In New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan May Face a High-Profile Fight

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Senator Maggie Hassan, a erstwhile politician of her state, is moving to burnish her centrist representation without making governmental waves.

Senator Maggie Hassan has sought to physique  a bipartisan image, which resonates with famously autarkic  voters successful  New Hampshire.
Credit...John Tully for The New York Times

Carl Hulse

July 10, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

MERIDITH, N.H. — At the Twin Barns Brewing Co., perched adjacent the shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee, Senator Maggie Hassan sampled immoderate of the signature merchandise connected a caller afternoon, past chased it with a committedness to combat for much reliable net service, which the owners said they needed to support their lawsuit base.

“If you are a young nonrecreational and you’ve discovered implicit the 18 months of the pandemic that you don’t really person to beryllium successful the bureau — you tin enactment remotely — this is simply a cleanable work-life balance,” said Dave Picarillo, co-owner of the brewery and restaurant, which has seen an uptick successful concern arsenic radical person decamped to New Hampshire’s Lakes Region during the pandemic. “But without broadband and cellular, that volition ne'er happen.”

As she tried a tasty blonde ale, Ms. Hassan assured Mr. Picarillo and his partner, Bruce Walton, that she was connected the case. She was portion of a bipartisan radical of senators who were moving to velocity a compromise infrastructure program that included caller broadband backing to President Biden’s table — whether oregon not her enactment was capable to propulsion done a second, broader bundle of Democratic initiatives.

“I deliberation you’ve got to get things done erstwhile you person the opportunity,” said Ms. Hassan, a erstwhile two-term politician seeking a 2nd Senate term.

Ms. Hassan is the mean Senate Democrat and imaginable plaything ballot who fewer radical successful Washington speech about. She does not marque waves oregon drawback headlines similar Joe Manchin III oregon Krysten Sinema, her colleagues from West Virginia and Arizona who gully overmuch of the attraction arsenic the centrists astir apt to defect from their party. Her each utterance is not parsed for value astir what it means for legislative progress. Reporters don’t throng astir her.

And that’s nary accident, she said: “I conscionable similar to support my caput down and get enactment done.”

Yet portion she tries to alert nether the radar, what happens successful Congress successful the adjacent fewer months arsenic Democrats and Mr. Biden effort to enact their ambitious docket volition astir apt bash much to find her aboriginal than either Mr. Manchin’s oregon Ms. Sinema’s. Unlike those 2 Democrats, Ms. Hassan volition beryllium connected the ballot successful a plaything authorities adjacent year, during a midterm rhythm that is traditionally unkind to members of the president’s party.

“I deliberation she will, to a ample grade adjacent year, emergence oregon autumn with Joe Biden, his numbers and however New Hampshire voters volition consciousness astir the economy,” said Dante Scala, a governmental idiosyncratic astatine the University of New Hampshire.

Even much than those factors, her governmental aboriginal could crook connected whether Chris Sununu, the fashionable Republican politician and a subordinate of 1 of the state’s astir salient governmental families, decides to reply the telephone from his enactment to leap into the race. He would beryllium a formidable hostile and instantly alteration the New Hampshire contention into a marquee contest, placing Ms. Hassan among the astir threatened incumbents arsenic Democrats effort to clasp their highly fragile clasp connected the Senate.

“If the contention is with Sununu — and I don’t cognize if it is Sununu — it is going to beryllium a pugnacious one,” said Thomas D. Rath, a erstwhile authorities lawyer wide successful New Hampshire and a longtime Republican unit successful the state.

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Credit...Pool photograph by David Lane

Mr. Sununu, whose begetter was a erstwhile politician and White House main of unit and whose member was a U.S. senator, has not tipped his manus connected whether helium volition tally contempt entreaties from Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and others who judge helium gives them by acold the champion accidental of taking the spot arsenic they conflict for the majority. He has expressed immoderate qualms astir jumping into the Washington maelstrom, including losing the enforcement powerfulness that comes with being a politician to articulation a legislative body.

“I’m a manager, I’m an executive,” Governor Sununu said past week connected the New Hampshire Journal podcast. “There are precise fewer of those successful Washington,” helium said, adding that helium besides has to determine, “is it the close way for my family? I person kids to enactment done college, and each that benignant of stuff.”

Still, the betting successful some New Hampshire and Washington is that the governor, whose bureau declined an interrogation request, volition marque the race, uncovering it excessively hard to defy the opportunity.

As for Mr. Hassan, she said the governor’s plans were not a origin successful her own.

“I don’t know, and it doesn’t truly alteration my work,” she said past week erstwhile asked whether she thought Mr. Sununu would run. “I’m arrogant of what I’ve done and I volition marque my lawsuit to the radical of New Hampshire.”

While she whitethorn beryllium low-key successful Washington, Ms. Hassan has been a fixture successful New Hampshire authorities for astir 2 decades, serving successful the State Senate arsenic bulk person and doubly winning races for politician earlier toppling Kelly Ayotte, the incumbent Republican senator, by conscionable implicit 1,000 votes successful 2016. Her allies accidental that Republicans person consistently underestimated Ms. Hassan, and volition apt bash truthful again.

“She has got chops erstwhile it comes to winning pugnacious races, and it has not conscionable been 1 pugnacious race,” said Kathy Sullivan, a erstwhile chairwoman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “She works precise hard astatine it.”

Republicans are already trying to overgarment Ms. Hassan arsenic a loyal acolyte of Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat and bulk leader. They accidental her debased illustration — 1 called her “invisible” — is simply a motion of ineffectiveness.

“We deliberation with the mode things are trending with the Democratic Party moving hard to the left, the outlook for 2022 and perchance a precise beardown challenger that this is simply a precise winnable contention for us,” said T.W. Arrighi, a spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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Credit...John Tully for The New York Times

As she prepares for a apt onslaught, Ms. Hassan is emphasizing her bipartisan record, hoping it resonates with the famously autarkic voters of New Hampshire. As governor, Ms. Hassan recovered ways to enactment with Republican-controlled legislatures to o.k. authorities budgets and grow Medicaid coverage. She said she was present trying to use that aforesaid attack successful the Senate.

She has teamed up with Republicans connected a assortment of issues, including taxation assistance for tiny businesses, wealth for agrarian broadband and a crackdown connected astonishment aesculapian billing included successful a large backing measure past year. Now she is portion of the radical negotiating a bipartisan nationalist works measure that Mr. Biden has hailed arsenic a breakthrough.

“We deliberation it is truly important for the state to spot wherever we person communal crushed and spot america truly trying to enactment crossed enactment lines,” she said.

But the bipartisan bundle is conscionable 1 portion of the equation facing Congress. Democrats besides privation to unit done a overmuch larger measurement that includes an expansive array of costly proposals, utilizing a peculiar fund maneuver known arsenic reconciliation to shield it from a Republican filibuster. Many apical Democrats judge the 2 bills should beryllium linked and approved lone successful tandem to guarantee that some pass.

But Ms. Hassan appears acceptable to propulsion guardant with the nationalist works measure adjacent arsenic the reconciliation program takes signifier — a stance that could enactment her astatine likelihood with immoderate colleagues. She says Congress needs to onslaught portion it can.

“I deliberation it’s important that erstwhile you bash person statement connected thing arsenic large arsenic this level of infrastructure, which we request truthful desperately, that erstwhile there’s communal ground, you travel together,” she said astatine the brewery.

Ms. Hassan is mostly supportive of a 2nd measure to beforehand different elements of Mr. Biden’s plan, immoderate of which she said would beryllium “critical to gathering a instauration for a modern 21st-century starring economy,” but archetypal she wanted to spot what was successful it. She has balked successful the past astatine utilizing reconciliation to execute far-reaching progressive priorities. She was 1 of 7 Democratic senators who voted against including a $15-an-hour minimum wage successful the astir $1.9 trillion pandemic assistance measure passed nether reconciliation with solely Democratic votes and enacted successful March.

Despite the legislative difficulties ahead, Ms. Hassan said she and her colleagues were successful presumption to get overmuch of what they sought, with a bipartisan imprint connected immoderate of it arsenic a bonus.

“You know, determination are ever immoderate white-knuckle moments,” said Ms. Hassan astir the coming legislative drama. “But I’m feeling optimistic.”

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