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Millions Pour Into New Hampshire as MAGA Races Dominate Primary

September 10, 2022 by Dan McCue
Millions Pour Into New Hampshire as MAGA Races Dominate Primary
New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu endorses State Senate President Chuck Morse's U.S. Senate bid.

CONCORD, N.H. — If you’d asked someone in January why you’d be talking about millions spent and trash-talking in September, the most likely and obvious answer would have been “the start of the NFL season, of course.”

But this year’s protracted primary calendar has thrown the “obvious” a curve, because the correct answer is next Tuesday’s series of Republican primaries in New Hampshire.

Due to the drawn out redistricting process that upended primary and special election calendars across the country, the Granite State is one of the final states to hold primaries on Tuesday.

The other two are Rhode Island and Delaware.

Yet it’s New Hampshire that is getting the most attention and for good reason — Republicans view the state’s Senate race as one of their best chances to pick up a seat and with it, potentially, control of the U.S. Senate.

The two leading contenders to take on  first-term incumbent Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan are Chuck Morse, who is currently the president of the state Senate, and Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general,  who ran in 2020 to challenge the state’s other Democratic senator, Jeanne Shaheen, but didn’t make it past the primary.

Of the remaining nine candidates making up the GOP primary field, the only others considered to have the slightest whisper of a chance of upsetting the frontrunners are bitcoin investor Bruce Fenton and former Londonderry, New Hampshire, Town Manager Kevin Smith.

On Thursday, New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu endorsed Morse, calling him the candidate with the best chance to defeat Hassan in the general election.

“Chuck Morse has been there every step of the way in our record of success here in New Hampshire,” said Sununu. “Chuck Morse is the candidate …  Hassan is most afraid to face.”

“I couldn’t be more proud to endorse a partner that I’ve had at the state house. I am calling all Republicans to join me,” he said.

Fears from some Republican leaders that Bolduc could win the nomination has prompted a spending spree from GOP groups on Morse’s behalf.

Despite that endorsement by a popular Republican governor, Morse continued to trail in the polls to Bolduc, who many in the GOP consider to be a loose cannon and someone without the organization or fundraising chops to match Hassan.

The latest August Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire and released Aug. 30, found Bolduc outdistancing Morse by 21 percentage points.

Given the possible role the state could play in the GOP taking control of the Senate come January, a lot of outside money has been pouring into the primary contest, most of it going to Morse.

Among the most notable contributors has been White Mountain PAC, a group that reportedly has ties to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, which recently bought $4.6 million in commercial air time supporting Morse.

In its first series of ads, the organization attacked Bolduc and his “crazy ideas,” making much of the fact he criticized Trump for not lending his senate campaign more support in 2020.

The PAC has also slammed Bolduc for supporting President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan last year.

Another group with reported ties to McConnell is the Senate Leadership Fund, which has spent about $4.5 million on ads attacking Bolduc.

While the Republicans have been trying to sort out their contest, Hassan has been raising money — she’s said to now have in the neighborhood of $7.3 million in the bank, even after spending about $10 million on advertising —  and getting a head start on campaigning for the general election.

By comparison, Morse reportedly has about $582,000 in the bank, while Bolduc only has $84,000. 

So far, Hassan has been making abortion a central issue in the race, hoping to rally the support of voters who are still incensed over the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June, which overturned Roe v. Wade and the concept of a women’s constitutional right to have an abortion.

Another GOP primary getting some attention from out-of-state sources is the one playing out in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.

In that race, former Trump State Department official Matt Mowers is facing off against Karoline Leavitt,  a former assistant in Trump’s White House press office. They are both seeking the nod to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas.

A PAC connected to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the Congressional Leadership Fund, has spent about $840,000 supporting Mowers.

In the meantime, another PAC, Defending Main Street Super PAC Inc., has spent at about $1.3 million opposing Leavitt. 

In the state’s 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster is running uncontested. 

As for the Republicans, Keene, New Hampshire, Mayor George Hansel is facing off against former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns.

Interestingly, it’s not a Republican PAC, but one run by Democrats that has been intervening in the contest.

Democrats Serve has spent about $114,000 for online advertising slamming Burns.

In this case, as in other races across the country, it appears the idea is to help the “radical” Republican win so that the incumbent Democrat can easily beat them in November.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

 

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