Brown’s New Hampshire Plunge: Ads, Donors and Protests

Hours after Scott Brown officially announced that he was jumping into the New Hampshire Senate race, the outside group “Ending Spending” began airing a new commercial supporting him, and the candidate touched down in Washington, D.C., for fundraiser.

The 30-second spot revives Brown’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act and is the second one funded by billionaire Joe Ricketts, whose group wants to reduce the size of government. Americans for Prosperity, a group founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, and Karl Rove’s Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies also have sponsored commercials supporting Brown.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic incumbent, is pushing Brown to keep outside groups out of the state for the race.

However, she too has benefited from third party largesse. The League of Conservation Voters, a pro-environmental group, so far has paid for 91 commercials while the Senate Majority PAC, a group that aims to keep Democratic control of the upper chamber, has funded 105, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG data.

Despite the outside help, Brown has some ground to make up on the money front. Shaheen had $3.4 million in the bank at the end of 2013 according to the Federal Election Commission. Since Brown just recently created his exploratory committee, he hasn’t filed any candidate reports with the FEC yet. His political action committee — recently rechristened the “Fiscal Responsibility PAC” — contained $153,000 as of the beginning of this year.

Hence: The Brown fundraiser.

An early attendee at last night’s event was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican with perhaps the most to gain by Brown’s candidacy. Win, lose or draw, Brown’s entrance into the New Hampshire race expands the number of contests where Democrats are on the defense this year, forcing them to spend money in a state they previously viewed as safe.

Several donors chatted with McConnell — who stayed for about 10 minutes and then left.

Also milling around in a wood paneled private room at the Dubliner, an Irish bar blocks from the Capitol, was Tennessee’s Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa couldn’t make it — due to a vote on the floor — but his wife Barbara came instead and declared Brown “nice” as she left.

Not all attendees were on the official invite list. About a dozen young protesters stood outside the bar in the rain wearing bare-chested body builder costumes — a visual reference to a photo that appeared on the front page of the New Hampshire Union Leader of Brown as he took a polar plunge.

— Photo by Annie Linskey

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