In New Hampshire, quixotic super PAC shaking up Republican primary

Dave Levinthal

In little New Hampshire’s big money U.S. Senate primary, Republican Jim Rubens should be an afterthought at best.

This former New Hampshire state senator, after all, hasn’t occupied elected office since the late 1990s. He then lost a bid for governor. And he couldn’t even win back his old state Senate seat in 2000.

But when a quixotic, out-of-state super PAC with a million-plus bucks to burn suddenly backs you, the atmospherics change.

“I would not have a chance without the super PAC,” Rubens acknowledged. “Now I do.”

Related: 090914 New Hampshire money

Mayday PAC is, paradoxically, an anti-super PAC super PAC that pumps serious cash into campaigns of candidates like Rubens who'd like to see super PACs disappear altogether.

Prior to Mayday PAC’s involvement, a poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and television station WMUR-TV indicating four in five voters statewide had no opinion of Rubens, one way or another.

“This is exactly why we’re in there — to effect change and change how he’s doing,” said Larry Lessig, the Harvard Law School professor who founded Mayday PAC: “We’re optimistic we’re going to be effective.”

To be sure: A Rubens victory today would be outrageous, even for a state known for its rebellious streak — voters memorably picked commentator Pat Buchanan over standard-bearing Sen. Bob Dole during the 1996 Republican presidential primary — during a year when a GOP luminary like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor fell in a primary to a little-known challenger. 

Related: Who's buying the Senate?

Scott Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts who lost his seat in 2012, is expected to win the New Hampshire's GOP primary.

There’s more to this story. Click here to read the rest at the Center for Public Integrity.

This story is part of Buying the Senate 2014. Whether Republicans control both chambers of Congress squarely depends on Senate races in a handful of states. Click here to read more stories in this investigation.

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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.