Kelly has cash edge over Marchand as both Democrats launch ads weeks before primary

  • New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial candidates Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand participate in a forum at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., on Aug. 13, 2018, in advance of their Sept. 11 primary. The winner will challenge Republican incumbent Chris Sununu in the general election. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Geoff Hansen

  • New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial candidates Steve Marchand and Molly Kelly laugh as moderator Charles Wheelan, right, a senior lecturer at Dartmouth College, extends their time limit to one to two minutes to respond to a complicated issue during a forum at the college in Hanover, N.H., on Aug. 13, 2018. The winner in the Sept. 11 primary will challenge Republican incumbent Chris Sununu in the general election. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen)  Geoff Hansen

For the Monitor
Published: 8/22/2018 5:05:46 PM

Gubernatorial candidate Molly Kelly is starting to dip into her sizeable campaign cash advantage over Democratic rival Steve Marchand, launching commercials Wednesday on the state’s only commercial broadcast station and on cable TV.

Marchand, who grew up on Manchester’s west side to French-Canadian parents who immigrated from Quebec, is launching a more modest ad buy on cable TV in which he speaks French throughout.

With a lack of any head-to-head polls between the two candidates, it’s hard to know where the race stands, but it’s perceived to be a close contest with the clock ticking towards primary day on Sept. 11. In a close raise, money can be an important campaign metric.

Add to the equation a new University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll indicating both candidates remain largely unknown to Granite States, which means any advantage on the airwaves could be an important factor in a close race.

“Late ad spending is very important in a New Hampshire primary, especially given that a lot of voters will just be tuning into the fact that they need to vote right after Labor Day,” University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala said. “And given their relative low name ID’s right now, every extra dollar Kelly can spend compared to Marchand delivers a real advantage.”

Cash on hand

In a filing with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office, Kelly reported raising more than $639,000 since launching her gubernatorial campaign in April. She’s received contributions from more than 1,900 donors, with 74 percent of them from New Hampshire.

The Harrisville Democrat, who represented Keene and the southwest corner of New Hampshire in the state Senate for ten years, also reported raising $176,000 in the most recent filing period, with 80 percent of all contributions being $100 or less.

The campaign also said it had $353,000 cash on hand as of August 20.

Kelly said in a statement that her fundraising puts her “campaign in a strong position to win the primary.”

Her numbers dwarf those of Marchand, a former Portsmouth mayor who’s making his second straight run for the Corner Office. Marchand reported having just over $41,000 cash on hand. He raised more than $53,000 this filing period and just over $291,000 since launching his bid in April of 2017, a year before Kelly jumped into the race.

Marchand touted that “we are executing on the broadest grassroots campaign in gubernatorial history.”

And he vowed that “we have the resources we need to execute our plan.”

Making their case

Kelly’s first TV commercials starting running Wednesday on WMUR and on cable TV. The campaign described the ad-buy as “significant,” indicating they were spending in the six-figures through the primary to run the spots.

The ad includes photos and footage of Kelly during her days as a young single-mom attending student at Keene State College.

“I know how hard it can be to put food on the table. I worked my way through college. I was a young single mom with three small children. Still, I became a financial advisor, then a state senator. I wanted my kids to see what was possible. I’m running for governor to kick start opportunity for all,” she said in the ad.

Kelly also highlighted in the commercial that she’s “not taking any donations from corporate PACs so I won’t owe them anything.”

New England College political science professor Wayne Lesperance said the ad could make a difference.

“Most voters have not been paying a lot of attention at this point,” Lesperance explained. “Being introduced to candidates is going to happen largely through media.”

Marchand is also going up later this week with his first TV commercial, speaking French throughout the entire ad.

In the commercial, which uses subtitles, he takes aim at President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration policies and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s support of the GOP president.

“We need a governor who understands we are great not in spite of immigration,” he said. “We are great because of immigration.”

Marchand’s campaign said the commercial will run on cable TV – including MSNBC - in what’s described as a modest ad-buy.

Lesperance said that “what Steve Marchand has done is make the most of shoe-string budget by being a real grassroots type.”

But he added that when it comes to exposure on TV, it appears Kelly has the upper hand.

“Being prolifically on the air in a close race, that’s the kind of advantage that makes a big difference and so I think that does give her an edge,” Lesperance said.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face off with Sununu in November. New Hampshire’s first Republican governor in a dozen years isn’t facing any primary challenge.

Sununu’s gubernatorial campaign reported on Wednesday raising more than $1.2 million in fundraising this election cycle, with $527,471 cash on hand as of August 20.

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