Party Planner
07-23-2010
For the past few weeks, I have commented in various media outlets that the candidates in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate would soon turn on each other (and especially on Kelly Ayotte) in an attempt to shake up what has been a fairly static race up to this point. Well, from everything I’m seeing and hearing now, that finally appears to be happening in earnest. On a related note, a journalist recently asked me whether the reason the race had previously been so tame was because party chairman John H. Sununu was keeping a lid on any intra-party attacks.
 
While I don’t have any particular inside knowledge on what Sununu is doing behind the scenes, I would suggest that there are limits to what he can do to influence campaign behavior. According to a John DiStaso source in the Union Leader (scroll down to A STERN LOOK), Sununu recently mentioned that he was unhappy with the new tone of the Republican campaigns and planned to reach out to the candidates. But the reality is that party chairs typically don’t have a great deal of control over the tactical decisions of these largely decentralized campaign organizations.
 
The issue here is that thus far the four major candidates have all sounded largely indistinguishable from each other, a common problem in a primary where most of the negativity is directed at the other party. So, the only way for the campaigns to draw distinctions now is to argue that the similar positions of their competitors (especially the frontrunner) are wholly inauthentic. That’s what I expected would happen, and that is what we have seen over the past week. My guess is that it will only intensify as we get closer to the primary, even if Gov. Sununu wishes it were otherwise.


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