Each weekend I post a “Weekly Wrap,” or my impressions of the race as they played out during the past seven days.
With second quarter fundraising reports rolling in and less than two months until the primary, it was a fun week to be in New Hampshire. Here are my observations on the five candidates:
1. Katrina Swett is a smart lady
Bob Giuda’s campaign manager said this to me about a month ago, and I didn’t entirely understand what he meant by it — the Democrat hasn’t been particularly visible on the campaign trail in the past few months.
But as I have watched Swett begin to unveil her campaign and interact with voters, I’ve been impressed with her clear message and determination. She has more than $1 million on hand, extensive name recognition and a clear passion for politics and the people she wants to serve.
Swett is a strong moderate in a state that is reluctant to elect ideologues. The Democrats must feel lucky to have her.
- Raised this quarter: $187,984
- Cash on hand: $1,150,607
2. Ann McLane Kuster reminds people of Obama
I’m not saying Ann McLane Kuster is Obama. But when I asked her interns why they were motivated to work for her, they spoke with the deep convictions and starry eyes that graced Obama supporters in 2008 and propelled his buzz words of “hope” and “change” into the modern lexicon.
One young woman told me, “you just know when you see the real deal.” So far, I haven’t seen similar sentiments expressed about any of the other candidates.
Kuster’s challenge in this election will be mobilizing Obama liberals to continue believing in that hope and change that made 2008 historic. She is the underdog, the idealist and the liberal.
She is smart to focus her rhetoric on creating jobs, because if voters get frustrated by the economy or lack of results from national Democrats, her more moderate competitor will pick up votes.
But Americans love an underdog and a populist, and for many, Kuster is “the real deal.” The Democrats must feel lucky to have her.
- Raised this quarter: $316,307
- Cash on hand: $745,048
3. Charlie Bass is like vanilla ice cream
Stephanie Micklon, a 62-year-old resident of Salem who served in the NH legislature as a Republican and then a Democrat in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s, made this comparison about Charlie Bass when I spoke to her at a fundraiser for Swett. I thought it was a clever description for the moderate Republican who hasn’t shown much pizzaz so far on the trail.
“Charlie I always felt was like vanilla ice cream. If you go into an ice cream store vanilla isn’t your first choice. You probably wouldn’t pick it out. But by itself, it’s fine. It’s not offensive — it’s just blah.”
- Raised this quarter: $178,749
- Cash on hand: $370,899
4. Jennifer Horn will always win a seat at the Tea Party
While the candidate lacks broad appeal among voters (who will not forget how she was trounced by Paul Hodes in 2008), there is room for a conservative to Bass’s right in the race. And for many who don’t know of or care for Bob Giuda, Jennifer Horn fits the mold.
Polished, professional and articulate, Horn gives a fresh face to the Tea Party movement and continues to win support from a growing number of conservatives in the state, as evidenced by recent straw polls. She’s a former radio show host who knows how to talk so people will listen, and this has served her well on the trail.
But this hasn’t translated into fundraising might. And whether she can overcome Bass in a state-wide election is still doubtful.
- Raised this quarter: $50,611
- Cash on hand: $31,407
5. Bob Giuda is still chugging
I’m not surprised. He loaned his campaign more than $80,000 so far — he is clearly in the race for strong personal and political convictions. Those weren’t likely to go away with one misstep.
- Raised this quarter: $4,749
- Cash on hand: $115,377