On the Trail: NH Democrats getting early start on 2022

  • Then a New Hampshire Democratic Senate candidate, Maggie Hassan speaks to media, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, outside a polling place in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Elise Amendola

For the Monitor 
Published: 8/6/2021 10:07:50 AM

Aiming to reelect U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, and hoping to regain the governorship and state legislative majorities in next year’s elections, the New Hampshire Democratic Party is getting a head start on building its 2022 ground game.

The state party this week is launching OrganizeNH, their 2022 coordinated campaign that will focus on organizing communities across New Hampshire. The state party, which on Friday shared their announcement first with the Monitor, said their coordinated campaign launch is their earliest in history.

The party highlighted that OrganizeNH will serve as their hub for campaign organizing and voter engagement in next year’s elections, and will include what they describe as a “sweeping training program to empower local volunteers.” It is being launched in partnership with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is the re-election arm of Senate Democrats.

The Democrats currently hold razor thin majorities in Congress. Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to regain the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives that they lost in the 2018 midterms. In the Senate, the GOP needs a net gain of just one seat to recapture the majority the Democrats achieved in the 2020 election cycle.

As they work to win back both houses of Congress, the GOP sees opportunities in New Hampshire to flip blue seats red. Senate Republicans believe that former governor and first-term Sen. Maggie Hassan is one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for reelection next year, and they’re putting on a full court press to convince GOP Gov. Chris Sununu to challenge his predecessor in the Corner Office.

House Republicans are targeting two-term Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, who represents one of the top swing congressional districts in the country. And thanks to an upcoming redistricting process that in New Hampshire is in the hands of the GOP controlled legislature and governor’s office, Pappas’ First Congressional District could become more Republican-friendly in 2022.

The GOP also has tradition on its side, as the party that wins the White House on average loses 25 House seats in the ensuing midterm elections.

Facing that kind of political climate, longtime NHDP chair Ray Buckley told the Monitor that the state party is “starting earlier than ever to build a grassroots-driven, volunteer-led organizing team.”

Buckley predicted that the organizing effort “will help re-elect Senator Hassan, Rep. Kuster, and Rep. Pappas, elect a Democratic governor, and flip the State House. OrganizeNH will work with communities across New Hampshire to turn the State House blue and elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”

The state party, as part of their roll out, said they’ve also made their earliest hires ever of a coordinated campaign director and a voter protection director.

Andrea Nemecek, who was a key member of the Arizona Democratic Party in the 2018 and 2020 cycles when they flipped two Senate seats, is coming on board as coordinated campaign director.

Nemecek stressed in a statement that “the stakes for New Hampshire families couldn’t be higher this year, and that is why we are starting early to protect the rights of every eligible voter and to organize communities from Pelham to Pittsburg to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.” 

Emma Mintz, who previously worked for the Georgia Democratic Party leading up to the January twin Senate runoff elections, which the Democrats swept, will serve as voter protection director. Mintz also organized in New Hampshire for Sen. Elizabeth Warren during her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

RNC nominating calendar committee

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel says she has “every intention” of placing a representative from New Hampshire on a soon-to-be formed committee that will make recommendations on the 2024 GOP presidential primary and caucus calendar.

The panel – and who will sit on it – will be announced next week when the RNC holds it summer meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

“The committee has to be reformed so there’s going to have to be a rule to re-add the presidential nominating committee, and then I get to make appointments, but I have every intention of having somebody from New Hampshire on that committee,” McDaniel said Thursday during a trip to New Hampshire.

There’s plenty of drama in the Democratic calendar, with Nevada Democrats pushing to leap frog Iowa and New Hampshire to become the lead off nominating contest.

McDaniel said Republicans are making no such efforts.

“I’m definitely not hearing chatter from our members to change the calendar,” she said. “We’re going to let the nominating committee do its work and then we’ll let them present their report and then members will ultimately decide but it’s fair to say that we’re not hearing buzz around that with the RNC members right now.”

McDaniel was in New Hampshire to speak at training session for Republican activists that was held at the Rye Beach home of New Hampshire GOP Vice Chair Pam Tucker. She later headlined a state party fundraiser on Governor’s Island in Gilford.

The GOP chairs in Iowa, whose caucuses for half a century have kicked off the nominating process, and New Hampshire, which for a century’s held the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, as well as in South Carolina and Nevada, the other two early voting states, have been teaming up all year to protect their cherished status. They held a hospitality session at the RNC spring meeting in Dallas, Texas to drum up support among fellow national committee members and state party officials for keeping the existing nominating calendar.

NHGOP chair Steve Stepanek, who called the session at the spring meeting "a last minute quick reception," told the Monitor a month ago that they would “be doing a much more in-depth reception at the RNC summer meeting that is being put on by all four states. We’re all in unison working together to preserve the calendar and the order within the calendar exactly as it is."

Push for ‘clean transportation’ funding

Two leading environmental advocacy groups held events in New Hampshire this week to highlight their push for more federal funding to combat climate change.

The New Hampshire wing of the League of Conservation Voters and the Climate Action Campaign teamed up with Democratic state lawmakers and other leaders in Manchester on Wednesday and Portsmouth on Thursday to urge New Hampshire’s congressional delegation to continue to support federal investments in clean transportation infrastructure.

Speakers at the events complimented the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal making its way through the U.S. Senate – which includes $150 billion to boost clean energy and promote “climate resilience.” But with the package falling far short of President Joe Biden’s pledge to transform the nation’s economy in order to combat climate change, the groups stressed that a much larger investment in clean transportation is urgently needed in follow-up legislation.

“Initiatives like clean transportation are an important step to protecting New Hampshire and the broader climate,” state Sen. David Watters emphasized at the Portsmouth event.

A day earlier, Rep. Matt Wilhem said in Manchester that a “bold federal investment in clean transportation….will improve public health and create economic opportunity for all Granite Staters.”

Early 2022 ads

Building Back Together, a pro-Democratic outside group that supports President Biden and his administration’s initiatives, starting running TV ads on Thursday in New Hampshire that thank Sen. Hassan for her support for the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, that was passed along party lines earlier this year.

The group tells the Monitor that the spots, which are also running in three other states where Democratic senators likely face difficult reelections next year, are part of a seven-figure ad buy across the country.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday began taking aim at 15 House Democrats they consider vulnerable in the 2022 contests with digital ads that blame the Democrats for the recent rise in inflation. Rep. Pappas is among the representatives being targeted.

 The House GOP reelection arm tells the Monitor that the spots are part of a modest five-figure ad buy.

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