SCOTUS shockwaves could shake N.H. Senate race – POLITICO – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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TIPPING POINT — The draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade is unlikely to shake up statewide contests here, but it could jolt vulnerable Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan’s reelection campaign in New Hampshire.

Hassan, who supports abortion rights, is running against a slew of Republicans who oppose them to varying degrees. State Senate President Chuck Morse, who helped pass a 24-week abortion ban last year, touted his “pro-life record” in a statement after POLITICO published the draft opinion. Retired Gen. Don Bolduc said “if the Court rules as indicated, I believe they made the right call.” Kevin Smith, a former executive director of conservative advocacy group Cornerstone Action, blasted Hassan and “the extremists in Washington” who he said “support late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions.”

Fighting for abortion rights is familiar campaign territory for Hassan. Earlier this week, state Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley called abortion rights and funding a “decisive” issue in Hassan’s 2016 race against Republican Kelly Ayotte. One longtime Democratic strategist in the Granite State told Playbook that an abortion rights fight could be a “potential game-changer” for Hassan in her current race, in which she’s crushing her Republican rivals in fundraising but not in polls.

“If my opponents get this seat, they will support the kind of national abortion ban that’s now being talked about,” Hassan stressed to my colleague, Burgess Everett, in a new interview.

But strategists in both parties warn Democrats can’t focus on abortion alone. If they do, “I believe there will be a backlash,” Mike Dennehy, a veteran of New Hampshire Republican politics, told Playbook. “There’s record inflation, record gas prices, record illegal immigration and overdose deaths, and the Democrats will be talking about abortion.”

Hassan is trying to strike a balance, mixing her abortion rights messaging with social media posts about lowering costs for families and a television ad touting her efforts to tamp down on soaring gas prices — including pushing her own party to act on a gas tax holiday (an issue wildly unpopular among top Democrats in Massachusetts, but one of Hassan’s main arguments against her Republican opponents as of late).

Abortion gives Hassan another contrast with her rivals that “helps her in the Senate race to some extent,” GOP consultant Patrick Griffin told Playbook. “But it’s the only thing Democrats have right now.”

GOOD FRIDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Senate President Karen Spilka plans to include $2 million for abortion access in the fiscal 2023 budget her chamber is due to unveil next week.

The proposed funding comes after a “productive” conversation between Spilka and abortion rights advocates on Wednesday, her office said. And it exceeds the $500,000 the House added to its budget to fund grants for three local abortion funds — the Jane Fund of Central Massachusetts, the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts and the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund.

TODAY — Gov. Charlie Baker participates in the Associated Industries of Massachusetts virtual annual meeting at 9 a.m. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attends a Mission Hill Coffee Hour at 9:30 a.m., speaks at a Mothers for Justice and Equality luncheon at 11 a.m. in Hyde Park and speaks at the Kwong Kow Chinese School Annual Fundraising Gala in Chinatown at 7:40 p.m. Sen. Ed Markey chairs a subcommittee field hearing on nuclear plant decommissioning at 10 a.m. at Plymouth Town Hall. AG candidate Andrea Campbell continues her Gateway Cities listening tour in Springfield and is endorsed by Mayor Domenic Sarno at 2:30 p.m. outside Springfield City Hall.

THIS WEEKEND — Part two of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “Keller @ Large” interview airs at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Baker is on WCVB’s “On the Record” at 11 a.m. Sunday.

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— BURNING UP: Spending is up in statewide contests with candidates in both parties facing crunch time to get on the ballot. GOP governor hopeful Chris Doughty also loaned his campaign another $90,000, his spokesperson confirmed.

And at least 10 candidates shelled out to collect signatures to get on the ballot: Doughty and Republican rival Geoff Diehl; lieutenant governor candidates Leah Cole Allen, Bret Bero and state Sens. Adam Hinds and Eric Lesser; attorney general hopefuls Andrea Campbell, Shannon Liss-Riordan and Quentin Palfrey; and auditor hopeful Anthony Amore, according to OCPF reports and their campaigns.

Paying for signature collection in statewide races isn’t new. But it underscores the difficulties facing candidates who entered their races late, are running statewide for the first time, or both — as well as the lingering effects of Covid-19, which has complicated traditional campaigning for more than two years now.

— NEW: Sarah Sabshon is now policy director for state Attorney General Maura Healey’s gubernatorial campaign. She most recently was the health care policy analyst for House Speaker Ron Mariano, and was previously the health care policy analyst for former House Speaker Bob DeLeo and chief of staff for former state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Quentin Palfrey is ratcheting up his attacks against attorney general rival Andrea Campbell over the “Better Boston” super PAC that supported her Boston mayoral bid last year.

“No other 2022 candidate for statewide office is supported by a corporate super PAC,” Palfrey said in a new statement. “If — for the first time in Massachusetts history — super PACs are allowed to play a role in the campaign for the next attorney general, that would set a dangerous precedent.”

Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited sums but can’t coordinate with candidates, so Campbell can’t actually “shut down” the super PAC, as Palfrey wants. She could, however, call on it to close.


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