The Republican contest for Senate in New Hampshire remained a tight race early Wednesday between conservative Donald Bolduc and the more moderate Chuck Morse
With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Bolduc led by just 1,270 votes,
Republicans see Democratic incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire as beatable in the general election, now just eight weeks away. But some in the GOP believe Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general, is too far to the right for some swing voters in the general election. Morse, the president of the state Senate, has been backed by the Republican establishment.
New Hampshire’s Senate seat could prove pivotal for whichever party controls the chamber after November. President Joe Biden carried the state by more than 7 percentage points, and Bolduc has campaigned on a platform that includes lies that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and conspiracy theories about vaccines.
Hassan clinched her party’s nomination against only token opposition while Gov. Chris Sununu won the Republican party’s nomination for another term. He’s heavily favored against Democrat Tom Sherman, who was unopposed for his party’s governor’s nomination.
Still, a Bolduc victory might reignite disappointment among some national Republicans that Sununu, a relatively popular moderate who likely could have posed more of a threat to Hassan, chose instead to run for reelection. The GOP is grappling with the possibility of again nominating a candidate who is popular with the party’s base but struggles to broaden support ahead of the November general election.
Neil Levesque, director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, said Bolduc is a type of candidate who would have struggled to succeed in GOP politics before Trump’s rise. He’s never held elected office and had just $75,000 in cash on hand last week. Bolduc has nonetheless been able to make inroads by positioning himself as an ally of Trump and his election falsehoods.
“That is because the theme of his campaign and messaging is very similar to former President Trump,” Levesque said. “If it mirrors the former president, it’s been effective.”
Federal and state officials and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence the election was tainted. The former president’s allegations of fraud were also roundly rejected by courts, including by judges Trump appointed.