Ovide's Opening?
You may have caught me doing some analysis of the Republican primary to replace retiring U.S. Senator Judd Gregg on WMUR-TV last night. Back in November 2009, on the occasion of Ovide Lamontagne’s entrance into the race, I wrote about the potential impact his conservative candidacy might have on former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte’s ability to stake out a fairly centrist ideological position in the primary, one which could serve her well with moderates and independents in the general election.
Many Republican primaries around the country this year have followed a predictable pattern, in which institutional elites are challenged by movement (social) conservatives on the right. With the help of Tea Party-infused political mobilization, these challengers have often gone on to upend the presumptive favorites on primary day. It was pretty clear to me early on that Lamontagne hoped his candidacy would follow the same script, but I was never quite sure that this political discourse would play out the same way in the Granite State.
Since then, Lamontagne has clearly done the most to capture the movement conservative energy percolating around the country, but it just doesn’t seem to have given him the same pop that it might have were he running for the Senate in other parts of the country. I think it is fair to say that many political analysts around the country view him as the true social conservative in the race, but New Hampshire has stayed true to form in its preference for a campaign discourse focused primarily on fiscal matters, with a good dose of foreign policy sprinkled in. The Tea Party ethos just hasn’t resonated here the way it has elsewhere, which may make Lamontagne’s capturing of the movement conservative crown a somewhat hollow victory.
p.s. For those of you who would argue that I am erring in conflating social conservatism with the Tea Party movement, you can read my rationale for doing so here and here.

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