House can­di­dates face off for third time

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

New Hamp­shire’s 1st Con­gres­sional Dis­trict has be­come the chief bell­wether for Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal trends over the last decade, with a Demo­crat win­ning the dis­trict in 2006, los­ing it in 2010, re­gain­ing it in 2012 — and now fac­ing a tight bat­tle again.

The catch is that it’s the same Demo­crat, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, and for the third con­sec­u­tive elec­tion she’s fac­ing the same Repub­li­can, for­mer Rep. Frank Guinta.

“New Hamp­shire has been sus­cep­ti­ble to na­tional trends and this cy­cle is no dif­fer­ent,” said Nathan L. Gonzales, deputy ed­i­tor or the Rothenberg Po­lit­i­cal Re­port. “The 1st Dis­trict is com­pet­i­tive enough that nei­ther party will prob­a­bly ever con­trol it for­ever.”

Con­gres­sional dis­tricts in New York and Illi­nois also fea­ture re­matches of can­di­dates whose seats have switched par­ties with the ebb and flow of Amer­ica’s tur­bu­lent po­lit­i­cal drift. Like Mr. Guinta, the Repub­li­can chal­lengers in those races are for­mer House mem­bers ousted in 2012 who hope to ben­e­fit from na­tional head­winds this cy­cle that is push­ing back against Mr. Obama and his Demo­cratic Party.

But it’s New Hamp­shire’s 1st Dis­trict, which in­cludes Manch­ester, that has most closely mir­rored Amer­ica’s shift­ing po­lit­i­cal moods.

Ms. Shea-Porter, a 61-year-old for­mer so­cial worker, first won the seat in the 2006 midterm elec­tion. She was part of the Demo­cratic wave that rose in op­po­si­tion to Pres­i­dent George W. Bush and the Iraq war, giv­ing Democrats majority con­trol of the House that year for the first time since 1994.

When Repub­li­cans re­cap­tured the House majority in 2010, fu­eled by the rise of the tea party move­ment in re­ac­tion to sky­rock­et­ing fed­eral debt and the pas­sage of Oba­macare, vot­ers tossed out Ms. SheaPorter in fa­vor of Mr. Guinta.

But in the next elec­tion, Mr. Guinta, a for­mer mayor of Manch­ester, couldn’t hold back the ris­ing tide of Demo­cratic vot­ers who turned out in 2012 to re-elect Mr. Obama and re­turn Ms. Shea-Porter to Congress.

A New Eng­land Col­lege poll re­leased Wed­nes­day showed Mr. Guinta break­ing into the lead over Ms. Shea-Porter 51 per­cent to 39 per­cent. The same poll last week showed the race tied at 45 per­cent.

Mr. Guinta has in­sisted that he isn’t wait­ing for another “wave” elec­tion to carry him into of­fice.

“We don’t take any­thing for granted,” said Guinta cam­paign spokesman Jay Ruais.

But he noted that the GOP chal­lenger, who has em­barked on a “Kitchen Ta­ble Talks” tour to con­verse di­rectly with vot­ers, reg­u­larly hears about the weak econ­omy, lack of jobs and prob­lems with Oba­macare.

“What we’re hear­ing from peo­ple is they are very up­set about the di­rec­tion the coun­try is head­ing,” said Mr. Ruais. “We hear that all the time.”

Ms. Shea-Porter’s cam­paign did not re­spond to email or phone mes­sages.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In­cum­bent Demo­cratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is fac­ing off against Repub­li­can chal­lenger and for­mer Rep. Frank Guinta for the third time. Ms. Shea-Porter first won the seat in the 2006 midterm elec­tion, lost to Mr. Guinta in 2010, and won again in 2012.

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