Establishment, Palin join forces in N.H. Senate race

By David Espo-Associated Press

MANCHESTER N.H. (AP) — Can the Republican establishment and Sarah Palin find happiness in New Hampshire?

First-time candidate Kelly Ayotte hopes so as she campaigns for a Senate seat in a state known for a late-deciding, independent-minded electorate.

In New Hampshire, as elsewhere, the economy, federal spending and the role of government are the issues, and the 42-year-old Ayotte, a former attorney general, campaigns as a conservative who wants to “eliminate agencies, eliminate earmarks” in first steps toward taming deficits.

With Tuesday’s primary approaching, she boasted to a few dozen supporters at a cocktail reception recently that she’s the only Republican who has been criticized by Rep. Paul Hodes, who will be the Democratic candidate this fall. “And the reason is he knows I can beat him,” she added.

But it’s precisely her support from the party hierarchy as well as from Palin, anti-abortion groups, law enforcement organizations and others that gives opponents hope of springing one more upset in a primary season in which Republican voters repeatedly have repudiated establishment candidates.

“The fact is I am the outsider … and will be more independent in affecting reforms” in Washington, says Ovide Lamontagne, Ayotte’s closest pursuer in the polls in a multi-candidate field. “I am not the establishment candidate and not a new conservative out to get your vote,” is his pitch in a campaign-closing television commercial, his only of the race.

There is no significant difference between the two on economic issues, and little on social policy. Lamontagne rebuts her argument that she can run as a conservative alternative to Hodes, noting she is a recent convert to a ban on earmarks — lawmakers’ pet projects for back home — and says she would have voted to confirm Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

New Hampshire is one of seven states with elections Tuesday, near the end of a turbulent primary season in which the Republican Party, Palin and tea party activists have often struggled for advantage in race after race. Several party-backed candidates have lost nomination battles so far, and in Colorado, officials appear to have written off the upset winner of the gubernatorial primary.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/11/establishment-palin-join-forces-nh-senate-race/

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