Facing Tough Re-Election Fight, GOP Senator Ayotte Breaks Ranks With GOP On Clean Power

Kelly Ayotte

On Sunday, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) announced that she will support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. The plan sets targets to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, in order to combat climate change.

Ayotte is facing a tough re-election battle. Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan is taking on the freshmen Senator in the competitive swing state. With an election looming on the horizon, Ayotte cannot afford to veer too far to the right if she hopes to hold onto to her Senate seat. Ayotte’s support for the EPA plan represents her attempt to appear as a political moderate, in a state where voters typically reject political extremists.

Ayotte issued a statement on Sunday, expressing her support for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The statement read, in part:

It’s so important that we protect New Hampshire’s beautiful environment for our economy and for our future. After carefully reviewing this plan and talking with members of our business community, environmental groups, and other stakeholders, I have decided to support the Clean Power Plan to address climate change through clean energy solutions that will protect our environment.

Not only is public support for clean energy strong in New Hampshire, but a number of key businesses in the state have also publicly backed efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Ayotte cited Smuttynose Brewing Company, Timberland, and Worthen Industries as companies that support the Clean Power Plan.

In supporting the plan, Ayotte breaks ranks with Mitch McConnell and her fellow Republican Senators who steadfastly oppose the proposal. Ayotte, after all, needs to win a Senate election in a state that Barack Obama carried twice. With 2016 being a presidential election year, Ayotte has little margin for error if she hopes to retain her Senate seat in what promises to be a high turnout election.

Ayotte should be applauded for breaking ranks with her party on this issue. However, voters should recognize that her move to the center is being made as much for political survival as it is out of principle. Hassan’s entry into the New Hampshire Senate race has Ayotte looking over her left shoulder. That pressure may pull Senator Ayotte away from the GOP party line on some key votes, which is a good thing, but voters should still opt for a change in 2016.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.