Hassan gets firefighter backing, GOP launches attack on crime

Oct. 6—CONCORD — A major firefighters union is backing U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., while a Senate Republican-linked super PAC is carpet-bombing Hassan with an expensive attack ad buy that labels her as soft on crime.

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire represent more than 2,000 members from 41 fire and emergency medical service departments across the state.

PFFNH President Brian Ryll said Hassan helped secure more grants to first responders during COVID-19, along with other programs under the federal American Rescue Plan Act passed in 2021.

"Senator Hassan is a longtime ally of our firefighters," Ryll said in a statement. "She has always prioritized the safety of New Hampshire citizens, and she's advocated for the resources that Granite State fire departments need to keep our communities safe."

Hassan vowed to keep fighting to help first responders in the future.

"Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day to respond to emergencies and keep Granite State communities safe," Hassan said.

This union often supports Democratic candidates, but endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Sununu late last month.

The Senate Leadership Fund aired a new ad earlier this week suggesting Hassan favored defunding the police and had voted for legislation to give early release to sex offenders.

This Mitch McConnell-connected super PAC has already said it intends to spend $23 million in New Hampshire from Labor Day through the Nov. 8 election.

A Hassan campaign spokesperson said its latest ad was riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods.

"This ad is a desperate smear that completely misleads about Senator Hassan's long record of standing with law enforcement, supporting public safety, fighting for the victims of sexual violence, and holding sex offenders accountable," said Maggie for NH spokesperson Sydney Petersen.

In recent weeks, crime has become a TV ad staple for GOP candidates running in the nationally-targeted Senate races that include New Hampshire.

But crime ranks as only the 12th most important issue, according to the latest Saint Anselm College poll done for the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Only seven people out of the 901 in the poll said crime was the most important issue.

Hassan has opposed defunding the police and backed more spending for law enforcement as former governor and in the Senate, Hassan's campaign said.

Legislature repealed early parole law Hassan backed

As a state senator in 2010, Hassan did vote for a bipartisan bill aimed at reducing prison recidivism that made sex offenders and many other inmates eligible for earlier parole.

The state Senate passed it unanimously.

In response to negative press reports after some violent offenders won early release, the Legislature passed and then-Democratic Gov. John Lynch signed a bill repealing the entire reform measure.

Michael Gallagher, retired Seabrook police chief, also came to Hassan's aid.

"Senator Hassan is an unwavering ally of the men and women in uniform, and any suggestion otherwise is an outright lie," Gallagher said.

Hassan can't defend her law enforcement record, according to a Bolduc campaign spokesperson.

"Crime is out of control across New Hampshire and Maggie Hassan is nowhere to be seen. While our borders stay dangerously open and drugs continue to pour into our country, Maggie Hassan is falling in line behind President Biden, putting his liberal agenda ahead of keeping Granite Staters safe," said Kate Constantini.

The New England Police Benevolent Association, a group that backed Donald Trump for President in 2016 and 2020, has endorsed Bolduc.

The GOP establishment's financial support for Bolduc is critical since Hassan has already raised more than a record $30 million in this race while Bolduc has raised less than $2 million.

Bolduc was only able to put his first television ad of the entire campaign on earlier this week, highlighting his military background as a retired brigadier general with 10 deployments to the Middle East.

The Bolduc campaign noted he raised nearly $1 million over the past two weeks, the first time in the entire campaign he's raised that much in a fortnight.

klandrigan@unionleader.com