“As a candidate, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) has lived a charmed life....But without the specter of Bush, or the enthusiasm generated by the Obama campaign, Shea-Porter’s bid for a third term could prove to be her toughest yet.”
POLITICO On Carol Shea-Porter’s Upcoming Re-Election Campaign
Is Third Time The N.H. GOP's Charm?
April 23, 2009
As a candidate, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) has lived a charmed life.A long shot for her seat in 2006, she rode into office on a Democratic tidal wave generated by opposition to George W. Bush. In a 2008 rematch with the former incumbent, Shea-Porter had the strong wind of Barack Obama at her back.
But without the specter of Bush, or the enthusiasm generated by the Obama campaign, Shea-Porter’s bid for a third term could prove to be her toughest yet.
“I think that, this time around, the winds are actually in her face. It’s going to be more difficult for Carol Shea-Porter,” said Andrew Smith, an independent New Hampshire pollster. “She’s not going to have the benefit of the top of the ticket. There’s no Barack Obama running. There’s no [Democratic Sen.] Jeanne Shaheen running. So she’s running on her own.”
“In 2006, if you were a Democrat, ... [you] were going to win no matter what office you were running for. And in 2008, you had Barack Obama on the ticket,” added state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2002. “I think everything will be much more wide open for Democrats in 2010 than in the last two cycles.”
Shea-Porter’s competitive district, which includes Manchester and the Seacoast, is an obvious target for Republicans in 2010. The 1st District is considered the more conservative of the state’s two Democratic-held congressional districts — Bush narrowly carried it in 2000 and 2004.
And Shea-Porter’s poll ratings are worrisome to Democrats. A late February University of New Hampshire survey showed Shea-Porter with a weak 38 percent favorability rating among all voters — dangerous territory for an incumbent. While she remains popular among Democrats, just 34 percent of moderates view her favorably. Among Republicans, her standing is even worse: Just 15 percent view her favorably, compared with 54 percent who view her unfavorably.
Republicans say Shea-Porter’s voting record is far more liberal than the district — and that her support this year for the economic stimulus plan, omnibus spending package and $3.5 trillion budget proposal provides them with early fodder for attacks.
“She has a pattern of taking votes that are far to the left,” Republican Frank Guinta, the Manchester mayor who is pondering a challenge, said in an interview with POLITICO. “The pattern of votes that she takes represents a far left base of her constituent support.”
Guinta isn’t the only Republican thinking of running. Former state Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen and state Republican National Committeeman Sean Mahoney, both of whom ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2002, are also mentioned as potential challengers.
Shea-Porter, however, isn’t likely to moderate her views. The two-term Democrat is an unapologetic progressive who refuses to back down in the face of criticism that her voting record is out of sync with the district.
In an April 2007 interview with the Concord Monitor, Shea-Porter explained her views: “And so far I have voted, I think, 100 percent of the time with [Democratic leaders] because frankly I think they’re 100 percent right,” she said.
Never known as a strong fundraiser— Shea-Porter raised less than $400,000 in her 2006 upset win — her $130,000 haul during the first quarter was the smallest of any of the 40 endangered incumbents on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program. Her $121,000 cash-in-the-bank total at the end of the quarter also put her at the bottom of the heap.