N.H. Senate candidates hope to pull in votes on final night

Candidates hungry for victory hit a lot of restaurants but had little time to eat, spending the last hours before Election Day rallying supporters and reaching out to undecided voters across the state.

The Republican candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House were on a bus tour Monday, starting at the Keene GOP office. The bus carrying Walt Havenstein, Scott Brown and Marilinda Garcia was continuing on to restaurants in Newport, Sunapee and New London.

“We have 29 hours,” Brown told a packed restaurant in New London. “Twenty-nine hours to change the direction of this country, to help re-establish the New Hampshire advantage, to help restore America. We have an opportunity to send a very powerful message to Concord and to Washington, D.C., but we can’t do it alone.”

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen started her day at a Somersworth bakery before heading to a Concord coffee shop and bookstore, where she joked that her supporters were allowed to buy books but couldn’t read them until after Tuesday. Instead, she told them to focus on getting out the vote — like she and her husband did between stops.

“Billy’s making calls in the front seat, I’m working in the back,” she said.

Shaheen, a former state senator and governor, has been contrasting her decades of public service to the state with the recent arrival of Brown, who moved permanently to his summer home in Rye last year after losing the U.S. Senate seat he won in Massachusetts in 2010.

“Thank you so much for everything you’ve done, not only for this election but so many of you, for so many campaigns in the past,” Shaheen told supporters. “You’ve made the difference, and I will continue to fight for our families in New Hampshire, for our small businesses of the state to put New Hampshire first.”

While Brown has sought to make the race about President Barack Obama, Shaheen denied that her fortunes rise and fall with the president.

“There are two people on the ballot tomorrow, me and Scott Brown,” she said. “There’s a very big difference in what we have done for New Hampshire and our vision for what New Hampshire should be, for our small businesses, for our middle-class families.”

A few blocks away, Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster told voters at a bagel shop to wear blue “Kuster for Congress” stickers all day in hopes they would remind others to vote. Asked by a burrito shop owner about raising the minimum wage, she said she’d fight for it.

“We’re pro-minimum wage and pro-burritos,” she said.

Back in New London, Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife arrived to give the GOP candidates, particularly Havenstein, a final boost. During brief remarks, Christie echoed Havenstein’s earlier comments about how far the campaign had come since he entered the race in April as a largely unknown challenger to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

“For those people who were doubters before, they’re not doubting anymore,” Christie said. “This governor is on the run, and Walt is going to run her right out of the State House.”

In the 1st District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and her Republican challenger, Frank Guinta, also spent Monday making their final pitches to voters.