Valley News – In NH primary, Republicans lean towards Trumpist candidates

The 2022 primaries ended on a familiar note on Tuesday – with voters in Republican races choosing between far-right election-denying candidates and more moderate rivals, and party leaders split in contests taking into account the battle for the Congressional control.

The result in New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district was a blow to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). There, Karoline Leavitt, a former member of Trump’s White House press team who presented herself as an “America First” insurgent against the Washington establishment, beat Matt Mowers, a former aide to Trump’s backed by McCarthy, according to the Associated Press.

Leavitt, who has pointed out his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, will face Rep. Chris Pappas (D) in a race seen as a key battlefront in the fight for control of the House. Rep. Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.), chair of the House Republican Conference, backed Leavitt, her former staffer. At 25, Leavitt would be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress if she won in the fall.

New Hampshire was one of three states where voters headed to the polls on Tuesday, marking the end of this year’s nominating process, along with Rhode Island and Delaware. The primaries gave voters one last chance to choose the party’s standard bearers after months of fierce intra-party battles that have exposed divisions on both sides over politics, personality and ideology, among other issues. .

The races in the Granite State have sparked interest from national strategists from both parties, given how they could shape the fight for control of both houses of Congress in November. The Republican primary for the U.S. Senate pits retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc against State Senate President Chuck Morse.

With 85% of the votes collected Wednesday morning, Bolduc was ahead of Morse by one point. The primary was too early to call, according to the Associated Press. Another closely watched Republican House primary was also too early to call.

From his campaign Twitter account, Morse wrote early Wednesday, “It’s been a long night and we’ve failed. I want to thank my supporters for all the blood, sweat and tears they shed in this team effort. He added that he had called Bolduc and wished him “all the best”.

Bolduc echoed Donald Trump’s false claims that the former president won the 2020 election. He expressed openness to abolishing the FBI, accused party leaders of ‘rigging’ a presidential primary. 2020 which he narrowly lost and was highly critical of Republican Governor Chris Sununu.

Morse won the support of Sununu, a relative party moderate who rejected efforts by Senate GOP leaders to recruit him to run against Sen. Maggie Hassan (DN.H.). A group linked to Senate Republican leaders ran ads on Morse’s behalf, and Morse defended the validity of the 2020 election in New Hampshire, even though he did not oppose GOP challenges to the results in two other states.

Until mid-August, Republican candidates who falsely claimed the 2020 election results were fraudulent prevailed in more than half of the races they held this year, according to a Washington Post analysis of hundreds federal and state primaries. This record partly reflects the continued influence in the GOP of Trump, who continues to falsely claim in public commentary that the election was stolen from him.

Trump did not make an endorsement in New Hampshire’s Senate primary or any of the state’s House primaries, a notable absence after weighing in on dozens of other intraparty contests this year.

Hassan easily won the nomination on Tuesday, according to the AP. In the gubernatorial race, Sununu has been reappointed and will face Democrat Tom Sherman in November. Sununu starts out as a heavy favorite in the gubernatorial race.

Sununu, whose family is an institution in New Hampshire politics, called Bolduc a “conspiracy theorist.” Yet during a weekend at a seafood festival here, he said he would support Bolduc or any other Republican who won the nomination. On Monday, Sununu predicted a tight GOP race, but said he believed Morse would win.

For a time, National Republicans considered that the path to regaining control of the Senate could be heavily crossed by New Hampshire. When Sununu opted for re-election instead, local and national Republicans coalesced around Morse as the strongest alternative to Bolduc – who embraced the fight against the party establishment.

“It’s just noise. I fought that for two years,” Bolduc said in an interview after a town hall meeting Saturday in Laconia.

The National Democrats had signaled their belief that Hassan would have an easier time retaining his seat in November against Bolduc, and they have spent millions attacking Morse in recent weeks – an interference strategy they have employed in the primaries of the GOP across the country.

While New Hampshire tipped Democrats in the last presidential election, Republicans thought it was within reach in a midterm year that looked dire for Democrats. While Democrats face losing the Senate, public polls indicate they are doing better than expected in many of the nation’s tightest races.

The Democratic incumbents of the state’s two U.S. House seats also face tough re-elections in November, nonpartisan analysts say, raising the stakes in the Republican primaries in both contests.

The 1st congressional district primary was a heated competition that revealed some differences between the candidates. Regarding the 2020 election, Mowers had said there were “irregularities” in the count, but he stopped short of Leavitt’s false claim about the vote.

“The establishment is so scared that I’m going to beat their hand-picked puppet on Tuesday,” Leavitt told supporters at a Thursday night rally with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). “And you know what? I wear these attacks as a badge of honor, because they know I’m the biggest threat to beat their hand-picked puppet.

Gail Huff Brown, a former television news anchor and wife of Scott Brown, a former Republican senator from Massachusetts, was also on the ballot. Her TV ads highlight her support for “choice” and New Hampshire’s new abortion law that left the procedure legal in the state but added some restrictions.

Similar dynamics unfolded in the 2nd Congressional District, where Keene Mayor George Hansel (R), who favors abortion rights and was also Sununu-endorsed, faced Robert Burns, a former Hillsborough County Treasurer who ran on his right and opposes abortion rights. As in the Senate race, Democrats have been spending money to front Burns, whom they see as easier to defeat in the fall than Hansel. Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster is the incumbent for re-election.

While Burns acknowledged Biden won in 2020, he claimed “a ton” of other unspecified elections were “stolen” in 2020. Hansel acknowledged Biden’s victory.

With about 74% of the vote on Wednesday morning, Burns edged Hansel by just under two points and the AP did not declare the winner.

A political organization that did not reveal its donors backed Hansel, but Burns told Politico he blamed the ad spend on McCarthy, calling him “dead to me.”

In Rhode Island on Tuesday, Democrats navigated their own high-stakes contested primaries, including one for governor. Gov. Dan McKee (D), who replaced Gina Raimondo after she was appointed to Biden’s cabinet to lead the Commerce Department, beat business executive Helena Foulkes in a competitive race.

McKee had been dogged by a scandal over a $5 million contract awarded to a political adviser’s consulting firm, which was investigated by the FBI. Foulkes got some late help from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who came to the state to campaign for her on Sunday.

“If I didn’t think she could win this, I never would have encouraged her to step into the arena,” Pelosi told voters in Providence. “She wants to do the job.”

An open seat in Rhode Island’s 2nd congressional district to replace incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin is seen as one of the most promising chances for Republicans to flip a seat in their bid to win back a majority in the House. There, state treasurer Seth Magaziner was the winner of the Democratic primary, according to the Associated Press, beating former state congressman David Segal, who ran on a platform. -more liberal form, and former Commerce Department attorney Sarah Morgenthau.

Republican Allan Fung, who won the district in two unsuccessful gubernatorial runs, won his party’s nomination in an uncontested primary. President Biden lifted the district by 14 points in 2020, giving Democrats hope of retaining the seat in November.

Matt Brown, who finished far behind in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, and his running mate Cynthia Mendes, a state senator, won a belated endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who didn’t campaign in the state. The two Democrats were part of the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, a liberal project to replace the state’s more conservative leaders and pass a program that included a $19 minimum wage and universal health care.

In Delaware, Democratic state auditor Kathy McGuiness lost in the primary to challenger Lydia York in the first race since McGuiness was convicted of bribery. York, who was endorsed by local Democrats, would be the second black woman to hold statewide office in Delaware, after Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).

Biden returned home to vote on Tuesday, but he did not tell reporters who he voted for in the primaries.

Weigel reported from New Hampshire.

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