On the trail: National Republicans target Hassan

  • Sen. Maggie Hassan speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Sept. 24. Hassan has announced she will seek re-election. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 3/26/2021 4:08:07 PM

The 2022 midterm elections may be more than a year and a half away, but national Republicans are already turning up the heat on U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan.

The former two-term governor is up for re-election next year, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee views Hassan and three other Democrats who are also facing voters in 2022 as vulnerable as the GOP tries to win back the Senate majority they lost in the 2020 election cycle.

The Senate GOP’s re-election arm says it’s spending seven figures starting Monday to run ads attacking Hassan – as well as Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, and Raphael Warnock of Georgia – by tying them to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the massive election and campaign finance reform bill being pushed by congressional Democrats.

“Pelosi, Schumer and Hassan want to use your tax dollars to fund their political ads,” the narrator charges in the video, which will run in New Hampshire. “And they’d let people register and vote without showing any form of ID. It’s political corruption. Stop the grab. Stop the fraud.”

The election bill – which passed the Democrat-controlled House along party lines but faces an uncertain future in the Senate – wouldn’t totally fund campaigns; the legislation would use federal funds to match political contributions of less than $200. And while the bill wouldn’t ban states’ voter ID laws, it would allow for workarounds for those showing up to vote without identification.

Republicans slam the measure, saying it would lead to a federal government takeover of elections and accuse Democrats of trying to change election rules to benefit themselves. But Democrats say the measure is needed to combat the push by GOP lawmakers in some states where Republicans control the governor’s office and the legislature – such as New Hampshire - to pass bills that would tighten voting access rules, which Democrats characterize as voter suppression.

A day before the announcement of the new ads, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called in to a weekly meeting of Granite State conservative leaders and activists. Scott – who also happens to be a potential 2024 GOP presidential hopeful – predicted on the “Right of Center” call that “we believe we’re going to pick up New Hampshire.”

“Hassan is clearly somebody we can beat. She’s way too liberal for New Hampshire,” Scott argued. “As we explain her votes, I think it’s going to be very difficult for her to win re-election.”

Firing back at the GOP attacks, longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley charged that the Democrats’ election legislation “is a comprehensive bill that would protect voting rights across the country and Granite Staters applaud Senator Hassan for supporting it.”

Pappas makes House GOP’s 2022 Democrat ‘exit list’

Hassan isn’t the only high-profile Democrat being targeted by national Republicans.

So is U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, the two-term Democrat who represents New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, which covers most of the eastern half of the Granite State and has for a generation been one of the top House swing districts in the nation.

Pappas, who won re-election last year by 5 points over GOP challenger Matt Mowers, faces the prospect of Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signing off on a once-in-a-decade redistricting plan that is controlled this time around by the now-GOP dominated state legislature. Democrats fear that Republicans plan to tilt the 1st CD towards the GOP.

This week the National Republican Congressional Committee, the re-election arm of the House GOP, released what it calls an “Exit List” of 27 Democratic representatives across the country that it considers “vulnerable” and says are likely to retire next year or run for a different office.

Among those on the list are Pelosi – who turned 81 on Friday and who’s served in Congress since 1987 – and progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who could possibly challenge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer when he’s up for reelection next year.

Pappas makes the list due to speculation that he may run for governor next year rather than seek a third term in the House.

Why is Gaetz coming to New Hampshire?

He does like the political spotlight, but Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida is not considered to be a potential 2024 Republican White House contender.

So why is the three-term congressman and major ally and supporter of former President Donald Trump heading this summer to New Hampshire, which for a century has been home to the first in the nation presidential primary?

Gaetz – who’s national identification is soaring and who’s beloved by many in the MAGA world - is coming to help New Hampshire Republicans raise money. He’ll headline the Nashua Republican City Committee’s annual “Steak Out” fundraiser, which is tentatively scheduled for August.

“We in the NHGOP appreciate the congressman coming up to help raise money to send a Republican down to Washington D.C. to help retire Nancy Pelosi,” state GOP chair Steve Stepanek said in a statement.

Gaetz made headlines in January when he headlined a rally in Wyoming as he targeted Rep. Liz Cheney in her own home state – after Cheney became the most high profile of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach the then-president.

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