Political Ads Look Ahead To Possible Hassan-Ayotte Showdown

Feb 26, 2015

Is Gov. Maggie Hassan preparing to take on U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2016? Hassan hasn’t said yet, but two national political groups that back Republicans seem convinced she is.

Crossroads GPS, a conservative non-profit founded by GOP operative and former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, released a radio ad Thursday attacking Hassan’s proposed budget. The 60-second spot comes a day after the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a web ad that ridicules Hassan’s proposal to hire a chief operating officer.

The NRSC ad concludes with a pair of hands replacing the word “Governor” on a Hassan nameplate with a hand-written “Senator” label.

“Governor Hassan is hiring a chief operating officer to run New Hampshire while she runs for Senate,” the narrator says, “at a cost of $1.4 million.”

Watch the NRSC ad here:

The Crossroads GPS ad largely relies on a February 13 Union Leader editorial that labeled Hassan’s budget a “disappointment.” The ad says the paper “reports” the governor’s budget contains “sizeable increases in business taxes.” The ad also criticizes Hassan’s support for Keno to raise new revenue.

“Gov. Hassan’s budget is a risky gamble and the wrong set of priorities for New Hampshire families and businesses,” the female narrator concludes before directing listeners to urge lawmakers to “reject Gov. Hassan’s tax-and-spend budget because it doesn’t reflect New Hampshire values.”

Watch the Crossroads GPS ad here:

State Democrats called the NRSC spot an attempt to divert attention from Republican efforts to block President Obama’s executive actions by refusing to support a spending bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security. Ayotte backed that effort until earlier this week, when she voiced support for legislation proposed by House Majority Leader Mitch O’Connell to fund DHS through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.

Democrats also took issue with the NRSC’s criticism of Hassan’s COO proposal, pointing out that the Republican governors of Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska and Tennessee have created similar positions. Thursday morning, New Hampshire Democrats said the Crossroads GPS ad “twists the facts” on Hassan’s budget.

The response claims Hassan’s proposal to increase spending by 6.4 percent over two years is below increases proposed by previous administrations. And it defends Hassan’s support for raising the cigarette tax – at a rate that would keep it below the rest of the New England states - as an effective way to reduce smoking among young people.

In a press release, the New Hampshire Democratic Party said, “Karl Rove and his out-of-state, dark money donors should stop trying to lecture Granite Staters on the meaning of ‘New Hampshire’ values.”

In February, an NBC News-Marist poll of 887 registered voters gave Hassan a 48-44 percent edge over Ayotte in a potential 2016 matchup.