Brown Falters in Conservative Straw Poll

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith bested his Republican challengers in a July 5 straw poll taken by the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers, further entrenching Smith as the favorite among conservatives in the state.

The straw poll came during a picnic hosted by the CNHT at an American Legion post in Hillsborough.

Smith garnered 76 votes in his first place showing, while Jim Rubens placed second with 44 votes, despite being endorsed by the group’s leader, Ed Naile, in the race to challenge Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H.) for her Senate seat. Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, whom many have anointed as the most likely to square off against Shaheen, placed third in the poll with 34 votes. Brown is widely viewed as the “establishment” Republican candidate in the race.

Brown announced in June that he had been endorsed by several current and former lawmakers from Hillsborough County, including current Republican state Reps Kathy Stroud and William Infantine.

The Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers describes itself as a conservative grassroots group and a member of the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition.

Both Smith and Rubens attended the event in person, delivering speeches in front of attendees. Brown, however, was not present at the picnic.

“This is an indication of our grassroots support among conservatives in New Hampshire,” Smith said in a statement following the victory. “I am the only true constitutional conservative who sticks to the Republican Party platform 100 percent.”

During his speech at the event, Rubens briefly discussed his “bold ideas” for “Super WiFi,” education reform and the elimination of energy subsidies. In that speech, he said Super WiFi was the only way people could overcome the monopolies of Time Warner and Comcast.

Rubens has explained that his Super WiFi proposal would employ the unused over-the-air signals that currently exist as WiFi channels that could be used by anyone for free.

His brief discussion of his plan to eliminate the Department of Education elicited cheers from the attendees. That plan involves taking the money allocated for education and giving it back to the states for a voucher program that would allow parents to choose which school they send their children to.

Brian Tilton, Rubens’ communications director, said that Rubens was “eagerly received” at the event and added that Smith’s win was likely due to his pro-life stance, an issue on which Rubens and Smith are at odds. Rubens supports legal availability to abortions but does not want any state money to fund them.

Smith has attacked Rubens for calling himself a “conservative” due to his support for the public financing of elections and his position on the abortion issue.

Climate change is another topic distinguishing Rubens from many of his Republican colleagues, and might turn off some voters. Rubens accepts published climate science, which makes him a lone wolf among candidates for the U.S. Senate.