Horn in on Bass
The question of the day seems to be whether Republican talk show host Jennifer Horn’s newly-announced candidacy in the second district of New Hampshire will have a significant impact on the potential candidacy of former Rep. Charlie Bass. My sense is that it really depends on the extent to which next year’s Republican primary performs like a traditional exercise by the party’s base.
If it turns into a “who’s the most conservative”contest, as Republican primaries around the country often do, then Horn may have a chance of defeating Bass for the nomination. She will have to hit him hard as being complicit in the big spending and budget deficits of the Bush Administration, and argue that Bass (as a Washington insider) compromised on core conservative principles in the process.
The best case scenario for Bass would be to make the primary all about viability, by arguing that Horn is so out of step with the centrist leanings of many voters in the second district that she won’t stand a chance against a Democratic candidate in the general election, just as she was beaten handily by Rep. Paul Hodes the last time around. Bass could also talk about “delivering the goods” for New Hampshire, having already been assured by the Republican Caucus in the House that he would regain his previous seniority should he win.
So, if the primary contest turns on the question of viability in a Congressional district that has become increasingly moderate over the past 10 years, then Bass will have the advantage in next September’s primary. But if participating voters turn it into a test of conservative purity, then Horn may get another shot.
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