Leavitt, Bolduc Take Wins in NH GOP Primary Vote
The matchups for the November election are set, with state Senate president Chuck Morse conceding to retired Army Gen. Donald Bolduc early Wednesday morning.
It was a tight race in the Republican U.S. Senate primary when the vote count got underway, with Bolduc having a slim lead of approximately 1,000 votes as results came in Tuesday. Morse, who was endorsed by Gov. Chris Sununu, tweeted his concession at 2:20 a.m. Wednesday morning.
"It’s been a long night & we’ve come up short. I want to thank my supporters for all the blood, sweat & tears they poured into this team effort. I just called and wished all the best to Don Bolduc. The focus this fall needs to be on defeating Maggie Hassan," Morse said in a tweet.
Bolduc claimed victory and right to challenge incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan 30 minutes later with his own message.
"We’re one step closer towards defeating Maggie Hassan, flipping the Senate and bringing an Outsider to DC to fight for Granite Staters! Looking forward to continue my campaign for #NHSEN the true New Hampshire way," Bolduc said in his tweet.
On her campaign Twitter account, Hassan called Bolduc "too extreme for New Hampshire."
She described him as an "election denier" who wants to end Social Security and would vote for a nationwide abortion ban.
Leavitt Takes the First Congressional District Primary
Several hours earlier, Karoline Leavitt accepted victory in the First Congressional District primary over Matt Mowers after the Associated Press called the race. Mowers, hoping for a rematch with Rep. Chris Pappas in November, led Leavitt in several polls before the primary, although "undecided" was the choice of most.
"The media, the Washington establishment, and the Democratic certainly counting us out. They said I was too young, we could never raise the money to compete, and now we could beat a former Republican nominee. Over the last year we were outspent, but we were not outworked. No way," Leavitt said to her supporters. "And tonight, our hard has truly paid off. Tonight, Team Karoline, we smashed expectations. We defied the odds. And tonight, Team Karoline, we are sending a strong and clear message to the Washington DC establishment that our votes cannot be bought."
Leavitt retweeted a message from Trump on Wednesday morning congratulating her for an "amazing job."
"Against all odds she did it - and will have an even greater victory on November 8th. Wonderful energy and wisdom," Trump wrote.
Trump endorsed Mowers in the 2020 primary and general election but did not do the same for any candidates in the 2022 primary.
Mowers said in a statement on his Twitter account that things did not go his way in the campaign, and that he will continue to fight for middle class families.
"Clearly, she was able to consolidate the pro-Trump wing of the Republican party. Looks like Mowers and Gayle Huff Brown and maybe Russell Prescott are splitting what you would call the establishment vote, the more typical Republican vote we've seen in the past," SNHU Civic Scholar and founder of NH Political Capital Dean Spiliotes said in his analysis of Tuesday's vote.
The wins for Bolduc and Leavitt signal a grassroots pro-MAGA and pro-Trump transformation of the Republican party that is happening around the country, according to Spiliotes.
A challenge for Leavitt, a strong supporter of the former president, will be to appeal to independent voters who Spiliotes said are moving away from Trump in polls.
"It's a swing district. She's going to have to figure out a way to bring in some of those independents."
Rep. Chris Pappas on his campaign Twitter account called Leavitt the most extreme, out-of-step nominee the district has ever seen.
"My opponent Karoline Leavitt supports banning abortion, promised to write the bill to privatize Social Security, will repeal the Affordable Care Act, and says the 2020 election was stolen," Pappas wrote.
Sununu Sails to Primary Victory
In the governor's race, incumbent Sununu crushed his opponents with around 80% of the vote, and will run for a fourth term against state Democrat Sen. Dr. Tom Sherman. Karen Testerman barely cracked double digits, followed by Thaddeus Riley.
"Now more than ever, we need strong fiscal management at the State House. We've proven that together we can make record investments in our state, and still cut taxes. Let's keep getting the job done," Sununu said on his campaign social media. "Humbled and grateful for your support today."
Spiliotes was not surprised at the strong win for Sununu, and said that he is still a popular governor.
"There's always going to be somebody who's going to step up and challenge them, but you never expect it to be particularly strong," Spiliotes said. "You don't really sense a 'throw the guy out movement' within the party."
Sherman was unopposed and attacked Sununu after the win.
"Granite Staters deserve a governor they can trust to fight for them. Chris Sununu broke his word by signing New Hampshire’s first modern abortion ban, & caved to fossil fuel donors instead of expanding our energy sources," Sherman tweeted. "As governor, I’ll stand up for our freedoms."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH