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New Hampshire Senate primaries offer one last GOP slugfest

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The polls are closed in New Hampshire, where the final Senate primary before the November midterm elections — a Republican battle that has become a national battleground for political groups vying for partisan control of the chamber — is too close to NBC News. called projects.

The GOP contest to determine who will challenge Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan, which was renamed after facing lesser-known opponents, features a classic insider-outsider clash.

State Senate President Chuck Morse has an endorsement from Governor Chris Sununu and more than $4 million in aerial coverage from a group associated with established Republicans in Washington, D.C.

Republican Senate candidates Chuck Morse, left, and Don Bolduc participate in a Republican primary debate on September 7, 2022 in Henniker, NHMary Schwalm / AP

Retired Brigadier General Don Bolduc has promoted the 2020 election conspiracies, has a reputation for incendiary rhetoric, and reported just $84,000 in his campaign war chest at the end of August.

But Bolduc also has a Democratic group doing its dirty work, spending more than $3 million to label Morse a yes-man for Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, a villainous figure to many Republicans loyal to former President Donald Trump. . And Bolduc has a double digit lead about Morse and the other candidates in the race, according to the most recent polls.

Another candidate in the race, former Londonderry city manager Kevin Smith noted last week that the race had become a binary pick that was distasteful to many Republicans.

“Chuck Schumer, he went all in with millions of dollars for Don Bolduc because we know he is the weakest candidate to take on Maggie Hassan,” Smith said on a televised broadcast. GOP debatereferring to the Democratic Senate leader whose aligned super PAC spends the money on the anti-morse ads.

“So, if you want another six years of Mitch McConnell, vote for Chuck Morse,” Smith added. “If you want another six years of Maggie Hassan, vote for Don Bolduc.”

Sununu, who is seeking a fourth consecutive two-year term as governor, was nominated for NBC News projects on Tuesday. He will face state senator Tom Sherman, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary in the general election.

Meanwhile, NBC News projects Karoline Leavitt, a former Trump White House aide, in the GOP’s primary for New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district, beating Matt Mowers, who worked for Trump’s State Department and the party candidate. was up for the seat in 2020. She will face Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in November. The results of the GOP’s primary 2nd congressional district have yet to be named. The leading candidates are former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns and Keene Mayor George Hansel. The winner will face Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster.

Delaware and Rhode Island also held primaries Tuesday for several state and federal races. President Joe Biden, who has a home in Delaware, went to the state to vote at the last minute on Tuesday night.

In the battle for the Senate seat in New Hampshire, Bolduc and Morse would both struggle against Hassan in November. The incumbent reported $7.3 million on hand at the end of August — more than 86 times the money Bolduc had, and more than 12 times the $582,000 Morse reported. And given New Hampshire’s late primary, the Republican nominee has less than two months to campaign against Hassan.

But one August poll of Saint Anselm College found that a majority of voters disapproved of Hassan’s performance, suggesting vulnerability. And nationally, both sides view New Hampshire as a top-level race this fall.

Through Tuesday, Hassan and One Nation, a Republican group that has run ads criticizing her, were the biggest ad buyers in the Senate race, at about $9.8 million each, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking company. Morse has spent about $821,000 on advertising, Bolduc about $14,500.

It shouldn’t have been that way for the Republicans. Sununu, a popular and relatively moderate governor whose family is well known in state and national politics, was a prime recruiting target for McConnell and gave serious thought to running it. But Sununu succeeded, leaving the GOP without a heavyweight contender. Bolduc, meanwhile, has gained name recognition from his failed run in a 2020 Senate primary — and never really stopped running for the job after that.

“I’ve been campaigning for two years now,” Bolduc said during a debate last week. “In these two years I have visited all the villages and towns. I know you’re in pain. I share it with you. I know you pay too much money for everything. I’m going to Washington, DC as your ambassador to work hard to change this. I will give you a voice – a voice you don’t have now.”

Bolduc has hosted more than 50 town hall-style events, his senior advisor Rick Wiley said.

“We’ve done the little things with a little money — but it’s him, it’s the hustle,” Wiley said.

Morse relied on his experience and fell back into debates about his work on specific legislation. Sununu’s endorsement, issued Thursday, may have come too late to help much, but Morse leaned heavily on it that night during the primary candidates’ final debate.

“I am honored by Governor Chris Sununu’s approval,” he said. “As Senate President, I worked with the Governor to deliver the most conservative budget in state history.”

Trump stayed out of New Hampshire despite wading in other major primaries this year — even as Republicans there insisted to take sides with him. Bolduc is seen as the more right-wing grassroots candidate, the one most aligned with Trump’s move. He called Sununu, a critic of Trump, a “Chinese communist sympathizer.” He has advanced debunks claims that voter fraud cost Trump reelection. And he questioned the need for the FBI after the agency searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. But Bolduc has also criticized the former president, namely in 2020, when he accused Trump’s political operation of “rigging” That year’s Senate primary against him by supporting eventual candidate Corky Messner.

Morse presents himself as a more traditional fiscal conservative and has not delved into the election-denying conspiracy theories that other Trump allies have. After a debate last week, told reporters he would not have objected to confirming Biden’s victory.

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