In New Hampshire, a Test for the Tea Party

Ayotte leads for New Hampshire GOP Senate nomination, but Tea Party-backed Lamontagne narrows the gap.

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Shea-Porter will face one of the eight Republicans who will be on Tuesday's GOP ballot. Sean Mahoney, the president of a communications company and a former New Hampshire committeeman to the Republican National Committee, has the most resources of any candidate in this race, with over $1 million in receipts. Shea-Porter clearly sees him as a rival, and has already begin campaigning against him, mailing fliers criticizing Mahoney to voters around the district. Frank Guinta, a former mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire's largest city, is also one of the favorites for the GOP nomination. In addition to his mayoral experience, Guinta spent two terms in the state legislature, which may boost his name recognition with voters. He has shown that he has the fundraising ability to withstand a November campaign, with $875,000 in receipts and over $150,000 currently in his accounts. Rich Ashooh, an executive at a defense contracting firm, is also running a strong campaign and has also recently been meeting with New Hampshire Tea Party leaders, which could help give him added support in a crowded field. Ashooh has raised $375,000 this cycle, but a tough primary has left him with only $80,685 in the bank.

In the Second District, seven Republicans and two Democrats are vying to take the seat being vacated by Paul Hodes. The Democratic primary ballot features two candidates: attorney and activist Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett, the president of a human rights foundation and wife of Dick Swett, who held the Second-District seat from 1991 to 1995. Pro-choice groups have been major players in this campaign and the source of all independent expenditures made for either candidate. Though both candidates are pro-choice, abortion rights groups EMILY's List and Planned Parenthood have both spent in support of Kuster in recent weeks. Pro-choice organization NARAL, however, has spent in support of both candidates.

Swett has been painting Kuster as a "far-left progressive," while Kuster has emphasized Swett's more moderate views as a negative. In a recent debate, Swett appealed to more moderate Democrats, acknowledging that she supported the Bush tax cuts. Kuster, meanwhile, has embraced liberal causes like the push for a public health insurance option and affirmative action.

Fundraising totals show both Democratic candidates to be ready for a November campaign. Swett came into the campaign with $870,000 already on hand from a failed 2008 Senate run and to that has added $580,000 from fundraising, Even after a protracted primary against Kuster, she still has nearly $800,000 in her war chest right now. Kuster has similar receipts, having taken in $1.4 million. She has outspent Swett, however, with $450,000 left in her pocket as of August 25.

The Republican race features several contenders who are no stranger to New Hampshire politics. Charles Bass is the most prominent of the five Republican contenders, having already served as New Hampshire's Second-District Representative from 1995 until 2007. Bass has received the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as $5,000 from the leadership PAC associated with House Minority Leader Eric Cantor. The former House member has pulled in over $565,000 thus far and still maintains $312,000 in his accounts, according to his August 25 FEC report. Airline captain Bob Giuda has also held elective office, having served in the New Hampshire House from 2001 through 2007. Giuda's campaign is largely self-funded, as the candidate has provided $132,000 of the $173,000 of his campaign's total receipts. Another prominent Republican candidate, talk radio host Jennifer Horn, gained election experience in 2008, when she won the Republican nomination for the Second-District seat. She was defeated by Hodes in the general election, but is clearly fighting hard for a win this year. She has spent almost all of the $223,000 her campaign has amassed in receipts, with $32,150 now in the bank.

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