[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/20/art.hodes.ayotte.2shot.0720.flickr.jpg caption ="Rep. Paul Hodes and former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte are trading barbs in the race to fill retiring Sen. Judd Gregg’s seat."] (CNN) - Former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte's Senate campaign isn't the only one revved up by Monday's endorsement from Sarah Palin - Democrat Paul Hodes is pretty happy about it too.
"We couldn't be more thrilled that Sarah Palin chose to endorse Kelly Ayotte," Mark Bergman, Hodes's campaign communications director, said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. "[…]The people of New Hampshire have already rejected Sarah Palin once in the general election and we're pretty certain we're going to do it again."
"We call on Kelly Ayotte today to tell us that Sarah Palin will be here in October campaigning for her," Bergman said. "We hope she does. I mean, that would be really helpful for our campaign."
Hodes, a one-term congressman, is running unopposed for the Democratic Senatorial nomination in the Granite State. Ayotte faces two GOP primary opponents.
"Sarah Palin is welcome here anytime to call out Paul Hodes's false attacks," Ayotte's Communications Director Jeff Grappone told CNN.
The Hodes campaign also launched a new television ad Tuesday attacking Ayotte for "duck[ing] responsibility" in the aftermath of the closure of Financial Resources Mortgage (FRM). The New Hampshire firm is accused of defrauding customers for millions of dollars and has been called a Ponzi scheme by investigators. Ayotte was attorney general during the time FRM allegedly conducted criminal activity.
The Hodes campaign announced they would double their ad buy this week to $100,000 to air the 30-second spot in the Boston and Manchester media markets.
The ad marks Hodes's second of the campaign season. The first – also an attack ad against Ayotte – was heavily criticized by the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader for including what it called "dishonest smears."
Grappone says Hodes's latest ad is no different.
"When professional politicians get desperate they resort to false attacks," Grappone said. "Hodes' first attack ad on Kelly Ayotte was universally condemned as misleading and untrue, and this vicious attack is more of the same."
A non-partisan poll of New Hampshire voters conducted in April indicated that Ayotte led Hodes by 15 points in a hypothetical general election matchup, with just over one in five undecided.