Tag Archives: fundraising

Republican debate highlights Bass weaknesses

11 Sep

HENNIKER, NH — While much of the focus and media attention in the 2nd district Congressional campaign has focused on the Democrats, the three Republican candidates showed Saturday that theirs is still a fascinating and peculiar struggle — that has been misunderstood by the national media.

Bob Giuda, Jennifer Horn and Charlie Bass took the stage at New England College only days before the September 14 primary. The interactions between the three showed how vastly different they are as candidates and how Bass has struggled to run against his conservative counterparts. In contrast to the media’s analysis of theirs as an imbalanced contest, none of the three looked like a clear winner.

Bob Giuda, Jennifer Horn, and Charlie Bass participate in a debate at New England College on Saturday.

While Bass will likely prevail due his fundraising abilities, Horn and Giuda’s performances illustrated the degree to which a well-funded conservative could have really changed the race, and the degree to which Bass will struggle against the much more dynamic Democrats in the general election.

Many outlets have written off the race as solidly within Bass’s grasp, and on paper, this seems right. He has the moderate credentials, party backing, experience and fundraising to render his opponents essentially non-factors in the race. But this narrative was not at all obvious at Saturday’s debate, where Bass underperformed and Giuda and Horn looked relatively strong.

From a visual perspective, Bass looked physically terrible in Saturday’s debate. Seeing him in person provided a sharp contrast with the media’s portrayal of an assured victor on Tuesday.

James Pindell noted in his column about last week’s debate that Bass seemed actually ill, and I wrote in July that his campaign has seemed fairly lackluster for months now. On Saturday, he closed his eyes while his opponents spoke, took breaths and pauses at random times, and displayed odd mannerisms that weren’t on display earlier this summer.

But even on a policy level, he largely failed to demonstrate the degree to which he is leading this race. Bass and Horn got into a heated discussion about the value of experience in a candidate, and it wasn’t clear that anyone won. For a man who served 12 years in Congress, not being able to articulate the value of experience against a woman who has never held office is concerning.

But Bass’s problem is that he’s essentially running as someone he is not. A moderate, mainstream Republican, he is trying to embrace the Tea Party phenomenon and win his base while also defending a moderate voting record and appealing to independents. It’s too much for any one person to accomplish, and he seems frusterated by the inconsistencies as a result.

Bass will likely do much better running against a liberal Democrat in the general election, where he can tout his widespread political appeal with less fear of alienating hardcore Republicans. But until Tuesday, he has to deal with this conundrum.

One of the panelists asked him if he’s concerned that party leaders don’t find him conservative enough, and he became visibly agitated at the suggestion, hitting the podium in response. “No one can beat my record,” he said, seeming distressed at the suggestion.

In contrast, Giuda looked sharp and effective in the exchange. He does well in public speaking because he’s an engaging, dynamic conversationalist. He is confident and clearly enjoys discussing foreign policy. It’s unfortunate that Giuda spend the entire time with an odd smirk on his face. And that his campaign has virtually no money or prospects for a win on Tuesday.

Horn also did well, challenging Bass on his voting record and his lack of idealism in revamping how Congress operates. What she lacks in substance and practical policy solutions, Horn more than compensates with her dyanamic, compassionate brand of conservatism that could resonate with more hardline GOP voters.

But as one panelist noted, Horn has failed to gather endorsements from national conservatives like Sarah Palin — likely a sore point for the self-proclaimed mama grizzly in this race. She has also struggled to raise enough money to really seriously compete with Bass.

And financing is perhaps the most important aspect of this race, and the reason Bass will win next week, despite a lackluster campaign. “We cannot nominate a candidate that is flat-broke the day after the election,” he said in one of the sharper moments of the debate, hitting his opponents where it counts.

Horn has more than $200,000 in debt from her failed 2008 campaign, and Giuda has loaned his team more than $100,000 of his own money. Neither are prepared to take on the Democrats, who have far out-raised the Republicans in this race. Ann McLane Kuster, the likely nominee at this point, has raised more than $1 million.

What would Horn or Giuda’s campaigns looked like had they raised the money to compete with Bass? The contest is eerily reminsicent of Ovide LaMontagne‘s Senate bid, which has gained momentum from conservative endorsements this week despite his inability to keep up with frontrunner Kelly Ayotte in fundraising.

It seems that Charlie Bass could have really struggled this year — but Horn and Giuda weren’t the candidates to make it happen.


Dem fight turns ugly, Republicans focus their message

8 Sep

MANCHESTER — Republicans and Democrats took it to the podium tonight, but it’s unclear what anyone achieved from the process.

The candidates in NH’s 2nd district Congressional race faced off tonight in debates less than a week before the Sept. 14 primary, with the overall tone of the race taking a decidedly more negative turn.

Republicans Charlie Bass and Jennifer Horn focused on each other, with Horn attacking Bass’s record in Congress and Bass pointing to Horn’s lack of political experience.

Neither hit third candidate Bob Giuda particularly hard, signifying his increasing insignificance in the race. All three candidates talked of cutting spending, opposing “Obamacare” and reducing the role of government — fairly standard rhetoric.

But it was the Democratic debate between Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett that got ugly, and probably thrilled every Republican following the race.

Early in the evening, the two started waging accusations of lobbying at each other — a petty fight that has come to define their race. Kuster said the issue has “become something of an obsession” for Swett, and the moderator had to change the topic to keep civility.

But even when the candidates moved on from lobbying, the tone of the evening remained unpleasant. Abortion, nuclear energy, and tax cuts all elicited snarky comments from the two.

So who came out on top?

Winner: Jennifer Horn

With Bass stumbling on his words and presenting an unclear message tonight, and Giuda increasingly becoming a non-factor in the race, Horn managed to deflect criticism and come across as a strong, viable candidate in the Republican race. She used some poor metaphors and strange rhetorical devices, but overall, presented a much more compelling conservative voice than either of her opponents. Too bad she hasn’t been more successful at fundraising, and will have to compete with Giuda for the far right.

Loser: the Democrats

There’s no question that tonight’s debate was terrible for the Democrats. Airing their dirty laundry in public, Kuster and Swett attacked each other at a personal level that will not bode well for whoever advances to the general election. Overall, Kuster kept her cool better than Swett, and stooped to less snark than her opponent. But New Hampshire Democratic Party leader Ray Buckley must be a very unhappy man right now.

Kuster raises over $222,000, others haven’t released

3 Sep

Democrat Ann McLane Kuster released her fundraising totals for the final period before the September 14 primary, noting that she earned more than $222,000. With less than two weeks until the ballots are cast, the candidate reports will serve as a serious indicator of where they stand in the race.

Kuster’s total is less than she raised last quarter, although the period of time is much shorter — two months as opposed to the standard three for past fundraising quarters. The report brings Kuster’s tally to more than $1,379,000 for her campaign overall, with nearly $450,000 on hand.

Democratic opponent Katrina Swett hasn’t released her numbers yet, nor have any of the Republican candidates. However, the tallies should roll in fairly quickly, depending on the strength of the numbers.

For past fundraising totals, check out this Red Hampshire post here. Below is the press release from Kuster’s campaign:



Grassroots Campaign Receives Average Contribution of $45.09

CONCORD, NH –  With less than 12 days to go before her September 14 Primary, Democratic congressional candidate Ann McLane Kuster has demonstrated widespread grassroots momentum, outraising all of her Democratic and Republican opponents combined in the final fundraising report due to the FEC before the September 14th primary.

From July 1 through August 25th, Kuster raised over $222,000, bringing her total to over $1,379,000 for her campaign overall, with nearly $450,000 cash-on-hand.

Her average donation this past quarter was roughly $45.09, and Kuster has received more money in donations from New Hampshire citizens than anyone running for U.S. House of Representatives has ever reported before (at least since the FEC began compiling electronic reports ten years ago).

“Thousands of New Hampshire voters are supporting Annie’s campaign even in these tough economic times, because they know she will bring a new approach to Washington that focuses on what’s best for people, not politics as usual” said Communications Director Neil Sroka.

Born and raised in Concord, Ann McLane Kuster has a long history as a community activist, author, public policy advocate, and attorney with deep roots in the Granite State.  She worked with New Hampshire colleges to help create the UNIQUE 529 College Savings Program to help families save for their children to attend college, and worked with a coalition of health care providers to help create the Medication Bridge Program that distributes free medication to New Hampshire families and seniors who cannot afford the high cost of prescription drugs.  She has served as a board member or advisor to the NH Charitable Foundation, the Trust for Public Lands, Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, the United Way, and many other community groups.

Poll shows Bass ahead of Dems, Kuster still unknown

30 Jul

Charlie Bass isn’t doing well in the polls– but “not well” still translates to “better than the Democrats.”

New data released today from a WMUR Granite State Poll shows Republican hopeful Charlie Bass beating both Democrats in hypothetical matchups by more than 15 points.

Democrat Katrina Swett dropped in favorability in the overall rankings, but still fares better than her opponent, Ann McLane Kuster, who remains unknown by a fairly shocking 88 percent of respondents, despite the candidate’s fundraising success in the state.

Read the full release of data here.

In the hypothetical matchups, it’s clear that Bass’s earlier mantra that he can win against the Democrats isn’t just talk. According to this poll, he takes a clear lead against both Kuster and Swett.

Charlie Bass 47%
Katrina Swett 30%

Charlie Bass 47%
Anne Kuster 29%

Jennifer Horn 34%
Katrina Swett 32%

Jennifer Horn 35%
Anne Kuster 31%

So what do these numbers mean? Here are my thoughts on what the poll says about each candidate:

  • Charlie Bass — The Republican has done a poor job campaigning recently, hasn’t raised a great deal of money and is suffering from the anti-incumbent wave sweeping the country. His unfavorability ranking has jumped about 15 points since the spring. But somehow, he still comes out far ahead of both Democrats in the polls and is now the frontrunner in this race. I’m still not really sure why the lackluster candidate is doing so well, but the numbers speak for themselves.
  • Jennifer Horn — The 2008 nominee who lost to current Rep. Paul Hodes has had to work to overcome her “loser” image. But that work has paid off. While she is still fairly unknown among voters (68 percent are neutral or don’t know enough to say), she is making significant gains and remains competitive against both Democrats in matchups. I’m still not prepared to write her off, and if Bass continues to dip in polls, she could have another shot at the seat in November.
  • Bob Giuda — Considering the media attention this Republican received in response to comments he made about gay marriage, I’m actually surprised Giuda remains so unknown among voters. But his numbers have remained unchanged since April, and 90 percent of respondents had no opinion of him. Ouch.
  • Katrina Swett — While the Democrat remains more competitive against Bass than her opponent, this poll is more bad news for an already embattled candidate. Swett’s unfavorability rating rose about 5 points, and more people now have a negative than positive view of her candidacy. These are fairly unimpressive numbers for a woman who was supposed to be the frontrunner in her primary — and it comes on the heels of battles with her opponent, a disappointing fundraising quarter and media scrutiny of her positions on gay marriage and the Bush tax cuts.
  • Ann McLane Kuster — The numbers in this poll were perhaps most troubling for the Democrat who has taken the state by a storm and seemed to be gaining on Swett. Kuster has set state fundraising records, earned numerous endorsements, and has received props for her grassroots efforts. But she is still unknown by a shocking 88 percent of voters. That’s a significant hurdle to overcome, but she’s raised more money than any other candidate so far. Time for her to start using it.

Note: As I mentioned in my last post, I’m no longer following the race from NH. But I’m still writing about it from afar, and you can follow me on Twitter at @primarywire for daily updates on the second district happenings.

Weekly Wrap — July 18-24

25 Jul

Each weekend I post a “Weekly Wrap,” or my impressions of the race as they played out during the past seven days.

Note: This week marks the end of my reporting in New Hampshire — for now. Unfortunately vacation and school call, but I plan to return to the Granite State to report on the primary (kindness of my professors willing, of course).

Until then, follow me on Twitter at @primarywire for updates on the race.

New Hampshire, it’s been real. I’ll catch you in September.

1. Things are looking good for Ann McLane Kuster

This week brought Kuster an endorsement from the League of Conservation Voters and a mention as one of Democracy for America’s “Grassroots All-Stars.” While not surprising that she would win an environmental endorsement, the move is just another indicator that her campaign continues to gain momentum.

It was good to see Kuster and opponent Katrina Swett begin addressing each other this week. But if the confrontations continue, they could lessen their ability to take on the Republicans in November. So be careful, ladies. It’s a fine balance.

2. Charlie Bass could win — but Jennifer Horn could too

Charlie Bass is the clear frontrunner in the Republican primary. He has the support of Washington and New Hampshire politicians behind him.

He has much more money and fundraising ability than either of his opponents. And as a moderate, he has the best shot at  beating the Democrats in November (or so he told voters in a YouTube video this week).

But in a year when everyone is hating on incumbents and the Washington establishment, I’m reluctant to write off Jennifer Horn’s bid quite yet.

A very conservative candidate challenging Bass to the right, she has consistently won the support of GOP voters in straw polls and could post a serious threat to his candidacy. This week, she won the endorsement of the blog GraniteGrok and conservative NH Cornerstone Action Political Action Committee.

Sure, Horn lost pretty badly in 2008. And sure, she has plenty of debt and a “loser” stigma to overcome. But she’s conservative, hard-working, and passionate — three things that could help her take Bass by surprise in September.

3. The WMUR candidate questionnaires are worth a read

Each of the candidates filled out a questionnaire submited by WMUR, and it’s well worth the read. For instance, Bob Giuda took his first job to be near airplanes, and Katrina Swett loves chocolate so much she named her dog “Cadbury.” A funny mix of answers to remind us that these people have bad taste in movies and music just like we do.

Read their answers here.