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September 12, 2008

NH GOP chair calls Shaheen 'radical community organizer'

Barack Obama isn’t the only Democrat taking flak for working as a community organizer.

Fergus Cullen, the New Hampshire Republican party chairman, is blasting Democratic Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen for being a “radical community organizer.”

What’s the basis for Cullen’s charge? He cited her work with an anti-nuclear energy group called the Clam Shell Alliance during the 1986 gubernatorial campaign. The group opposed building a nuclear energy plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire – which was a central issue in the race.

“Jeanne Shaheen was one of the people ginning up opposition to nuclear energy in New Hampshire, and that’s what makes her a radical community organizer,” Cullen told the Politico, echoing a videotaped comment he made earlier this week.

That came as a surprise to Shaheen, the former New Hampshire governor who previously served in the New Hampshire state Senate. 

Shaheen campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield flatly denied the charge, saying that Shaheen never was a member of that group. The campaign said the only community organizing she’s ever done was to organize a local children’s festival.

But Shaheen’s campaign highlighted Cullen’s comments as part of a fundraising appeal, calling them part of “John McCain’s bag of dirty tricks.”

“It’s utterly ridiculous. The extent of her work as a community organizer was at a community children’s festival in Sommersworth,” said Bedingfield. “This is Fergus Cullen using ridiculous national Republican talking points, and New Hampshire voters are smarter than that.”

Shaheen is challenging Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.), one of the most vulnerable GOP senators running for re-election.