New Hampshire voters head to the polls to choose their gubernatorial nominees Tuesday. Here's today's Hotline Spotlight, on the year's final primaries:
Primary season comes to a close tomorrow, when voters in DE, NH and RI narrow their choices. The only real race is the battle to replace retiring NH Gov. John Lynch (D); 4 major candidates are duking it out for their respective party nods.
-- Ovide Lamontagne (R) is making his 3rd try for statewide office (He came close to upsetting now-Sen. Kelly Ayotte in the SEN primary in '10). He's likely to hold off young upstart Kevin Smith tomorrow, thanks to better name ID and a bigger wallet. A sign of Lamontagne's lead: His first, and only, ad is overwhelmingly positive. Smith hasn't been on air as much, but expect to hear his name in the future. He's just 35 years old.
-- Ex-state Sen. Maj. Leader Maggie Hassan is likely to win the Dem nod over ex-state Sen. Jackie Cilley. Hassan has establishment support, but Cilley is firing up the base more than Hassan has. Still, Hassan has dominated the airwaves, and Cilley has been dark for 2 weeks.
-- Polling shows a tied race and lots of undecideds. Both Lamontagne and Hassan have depleted war chests. Expect a general election to be driven by Lynch's famed turnout machine and the razor-thin WH contest. That's good news for Hassan, but after 4 terms of Lynch, Lamontagne's outsider image probably makes him the slight favorite.
There aren't many good GOV races this year. NH is a rare battleground where the RGA and DGA will drive the fight.
The race between Hassan and Cilley is expected to be closer than the GOP contest. A focus in the Democratic contest has been Cilley's refusal to take "The Pledge" -- a pledge against income and sales taxes, which the other gubernatorial candidates have taken.
Cilley ran an ad
in August depicting the other candidates as "pledge zombies." Foster's Daily Democrat
notes Cilley's position on the pledge in their endorsement of her -- while acknowledging that it would become a "flashpoint" in a general election contest.
Lamontagne would start out the fall campaign with the heftier war chest
: When candidates reported their cash on hand in late August, he had $718,000 in the bank compared to Hassan's $100,000, Cilley's 52,000, and Smith's $101,000.