Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) has become the beneficiary of two 1980 write-in campaigns in the state that holds the nation's first presidential primary.
Executive counselor Dudley Dudley, second-ranking Democrat in New Hampshire, heads a well-financed, tightly organized drive with three full-time staffers and the endorsement of several prominent Democrats.
The second campaign is led by Murray Onigman, a little-known former promotional director for the Boston Bruins hockey team whose political philosophy is: "Money? Whatta we need money for?"
Onigman, who sports a "Ted K. 80" vanity license plate, says he has abandoned orthodox political tactics because his campaign "will happen on its own momentum . . . if anything, we have already peaked."
Carter forces are divided in their reaction to the split in the Kennedy camp.
"The more confusion over who's running the Kennedy drive," said Carter campaign state coordinator Jeanne Shaheen, "the happier we are."
But House Minority Leader Chris Spirou, and ardent Carter supporter, concedes the unusual campaigns pose a double-barrel threat to the president's reelection bid.
"It doesn't matter who the actors are," said Spirou, "the Kennedy name is magic, like Coca Cola or apple pie and Chevrolet and you don't need professional political expertise."
As Onigman notes: "We don't have no headquarters, we don't have no office, we're working strictly grassroots; We're just a bunch of citizens who want Ted Kennedy to be president of the United States on a write-in in New Hampshire."
So Onigman, who has never met Kennedy, has resorted to a campaign by press release and news conference. He held a $10 breakfast meeting Sunday and barely broke even.
So far he has spent about $200 of his own money on newspaper ads like the one during President Carter's recent visit here urging voters to use either "Brown ink or Carter ink" on their write-in ballots for the February primary.
And he contends his Kennedy campaign is better than Dudley's Kennedy campaign because of its amateurism and reliance almost solely on the noncandidate's name.
"I have a fear that we can erode the present lead we hold in New Hampshire through the associations of professional politicians whose history people may not like, whose actions people may not like," he said. "I just don't want to see things dissipate."
Onigman's thinly veiled criticism of the competing write-in group has not ingratiated him with Dudley. "We haven't heard from her in six months," he said. "We're not having a love affair at this rate."
For her part, Dudley regards Onigman's efforts as "peculiar" but she says "we do need to educate people how to vote and anything he can do to that end is to his credit."
"We are not working against each other," she says, "I don't see him as being detrimental; it'll be okay. He's not a threat."
But privately, members of each of the unauthorized Kennedy campaigns here are less than cordial, labeling each of the leaders of the two drives as "nuts."
"We think she's a nut. That's the way a lot of people feel," Onigman says. His publicity chairman, John Hussey, a high school foreign language teacher, adds, "There are a lot of people in Manchester who view Dudley Dudley as a far out leftist,"
Of his group's chairman, Hussey says: "I tend to question whether he can put all the elements together but I would not call the man a nut. He's a very sincere person, very committed to Kennedy."
Onigman claims his power base is Hillsborough County, a heavily populated, traditionally conservative area that encompasses the cities of Nashua and Manchester, where he once owned a delicatessen and now works as an advertising free-lancer.
Onigman says he will not consider joining forces with Dudley because his group was created first. Shortly after losing his bid to attend the national convention in 1976 with only 1,200 votes as a Kennedy delegate, he announced his 1980 effort.
Dudley said she began organizing last December and announced the formation of her group this spring. She said her effort has broad support statewide, attracting former 1976 campaign workers for Burch Bayh, Sargent Shriver, Fred Harris, Morris Udall and Carter. Dudley says the difference between the two groups is simply a matter of style.And "however Kennedy's name gets on the ballot is fine with me; our goals are the same;"
Said Hussey of Onigman's campaign: "I don't want things to get splinterized and fractionalized because of personalities. I'm optimistic that eventually there will be a meeting of the minds."
And what of Kennedy's views on the Granite State dilemma?
"He expects Carter to run for reelection and expects him to be renominated and reelected and expects to support him in 1980," a spokesman for the senator reaffirmed.