EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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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)

On the Democratic side, there’s still a waiting game on Clinton’s decision.

That’s why names like Gillibrand and O’Malley are circulating, Scala said.

“If Hillary doesn’t go,” he said, “then it’s wide open on that side.”

People recognize it’s fairly early to start talking about the presidential contest, but interest seems strong, Tafoya said.

Tafoya acknowledges the public’s weariness with presidential politics, given Obama’s inauguration after the last round in January.

“People have some sort of fatigue with the presidential campaigning,” he said.

But he expects that will fade after the next election cycle, which he said has plenty of action to keep people interested with races for governor, the U.S. Senate and the Legislature.

Down the ballot speculation for 2014 has the Sununu family once again figuring in a GOP comeback. This time Executive Councilor Chris Sununu is being discussed as a potential candidate for Congress or governor.

Former Congressman Jeb Bradley, the GOP’s New Hampshire Senate majority leader, is looking at the U.S. Senate among his options.

Republican former Congressman Frank Guinta is a possibility for a rematch next year with Democratic Congressman Carol Shea-Porter in the 1st District that includes Derry and Londonderry.

William O’Brien, the controversial former New Hampshire House speaker, is exploring a run against Democratic Congressman Ann McLane Kuster in the 2nd District that includes Salem and Windham next year.

Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan, despite strong approval ratings now, will get a re-election challenge.

Kevin Smith, GOP primary runner-up in 2012, is looking at the race. Other possibilities include Sununu; John Stephen, who lost to former Gov. John Lynch in 2010; and state Sen. Chuck Morse of Salem, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee overseeing state budget matters.

“No one’s announced,” Breton said. “But the Republicans always have a good group of candidates to take the corner office.”

Scala, looking to 2014, sees Hassan and Shaheen as the least vulnerable right now, Shea-Porter the most.

“She’s in a district that leans a little bit Republican,” he said, “she faces a district that tilts a little bit away from her.”

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