The Trouble for Candidates

I tagged along with U.S. Senate hopeful Kelly Ayotte today as she toured Isaacson Structural Steel, Inc., with Berlin native Steve Griffin. She shook hands all around and introduced herself to as many people as she could. I asked her if she felt this sort of thing really improves her chances in this fall’s election. “It’s the New Hampshire way,” she said, every connection she makes today will hopefully influence the votes of family members, friends, neighbors.

Mr. Griffin acknowledged Berlin traditionally votes Democratic. He attributed it to the city’s union influence. (ISSI is a non-union shop, he said.) But as Mrs. Ayotte toured she heard criticism, even from registered Republicans. One man held her up for several minutes to criticize how every politician gets to Washington D.C., regardless of party, and gets consumed by the political dance. What makes you any different? he asked.

Honestly, he was facing me and she was facing away, so I heard his questions but not her response. But I did snap one photo that illustrates the rift between Berlin and Washington:

The crisp pink of Mrs. Ayotte’s blazer contrasts the tee shirt and jean, dirty hands approach of a ISSI worker. She never shied away from shaking a single man’s dirty hand on the floor (the were all men), and she said her hands were used to the dirt from her husband’s landscaping business. Still, there are few Democrats or Republicans that can match Berlin’s blue collar ethic. I thought this picture portrayed that nicely. I’m interested to she how she fares in the primary, and if she makes it, the general election in November.

If you want to know where she stands on the issues, check out next week’s Reporter.

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