and columnists dismiss the newly re-elected Obama administration as so yesterday, the Granite State political machinery is cranking ahead of the next two — yes, two — election cycles.

Windham GOP Chairman Bruce Breton said he’s seen nothing like this.

“Not in my recollection, not in my 20 years in politics,” Breton said.

“Clearly, if you look at the trend lines of these tactics, which have been evolving since the Citizens United decision, the cycle has extremely lengthened,” Hampstead Democratic Party chairman Andrew Weir said last week.

That 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision was seen as a boon to special interest financing for political campaigns. The ruling prohibited the Federal Election Commission from restricting independent expenditures on behalf of politicians by corporations, unions and other groups.

From Weir’s perspective in Hampstead, it’s pressured politicians into constant campaign mode.

“This is so troubling to our representatives, who have to spend so much time raising money,” he said.

Shaheen appealed to supporters for money as Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire urged conservatives to let her know they can’t afford the health-care reforms pushed by President Obama she supported.

Shaheen’s response to loyal followers: “I saw these same attacks in 2008 and we beat them.” She asked them to donate at least $5 to help.

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