Bolduc bests Morse in New Hampshire GOP Senate primary


(NewsNation) — The final night of the midterm primary season once again tested the far right’s influence over the GOP, as conservative Don Bolduc emerged victorious in a race with the more moderate Chuck Morse in the Republican primary for a New Hampshire Senate seat.

Each was competing to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, who Republicans view as beatable in the fall. She narrowly won in 2016.

A staunchly conservative retired Army general who has spread disinformation about the 2020 election, Bolduc was the projected winner by Decision Desk HQ. Though he didn’t receive an endorsement from Donald Trump, Bolduc is a supporter of the former president, while Morse, a longtime state legislator, was backed by the Republican establishment.

The contest was among those being held in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware to cap off the primary season.

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 campaigned on a platform that includes lies that Trump won the 2020 election and conspiracy theories about vaccines.

New Hampshire Republican U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc, center left, poses with supporter Mike Egan of Manchester, N.H., during a primary night campaign gathering, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Reba Saldanha)

Hassan clinched the nomination against token opposition, while Gov. Chris Sununu won the Republican party’s nomination for a fourth term. He’s heavily favored against Democrat Tom Sherman, who was unopposed in his primary.

The 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.

Republican primary voters have similarly chosen conservative candidates this year in moderate or Democratic-leaning states including Massachusetts and Maryland, potentially putting competitive races out of the party’s reach.

Speaking Tuesday on “Rush Hour,” NewsNation contributor George Will said Bolduc was the “weakest candidate” the Republicans could have put up against Democrats.

“The Democrats have spent somewhere north of $50 million nationwide, intervening in Republican primaries trying to get Republican voters to nominate someone that the Democrats think would be easiest to beat,” Will said. “That might happen in New Hampshire; if so, that will be another Senate seat put out of reach for the Republicans.”

Also in New Hampshire, two former Trump staffers went head-to-head in a Republican primary for the 1st Congressional District House seat. Karoline Leavitt, a former White House press aide, was projected to beat former State Department adviser Matt Mowers.

At 25 years old, Leavitt would become the youngest congresswoman ever elected if she wins in November. She’ll face incumbent Democrat Chris Pappas in the general election.

Leavitt said she was “sending a strong and clear message to the Washington, D.C., establishment, and our Democratic opponent that our votes cannot be bought, our conservative voices can not be silenced.”

Pappas wasted little time going on the offensive against Leavitt, saying, “I will fight with everything I’ve got to stop extreme politicians like Karoline from hijacking our democracy.”

Elsewhere, Ashley Kalus was the projected winner in the Republican primary for Rhode Island governor. She’ll face incumbent Democratic Gov. Dan McKee, who fended off four Democratic challengers as he seeks his first full term in office.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee gives an acceptance speech in front of supporters at a primary election night watch party in Providence, R.I., Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

McKee, the former lieutenant governor, became governor a year and a half ago when then-Gov. Gina Raimondo was tapped to be the U.S. commerce secretary in the Biden administration.

“I’m proud to be here,” the 71-year-old governor said in his victory speech. “Because Rhode Island is positioned in a way where we’ve never had this momentum before and we’re going to take full advantage of it.”

Here are the full results from Tuesday’s races:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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