- Associated Press - Sunday, September 14, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Democrat Carol Shea-Porter and Republican Frank Guinta aren’t just in a rematch in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. They’re in a threematch.

The November election will feature the same two candidates for the third straight time, turning the district into a best-of-three pingpong tournament, and it’s the voters who are bouncing back and forth. Shea-Porter held the seat for two terms until Guinta defeated her in 2010, and then she beat him in 2012 to regain the seat.

Such repetition is unusual, but not unheard of, in congressional races. In the 9th District in southwest Indiana, Democrat Baron Hill faced Republican Mike Sodrel four times, with Hill winning in 2002, 2006 and 2008, and Sodrel winning in 2004. Sodrel lost the 2010 GOP primary to Todd Young, who defeated Hill in the general election.

In New Hampshire, the most recent example happened in the 1st District, where Democrat Joseph Oliva Huot and Republican Louis Wyman faced each other in 1962, 1964, in 1966. Wyman won the first match, Huot the second and Wyman the third.

Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, expects this year’s matchup to have a similar dynamic to previous “wave elections” - Shea-Porter rode the national wave of support for Democrats in 2006 and 2012, while Guinta benefited from the Republican version in 2010.

“It’s not so much that voters are going to prefer one or the other, or have fallen in love with one candidate or the other,” he said. “Republicans are just going to vote for Guinta and Democrats are going to vote for Shea-Porter, and whichever party is able to turn out more of its supporters wins.”

And although the race features repeat candidates, research over decades has shown that only about 40 percent of Americans can identify their members of Congress, Smith said.

“These are relatively unknown people in the minds of most folks,” he said.

Though Smith expects Guinta will focus more this time on trying to link Shea-Porter to the increasingly unpopular President Barack Obama, the candidates likely will employ similar campaign strategies as they did in their previous contests.

“They can just dust off the same arguments,” Smith said. “There’s not going to be much new under the sun. If possible, it might be even nastier.”

Guinta’s spokesman, Jay Ruis, said the campaign will emphasize Guinta’s plan to repeal and replace the president’s health care overhaul law, promote economic growth and eliminate federal debt. Guinta also will remind voters about the many town hall meetings and job fairs he hosted when he was in Congress.

“Elections are inherently about a vision for the future of our country and given the Congresswoman’s growing inaccessibility and indifference to the district, I am not convinced Granite Staters are familiar with her positions,” he said.

Shea-Porter’s spokesman, Marjorie Connolly, says voters know, like and trust Shea-Porter and recognize that she is working for middle class families and small businesses, while Guinta sides with the wealthiest Americans and big corporations.

“New Hampshire voters didn’t know the real Frank Guinta in 2010, but quickly felt buyer’s remorse when his extreme Tea Party agenda became clear, and voted him out at the first opportunity,” she said.

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