WASHINGTON -- Democrats are trying to capitalize on the refusal of likely New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown (R) to sign a pledge to forswear third-party spending on the campaign, as he did when he ran in his home state of Massachusetts.
The campaign of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) raised the so-called "people's pledge" almost as soon as Brown declared he was forming an exploratory committee to weigh running in the Granite State.
Brown and now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren both signed that pledge in the 2012 contest that she won in Massachusetts. Brown, however, begged off over the weekend, saying that the "horse has kinda left the barn," referring to the fact that outside groups have already spent nearly $2 million in the race.
But Shaheen's campaign on Monday noted that the situation was similar in the Bay State, where groups had already invested some $3 million before the pledge was signed.
"Scott Brown is ignoring the facts," said Shaheen spokesman Mike Vlacich in a statement. "The People's Pledge put an end to third party advertising in Massachusetts. We know we'll see the same results in New Hampshire. It worked, and Scott Brown knows it. Scott Brown proposed The People's Pledge because he said Massachusetts deserved better than a campaign with third party groups drowning out the candidates. We think New Hampshire deserves better too."
The director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Guy Cecil, also chimed in.
"Scott Brown needs to explain to New Hampshire voters why he chose to honor the People's Pledge in Massachusetts but doesn't think New Hampshire voters deserve the same respect," said Cecil. "Brown should follow Shaheen's lead because the decision of who will be the next senator doesn't belong in the hands of the Koch Brothers, who are pushing an agenda that's good for billionaires and bad for New Hampshire."
He added that his organization would be willing to stay out of the fray. "The DSCC will abide by the rules of the People's Pledge if the third party groups supporting Scott Brown do the same," Cecil said.
Republican officials in New Hampshire see the whole pledge push as disingenuous,
In a statement over the weekend, the state GOP argued Shaheen was in no position to criticize, because she was fundraising on the West Coast, and had recently attended an event with Tom Steyer, a billionaire who has pledged to spend millions in support of candidates who will fight for environmental causes.
"For Sen. Shaheen to be speaking out against outside money on the same weekend she is in California lining the coffers of her third-party special allies goes beyond the normal levels of hypocrisy from Washington politicians," said New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn in a statement. "After six years of voting down the line for President Obama'a left-wing agenda, it's clear Jeanne Shaheen is more comfortable in the living rooms of San Francisco environmentalists than she is with New Hampshire families."