New Hampshire is in the political spotlight years before its first-in-the-nation primary. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders visits this weekend, fueling speculation over a possible presidential run. That happens just days after former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown officially kicked off his campaign to become Senator of the Granite State.
Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has been contemplating the idea of running for president for some time. He will be at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire on Saturday. University of Virginia Center for Politics Sabato Crystal Ball Managing Editor Kyle Kondik says whenever any big or moderate political name visits New Hampshire, it spikes speculation regarding a potential presidential campaign. “It seems to me that it’s pretty highly unlikely that Bernie Sanders would be the Democratic nominee for president. However, I do think that there is some segment of the Democratic party that isn’t necessarily sold on Hilary Clinton - assuming that Hilary Clinton even runs - and would be looking for a more kind-of liberal-progressive alternative. Well, Bernie Sanders is one of the most liberal progressive office holders in the whole country.”
If Sanders were to join the presidential race, Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis doesn’t expect an announcement until after the midterm elections. Davis also believes that Sanders, who caucuses with the party in the Senate, would run as a Democrat, but not necessarily to win the White House. “It’s most unlikely that Bernie Sanders would win the Democratic nomination and he knows that too. If he does declare his candidacy for president he’s doing it mainly as an educational campaign to raise issues that he believes are important, that he believes are being ignored by the mainstream media and other candidates.”
The Senator was unavailable for an interview. Sanders told the Burlington Free Press he had been invited to the New Hampshire college about a year ago and was finally able to travel there. He told the newspaper that he would not make an announcement this weekend and there will be no decision for many months. That was echoed in a recent WAMC Congressional Corner interview. “I don’t wake up in the morning saying I want to be president of the United States. I really don’t. What really, really upsets me is the issues are not being discussed and real ideas and solutions are not being brought forth. And that is unacceptable. So, if nobody else does it, then I’ll do it, but somebody has got to do it.”
There’s no speculation about the other New Hampshire political news. Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown made it official on Thursday: he’s running for Senate again, but this time in New Hampshire. The Republican made his formal announcement in Portsmouth.
Professor of Political Science and Director of the Western New England University Polling Institute Tim Vercellotti says polling data suggests he is competitive in New Hampshire against Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. “The gap between Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen really varies by survey, but it’s early. And the early polling data at least suggests that Scott Brown’s going to be a very competitive candidate in New Hampshire.”
Vercellotti notes that one of the issues will be the timing of Brown’s move to new Hampshire from Massachusetts. Kyle Kondik says they rate the race as “leans Democratic” with Shaheen remaining the favorite. “Scott Brown isn’t viewed particularly favorably. I think that he has a little bit to overcome in terms of convincing people that he really wants to represent New Hampshire, that he’s not just some guy from Massachusetts.”
Brown, hoping to become the first person in more than a century to represent two states in the Senate, is running in a Republican primary, and Vercellotti notes his key primary challenger may help dispel any Brown’s carpetbagger luggage. “Scott Brown’s most prominent opponent in the primary will be Bob Smith. And Bob Smith left New Hampshire, moved to Florida, considered a Senate run there, then came back to New Hampshire. And so some of that outsider argument could be neutralized by Bob Smith’s own background.”
The New Hampshire Republican primary is September 9th.
Senator Sanders’ Town Hall at St. Anselm College is at 10:30 Saturday morning.