By Henry Gomez
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., has reserved $13 million worth of fall airtime for her re-election bid, her campaign announced Friday in a memo shared first with NBC News.
It’s a substantial commitment in a state that national Democrats and Republicans are targeting in their battle for control of the chamber, and one where the pricey Boston media market in neighboring Massachusetts is key to reaching voters. TV and radio advertising could come at a premium cost, especially with an open race for governor on the ballot in Massachusetts.
The GOP, meanwhile, won’t have a Senate nominee until after their mid-September primary. State Senate President Chuck Morse, Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith and Don Bolduc, who lost a 2020 Senate primary, are the leading candidates.
Gov. Chris Sununu, who public polls released last year showed would have been very competitive against Hassan, decided against seeking the seat, depriving the party of a field-clearing contender with statewide name-recognition and popularity.
“New Hampshire hosts the second latest primary in the nation — September 13 — giving the eventual Republican nominee little time — and few resources — to communicate after emerging from what is set to be an extreme and chaotic primary,” Hassan campaign manager Aaron Jacobs wrote in the memo, which deems Hassan in a “commanding position” in the race. “No matter who the Republicans nominate, they will enter the general election tarnished as a reliable vote for [Senate GOP Leader Mitch] McConnell and his corporate special interest agenda.”
Ad reservations can be canceled, but Jacobs in his memo pointed to five straight quarters of record fundraising, a trend that, if it continues, should provide enough cash for the blitz.
Hassan entered 2022 with $5.3 million on hand, according to campaign finance reports. Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general and the only Republican who had a campaign up and running in 2021, had only $57,000. Morse and Smith declared their candidacies in January and have yet to file finance reports.
The race has already drawn almost $17 million in TV ads, $9.8 million from Democrats (including $3.3 million from Hassan’s campaign) and $7.1 million from Republicans, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact.
Jacobs’ memo also sketched out Hassan’s messaging strategy in what’s expected to be a close race in a state known for its independent-minded voters.
“Our campaign’s greatest strength is Senator Hassan — who has built a strong record in the Senate as an independent leader who takes on corporate special interests — and wins,” Jacobs wrote, noting her work to end surprise medical billing and negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure deal and her push for a federal gas tax holiday.
The campaign also is prepared to emphasize occasions when Hassan has “been unafraid” to disagree with President Joe Biden. She voted against Robert Califf, Biden’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, expressing concern about his approach to the opioid crisis. And she criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the Afghanistan troop withdrawal.
“Senator Hassan has a long record of getting wins for the people of New Hampshire and is leading on the most urgent issue facing voters: lowering costs,” Jacobs wrote. “Meanwhile, her opponents are unknown, disliked, and already burdened with toxic anti-choice, pro-corporate special interest records.”