House candidates face off for third time
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.
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.