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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

More political groups target Scott Brown, favoring other candidates in the race for U.S. Senate

CONCORD – Special-
interest groups on the political left and right came after Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown on Tuesday.

The more conservative group already backed GOP primary rival Jim Rubens, and the other is an environmental group that’s supported Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in past campaigns. ...

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CONCORD – Special-
interest groups on the political left and right came after Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown on Tuesday.

The more conservative group already backed GOP primary rival Jim Rubens, and the other is an environmental group that’s supported Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in past campaigns.

The New Hampshire PAC to Save America will use direct mail and a new website to target Republican voters and educate them about Brown’s past support for President Barack Obama, gun control, energy cap and trade legislation and more than $300 million in Massachusetts tax and fee hikes, said Michael Dennehy, the group’s spokesman.

All these efforts also will underline the group’s support of Rubens, he said.

“The bottom line is who is the real Scott Brown?” Dennehy asked. “He should either stand up and defend his record or explain why he has changed his position on so many issues of public importance.”

Brown moved to New Hampshire from Massachusetts last fall after having served in the U.S. Senate for three years and in the Massachusetts Legislature before that.

Rubens, a former state senator, trailed far behind Brown in the polls and fundraising, having spent nearly the past year building a grass roots organization.

The third GOP candidate, former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, has likewise lagged well behind Brown in polls and raising money but led Rubens in early polls. Last month Smith got the endorsement of Franklin activist Karen Testerman who pulled out of the race.

Dennehy said “it would help” if Smith got out of the race and the field of major candidates was Brown versus Rubens, but he doesn’t expect that to happen.

Within the hour, Smith himself pounced on the comment by tweeting that Rubens was not “resonating” with GOP primary voters and should get out.

“The Smith Campaign is becoming an unstoppable tsunami assisted by a heavy breeze coming from Virginia,” Smith Campaign Manager Jack Kimball said, referring to the conservative Republican who defeated U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, in a Virginia GOP primary last month.

For the second quarter ending June 30, Brown raised $2 million to $200,000 for Smith and $25,000 for Rubens, according to officials in all three campaigns.

Meanwhile, the League of Conservation Voters began another round of TV ads attacking Brown’s past support of tax breaks for oil and gas companies.

The LCV endorsed Shaheen in her previous Senate campaigns in 2008 and 2002; all signs point to the group following suit later this election cycle.

The LCV ad is aimed at Americans for Prosperity’s ads that don’t mention Brown by name, but criticize Shaheen for her support of Obamacare. The Koch Brothers, whose fortune came from the oil and gas industry, have been major supporters of AFP.

“It’s no surprise that the out-of-state oil billionaire Koch Brothers are behind a multimillion dollar ad campaign to defeat Jeanne Shaheen and send one of Big Oil’s best friends back to the Senate. They know Scott Brown will continue where he left off by protecting oil industry profits at the expense of taxpayers and public health,” said Daniel J. Weiss, an LCV senior vice president.

The Brown campaign had no comment in response to the attack from the pro-Rubens’ group.

But Campaign Manager Colin Reed quickly fired back at LCV insisting the ads were trying to offer political cover for Shaheen, who, according to a published report last month, said she was open to raising the federal gasoline tax.

Shaheen said last week that raising the gas tax wasn’t the right approach to finding more federal revenue to replenish a cash-starved highway fund that pays for road and bridge projects.

“As you launch a major blitz of negative attack ads against Scott Brown onto New Hampshire’s airwaves, your motive is very transparent: to give Senator Jeanne Shaheen political cover on the gas tax increase she supports,” Reed, Brown’s campaign chief, said in a letter to LCV.

GOP state Chairwoman Jennifer Horn, of Nashua, raised the rhetoric even higher, insisting voters can’t trust Shaheen on gas taxes since she embraced a state sales tax as New Hampshire governor in 2001.

“When it comes to taxes, Jeanne Shaheen is a proven liar,” Horn said in a statement.

Time after time, she has demonstrated that she cannot be trusted to keep her word or honor her commitments. Shaheen is willing to do and say anything to get elected, including making dishonest promises that she fully intends to break after an election.”

A New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman noted as a state senator Brown voted for a Massachusetts state budget package that the industry called a “back door gas tax.”

“Scott Brown voted for a back-door gas tax in Massachusetts. No grossly inappropriate and vicious mudslinging by the Brown campaign and the NHGOP can erase the fact that Scott Brown is wrong for New Hampshire – he stands against contraceptive care for women, Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage,” said spokeswoman Julie McClain.

Shaheen’s campaign and the New Hampshire Democratic Party did not respond to Brown’s campaign or Horn.

Shaheen was re-elected governor in 2000 despite having dropped her past pledge to veto a broad-based tax.

Then-Congressman John E. Sununu, R-N.H., used Shaheen’s failed sales tax as a central theme in his Senate victory over Shaheen in 2002.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).