GOP Election-Denier Wins New Hampshire Primary to Take On Hassan

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(Bloomberg) -- Retired Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc won the Republican US Senate primary in New Hampshire, setting up a November general race between the far-right election denier and Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan with control of the upper chamber at stake.

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State Senate President Chuck Morse conceded via his Twitter account early Wednesday and put his support behind Bolduc.

“The focus this fall needs to be on defeating Maggie Hassan,” he wrote.

The vote was razor thin, with only about 1,300 votes separating the two men with 85% of the vote counted, according to the Associated Press.

Bolduc claimed victory early Wednesday, saying his win puts the GOP closer to taking control of the narrowly divided Senate.

“We’re one step closer towards defeating @SenatorHassan, flipping the Senate and bringing an Outsider to DC to fight for Granite Staters!,” he tweeted Wednesday morning.

Republicans are hoping to flip enough seats to win both the House and Senate in November. But to do so they will have to win over centrist independent voters, a heavy lift for hard-right candidates like Bolduc.

The Senate Majority Political Action Committee, run by allies of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, even poured $3.9 million into ads attacking Morse and bolstering Bolduc as the perceived weaker candidate against Hassan.

While former President Donald Trump did not endorse in the New Hampshire race, Bolduc had vowed to restore the former president’s “America First” agenda.

Political Outsider

Bolduc, 60, spent more than 33 years in the US Army and served 10 tours in Afghanistan. He campaigned as a political outsider, promising to “go to Washington to fight the liberal establishment.”

He also has espoused the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, saying in an Aug. 14 debate that he signed a letter with other military officers declaring that Trump actually won the election and that he stands by it.

Trump didn’t issue an endorsement in the race but in a Sept. 1 appearance on the John Fredericks radio show called Bolduc a “strong guy, tough guy” who’s “said some great things.”

Bolduc won despite Morse being endorsed by popular Republican Governor Chris Sununu, who was heavily recruited to run for the Senate seat but opted to seek re-election to a fourth term instead. He explained that he could be more effective as governor than as one of 100 Senators in Washington.

‘Harder-Edge Rhetoric’

The retired general had a compelling personal story and connected with GOP voters better as a political outsider who supports Trump, said Republican consultant Mike DuHaime, a former political director of the Republican National Committee.

“He has struck more of the rhetorical cord that Republicans are looking for,” DuHaime said. “He’s got harder-edge rhetoric that I think appeals to some of that Trump core right now.”

Some Republicans backed Morse because they considered him better suited to defeat Hassan, who had a 44% approval rating with only 39% of voters saying she deserves re-election in a Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll last month. FiveThirtyEight said Hassan is favored to defeat Bolduc.

In an August interview with WGIR radio, Sununu called Bolduc “not a serious candidate” and said if he were the GOP nominee, “I have no doubt we would have a much harder time trying to win that seat back.”

Bolduc also won despite booking ads worth only $14,500 compared with $982,000 by Morse and $5 million from the White Mountain Political Action Committee supporting Morse and attacking Bolduc, according to AdImpact.

(Adds Bolduc reaction in fifth paragraph)

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