Outside Spending on Hassan-Ayotte Race Hits $50 Million, and It's Still September

Sep 21, 2016

Spending by outside political groups in New Hampshire's U.S. Senate race reached $50 million this week, fueled by a recent barrage of negative ads sponsored by a super PAC supporting Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte.

Granite State Solutions has booked an estimated $11 million in TV ads on Boston stations through mid-October. All 2,800 of the 30-second spots, which are scheduled to run through mid-October, attack Ayotte's challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan. 

The group's latest ad, called "Priorities," criticizes Hassan on a laundry of list of issues, from the state budget to Obamacare to the Iranian nuclear deal. 

Granite State Solutions was created in 2015 with a $500,000 contribution from Jay Faison, a North Carolina entrepreneur who has pledged to support Republican Senate candidates who acknowledge the threat of climate change. 

Last month, the group collected $6.4 million in donations, led by $4.8 million from the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to protecting the party's control of the Senate. Casino magnate and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson contributed $1.5 million.

With the November 8 election still seven weeks away, reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show spending in the Ayotte-Hassan race, including by the candidates, now stands at roughly $59 million. That breaks the previous record for New Hampshire's most expensive election, the $54 million spent in the 2014 contest between Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown.  

Granite State Solutions is one of 18 Republican super PACs and nonprofit "social welfare" organizations that have spent a combined $31 million on Ayotte's behalf. A dozen outside groups supporting Hassan have spent $19 million so far, led by the Senate Majority PAC

As of June 30, the Ayotte and Hassan campaigns had spent about $9.3 million. Ayotte reported that she had more than $7 million on hand. Hassan, who entered the race less than a year ago, had $4.3 million in the bank.

The candidates are due to file their next quarterly reports with the FEC in early October.