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On the Political Front: Hassan, Ayotte in Tight Fundraising Race

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

"On the Political Front" is our weekly check-in with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers.

Friday was the deadline for federal candidates to report first quarter fundraising numbers. Let’s begin with the U.S. Senate. The Ayotte-Hassan money race appears tight.

Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan have raked in the donations at a close to identical clip since October, when the governor got into the race. Overall, both have collected close to $4.5 million. Since January they’ve collected $2.25 million apiece. Ayotte, as you might expect given that she’s been raising re-election money since 2011, does have far more cash on hand—close to $7 million to Hassan’s $2.9 million, but Ayotte is also spending her money a little bit faster.

Now, Election Day is six-plus months off, but I’d assume the money raising and spending will pick up.

I’d expect the same. This race could be pivotal as far as deciding control of the U.S. Senate. And look at New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen/Scott Brown race two years ago, which wasn’t seen as being as up for grabs or as likely to affect the Senate’s balance. Total spending then was $55 million. Most was by outside groups, and after the Ayotte and Hassan’s back and forth about the so-called people’s pledge, sincere or not, outside groups are already spending pretty big, which should continue.

So, big money is being raised -- and spent -- in the Senate race, but what about the Congressional races?

Unsurprisingly, much less. In the race that’s seen as more competitive, CD1, Frank Guinta collected about $97,000 since the turn of the year. Going back to when he won election in 2014, Guinta’s raised close to $750,000. Of course he spent close to half that total -- $355,000 – repaying his parents for what the federal elections commission deemed an illegal loan from back in 2010. Pam Tucker, one of the candidates challenging Guinta in the GOP primary, raised $100,000 since January. On the Democratic side, Carol Shea-Porter reports raising $176,000 and Shawn O'Connor, $45,000 since January.

So, some parity in fundraising in CD1, not so in CD 2.

No. Democrat Annie Kuster has always been a good fundraiser, and this quarter is no different. She’s raised upwards of $420,000 this quarter and is sitting on more than $1.5 million. Her main GOP rival, meanwhile, Jack Flanagan, a state rep from Brookline, collected just $5,200 dollars.

Let’s move to the statehouse, where when its spring, the maneuvering on some bills can get pretty complicated. Lawmakers are in the middle of doing something fairly baroque with a body cam bill, aren’t they?

Sure. They are trying to kill a body cam bill backed by the House but attach the substance of the proposal to another bill because the original sponsor of the body cam proposal was Kyle Tasker, the Nottingham state rep who resigned after being arrested for allegedly soliciting a 14-year-old girl for sex. Tasker also faces drug charges.

So, there is interest in passing the bill Tasker sponsored, but not in passing anything associated with him?

Basically yes. And what this bill will would do – it started out as a simple mandate for state police to use body cams -- is create protocols for body cam use by state or local law police. Among other things is it would specify that body cams would only be turned on when police are engaged in law enforcement activity or responding to calls. Police would also have to inform individuals that they were being recorded.

OK so, this bill is expected to move forward.

It is, without Tasker’s name attached. I will say it’s not unheard of for the popularity of a sponsor to affect a bill’s transit though the capitol, but I can’t recall anything similar to this. But this is obviously a pretty rare set of circumstances. One issue, is once a bill is sponsored getting someone’s name off of it may not be possible, even if they’ve resigned and facing felony charges.

And I understand Kyle Tasker will be in court this week.

I believe there’s a probable cause hearing in Candia circuit court scheduled for Wednesday.  

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