Gen. Bolduc Leads;
Gov. McKee Survives

By Jim Ellis — Sept. 14, 2022

The Final Primaries

Retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc (R)

New Hampshire — The last major US Senate primary is close to concluding as retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc, despite being wildly outspent, appears to have turned back state Senate President Chuck Morse’s late race momentum and is staked to a one-point, 37-36 percent lead (1,270 votes) in the New Hampshire Republican Senate primary with 85 percent of the expected vote counted.

Though the margin is tight, it is most likely that Gen. Bolduc will advance into a shortened general election cycle against incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D).

A great deal of controversy surrounded this primary, particularly a verbal sparring battle between Gen. Bolduc and Gov. Chris Sununu (R). Both had unflattering things to say about the other, and now it will be interesting if we see a quick healing between the two. No doubt Democrats will use the governor’s words against Bolduc. Even before the votes were tabulated, however, Gov. Sununu was sending more conciliatory signals and stressing the importance of Republicans uniting to defeat Sen. Hassan, whom he says, “nobody likes.”

Though Bolduc was viewed as the weakest general election candidate in the field of six, head-to-head test polling didn’t show him any further behind Sen. Hassan than those, such as Sen. Morse, who were viewed as the better options to become the Republican standard bearer.

The Republican leadership will now have a difficult decision about how to proceed. Do they invest heavily in this race to back a candidate who they believe is weak even though Sen. Hassan appears vulnerable in a state that could easily swing Republican, or to do they cut their losses early and transfer the funds to another place where their chances for victory might be brighter? It will be interesting to see what they decide.

In the tight House races, former Trump White House aide Karoline Leavitt won the GOP nomination in the swing 1st District, defeating 2020 nominee Matt Mowers, 35-25 percent, with former television news reporter Gail Huff Brown placing third with just under 18 percent of the party primary vote. Brown is the wife of former Massachusetts senator and ex-ambassador to New Zealand, Scott Brown (D), who also ran for the Senate in 2014 from New Hampshire.

Leavitt now advances into the general election to face two-term Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) in the district that has defeated more incumbents than any other seat since 2004. In 2020, Pappas defeated Mowers, 51-46 percent, which is the strongest re-election margin for an incumbent since former US representative, and now state Senate Majority Leader, Jeb Bradley (R) was re-elected 16 years ago with 63 percent of the vote.

In the western 2nd District, former Hillsborough County (Manchester) Treasurer Robert Burns holds an edge of just over 1,000-vote opposite Keene Mayor George Hansel in a GOP congressional primary that shows only about 75 percent of the vote as being counted. The winner faces five-term Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord) in a contest that will also become highly competitive.

Generally, Democrats will be pleased with how the Republican primary unfolded, but the general election remains very active. Close finishes are still likely in all of the federal races despite the belief of many that the selected GOP candidates are too conservative to win in November.

Rhode Island — Gov. Dan McKee, who ascended to his office when then-Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to become US Commerce Secretary, eked out a close victory in the Rhode Island Democratic primary last night, securing about one-third of the vote, which was enough to claim a plurality win.

Gov. McKee defeated corporate CEO Helena Foulkes and Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who finished a close second and third. The governor now advances into the general election to face the new Republican nominee, businesswoman Ashley Kalus (R), and is categorized as a heavy favorite in this most Democratic of states.

In the contested open 2nd Congressional District seat, as expected, state Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D), who left the governor’s race to run in the open 2nd when 11-term Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) announced his retirement, easily captured the Democratic nomination with a 54 percent victory total in a field of six candidates.

Magaziner now opposes former Cranston mayor and ex-gubernatorial nominee Allan Fung, who was unopposed in the Republican primary. Though the district is heavily Democratic, polling shows the open 2nd can become competitive in a shortened general election cycle.

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