NH Dems hit Scott Brown on Big Oil ties

The New Hampshire Democratic Party (NHDP) argues Scott Brown’s support for the oil industry will hurt him, previewing a likely line of attack if he runs for Senate in New Hampshire. 

In a new memo obtained exclusively by The Hill, NHDP Executive Director Harrell Kirstein argues, “Scott Brown's pro-oil voting record torpedoed his Senate re-election campaign in Massachusetts and in New Hampshire, that record will be just as — if not more — damaging.”

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It marks a new line of attack from New Hampshire Democrats on the former Massachusetts senator, even as he remains undecided on the race. And it comes on the heels of a new Democratic poll showing Brown just three points behind Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), making him Democrats’ biggest threat at this point in the race.

But Kirstein suggests in the memo that Brown would start a race against Shaheen in a considerably worse position than he was at the start of his reelection fight in Massachusetts — underwater with New Hampshire voters and not as well-known in the Granite state.

Still, the memo further underscores how seriously Democrats are taking a potential Brown candidacy.

In the memo, Kirstein points to polling conducted in December 2011, after Brown had faced a barrage of attacks from Democrats, that showed then-candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) surging, and Brown’s popularity and job approval declining.

That barrage included a major television campaign launched by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) that charged Brown had “gone to Washington … and something’s gone horribly wrong,” noting he received contributions from big oil companies and went on to oppose a bill that would’ve closed tax loopholes for the industry, as well as his zero percent score on the group's 2010 scorecard.

“Exposing Brown’s record for the Big Oil companies over middle class families will be devastating for him here in New Hampshire and Brown will find already-skeptical Granite State voters turn against him even faster than Massachusetts voters did last year,” Kirstein writes.

In response, New Hampshire GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn suggested it’s Shaheen who’s vulnerable in the election, noting her polling below 50 percent and hammering her for her support of Obama and ObamaCare.

“After voting with Barack Obama over 95 percent of the time, Granite Staters understand that Jeanne Shaheen lied when she said that she would be an independent voice for our state. They also realize that she lied to New Hampshire when she said that people could keep their health insurance under ObamaCare if they liked it,” she said.

"Shaheen is rapidly losing the trust and confidence of her constituents because her dishonest statements, and she knows that she is going to lose in November."

The memo appears intended in part to draw the LCV into the race to defend Shaheen. So far this year, one major Democratic super-PAC, Senate Majority PAC, has already launched advertising in New Hampshire attacking Brown for his Wall Street support and record on financial issues.

The LCV spent $1.1 million on the Warren-Brown race, and Shaheen is one of the group’s strongest allies, but there’s no indication it will engage in New Hampshire at this point.

“We haven’t made any decisions for 2014, but Scott Brown’s horrible record on energy and the environment speaks for itself,” League of Conservation Voters spokesman Jeff Gohringer said, when asked whether the group is looking at spending there.

Kirstein also highlights some trouble Brown’s had with the GOP base in New Hampshire as evidence he’ll have a tough time running in the state.

Four Republicans have already entered the race, but if Brown were to jump into the primary, he’d easily rocket to the front of the pack.

He launched a placeholder website recently, teasing that a new site is “coming soon,” prompting renewed speculation about his future plans, and on Thursday lent his name to another fundraising pitch for the New Hampshire GOP that slammed Shaheen and said it was clear national Democrats are "nervous" about her chances for reelection.

Still, Brown’s next step remains murky at best, and New Hampshire Republicans admit they have no idea whether he’ll run.

--This piece was updated at 5:15 to reflect comment from the NHGOP.