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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

(Continued)

Special interests change the system

Ayotte is fending off criticism of her own for a vote against a White House-backed gun control plan.

Aide Jeff Grappone fired back at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, after the mayors’ group he co-chairs put out another TV ad attacking her vote.

“Sen. Ayotte won’t be bullied by a billionaire mayor or anyone else — she casts votes for New Hampshire based on what she thinks is right,” Grappone said.

Breton agrees the influence game is what’s changing the nature of New Hampshire politics.

“This is not really the campaigns, it’s the pro and con groups, the special interest groups,” Breton said. “The mayors, I guess it’s their right, put out the negative ad about Kelly. But you talk to the average person on the street and they think she’s doing a good job.”

Weir laments what’s happening.

“It’s just attack, attack, attack,” he said. “I want people focused on governing.”

There are other factors besides money and special interests.

“All the media coverage is a distraction,” Weir said. “Everybody is looking for a sound bite.”

Breton agreed.

“It’s the way politics is now with all the media,” he said. “Everybody wants to get the word out.”

There’s some long-term strategy though, too.

“Republicans have to look at Shaheen and say, ‘No matter who our nominee is, we have to find a way to take her down a peg or two for our nominee to have a chance,’” said Dante Scala, University of New Hampshire political science professor. “That’s why you’re seeing ads this early against Shaheen.”

Ayotte’s vote on gun control, meanwhile, is something her foes see as an opportunity to try to exploit.

“They see this as something that can change voters’ perception in a way nothing else has so far,” Scala said. “The sense is, ‘If we can put a dent in her numbers now, that will make a difference down the road.’”

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