'I Don't Buy the Bipartisan Talk': New Hampshire Voters Reject Dem's Campaign Message

Sen. Maggie Hassan plays up her appeal to independents. NH voters say she's a reliable vote for the Biden admin.

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.) / Getty Images
August 6, 2022

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. Maggie Hassan's reelection campaign ads tout that the Granite State Democrat is the "most bipartisan" lawmaker in the Senate. But state residents across the political spectrum say they consider Hassan a reliable vote for the Biden administration.

Sean Chambers, a 43-year-old construction worker and registered independent, said Hassan's time in the Senate has been "nothing but broken promises." He said he has yet to decide on whether he will vote Republican in November but refuses to back Hassan.

"She says she's for the worker but hasn't done anything," Chambers told the Washington Free Beacon. "I don't buy the bipartisan talk. There's a big divide and nothing is getting done."

Hassan won her seat in 2016 by just about 1,000 votes in a $120 million campaign battle largely focused on her appeal to independents, who make up roughly 40 percent of the state's registered voters. Her reelection campaign is set to be equally competitive as residents grow frustrated with the Biden administration's handling of the economy—only one-fifth of state residents want President Joe Biden to seek reelection in 2024, according to a University of New Hampshire poll released last month.

Hassan has attempted to distance herself from the Democratic Party establishment, but New Hampshire voters who spoke to the Free Beacon, including Republicans, Democrats, and independents, share the view that the Democratic senator is a reliable supporter of the White House's agenda.

Al Macaloan, a retired project manager and an independent who voted for Biden in 2020, said he will vote for the New Hampshire Democrat, who has voted with the president 96 percent of the time, for just this reason.

"In the present environment I don't think you can be bipartisan," Macaloan told the Free Beacon. "I would like to see it, but it's not possible."

Democrats and their allies are prepared to make the race a top spending target: Hassan has raised $26 million, including $3.2 million in individual contributions between April and June alone—88 percent of which came from out of state. These funds helped her launch a series of campaign ads in recent weeks that tout her "bipartisan" record on issues such as small businesses and federal budgets. Hassan declared in one campaign ad that "fiscal responsibility is the New Hampshire way."

The ad comes after the senator voted to pass Biden's American Rescue Plan and infrastructure bill, which total more than $3 trillion in spending. She also backed the $739 billion climate spending bill that gained traction with Democrats in recent weeks. Many economists point to these price tags as sources of the four-decade-high inflation rate—an issue that led two-thirds of voters in the state to disapprove of Biden's economic policies.

Hassan said in another ad that she is "taking on members of my own party to push a gas tax holiday" and "pushing Joe Biden to release more of our oil reserves."

But as governor, Hassan signed a gas tax increase in 2014 and proposed a budget in 2015 to increase taxes and fees by $100 million, the New Hampshire Journal reported. As a senator, she voted against former president Donald Trump's tax cuts in 2017, which saved an average of $1,400 for New Hampshire residents.

The Hassan campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

T.J. Duffy, a 26-year-old U.S. Postal Service driver, plans to vote for Republicans up and down the ballot in November. Hassan's campaign message, he said, is a desperate reversal to appeal to blue-collar workers in the state.

"If you're going to vote one way for the majority, it's pretty unfair to say you're bipartisan," Duffy told the Free Beacon. "The people who don't see gas prices as an issue don't drive to work every single day."

Hassan's campaign message relies in part on her award from the Lugar Center, which in May crowned her the "most bipartisan" senator in 2021. The organization noted that Hassan rallied a Republican cosponsor on all 48 bills she introduced last year. Only two of these bills passed, though, both of them directing the Department of Health and Human Services to bolster public health programs.

Danielle Ovellette, a 32-year-old waitress, wore a "fuck Trump" bracelet as she served several Trump supporters last week at Ryan's Place, a veteran-themed diner in Epping, N.H. Ovellette supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in the 2020 presidential primary and refused to vote for Biden in the general election. She said she plans to vote for Hassan because of her support for a progressive agenda.

"You vote for what's best for you," Ovellette told the Free Beacon.

Polling data show Hassan has a narrow lead against her potential Republican challengers. Hassan ran a series of campaign ads that criticize the Republican candidates' pro-life records after the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June. The New Hampshire primary is not until Sept. 13—a little more than a month before the election.

Paul Lessard, a 58-year-old former New Hampshire Department of Transportation employee born and raised in Manchester, N.H., said Hassan's bipartisan message will fall flat come Election Day.

"She's full of shit," Lessard, a registered Republican, told the Free Beacon. "She only sides with Democrats."