New Hampshire state Senate President Chuck Morse conceded the Republican Senate primary Wednesday morning to Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general and election denier who has embraced former President Donald Trump’s approach to politics – a letdown for the GOP establishment in the race to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan.
Bolduc joins a list of candidates national Republicans worry won’t be able to appeal to the broader November electorate.
The race was the final puzzle piece as 2022’s primary calendar wrapped up, with the eight-week sprint to November’s midterm elections now underway. New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware held their primaries Tuesday.
Here are some takeaways from the results:
Trump-aligned candidate triumphs in New Hampshire Senate primary
Morse was backed by establishment Republicans, including moderate Gov. Chris Sununu, and was boosted by a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, which pumped more than $4 million into the race in an attempt to stop Bolduc from winning the primary.
Bolduc aligned himself closely with Trump. He said he “concurred with Trump’s assessment” about the 2020 election – that is, Trump’s lie that President Joe Biden’s victory came as a result of widespread fraud.
“I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying Trump won the election, and damn it, I stand by” that letter, Bolduc said in an August primary debate.
Trump’s style trumps his substance in New Hampshire
Mimicking Trump’s brash style and parroting his election denialism again proved more potent in a Republican primary than embracing the policy substance of his tenure in the White House.
That’s the lesson from the Republican primary in New Hampshire’s 1st District, where 25-year-old political newcomer Karoline Leavitt, a former Trump aide who more closely mimicked the brand of politics that has defined Trump’s orbit of political acolytes, defeated Matt Mowers, another former Trump administration official but one who was more cautious on issues like the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from the former President.
Mowers fully embraced aspects of Trump’s tenure. His website was full of positions that defined the former President, and Mowers touted the fact that Trump endorsed him in his failed attempt to win the seat in 2020.
Rhetorically and stylistically, however, the two were dramatically different.
Rhode Island picks candidates in competitive House race
The field is set for what's expected to be one of New England's most competitive congressional races this fall, after Rhode Island state treasurer Seth Magaziner won the 2nd Congressional District's Democratic primary, CNN projected.
He is now set to face Republican Allan Fung, the Cranston mayor, in the district where long-time Rep. Jim Langevin is retiring. Langevin, a Democrat, has won his races without serious competition since 2001, and President Joe Biden won there by 14 percentage points in 2020. But Republicans believe the seat is winnable.
Fung was the Republican candidate for governor in 2014 and 2018, losing twice to former Gov. Gina Raimondo but performing well in the district, which covers the western half of the state.
McKee hangs on in Rhode Island
One of the least popular governors in the country, Rhode Island's Dan McKee faced four primary challengers as he seeks his first full, elected term in office.
But McKee, who took over as governor last year when Raimondo left the job to join the Biden administration, is no stranger to tough primaries — he almost lost his bid for renomination as lieutenant governor in 2018.
Both of his closest rivals, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, ran as reformers with pledges to clean up government. Foulkes, who promised not to run for reelection if she didn't revitalize Rhode Island schools, was endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The race was a bust for progressive favorite Matt Brown, the Bernie Sanders-endorsed former secretary of state, who trailed the leaders four years after losing a primary challenge to Raimondo.