By Raoul Biron, Staff Writer
Election Day will be on Nov. 8th, 2016. Presidential hopefuls have 636 more days in which to build a campaign, appeal to the American voter, and collectively raise a sum of money predicted to easily surpass the roughly $1.4 billion that presidential candidates raised and filed with the FEC in 2012. Potential candidates can be expected to travel further, poll more often, and advertise more expansively than before and in preparation, conservative businessmen Charles and David Koch have stated their intent to organize funds reaching almost $1 billion in support of the GOP for the upcoming election.
With an extra $889 million of potential fiscal support on the table, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), a probable candidate still only backed by one prominent donor, Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, Inc., surprised few on Jan. 26 by announcing the formation of the political action committee, “Leadership Matters for America.” With the ability to now hire campaign staff and raise up to $5,000 dollars per personal donation, Christie has positioned himself to officially join an already crowded stage of possible Republican contenders. The influx of this much new money will not just redefine aspects of the cross-party presidential and congressional races, but will intensify the spotlight on the country’s first presidential primary, a notion most New Hampshire voters are already familiar with.
Though Christie isn’t expected to make an official decision until this Spring, the pro-business and anti minimum-wage reform centrist has already begun focusing on a politically polarized New Hampshire. Beyond scheduling a visit to Concord, NH later this month and agreeing to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the Merrimack County/Concord City Republican Committee, Christie worked to strengthen his regional ties by appointing the former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee and his former aide Matt Mowers to a key leadership position within the PAC.
While candidates across the board continue to flirt with New Hampshire and Iowa, two key political states leading up to a primary election, and Christie continues to only hint at an actual run, the New Jersey Governor maintains a steady presence in both states. Christie visited New Hampshire five times during his campaigning for Walt Havenstein in last year’s midterm elections and maintained a close connection to his former aide and current strategist Mowers, throughout.
Despite failing to secure New Hampshire Senate and Governor seats in November’s midterm, the GOP seems to remain optimistic about staging a valuable and indicative primary there and potentially even swinging the state red in November. New Hampshire is not only a swing state neighboring the traditionally liberal Massachusetts that recently elected a Republican Governor, but it also provides a valuable and missed cross-section of the GOP’s demographic. Young, fiscally conservative yet socially liberal voters that have found themselves caught between either party in recent election cycles could provide the infusion of youth that the GOP failed to facilitate in 2008 and 2012. Securing New Hampshire’s libertarian, laissez-faire capitalist votes is an absolute priority for the Republicans in 2016, and a candidate that could figure out how would carry significant value for the GOP, beyond just New Hampshire and even the primaries.
Gov. Christie will not stand unopposed in trying to figure out how to get young New Hampshire voters to back the GOP. The Republican’s proverbial kitchen sink consists of visits to New Hampshire from Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) in March and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), and former business executive and current Chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation Carly Fiorina in February alone.
With this much money and power being thrown behind two nominees, Republican and Democratic hopefuls alike find themselves campaigning actively in key states despite public opinion and in some cases, even formal campaign declarations being made. As New Hampshire voters are still shoveling snow out of their driveways, they are reminded that another storm is only one calendar year away. The candidates are coming.
Biron: GOP Takes aim at NH