Schiff polling shows him competitive with Dodd

Economist Peter Schiff is looking closely at joining the GOP primary to face Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), and his polling shows he would be competitive in the general election.

The polling, which was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies and obtained by The Backroom, shows Dodd leading the little-known Schiff within the margin of error, 42-38.

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Schiff doesn’t fare as well as former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.), who leads Dodd 47-38 in the poll, but the polling memo makes the case that he would be just as competitive with Dodd once he gains name recognition.

 When matched up with Dodd, 69 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of strong Republicans choose Schiff. For Simmons, those numbers are 74 and 90, respectively.

The memo includes no GOP primary head-to-heads or numbers testing former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley or state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, who are also running on the Republican side.

 But it does show that Dodd continues to struggle in his quest to return to voters’ good graces. The results closely mirror a Quinnipiac poll from late May, which showed Simmons leading Dodd 45-39 and Dodd leading Caligiuri — another little-known GOPer — within the margin of error.

Schiff is a libertarian-leaning former Ron Paul adviser who made a name for himself by predicting the economic recession. He has made it clear that he’s leaning toward a run and could bring significant personal resources to the race.

— A.B.


Help wanted: Serious candidate for governor

A smart Republican in New Hampshire made a good case recently for how the GOP can turn its luck around in the Granite State: Don’t cede the race for governor.

It’s not the most obvious answer for a state with an open Senate seat, an open House seat and one of the party’s best congressional recruits (Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta) against a vulnerable incumbent Democrat (Rep. Carol Shea-Porter).

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It’s even less obvious when one considers that Gov. John Lynch (D) won reelection in 2006 with 74 percent of the vote and in 2008 with 70 percent.

But the thinking, initially brought up by public relations strategist Mark Sanborn, a former Bush administration appointee, goes something like this: Lynch’s political organization is a descendant of the one Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) built during her three terms as governor. And if Lynch doesn’t think he has a real race on his hands, his organization is more likely to be mobilized to help down-ballot Democrats. That’s bad for Republicans across the state.

“The tone for everything is set by the race for governor,” said one longtime New Hampshire GOP strategist, agreeing with Sanborn’s hypothesis. “For us to be non-competitive in that race again would pollute the entire ‘10 environment.”

Lynch has stirred controversy as some have accused him of mishandling a same-sex marriage debate, and his budget isn’t winning the rave reviews earlier budgets received.

At least one New Hampshire strategist isn’t buying the notion that keeping Lynch’s numbers down would be essential to a GOP victory.

“Presidential elections, I think, have more of an impact on the rest of the ticket. I think, with a very competitive U.S. Senate race and competitive congressional races for the first time in a long time, that can diminish the impact of a noncompetitive opposing party’s incumbent governor,” said Mike Dennehy, the strategist who steered Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to a come-from-behind win in the 2008 New Hampshire primary.

“I don’t think [a competitive governor’s race] is the key to a win,” Dennehy said.

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That’s a good thing, as the list of potentially competitive candidates is not long. Former Gov. Steve Merrill (R) and state Sen. (and former U.S. Rep.) Jeb Bradley (R) would probably be the strongest, while others suggested unlikely candidates like ex-Rep. Charlie Bass and ex-Sen. John Sununu.

“A credible race for governor means [the] GOP could probably take back the House and maybe the Senate, but I am not sure who that [candidate] is,” the veteran Republican said. “My preference would be someone whose name doesn’t begin with ‘former.’ ”

Added Dennehy: “I haven’t heard about any possible candidates.”

— R.W.


PhRMA back on the air for vulnerable Dems

 Earlier this month, The Backroom chronicled PhRMA’s shift from supporting Republicans a strong majority of the time to splitting its resources between the two parties pretty evenly.

Well, the lobbying group is back on the air for Democrats, running ads on behalf of at least six vulnerable House Democrats.

 The beneficiaries this time are Reps. Steve Driehaus (Ohio), Alan Grayson (Fla.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Jim Himes (Conn.), Baron Hill (Ind.) and Mike Ross (Ark.).

 The ads, which are all different and began running early this week, praise the members for everything from supporting the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to fighting for expanded health coverage to pushing for veterans’ healthcare and Medicare.

— A.B.