By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org
Midsummer is a time for vacation, relaxation and forgetting about the world of work in which you live most of the year.
But it is also the peak of the electoral campaign in New Hampshire because of its traditional September primary.
So while other states and their citizens could drop out of politics over the next two months, New Hampshire and its people along with three other states — Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Delaware — are holding primaries in September.
A number of states hold primaries in August, mostly earlier in the month, with the exception of Florida, which holds its intra-party selection process on Aug. 23.
And when the campaigns heat up, so do the infamous hits on the candidates.
While it might seem like the campaigns have gotten meaner and meaner with all the extra money the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has poured into the election, the jabs at opposing candidates have always existed and a weapon that each campaign uses from time to time.
In fact, candidate results are much easier to find today than they were with all the information on the internet.
Now all you need is a Google search to find gems to generate attack ads to run over and over again.
One of the first things well-run campaigns do is research the opposition on their own candidate. This way you find out what information other campaigns may have and decide how to react before you are caught off guard and in panic mode.
Last week saw the first major success in the Republican primary for the US Senate nomination.
Any longtime observer knew this race was going to get brutal at some point, just like the Republican race for the 1st Congressional District nomination will.
In either case, the fields are wide and only a few candidates have a real opportunity – read enough money – to rise to the top.
But with many candidates in a race, the number of votes needed for victory is small but the competition for each vote is great.
The attack on the U.S. Senate race targeted Kevin Smith, a former staffer of U.S. Senator Bob Smith and Governor Craig Benson; executive director of Cornerstone Conservative Action; GOP gubernatorial candidate; Londonderry Town Manager and Chairman of the Pease Development Authority.
The hit came from the Huffington Post and involved a complaint by a former Londonderry employee claiming Smith was disrespectful to women and failed to respond appropriately to sexual harassment concerns that had been raised.
His campaign denied the allegations.
“There is not a shred of truth in this politically motivated blockbuster article,” Smith posted on Twitter.
“But for establishment hacks and liberal media dumps like the Huffington Post, facts don’t matter.”
His campaign manager singled out one of Smith’s opponents, Senate Speaker Chuck Morse for the attack, noting that one of his advisers hinted at it on Twitter several weeks ago.
Morse, for his part, said another U.S. Senate candidate, retired Gen. Don Bolduc, first brought up the topic.
What’s particularly detrimental to this for Smith is that he already has a problem with female voters because he has long been associated with the anti-abortion movement, particularly when he ran Cornerstone Action.
But on the other hand, Smith should be thankful it didn’t happen the week or two before the primary when more people are paying attention and the damage would be harder to contain.
There have already been several political attacks in the 1st District Congressional race for the GOP nomination, not the least of which came early enough in the political season and involved Matt Mowers, a former Trump and former aide to the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; and State Party Executive Director in New Hampshire.
With Republicans and Mowers raising the election integrity flag, getting Mowers to vote twice in the presidential primary, once in New Hampshire and once in his then home state of New Jersey, didn’t doesn’t look good.
When the news came out, Mowers said he voted in New Jersey because the establishment was after Trump and he wanted to show his support, having originally been with Christie for president.
It might be a good excuse for the base, but has no legal standing.
New Hampshire’s attorney general released a report saying Mowers didn’t break any New Hampshire laws, and he didn’t because he first voted here, then later in New Jersey, which is against federal law.
Again, the attack came at the start of the campaign and not at the end, when it could have done much more damage.
Voting information about Mowers has surfaced through the Democratic Party, and the latest attack on Democratic U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan comes from the Washington publication often used as a GOP vehicle to attack Democrats.
The issue involves someone on one of his gubernatorial campaign committees, who was expelled from Phillips Exeter Academy for sexual misconduct with students. The issue was widely raised in 2016 when she first ran for the US Senate.
Hassan’s husband was the director of the private school at the time.
Sometimes, when business leaders decide to run for office, they forget that there is a treasure trove of information that any enterprising opposition staffer or journalist can quickly access.
Documents filed by the Security and Exchange Commission are available to everyone and, with a little patience, can reveal many interesting facts.
A few years ago, a former business owner and entrepreneur, then candidate, marketed himself as a great job maker, but his company’s SEC filings told the story of corporate consolidations and the transfer of jobs to Mexico with the arrival of the North American Trade Agreement.
This puts the candidate in the position of challenging information in the SEC filing or providing federal regulators with incorrect information or outright lying about business practices.
Many candidates run for office in New Hampshire but voted until the last election where they really lived and not at their lakeside second home.
Such issues aren’t deal breakers, but they do make it look like the candidate isn’t really interested in representing the people of the state as much as buying a cheaper place to run for office. powerful.
Other examples include a former Democratic House member who decided to run for Congress but had an incident in his past that left a man dead or a gubernatorial candidate who, as a former attorney general , dropped the ball as his staff cleared a district court judge, who cheated his vulnerable clients out of millions of dollars, to move into his vacation home in Maine and then disappear.
All of these “problems” might not go away with a little self-objection research, but could be dealt with in a less damaging way.
Some campaigns quietly release bad news early, so that when it’s closer to the election and it resurfaces, they can call it “old news.”
Ultimately, voters have to decide if political attacks are enough to change their minds about a candidate or if they like what they see and will vote for that person anyway.
And in the middle of summer, some back and forth is better entertainment than anything else.
Garry Rayno can be reached at [email protected]
Distant Dome by veteran journalist Garry Rayno explores a broader perspective on the State House and state events for InDepthNH.org. During his three-decade career, Rayno covered the NH State House for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Foster’s Daily Democrat. Over the course of his career, his coverage has spanned the spectrum of news, from local planning, school and select boards, to national issues such as electrical industry deregulation and presidential primaries. Among many awards, he won the New Hampshire Press Association Lifetime Achievement Award. Rayno lives with his wife Carolyn in New London.