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New Hampshire Republicans pick far-right candidate to challenge U.S. Senator Hassan

New Hampshire Republicans pick far-right candidate to challenge U.S. Senator Hassan

Reuters · 09/14/2022 08:44
New Hampshire Republicans pick far-right candidate to challenge U.S. Senator Hassan

By Andy Sullivan

- New Hampshire Republicans chose far-right candidate Don Bolduc to take on Democratic U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan in November's election, Edison Research projected on Wednesday, potentially complicating Republicans' chance of winning a Senate majority.

Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general, has echoed Donald Trump's false claims about 2020 election fraud and questioned whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation should be abolished following its August search of the former president's Florida estate, where agents found a cache of classified documents.

His more moderate rival, New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse, conceded defeat earlier on Wednesday.

"It's been a long & we've come up short. I want to thank my supporters for all the blood, sweat & tears they poured into this team effort," Morse said in a post on Twitter, adding that he had called Bolduc to congratulate him.

Republican voters selected another Trump-aligned candidate, Karoline Leavitt, to take on one of the state's two incumbent House of Representatives members, Edison projected. Another Republican House primary remained too close to call.

New Hampshire could play a key role in the Nov. 8 election that will determine control of Congress, as both Hassan and the state's two House Democrats are considered vulnerable by analysts.

Taking back either the Senate or the House of Representatives would give Republicans the power to bring Democratic President Joe Biden's legislative agenda to a halt and launch potentially politically damaging probes.

But as in other states, some Republicans have worried that candidates who echo Trump's divisive style could hurt their chances.

The state's Republican governor, Chris Sununu, argued that Bolduc would be as competitive in a general election as Morse. An outside Republican group also spent heavily on Morse's behalf in the closing days of the campaign.

But it was enough to defeat Bolduc, who analysts say will have a harder time appealing to the independent voters who make New Hampshire a closely contested state.

Aside from New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware held primaries as well on a that concluded months of state contests.

Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell has put his party's chances of winning that chamber at "50-50" in public remarks, concerns about "candidate quality" without singling out any specific candidates.

Bolduc starts the race at a clear financial disadvantage, having raised only $579,000 as of Aug. 24, compared with $31 million for Hassan. But the Senate Leadership Fund, a group affiliated with McConnell, has said it plans to spend $23 million on attack ads to help the Republican .

Nonpartisan analysts say the race will be tight, but Hassan holds the advantage.

New Hampshire is one of seven key battlegrounds along with Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada that analysts believe will determine control of the 100-seat Senate.

The chamber is currently divided 50-50, with Democrats holding a majority thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote.

In the 435-seat House, Republicans to pick up only four seats to win control, and both of New Hampshire's seats are likely to be up for grabs in November.

Republican voters selected Leavitt, a former Trump White House press office official, to take on incumbent Democratic Representative Chris Pappas in a district that covers the eastern half of New Hampshire.

In the other district, former Hillsborough County official Robert Burns led Keene Mayor George Hansel 32.5% to 30.0% in the contest to face Democratic Representative Ann McLane Kuster.

In Rhode Island, state Treasurer Seth Magaziner won the Democratic primary for an open House seat, while centrist Republican Allan Fung ran unopposed in his primary.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Additional reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone, Cynthia Osterman and Mark Porter)