Upstart N.H. Senate candidate claims Crist affect in his race

Binnie said that, when he got in the race, it took the NRSC three months to respond to his phone calls. And when he finally did get some time, it was less than 10 minutes.

Now, he said, things are different.

“In their defense, there are a lot of people who raise their hand and say, ‘I want to run for an open United States Senate seat.’ I understand that,” Binnie said. “Since then, I’ve proven that I’m a viable candidate who can move through the polls, build a good team, fundraise and have a good message.”

But not all is well between Binnie and the NRSC. The committee on Thursday took issue with his characterization of their interactions.

An NRSC source said Binnie has gotten plenty of attention from the committee. The source said Binnie spoke with the political director Randy Bumps and executive director Rob Jesmer on Oct. 23 and then met with Jesmer on Nov. 10. It said Bumps and Jesmer then met again with Binnie on March 18.

Binnie’s campaign said he initially reached out to the NRSC when he was considering running in July and didn’t hear back until he showed up at the committee.

As for the primary, Binnie said he sees the race as being between him and Ayotte now. Attorney Ovide Lamontagne is still seen as a force in the race, but Binnie said Lamontagne’s emergence will only help him, because he and Ayotte will split up the social conservative vote. (Binnie is pro-abortion rights.)

“We internally think this race is between Kelly and myself,” Binnie said. “That’s what our view is. It’s pretty strongly held. It’s data-oriented. It’s what we see. The stronger that Mr. Lamontagne does, frankly, the better for my candidacy.”

Lamontagne senior adviser Jim Merrill said Binnie is wrong. He pointed to the former gubernatorial nominee’s success in a recent Tea Party straw poll and said Binnie, a first-time political candidate, has much to learn.

"Mr. Binnie clearly thinks that his millions of ad dollars allow him to take the voters for granted, a full five months before our primary election,” Merrill said. “As a newcomer to civic engagement in New Hampshire, Mr. Binnie clearly doesn't understand that he cannot buy the trust of the voters. He must earn it.”

The winner of the GOP primary will face Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) in the general election. A University of New Hampshire poll released today showed all three GOP candidates leading Hodes, with Ayotte’s lead the biggest, at 47-32.

The seat is being vacated by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who is retiring.