By Andrew Bair
The 2016 New Hampshire Senate race began in earnest Monday when Gov. Maggie Hassan, a pro-abortion Democrat, announced she will challenge pro-life incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Prior to Hassan’s announcement, the Rothenberg & Gonzalez Political Report rated the contest “Leans Republican,” although many observers expect the race to turn into a dead heat.
Serving in the U.S. Senate since January 2011, Kelly Ayotte holds a 100% rating from National Right to Life. Key votes include the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (protecting unborn babies 20 weeks and older), cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, repealing Obamacare, and preserving parental involvement when a minor crosses state lines in order to obtain an abortion.
Pro-life advocates will also remember that Kelly Ayotte, while serving as Attorney General of New Hampshire, fought Planned Parenthood all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of New Hampshire’s parental notification law, enforcement of which had been blocked by a federal court. The Supreme Court revived the law, while ruling that it could not be applied in certain circumstances.
By contrast, Maggie Hassan is a favorite candidate of EMILY’s List, the political action committee that only backs female Democrats who support abortion without limits. Hassan was endorsed by EMILY’s List when running for state Senate and running for Governor. In announcing their 2012 endorsement of Hassan for Governor, EMILY’s List said, “Now, more than ever, our states need the leadership of strong, pro-choice Democratic women like Maggie Hassan.”
Following the series of undercover videos at Planned Parenthood revealing the harvesting and trafficking of unborn baby body parts, the New Hampshire Executive Council voted against state contracts with Planned Parenthood. Gov. Hassan blasted the decision, saying, “It is clear that today’s vote is the result of an ideological and political attack against Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.”
In 2014, Gov. Hassan signed into a law a measure requiring a 25-foot buffer zone outside the entrances of abortion centers in an attempt to limit the free speech of pro-life demonstrators and sidewalk counselors offering alternatives to abortion.
In order to retake control of the U.S. Senate, Democrats need to win a net 5 seats in the 2016 elections (or 4 seats, plus the White House). Strategists view New Hampshire, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as the most likely seats to change hands from Republican to Democrat.
In a perfect storm for Democrats, other potential pickups could include Arizona and North Carolina and Ohio. In addition to defending those 7 seats, Republicans have opportunities to pick up seats in Colorado and Nevada.