Since 2006, New Hampshire's two House seats have been ping pong balls, bouncing back and forth between the parties three times in unison. The reason for this volatility? New Hampshire's huge share of independents, who don't adhere strongly to either party and take out their frustrations often. Both Democratic Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) are at risk again, but first the GOP must deal with competitive - and quite late - September primaries.
NH-01: Carol Shea-Porter (D) - East: Manchester, Portsmouth
Toss Up. This eastern New Hampshire seat is beginning to look awfully like a ping pong ball. In 2006, amid anger about the direction of the Iraq War, liberal activist Shea-Porter won it by a hair in a huge upset. When independents swung violently towards Republicans in 2010, Shea-Porter lost it to former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta. In 2012, amid high turnout for President Obama, Shea-Porter won it back. Now Guinta is interested in a rematch, but he has to first get past a primary from UNH business school dean Dan Innis.
Given his name recognition from two high-profile races, Guinta has to be considered the early favorite for a third straight race against Shea-Porter. However, his nomination is no sure thing, especially considering Innis's unique profile and unknown financial capabilities.
Innis grew up in Ohio, got his PhD in marketing from Ohio State University in 1991, and was appointed Dean of the University of Maine's business school in 2002. In 2007, he was appointed Dean of the University of New Hampshire's business school. Innis is gay, and in 2010 married his partner, with whom he has restored an inn in picturesque Portsmouth they own together.
New Hampshire insiders warn not to mistake Innis's sexual orientation for ideological moderation. Innis emphasizes tax reform and bringing down the debt, and could potentially hit Guinta on several spending votes during his single House term. However, if Innis is to overtake Guinta by the relatively late September 9 primary, he will need plenty of money. One possibility, according to a plugged-in neutral observer, is that Innis's associates from several business schools could fund a Super PAC on his behalf.