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Democrats get opponent they wanted in New Hampshire Senate race

Bolduc, Leavitt and Burns win in competitive Senate, House races

Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc speaks at a campaign town hall event in Laconia, N.H., on Sept. 10.
Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc speaks at a campaign town hall event in Laconia, N.H., on Sept. 10. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Democrats appear to have gotten the Republican challengers they wanted on Tuesday in two competitive New Hampshire races, while the Republican winner of a third race was opposed by GOP super PACs.

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who falsely claims that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, is the apparent winner of a close Republican primary to face Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. The Associated Press called the race shortly after noon on Wednesday, when Bolduc led chief rival Chuck Morse by less than 2 percentage points. Morse, the state Senate president who was endorsed last week by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, had said in a tweet thanking supporters earlier Wednesday that “we’ve come up short.”

Rhode Island Democrats also chose Seth Magaziner as their nominee for an open House seat on Tuesday.

In New Hampshire, 25-year-old former White House aide Karoline Leavitt won the Republican nomination in the 1st District to face Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, and county treasurer Robert Burns won in the 2nd District to take on Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster in November.

Democratic groups spent money in the campaign indirectly to boost Bolduc in the Senate race and Burns in the 2nd District. And in Leavitt’s case, a super PAC aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spent millions to boost one of her opponents, 2020 nominee Matt Mowers.

Leavitt ran about 9 percentage points ahead of Mowers, according to the AP. Running third in the field of 10 candidates was Gail Huff Brown, the wife of Scott P. Brown. He was the 2014 Republican Senate nominee who previously served three years in the Senate representing Massachusetts after winning a special election following the death of liberal lion Edward M. Kennedy. The AP called Leavitt’s win at 11:48 p.m. Tuesday.

In the 2nd District, Burns, a former Hillsborough County treasurer, was more than 2 points ahead of Keene Mayor George Hansel, with an estimated 95 percent of the vote counted at 12:03 p.m. on Wednesday when the AP called the race. Hansel had conceded in an emailed statement at 6:32 a.m.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott of Florida said in a statement shortly after 8 a.m. that the NRSC was “proud to stand with Don Bolduc.”

“Don ran a great race and earned the right to take on one of the most vulnerable members of the U.S. Senate, Maggie Hassan,” Scott said. “Inflation, a border crisis, rising crime and a sputtering economy is the direct result of Hassan and [President Joe] Biden’s failed leadership.”

Bolduc’s campaign was low on cash in the campaign’s final days, when Senate Majority PAC, which is aligned with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, ran ads calling Morse a “sleazy politician” and tying his campaign to lobbyists. Likewise, a group called Democrats Serve spent $562,000 airing attacks on Burns. Both efforts had the effect of boosting the candidates’ conservative credentials to Republican primary voters.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with McCarthy, poured $2.3 million into the 2nd District race to boost Mowers and attack Pappas. Defending Main Street Super PAC, another group that backs establishment Republicans, spent at least $1.3 million opposing Leavitt. Democratic groups also spent money to influence the GOP vote, effectively to help Bolduc and Burns.  

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Senate race and the 1st District House race as Tilt Democratic, and the 2nd District race as Likely Democratic.

Magaziner to face Fung

There was far less drama in Rhode Island, where Democrats were picking a nominee in the 2nd District.

Magaziner, the state treasurer general, easily won the nomination and will face Republican Allan Fung, who was unopposed Tuesday.

Magaziner had 53 percent of the vote in the six-candidate field when the AP called the race at 8:30 p.m.

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin is retiring, and national Republicans are optimistic that Fung, the former mayor of Cranston, can make this a competitive race. The NRCC named him to its “Young Guns” program for promising candidates who meet certain benchmarks. The Congressional Leadership Fund spent $50,000 supporting his campaign. 

The environmental group LCV Victory Fund spent $399,000 supporting Magaziner’s campaign. 

Inside Elections rates the race Lean Democratic.

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