Jim Rubens is in the center of the action as the Granite State political scene heats up in anticipation of statewide races for 2014 and the presidential contest in 2016.
Fresh from leading New Hampshire’s campaign to defeat casino gambling, Rubens yesterday said he soon will visit Windham, Atkinson and Salem for a different kind of campaign.
Rubens, 62, a Republican from Hanover, is exploring a run for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.
“I’m doing three to five events a week,” Rubens said.
His upcoming appearances include taping a cable access show in Windham with state Rep. Mary Griffin, plus meetings with Republicans in Atkinson, Salem and Windham.
Rubens hasn’t formally announced, but yesterday he sounded as if the campaign is inevitable.
“I’d say so,” Rubens acknowledged. “I’ve been working at this full time for the past three months. Everything that needs to be done is being done.”
He’s expecting primary competition.
New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley is looking at the race, as are former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith and Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts with a second home in Rye.
“There definitely will be a contest for the primary,” Rubens said.
A University of New Hampshire poll last week said 50 percent of Granite Staters believe Shaheen should be re-elected, but 34 percent want someone else.
“It’s a tall order,” said Dante Scala, a UNH political science professor, assessing GOP prospects against Shaheen.
Shaheen’s advantages include both her fundraising and poll standing, he said.
“I think it will be very difficult to defeat Jeanne Shaheen,” said Dean Spiliotes, a Southern New Hampshire political science professor. “She’s positioned herself pretty well.”
Rubens, who lost in the 1998 GOP gubernatorial primary, has a lot of work to do. Only 8 percent of those polled said they have a favorable opinion of him, while 85 percent do not know him or have a neutral opinion.