NEWPORT, NH — Less than 24 hours before the polls will open in New Hampshire, Republican state legislator Beverly Rodeschin is doing everything she can to get Republican Congressional candidate Jennifer Horn nominated.
Ushering friends and acquaintances into Village Pizza on Main Street, she surveys the crowd to make sure everyone has a seat and enough pizza, and tells them to get excited for Horn’s arrival. She spoke excitedly of her candidate’s endorsement by the Union Leader. But privately, she said she’s not sure how Horn will fare tomorrow.
“Do you think she’s nervous?” she asks me.
Horn certainly didn’t seem nervous at the packed event in Newport on Monday. She hugged friends and supporters, gave glowing recommendations of the pizza and spoke passionately about why she should be the Republican nominee in November. She proved once again that she’s a strong campaigner who does an excellent job connecting with voters and making them believe in her words.
But with very little money to compete, and facing a challenge from opponent Bob Giuda to capture the conservative vote, a Horn victory on Tuesday isn’t looking likely. Almost all pundits and political reporters in the state have called the race for Republican Charlie Bass, the moderate former Congressman and fundraising leader.
The national media has tentatively predicted that Bass, a moderate, will appeal to more voters than Ann McLane Kuster, the liberal Democrat likely to be his opponent in November. But in talking to Rodeschin, it’s clear that Bass will have a hard time winning the state’s conservative base and coasting to victory in the general, should he win on Tuesday.
“He’s not a conservative,” Rodeschin said. She said she saw his performances in the GOP debate last week, and thought he looked “terrible.” She said she supports Horn because of the candidates’s clear conservative beliefs and likability among voters, although Giuda would be her second choice.
So would she vote for Bass in November, should he become the nominee?
“I would leave that spot blank,” she said, noting that she would still vote for Republicans in other state races.
It’s possible that Bass could still pull off a win with the support of the state’s independent and moderate voters who find Kuster (or Katrina Swett, should she win on the Democratic side) too liberal.
But all the talk of Republicans nationwide getting out to vote and changing the course of the 2010 midterms will be a non-factor in the 2nd district race if New Hampshire’s conservatives like those at Village Pizza on Monday feel that both candidates on the ballot are too centrist to win their vote — or even a trip to the polls.