In a shift in strategy, US Senator Jeanne Shaheen Wednesday launched her first attack television advertisement against Scott Brown, painting the Republican as a pawn of “big oil” and a candidate looking out for himself rather than New Hampshire.
The 30-second spot, Shaheen’s first negative TV ad this election season, comes just days after a poll found the contest to be a dead heat, and marks a ratcheting up in negativity in what has already become a bitterly contested race. Brown, for his part, has already aired ads attacking the Democratic senator he is vying to unseat. His allies have also knocked her on TV.
In Shaheen’s new ad, a male narrator says that the big oil companies are the most profitable on the planet.
“But Scott Brown voted to give them more than $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies,” he says, referring to a 2012 vote by Brown against allowing a bill aimed at curtailing certain tax benefits for large oil companies from moving forward, along with a similar 2011 vote on a similar bill.
The narrator says, “Big oil gave Brown thousands of dollars within days of his votes.” A news release sent out by the Shaheen campaign cites contributions to Brown from political action committees connected to the oil industry in 2011 and 2012.
Now, the narrator continues, “big oil” is spending millions of dollars to help get Brown back to Washington, D.C.
Snippets of people talking about Brown are interspersed with the attacks.
“This guy is not for us,” says a younger man a street. A graphic identifies him as Andre Dean of Concord.
“Scott Brown is in it for Scott Brown, nobody else. And not New Hampshire, no way,” says an older man on a street. A graphic identifies him as Al Farnell of Salem.
The ad, which is backed by ominous music, is not a new line of attack for Democrats or Shaheen against Brown.
Indeed, in an interview with the Globe before Brown had officially launched his bid, Shaheen mentioned the hit. “I’m sure the people of New Hampshire will find out that he’s represented big oil and gas interests,” she said in March.
But putting those attacks on television is a shift. While outside groups have attacked Brown, other recent Shaheen ads have focused on telling voters what she’s doing for New Hampshire, rather than mentioning her potential GOP opponent.
The Shaheen campaign said the new ad was airing statewide.
In response, Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton said in a statement that the Democratic senator and her friends were aiming to hurt Brown in his Sept. 9 GOP primary, which he is expected to win.
“Jeanne Shaheen and her allies are doing everything they can to stop Scott Brown in the primary. Their negative attacks won’t work because voters can see for themselves there are real differences in this race — on jobs and the economy, on immigration and on foreign policy,” she said. “On each of those issues, Jeanne Shaheen has blindly followed the Obama agenda.”
In another back-and-forth between the campaigns, Brown, a former Massachusetts senator, Wednesday reiterated criticism of Shaheen for not holding an in-person town hall during this election season. Brown held a town hall last night.
Shaheen, a former governor and state senator, won her first term in the Senate in 2008. The race for her re-election is considered among those that could determine whether Republicans take control of the Senate.
The GOP has to pick up a net of six seats in this year’s midterm elections to gain control of the chamber.
If Brown, as expected, win his primary against former state senator Jim Rubens, former US senator Bob Smith and others, he’ll face Shaheen on Nov. 4.Joshua Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.