Low on cash, Jeanne Shaheen prepares for next Senate race

By Jim Haddadin, Foster's Daily Democrat
Posted March 08, 2012, at 5:56 a.m.

DOVER, N.H. — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office confirmed to Foster’s Daily Democrat the former state governor and first-term senator will run for re-election in 2014.

Shaheen was asked to comment on the 2014 race after campaign fund-raising records filed at the end of 2011 indicated the New Hampshire Democrat is carrying less money in her campaign coffers than any other senator up for re-election in 2014.

Shaheen finished 2011 with $128,578 cash on hand, according to FEC records, which indicate the other 32 members of Shaheen’s Senate class are carrying an average of $1.3 million cash on hand each.

With the election still more than two years away, political experts caution against drawing conclusions from Shaheen’s relatively light fund-raising activity. Still, a diminished pool of funding could be significant in New Hampshire’s 2014 Senate race. During the 2008 race in which Shaheen was elected, the two major party candidates spent a combined $16.2 million.

Last month, state Republicans highlighted Shaheen’s FEC filing as a sign she won’t defend her seat in the 2014 race. However, a spokesperson in Shaheen’s office confirmed Shaheen is gearing up to run for re-election 2014.

Kathy Sullivan, a former Shaheen operative, and current Democratic National Committeewoman from New Hampshire, also refuted the theory that Shaheen isn’t planning to defend her seat.

“I really think that any focus on where (Shaheen) is in terms of her position on some list with respect to fund-raising means nothing,” Sullivan said. “Sen. Shaheen has proved in the past that when the time comes to fund-raise, she will fund-raise … Right now, her priority, and I think the priority of all Democrats in New Hampshire, is to win in 2012. Jeanne Shaheen is not on the ballot in 2012. She’s on the ballot in 2014.”

Sullivan was chairwoman of the Draft Shaheen movement in 2007, an initiative that encouraged the former New Hampshire governor to enter the race. She was also active in the 2008 campaign, and has worked with the Madbury Democrat since the mid 1990s. Sullivan declined to discuss Shaheen’s fund-raising strategy, but said the senator has been devoting her time and energy to supporting other Democratic candidates in 2010 and 2012. Shaheen plans to focus on individual fund-raising after this fall’s general election, Sullivan said.

“The senator has done phenomenally well in fund-raising in her races for governor and senate, and I anticipate that she will again do very well with fund-raising into the 2014 election cycle,” she said.

Shaheen proved a prolific fund-raiser after she announced her candidacy in September 2007, garnering $8.3 million in contributions during the course of the 14-month campaign, including individual contributions totaling $6.6 million, according to the FEC.

Shaheen spent nearly that entire amount during the 2008 election cycle, going on to defeat Republican John E. Sununu. She finished the year with about $47,000 cash in the bank, and more than $100,000 in debt. Sununu dropped about $8 million in his unsuccessful bid for re-election.

During the state’s last Senate election in 2010, the two major party candidates racked up a combined $9.9 million in campaign costs. Republican Kelly Ayotte, who won the contest, spent approximately $5 million during the 2010 election cycle, according to the FEC. Paul Hodes, her Democratic opponent, spent $4.9 million.

Running a Senate campaign in New Hampshire isn’t as costly as campaigning in bigger states, such as New York and California. But given its size, New Hampshire is a relatively expensive place to campaign, University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala said. Candidates who want to blanket the television airwaves must advertise on both WMUR, the state’s major broadcast television outlet, and on Boston-area television stations, which reach southern New Hampshire voters.

“My sense right now is (Shaheen’s fund-raising is) something to keep an eye on,” Scala said, “but I think she’s pretty far away from the point of no return. She’s not at a point in the fund-raising, in a senator’s kind of six-year cycle, where there’s no way she could do it.”

In addition to Shaheen, three other senators who will defend their seats in 2014 reported less than $200,000 cash on hand at the end of the last year.

Sen. Tom Udall, of New Mexico, reported carrying about $167,000. Nebraska Sen. Michael Johanns reported having $177,00 in the bank, while Sen. James Risch, of Idaho, posted the fourth lowest figure, at $199,000.

Republicans Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, and Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, have the largest campaign war chests of all senators facing re-election in 2014. McConnell reported having about $4.3 million in campaign funding; Graham posted $3.8 million.

© 2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

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http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/08/politics/low-on-cash-jeanne-shaheen-prepares-for-next-senate-race/ printed on December 20, 2014