CONCORD, NH — As her supporters cheered her on in a crowded office, Democrat Katrina Swett grinned as she counted out $50 in single bills today, handing over the fee required to file as a candidate for New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional district and beginning what will likely be a contentious race for her party’s nomination and the seat in November.
“We’ve had people read the names of their supporters before,” said New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who oversees all elections in the state. “But I don’t think anyone has done this before.”
The gesture was intended to signify her understanding of the plight of the middle class. But whether voters will see Swett — the seasoned campaigner as both the daughter and wife of former Congressmen — as a trailblazer for their interests or one of the much-reviled “Washington insiders” remains unclear.
Swett faces a serious challenge in the primary from Ann McLane Kuster, a local activist who has raised large amounts of money from New Hampshire donors — both are compelling, well-spoken women with strong ties to the state.
And should she move on to the general election in November, Swett will have to fight against a forceful anti-Democratic sentiment from her right and three fired-up Republican candidates eager to paint her as a “Washington insider.”
But at Friday’s filing, Swett seemed happy and upbeat, choosing to focus only on her differences with Charlie Bass, the likely frontrunner in the Republican race and former Congressman for the district.
The seat has no incumbent, with Democrat Paul Hodes running for Senate, and as Bass is the only candidate running who has held the seat before, he has been the target of much anti-incumbent sentiment.
“He was riding shotgun when George Bush drove the economy into the ditch,” Swett told her cheering supporters Friday, promising to fight for their interests should she be elected.
Swett said she sees anger right now as being directed toward incumbents, not necessarily Democrats.
“I see that in many ways it’s a ‘fix it’ election in people’s minds,” she said, pointing to the results of Tuesday’s primary. “And I think very much that I have a clear focus to do just that.”
Click below to enlarge pictures in the slideshow of Friday’s event:
—Up next: Check back tomorrow for an analysis of the race so far and best quotes of the week.