BOW, NH — When Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, addressed voters Thursday night before the two Democratic candidates took the stage, he looked a bit like a concerned parent urging the kids not to get too rowdy.
“The problem is, we have a late primary,” he told voters. “And if we get too excited in our corners and we can’t get back together, there isn’t time, and Charlie will slip in. The day after the primary, in fact, the night of the primary, I would like for us to come together.”
And in Buckley’s stern remarks to enthusiastic Democrats, he laid out their essential problem — the candidates might be too strong for their party’s good.
Democrats Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett have bucked the national trend by raising more money than their three Republican counterparts combined, energizing voters across the state through house parties and grassroots activism.
Kuster has raised more money from New Hampshire donors than any other Congressional candidate in state history. And Swett is a well-known political name who has more than a million dollars on hand. The two have the power to wage a strong race against each other. Read about their fundraising here.
But for Democrats, the concern is that a bitter primary could waste time and energy — resources that could be better spent fighting the Republicans, as Buckley pointed out.
“This is going to be an exciting election,” he said. “And I think that either one of these women will be amazing members of Congress.”
The two were cordial and polite at Thursday’s forum, only explicitly diverging on a few issues such as the use of nuclear power.
Kuster emphasized her passion for women’s health issues and her work as an adoption attorney, and Swett talked about her experiences as the daughter of Holocaust survivors working for human rights. Both agreed that the economy is one of the most important issues facing Congress today.
The women were impressive and articulate, but in the end, it wasn’t Kuster or Swett who had the last word — it was the Democrat who turned to look into the camera of a Republican aide to say what many in the boisterous crowd were thinking:
“Get ready Bass, we’re coming for you!”
I live-Tweeted a good deal of Thursday’s forum at @primarywire. Follow me on Twitter, and check back on Friday for video footage of the forum.