Republicans look to avert a complicating primary result in New Hampshire

3 weeks ago 48

(CNN)Republicans are pouring wealth into adjacent week's GOP Senate superior successful New Hampshire, fearing that the starring campaigner could jeopardize their chances of unseating first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, particularly successful a recently unsettled governmental environment.

The imaginable that Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier wide who ran unsuccessfully successful 2020, could triumph Tuesday's contention has acceptable disconnected a frantic burst of spending from Republican groups looking to boost Chuck Morse, the authorities Senate president. Top Republicans harbor reservations astir Bolduc, whom adjacent radical adjacent to him picture arsenic a "loose cannon" without overmuch of a governmental enactment oregon fundraising ability. He had raised little than $600,000 by August 24, compared to Hassan's $31.4 million.

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And yet, caller nationalist polls person shown Bolduc starring successful the superior -- including an August Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire that recovered him up of Morse by 21 percent points among apt GOP superior voters.

    A large question successful this race, arsenic it has been successful contests crossed the country, is what erstwhile President Donald Trump, who has not yet endorsed, volition do. But successful the last stretch, a radical with links to the predominant Senate Republican ace PAC, Senate Leadership Fund, bought astir $4.5 cardinal successful airtime for the 2 weeks starring up to the primary. One onslaught ad, tilted "Crazy Ideas," ticks done disapproval Bolduc has leveled against Trump and New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu. Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group, responded by pouring $3.2 cardinal successful ads attacking Morse. Whoever wins the superior volition request to marque a choky turnaround to the wide predetermination -- and looking up to that pivot, Senate Leadership Fund announced past week that it plans to walk astatine slightest $23 cardinal successful tv advertizing successful New Hampshire starting connected superior day.

      The spending spree highlights a Republican fearfulness that New Hampshire -- erstwhile considered a apical prime up earlier Sununu passed connected the contention precocious past twelvemonth -- could go the latest and last authorities wherever the enactment is beset with a analyzable campaigner that has shown small quality to rise money, giving Democrats an easier way to holding a spot successful authorities Biden won by 7 points. The evenly divided Senate puts unit connected each contention this cycle. Republicans request to summation conscionable 1 spot to flip the chamber, and amidst a shifting governmental environment, the stakes for each contention are adjacent higher, particularly erstwhile GOP candidates crossed the state person struggled to rise money.

      "Nothing has breached their mode successful Senate contention crossed the country; they person sub-optimal candidates successful authorities aft state, they person immoderate candidates who are going to springiness up races successful a mates of states and Bolduc would beryllium portion of that pattern," said Fergus Cullen, a erstwhile seat of the New Hampshire Republican Party and a Morse supporter. "It would beryllium different situation and it would beryllium snatching decision signifier the jaws of victory."

      GOP candidates' fundraising woes person created a script wherever extracurricular groups and the National Republican Senatorial Committee volition person to walk much than expected to support candidates viable successful states similar Arizona, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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        "It's a concern," a apical Republican operative moving connected Senate campaigns said astir Bolduc's fundraising struggles. "If you don't person a campaigner well-funded capable to support their ain representation oregon thrust their ain connection astir themselves, determination is not a full batch extracurricular groups tin do."

        With New Hampshire the last competitory Senate superior of the cycle, unit is connected for Republicans to not lone prime a campaigner who tin win, but 1 that won't trust solely connected the party's infrastructure for funding.

        This week could beryllium crucial: The candidates volition travel unneurotic for 2 debates -- 1 connected Wednesday hosted by New England College and different connected Thursday hosted by section presumption WMUR.

        'He's not a superior candidate'

        The archetypal stroke to Republicans successful New Hampshire came successful November of 2021 erstwhile Sununu declined to tally for Senate, a determination that came aft months of recruitment from apical Republicans and dealt a stroke to the party's outlook connected defeating Hassan.

        With Sununu retired of the representation and much high-profile candidates similar erstwhile Sen. Kelly Ayotte besides passing, the superior became a wide-open and contentious affair, with astir a twelve Republicans running. The uncertainty somewhat froze GOP efforts to prime a victor successful the race, allowing Bolduc to usage his basal of voters from his 2020 superior bid to go the favourite successful the contest, overmuch to the chagrin of different Republicans.

        "He's not a superior candidate. He's truly not," Sununu told WGIR successful August. "If helium were the nominee, I person nary uncertainty we would person a overmuch harder clip trying to triumph that spot back. So, I don't instrumentality him earnestly arsenic a candidate. I don't deliberation astir radical do."

        Bolduc has made Sununu 1 of his apical targets passim his run. Although helium has walked backmost immoderate of his rhetoric astir the governor, he baselessly claimed successful 2021 that Sununu was a "communist sympathizer" and that the governor's household -- which has been successful New Hampshire authorities for decades -- "supports terrorism."

        Sununu has called Bolduc "kind of a conspiracy theorist-type" and declined to endorse him.

        Bolduc has ne'er been an constitution favorite. He mounted a amazingly beardown superior situation to Republican Corky Messner's bid to instrumentality connected Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen successful 2020. And erstwhile the superior was implicit and Messner had won, Bolduc lambasted the recently minted nominee, angering apical Republicans successful the authorities and providing Democrats with a wealthiness of video to usage successful their onslaught ads.

        Rick Wiley, a Bolduc consultant, pushed backmost connected the communicative that the retired wide can't decision Hassan.

        "They person nary thought what they are talking about," Wiley said of radical discrediting Bolduc. "The punditry coming retired of the swamp, it is what it is. ... His quality to link with the voters is thing I haven't seen successful a agelong time."

        Wiley and the Bolduc campaign, looking up of the superior connected Tuesday, are besides furious Republicans are coming to Morse's aid, with Wiley saying that wealth "should beryllium spent connected (defeating) Maggie Hassan."

        Democrats person watched the messy GOP superior with glee, hoping that it volition lone fortify Hassan's position.

        While Republicans are enmeshed successful a divisive primary, Hassan has been capable to spell up with ads a twelvemonth earlier the superior successful September 2021 and stockpile millions that volition beryllium trained connected Republicans aft the primary. Hassan's pre-primary study recovered she had much than $7.3 cardinal successful the slope and she has already aired $9.5 cardinal successful tv ads.

        "With New Hampshire holding the latest superior successful the country, Bolduc and Morse volition person small clip to effort a alleged pivot to the wide predetermination — and alternatively volition beryllium defined by their utmost records," Aaron Jacobs, Hassan's run manager, wrote successful a memo.

        Like Democrats crossed the country, Hassan's run plans to marque termination a cardinal contented successful the race, hoping to prehend connected the vigor that has propelled the enactment successful the aftermath of the Supreme Court's determination to overturn Roe v. Wade successful June. A bid of surveys person recovered that New Hampshire was among the states astir supportive of termination rights successful the country, perchance strengthening Hassan's messaging.

        "Our Republican opponents' anti-choice records volition beryllium large liabilities with New Hampshire voters, who person a agelong past of supporting reproductive rights astatine the ballot box," said Sydney Petersen, a Hassan spokesperson.

        Will Trump measurement successful late?

        Trump has not endorsed successful the contest, successful portion due to the fact that his erstwhile aide, Corey Lewandowski, has been moving down the scenes to guarantee that Bolduc does not get an endorsement from the erstwhile President.

        But that has not stopped Trump from lauding the retired general, including successful a caller interrogation with John Fredericks, a blimpish vigor big who has endorsed Bolduc.

        "He said immoderate large things, beardown guy, pugnacious guy. I deliberation he's doing precise well, too. I perceive he's up, he's up rather a bit," Trump told Fredericks. "You're progressive successful that race, it's precise interesting, and you're for Bolduc. So, I'm going to retrieve that."

        Trump besides called Sununu past week to discuss, among different things, the state's Senate race. The speech is simply a spot of an oddity: Sununu, who is moving for reelection arsenic governor, has been an outspoken Trump professional and called the erstwhile President "crazy" during comedic remarks successful April.

        "President Trump called Governor Sununu, and the Senate contention came up arsenic portion of a larger conservation," said Sununu spokesperson Ben Vihstadt. "The Governor encouraged the President to instrumentality a look astatine the Senate race."

        Trump has made wide passim the rhythm that helium wants to signifier Republican contests, backing candidates similar Mehmet Oz successful Pennsylvania and Blake Masters successful Arizona to assistance get them done prickly primaries.

        Some New Hampshire Republican operatives judge a Trump endorsement could beryllium significant. "Donald Trump is inactive an enormously influential subordinate of this party, if not the person of this party. Of people it matters," said Josh McElveen, a Republican operative who ran Bolduc's Senate run successful 2020. But different New Hampshire Republicans admit that endorsing Bolduc could backfire connected Trump, particularly fixed the Granite State's value successful the statesmanlike nominating contest, should Trump tally for bureau again successful 2024.

        "It matters a lot," a apical Republican operative successful the authorities said of Trump's endorsement. "But if I were advising Trump, I would beryllium telling him to enactment out, due to the fact that helium is not going to marque immoderate friends present by doing this."

        But the aforesaid University of New Hampshire canvass that recovered Bolduc with a pb successful the superior besides recovered that Sununu's and Trump's endorsement would transportation the aforesaid value with voters -- with 35% of New Hampshire GOP superior voters saying a Sununu endorsement would marque them "more apt to vote" for the campaigner and 36% saying that astir a Trump endorsement.

          That fig grew, however, among undecided superior voters -- with 41% of those yet to prime a campaigner saying a Trump endorsement would marque them "more likely" to ballot for the candidate, compared to 21% for Sununu.

          CORRECTION: This communicative has been updated to accurately bespeak what Hassan's run manager wrote successful his memo.

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