By several indications by the end of next week former Commissioner John Stephen will be a candidate for Governor of New Hampshire.
That’s the easy part.
Everything else is likely to be an uphill battle. Perhaps it’s the wrong comparison with NH politics but if you ask any master in the game of chess about strategy most if not all of them will state the same thing:
"No one ever wins at chess by forcing anything."
I think Commissioner Stephen, for unknown reason(s) is forcing this race or his candidacy to happen which is a strategic mistake. And there are a number of reasons for this. First is the name recognition. Assuming the Stephen campaign has the millions of dollars available for ad buys and grassroots retail marketing; the campaign will have to not only get around a Republican primary field but somehow build this needed name recognition and then link all that is wrong with New Hampshire to Governor Lynch.
I know there are some brilliant campaign strategists in New Hampshire but can this realistically be done?
UNH can have all the survey polls it can amass, with a +-7% margin of error but study after study has shown that consumer behavior is completely influenced by brand/name recognition followed by the price point. Studies have shown that when the price is lowered for brands that are perceived to be expensive i.e. Mercedes Benz cars that overall long-term sales and market demand actually declines. The reason: consumer perception. With this as an example, how will the Stephen campaign be able to build name recognition and stand a chance of defeating an incumbent without unleashing attack ads against Governor Lynch? I think Stephen has to go negative.
How else does Stephen build market and demand, and defeat his entrenched opponent without lowering his price?
Imagine the former Health and Human Services Commissioner coming up to Berlin in the shadows of unemployment, social strata, section 8 housing and standing near a bridge over the Androscoggin River saying something comparable to a Stephen Merrill campaign ad: “and that’s the New Hampshire way.” I don’t know who is advising Commissioner Stephen to enter this race, perhaps he is advising himself? It would be interesting to see how they arrived at the strength(s) of his campaign. Did they consider the Republican primary? Did they consider the financial issues and fundraising (if applicable)?
And lastly did they consider the re-election efforts of Governor Lynch?